Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

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dogbones
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by dogbones »

Ivygirl wrote: Sat Jun 18, 2022 11:35 am Looking for ways to shop for and inventory food in ways that mitigate inflation and provide against potential shortages of things I need. I need to solve four problems:

#1 Decision Fatigue. My job requires me to make many decisions about details, so after work I tend to wander the grocery store putting things that “look good” in the shopping basket.

#2 Buying Random Things Without a Plan to Use Them. I get home with what I need but also one or two random items that don’t fit any menu I normally use, so they clutter my pantry.

#3 Food waste. It’s in the nature of food to spoil, perfection in using it up is not possible, but good food should not be going in the garbage can.

#4 Food Price Increases and Shortages. It’s prudent to stock up, but buying things because a news story made me feel anxious is not budget-optimal. Every dollar should count here; see Points #2 and #3.

“Make a list,” Mama said. Writing down what I think I need has not delivered the level of results I want. Quick perusal of what is on hand isn’t optimal because I have more than I can see at a glance and it is stored wherever in the house there is room and appropriate storage conditions. Putting new stuff behind and pulling the old to the front is good, but expiration dates can be surprisingly random lately. I don’t want to waste a single thing. I inventoried all the food from all the freezer, cupboards, corners, and stashes in my house in an Excel spreadsheet.

Columns are: Food, Item, Container, Exp Date, Quantity, Location

A typical entry would be: Broth - Aldi Beef Bone Broth - 32 oz carton - 4/16/2023 -1 - Hall closet

When it is time to make the weekly shopping list I can sort by expiration date, pull items which should be used first out of inventory from wherever they happen to be stored, and set them on the kitchen table, then make a menu plan around them. Or sort by item to see if I already have tomato sauce in the size I need for a recipe.

The spreadsheet has four more columns: Consider Buying More, Consider Buying Less, Buy If On Sale, and Don’t Buy Again, to capture thoughts I am having as I look at my inventory. I see I have a large expired container of raisins on my spreadsheet, so Raisins go in the Consider Buying Less column. I tried a brand of shelf-stable milk and liked it, so LaLa Leche is Consider Buying More. Tomato products are always Buy If On Sale. A thing that went to waste goes in Don’t Buy Again so I don’t forget and, you know, buy it again.

Would appreciate hearing how you keep inventory of your pantry, and make the most of the foods that you buy.
My solutions that may help you:

Start by shelf cooking (a term I think created by Jordan Page). Look at items in your refrigerator, then freezer, then pantry (from most perishable to least) to make meals and eat down the food you have already. This will solve #1-4 rather quickly for you to begin restocking. It will likely make several meals for the week, thus saving money. The meals may not necessarily "make sense" - ie instead of a meat and veggie dish you may end up with an all vegetarian meal. Fill in the holes with small purchases for ingredients at the store to finish up all the meals you have. The AllRecipes.com website allows you to input your ingredients and it will spit out a recipe that has those items. This will help you eat down near-expired foods and make space.

Then spend a day or two making an online order by going through the circular for sales/deals. Shop by unit prices. Shop the final sale/last chance sections first. Buy generic/store brand - if the ingredient list is the same as the name brand, it's the same darn thing. Buy in-season fruits and veggies. If you notice that some are extremely expensive - check the freezer aisle. Similarly, if you notice your fresh produce is going to go bad before you get to using it - FREEZE IT! All foods you find in the freezer aisle can be done by you (and is likely cheaper by unit price)

If something is on sale or a great deal, buy 1 for now, 2 for later. Like others have said, having staples and knowing what they are is crucial. I love my fridge whiteboard as well for this reason - list what you need. Nothing is more of a waste in money than gas to the grocery store for 1 item.

