You cannot effectively plan what you want to eat every day, or have the insurance of knowing you will have enough ingredients to cook your favorite meals when you want them, unless you take time to create or update an ingredient inventory. Here are a couple tips to consider when you are taking inventory in your kitchen:
Paper or Digital
While you can easily just make a list with a pen and paper, this method of taking an ingredient inventory can get quite tiresome as well as messy when it comes to actually updating the list as the ingredients in your cupboards, fridge, and freezer change.
Instead, we suggest keeping a digital account of your ingredient inventory, either in a simple text document or spreadsheet. This way, you can easily type in the ingredients you have and update them without messing up countless bits of paper. It definitely makes the process much easier to handle.
What To Inventory
Ideally, you would keep a complete inventory of everything you have in relation to ingredients for your meals and snacks. However, this may not always be possible for any number of reasons, including the amount of time it would take to keep an extensive inventory.
So what should you keep track of, even if you cannot make it a complete list?
First, think about the spices you have. Which ones do you use regularly? Often this includes oregano, garlic powder, chili powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. Other spices you may wish to track include ones you use in special recipes. If you make a special blend of spice, keep track of any individual spice you put in it. Understanding when you are running low lets you purchase more before you run out and are left without the ability to make your favorite recipes correctly.
Also consider the nonperishables you have, such as rice, dry pasta, pasta sauce, and canned soup. These often play integral roles in larger recipes.
As well, if you bake even a little bit, keep account of all ingredients related to those recipes, such as quick cooking oats, chocolate chips, brown sugar, flour, and white sugar. Many people tend to bake on a whim, so it helps to always have these elements on hand. This way, you will be able to make a batch of brownies whenever the craving strikes.
Another important thing to inventory is the contents of your freezer. Too often people forget what they have, such as frozen chicken breast from a special a couple weeks ago. As meat is expensive, if you already have some in your freezer, it is better to use it and wait until another special comes along, but you will not know this is possible unless you keep track of your freezer contents.
Never get left out in the cold when you want to cook or bake your favorite recipes and always keep an account of the ingredients you have in your home.