ETA: Check out Jordan Page's website (https://funcheaporfree.com/) she offers lots of food savings tips
goaties
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by goaties »

Ivygirl wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 7:22 am Can you tell me some ways you cook with millet? I can't eat wheat, rye, or barley at all, and would be interested in adding a non-gluten grain to my meals.
Yeah, I know what you mean about wheat (bloat city), and I am trying to avoid the high glycemic load of white rice.

I use millet as breakfast cereal adding a bit of half-n-half, and sometimes some nuts or pecan meal. Would also make a good bed for anything that you'd use rice or polenta for.

1 cup millet, 1.5 cups water, salt, bit of cardamom (or not)
In rice cooker: As soon as it snaps off, remove the inner pot from the heat and let it stand for 10 minutes, covered. This prevents sticking.
In Instant Pot: Set it for 10 minutes, pressure cook, normal, no "keep warm". As soon as it's done, do instant release, remove inner pot and let stand 10 minutes covered. This is even better, more fluffy!
RedDog
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by RedDog »

cheese_breath wrote: Sat Jun 18, 2022 12:51 pm I go to the grocery store about once a week, give or take. Before I go, I look in the pantry and refrigerator to see what's there. Then if I need more, I buy more. If I don't need more, I don't buy more. As far as extra goodies, that depends on how well I have my weight under control.
+1….minimizing food inventory great simplifies preparing a menu plan that first utilizes on hand foods and significantly reduces waste/spoilage.
stoptothink
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by stoptothink »

Ivygirl wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 7:35 am
stoptothink wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 6:38 am
Ivygirl wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 12:57 am
stoptothink wrote: Sun Jun 19, 2022 9:05 pm
Ivygirl wrote: Sat Jun 18, 2022 3:18 pm
Isn't variety a subset of nutrition? Eating seasonally, micronutrients, and so on.
Sort of, but it's also kind of irrelevant in this context (your talking about food storage and stocking up, so you are talking non-perishable items). The fresh produce we eat is whatever is in season, but it doesn't actually change what we are eating (it's just one thing slightly different on the plate). The large bulk of of what we eat (lean proteins, eggs, various frozen veggies and dried legumes, greens, etc.) doesn't change. Making different "meals" does not necessarily mean you are getting more variety in what you eat (the macro and micronutrient profile). Completely agree with others, you are way overcomplicating this, for no obvious benefit.
Canned beets would be an example of what I mean. Their deep color means antioxidants, lycopene and betacarotene. I read that they are rich in natural nitrates that improve blood oxygenation and can lower systolic blood pressure. I don't eat beets every day but I do think they add value.
I'm well aware of the nutrition aspect, it's pretty much what I do for a living. I'm still unclear as to how it is relevant to food storage and your specific situation. The most effective way to simplify this is not some app, it's to simplify your eating habits; certainly no harm in valuing variety, but it'll just be more difficult to solve this issue.
But I'm not seeking an effective way to simplify. Simplification is your value stoptothink, and you arrange your pantry and grocery shopping around it as it suits your family. Mine is to know what I have, where I have it, and that it is stored and used practically. I definitely prefer variety, and think it has nutritional value, and is relevant to food storage. You don't seem to get appetite fatigue but I do.

Some tasty beets from the pantry will hit the spot someday, and give me nutrients I may not have known I needed.

From a practicality standpoint, canned greens like spinach and mustard are in my pantry too. I don't need the quantity I would get from the giant bunches at the grocery store and I don't want to spend several hours cooking collards. But I do need to eat these things.
We agree, if you value variety, you just have to deal with it being more complex.
Stumptowngal
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by Stumptowngal »

Ivygirl wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 7:22 am [quote=goaties post_id=6736854 time=<a href="tel:1655717799">1655717799</a> user_id=17122]
Finally, I have begun ordering 5 pound bags of nuts from online suppliers such as ifsbulk.com. Twenty-five pound bags of millet. Usually much cheaper than buying that stuff in the store, although with shipping charges, you need to do the math to make sure. I freeze all grains and flours for at least a week before storage to kill any eggs which would otherwise hatch in our hot humid summers. I repackage big bags into smaller gallon ziploc bags before freezing, obviously! My freezer isn't huge.
Can you tell me some ways you cook with millet? I can't eat wheat, rye, or barley at all, and would be interested in adding a non-gluten grain to my meals.


I don’t store large amounts of millet but I do keep some on hand. I enjoy making millet muffins or bread; sweet potato millet stew; millet veggie cakes ( similar to using left over risotto, egg and veggies). It’s also easy just to add a bit while when cooking old-fashioned oatmeal for a bit of crunch. Very easy to get creative with it.
fposte
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by fposte »

Ivygirl wrote: Sat Jun 18, 2022 11:35 am Looking for ways to shop for and inventory food in ways that mitigate inflation and provide against potential shortages of things I need. I need to solve four problems:
That initial statement and the present tense descriptions are, I think, why people are suggesting ways to change your system, but as the post and thread go on It sounds to me like you've created a system that does address these problems for you, and you're happy with it. If that's so, it might be worth clarifying, or maybe pinning down if there's a problem that remains for you. I love talking about pantry systems, etc., so I think it's still a fine and interesting discussion if we're all happy with what we do.
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Ivygirl
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by Ivygirl »

fposte wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 12:00 pm
Ivygirl wrote: Sat Jun 18, 2022 11:35 am Looking for ways to shop for and inventory food in ways that mitigate inflation and provide against potential shortages of things I need. I need to solve four problems:
That initial statement and the present tense descriptions are, I think, why people are suggesting ways to change your system, but as the post and thread go on It sounds to me like you've created a system that does address these problems for you, and you're happy with it. If that's so, it might be worth clarifying, or maybe pinning down if there's a problem that remains for you. I love talking about pantry systems, etc., so I think it's still a fine and interesting discussion if we're all happy with what we do.
Yes I have created a system that I hope will address the initially-stated problems, but I don't yet know whether I will be happy with it. :) So even though I may at times push back on suggestions, you can bet I read and consider every one of them. I have put a lot of thought into this system, but expect to change or adapt it.

If there is one of the four problems that remains "less solved" than others, it's #4. I remember inflation from the 1970s but I was a child back then and nobody has really talked about how to deal with it for 40 years. And shortages at the grocery store, nobody has talked about ever before 2020.
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Ivygirl
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by Ivygirl »

goaties wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 8:49 am
Ivygirl wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 7:22 am Can you tell me some ways you cook with millet? I can't eat wheat, rye, or barley at all, and would be interested in adding a non-gluten grain to my meals.
Yeah, I know what you mean about wheat (bloat city), and I am trying to avoid the high glycemic load of white rice.

I use millet as breakfast cereal adding a bit of half-n-half, and sometimes some nuts or pecan meal. Would also make a good bed for anything that you'd use rice or polenta for.

1 cup millet, 1.5 cups water, salt, bit of cardamom (or not)
In rice cooker: As soon as it snaps off, remove the inner pot from the heat and let it stand for 10 minutes, covered. This prevents sticking.
In Instant Pot: Set it for 10 minutes, pressure cook, normal, no "keep warm". As soon as it's done, do instant release, remove inner pot and let stand 10 minutes covered. This is even better, more fluffy!
I'm adding a small bag of millet to my shopping list and will try it out, thanks!
carne_asada
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by carne_asada »

At some point in the last 3 or 4 years I decided that saving a few dollars here or there on groceries doesn't add up to anything impactful. I know I could probably be spending 1-2K a year less on food but in the grand schema of things that's not a meaningful impact on my long term retirement goals. I now spend way less time price shopping or stocking up huge amounts and just buy what I need when I need it.
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Ivygirl
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by Ivygirl »

getthatmarshmallow wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 8:05 am Re: #4. Some perspective.If you're a typical American, you spend about 9% of your household income on groceries. This is world-historically low. Inflation like we're seeing now moves that to...10%. Still world historically low!! As a Boglehead, with a high income, that's likely not enough to move the needle noticeably in your life. Keep to your budget if you desire, but there's no need to *stress.*
I'm not high income, and I'm not chill about getting poorer. Inflation is cutting into my investment money and retirement is 10 years away. The needle is officially moved.
fposte
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by fposte »

Ivygirl wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 12:52 pm If there is one of the four problems that remains "less solved" than others, it's #4. I remember inflation from the 1970s but I was a child back then and nobody has really talked about how to deal with it for 40 years. And shortages at the grocery store, nobody has talked about ever before 2020.
Though I think the definition of "shortage" is a very contemporary one, since it's pretty recent that we could get what we wanted when we wanted. Seasonality and limited supply were much bigger factors prior to the 21st century. So maybe this is another element where it makes sense to think about our parents' and grandparents' habits and focus on what's in season/available and then create the recipes and menus from that, rather than the other way around.

Alternatively, you could, as the aptly named carne_asada notes, assess the budget difference between the food you want to buy and the food that's within a planned price range and decide that the surcharge isn't enough to change your habits over. A few years ago I tracked my grocery spending in a month at one store against the prices in another lower-priced outlet, and I found that the differences really weren't enough to compensate for the lessened convenience of the other supermarket, so I've taken much the same approach to shopping in a time of rising prices. If you already have price information, you could also identify for yourself the limit of an acceptable price rise--what percentage increase will keep you from buying an item? Are there categories where you have more flexibility than others? That could help minimize the in-store decision making, which seems to be a driving factor in your plan.
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by jebmke »

fposte wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 1:16 pm Though I think the definition of "shortage" is a very contemporary one, since it's pretty recent that we could get what we wanted when we wanted. Seasonality and limited supply were much bigger factors prior to the 21st century. So maybe this is another element where it makes sense to think about our parents' and grandparents' habits and focus on what's in season/available and then create the recipes and menus from that, rather than the other way around.
This rings true and reminds me of two things.

One, growing up we ate what was fresh and available. When fish was in season, that is what we got whether we liked it or not.

Two, one of my favorite restaurants is (or was) in Rotterdam across the street from the hotel I used. The first time I went there I was puzzled because there were no menus. Then the chef came out and asked a few questions about various ingredients (whether we like them or not) and then went back to the kitchen and proceeded to make us our meals. Later when I spoke with him he explained that he shops daily and doesn't decide what is on his "mental menu" until late in the day when he knows what he has; every meal was a custom job.
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AnnetteLouisan
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by AnnetteLouisan »

Thank you for raising this very timely topic, Ivygirl.

You might like the (poorly named) book Why We Buy. It’s about the science behind the positioning and other sales tactics in grocery and other stores that get us to buy more of the higher priced stuff and overall get us to buy more than we intended. I hadn’t realized what an obstacle course / circus these stores are until I stopped going there (I send a list to my shopper who works for the store so I don’t have to see the fun new brands of ice cream etc).

When I went back after years I almost got dizzy from all the displays, choices, distractions and attractions (and even more fun new brands of ice cream!). 40 kinds of spinach, etc. Most importantly, it’s a major chore and time suck I no longer have to deal with except for a few perishables I can stop in to a smaller place to buy. What I lose in a delivery tip and missing an occasional deal I make up for with healthy choices and in the case of Walmart, I sure pay less than Manhattan prices! I went to an in person Walmart a few years ago and again almost fainted - it was the size of a football field, with 120 different kinds of soap, etc. who can decide? Who can focus on prices in that carnival? I just go online, shop, click and done! For years I only ordered groceries every 4-6 weeks! It worked fine.

Ps, I budget $800/mo for food but usually only spend around $600. My staples are bumble bee solid white tuna in water, king Oscar sardines, Justin’s almond butter, chick peas, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, frozen vegetables, fresh baby carrots, Rao’s, Pilon coffee, Nong Shim ramen, imported sunflower seed bread and gourmet fruit preserves.
Last edited by AnnetteLouisan on Mon Jun 20, 2022 2:00 pm, edited 4 times in total.
getthatmarshmallow
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by getthatmarshmallow »

Ivygirl wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 1:09 pm
getthatmarshmallow wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 8:05 am Re: #4. Some perspective.If you're a typical American, you spend about 9% of your household income on groceries. This is world-historically low. Inflation like we're seeing now moves that to...10%. Still world historically low!! As a Boglehead, with a high income, that's likely not enough to move the needle noticeably in your life. Keep to your budget if you desire, but there's no need to *stress.*
I'm not high income, and I'm not chill about getting poorer. Inflation is cutting into my investment money and retirement is 10 years away. The needle is officially moved.
In that case, it sounds like it's not going to be easy to improve on your system without changing how you cook. You don't have to eat the same thing every day - I don't - but having a regular rotation makes sure that pantry goods get used up and that you can take advantage of sales knowing that you will use it.

Other than that: if you have problems with impulse shopping, if you can do some of your shopping via online ordering/pickup, you can schedule it around decision fatigue.
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Ivygirl
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by Ivygirl »

AnnetteLouisan wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 1:39 pm Thank you for raising this very timely topic, Ivygirl.

You might like the (poorly named) book Why We Buy. It’s about the science behind the positioning and other sales tactics in grocery and other stores that get us to buy more of the higher priced stuff and overall get us to buy more than we intended. I hadn’t realized what an obstacle course / circus these stores are until I stopped going there (I send a list to my shopper who works for the store so I don’t have to see the fun new brands of ice cream etc).

When I went back after years I almost got dizzy from all the displays, choices, distractions and attractions (and even more fun new brands of ice cream!). 40 kinds of spinach, etc. Most importantly, it’s a major chore and time suck I no longer have to deal with except for a few perishables I can stop in to a smaller place to buy. What I lose in a delivery tip and missing an occasional deal I make up for with healthy choices and in the case of Walmart, I sure pay less than Manhattan prices! I went to an in person Walmart a few years ago and again almost fainted - it was the size of a football field, with 120 different kinds of soap, etc. who can decide? Who can focus on prices in that carnival? I just go online, shop, click and done! For years I only ordered groceries every 4-6 weeks! It worked fine.

Ps, I budget $800/mo for food but usually only spend around $600. My staples are bumble bee solid white tuna in water, king Oscar sardines, Justin’s almond butter, chick peas, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, frozen vegetables, fresh baby carrots, Rao’s, Pilon coffee, Nong Shim ramen, imported sunflower seed bread and gourmet fruit preserves.
+1 for Justin's almond butter

Why We Buy is available in my public library, I will put in a request for it.
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Ivygirl
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by Ivygirl »

getthatmarshmallow wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 1:58 pm
Ivygirl wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 1:09 pm
getthatmarshmallow wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 8:05 am Re: #4. Some perspective.If you're a typical American, you spend about 9% of your household income on groceries. This is world-historically low. Inflation like we're seeing now moves that to...10%. Still world historically low!! As a Boglehead, with a high income, that's likely not enough to move the needle noticeably in your life. Keep to your budget if you desire, but there's no need to *stress.*
I'm not high income, and I'm not chill about getting poorer. Inflation is cutting into my investment money and retirement is 10 years away. The needle is officially moved.
In that case, it sounds like it's not going to be easy to improve on your system without changing how you cook. You don't have to eat the same thing every day - I don't - but having a regular rotation makes sure that pantry goods get used up and that you can take advantage of sales knowing that you will use it.

Other than that: if you have problems with impulse shopping, if you can do some of your shopping via online ordering/pickup, you can schedule it around decision fatigue.
I have not used online ordering or pickup before, but your point about scheduling around decision fatigue is a good one. I'm an early riser and not tired in the mornings, I could try that.
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by mortfree »

I guess you don’t have floor and wall space in your kitchen to accommodate a stand-alone pantry cabinet?

I like how you have the spreadsheet details as I can see that being a challenge if items need to be stored in various closets.

And tracking the expiry seems really helpful since you can filter and sort by date.
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by Ivygirl »

fposte wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 1:16 pm If you already have price information, you could also identify for yourself the limit of an acceptable price rise--what percentage increase will keep you from buying an item? Are there categories where you have more flexibility than others? That could help minimize the in-store decision making, which seems to be a driving factor in your plan.
Well I used to have price information, but no more. I find prices go up within three days, five days, a week. It's also not unusual that the shelf price is out of date and the item rings up higher.
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ResearchMed
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by ResearchMed »

Ivygirl wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 2:25 pm
fposte wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 1:16 pm If you already have price information, you could also identify for yourself the limit of an acceptable price rise--what percentage increase will keep you from buying an item? Are there categories where you have more flexibility than others? That could help minimize the in-store decision making, which seems to be a driving factor in your plan.
Well I used to have price information, but no more. I find prices go up within three days, five days, a week. It's also not unusual that the shelf price is out of date and the item rings up higher.
I thought it had become illegal, at least in some places, to scan in/charge more than the shelf price.

??

RM
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Ivygirl
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by Ivygirl »

mortfree wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 2:23 pm I guess you don’t have floor and wall space in your kitchen to accommodate a stand-alone pantry cabinet?

I like how you have the spreadsheet details as I can see that being a challenge if items need to be stored in various closets.

And tracking the expiry seems really helpful since you can filter and sort by date.
I could possibly fit in a narrow one if I can find one to suit the space, and move the bottled water to a closet. I'll keep looking for a piece of furniture like this. The back door, a window, and a large open doorway to the living room limit where I could put it. Appreciate the suggestion!
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by AnnetteLouisan »

ResearchMed wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 2:27 pm
Ivygirl wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 2:25 pm
fposte wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 1:16 pm If you already have price information, you could also identify for yourself the limit of an acceptable price rise--what percentage increase will keep you from buying an item? Are there categories where you have more flexibility than others? That could help minimize the in-store decision making, which seems to be a driving factor in your plan.
Well I used to have price information, but no more. I find prices go up within three days, five days, a week. It's also not unusual that the shelf price is out of date and the item rings up higher.
I thought it had become illegal, at least in some places, to scan in/charge more than the shelf price.

??

RM
My dad tells me it’s rampant in NYC right now. Comments on a recent local article confirmed the fact. There are states where ringing up more than the stated price means the consumer gets the item for free.
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by cs412a »

OP, do you have a food budget? That is, have you decided what amount you want to spend on food per week/month?

When I was growing up, we'd have spaghetti with meat sauce early in the month, then spaghetti with butter & parmesan later in the month, as the monthly food budget was spent down. Those particular choices may not appeal to you, but having a set amount you can spend for the month - and working to fit your meals into that budget - should be helpful. You might not be able to eat exactly what you want when you want it, but I'm sure you can find something you enjoy eating within a fixed budget.

Not counting what I spend on subscription coffee, I spend $375/month buying exactly what I want when I want it. If I needed to spend less to stay within my budget, I'd cut back on the pricier items (e.g., strawberries) and buy less of the item or a substitute for those items. (And, needless to say, I'd drop the coffee subscription.)

If you already have a budget, then it doesn't seem like you have a problem. You're living within (or below) your means. You can determine your weekly menu and how you organize your pantry items in any way that works for you.
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by fposte »

Ivygirl wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 2:25 pm
fposte wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 1:16 pm If you already have price information, you could also identify for yourself the limit of an acceptable price rise--what percentage increase will keep you from buying an item? Are there categories where you have more flexibility than others? That could help minimize the in-store decision making, which seems to be a driving factor in your plan.
Well I used to have price information, but no more. I find prices go up within three days, five days, a week. It's also not unusual that the shelf price is out of date and the item rings up higher.
Right, but you can still calculate a difference between the price information you have historically and the shelf price and decide if the difference is too great for you. It's not how I personally would operate because I'm more interested in whether something is taking up too much room in the food budget for what it is, not whether the price is radically different, but a lot of people favor a more price-movement-sensitive approach.

I also like cs412a's point--if you have a food budget and are staying within it, is there even really a problem or just an anxiety? If you don't have a food budget, maybe creating one would help both in creating limits and in creating permission. I'm wondering if another version of your question is "I"m anxious about the effect of inflation on my grocery shopping--what can I do about that?" And I would say a food budget and a combination of flexibility and menu planning are probably the best things to do. Your love of storage suggests you may hope to plan for the future by stocking up now as well: I think as long as you're working within your budget that's fine, but market timing can be a challenge with groceries as well as stocks, so I wouldn't bet on my ability to pick the moment to get the best price.
Turbo29
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by Turbo29 »

ResearchMed wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 2:27 pm
Ivygirl wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 2:25 pm
fposte wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 1:16 pm If you already have price information, you could also identify for yourself the limit of an acceptable price rise--what percentage increase will keep you from buying an item? Are there categories where you have more flexibility than others? That could help minimize the in-store decision making, which seems to be a driving factor in your plan.
Well I used to have price information, but no more. I find prices go up within three days, five days, a week. It's also not unusual that the shelf price is out of date and the item rings up higher.
I thought it had become illegal, at least in some places, to scan in/charge more than the shelf price.

??

RM
It is illegal in most if not all places. However given how quickly prices increase and the current labor problems of stores it is common to not have the shelf label updated in a timely manner.

I have caught the Walmart grocery several times on the same item I had told them about a week before and they always adjusted it right then and there.

One other time I didn't catch the error until I got home so I phoned them and asked them to credit my card. They said I would have to come back to the store to which I replied, "I will call weights and measures and the local news station. Maybe they will care and maybe they won't but do you want to take that chance?" The person on the line then replied, "We will credit your card right now."
It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either of them. --M. Twain
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dratkinson
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by dratkinson »

Shopping list. I use the plain back of junk mail envelope for shopping lists. The shopping list hangs inside a convenient, upper counter, kitchen cabinet door---neater than posting on refrigerator door. I plan to shop ~once/week.

Groceries.
--Pantry. One item/column stack (2-12 items by container size--oat meal, canned peas). Put on list to buy more when low.
--Fresh veggies. Cooked into meatless beef stew, refrigerated, lasts ~1week. Put on list when near bottom of dutch oven.
--Protein. Bagged, frozen chicken, keep ~3bags on hand. Put on list when low.
--Dairy. Milk, cheese,... Put on list when low.
--Salads. 3 bags of prepared salad, with more >7days to expiration when purchased. Put on list when last bag opened. (Bagged Romaine lettuce more durable than Iceberg, opened last.)

Projects.
--Needed items added starting from bottom of shopping (fill gas tank, new reciprocating saw blades to cut up storm damaged tree limbs,...)

When I go shopping, I make a circle to try to buy everything needed in one trip, with the last stop being at the grocery store. I eat before going grocery shopping; if I forget to eat before leaving home, then I stop at Subway for a low-calorie veggie or Back Forest ham sandwich.

With continuing inflation, the stuff I buy today, that I will not need until next month, will be cheaper purchased today, than next month. I decided upon this approach when I went through the gasoline price hikes in the '70s. I came to this understand then, that, if I must drive the car, that it costs just as much to keep the tank full, as it does to keep it near empty, and I could drive further on the remaining gas in a full tank, so fewer total stops saved time, if not money.
Last edited by dratkinson on Mon Jun 20, 2022 4:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
d.r.a., not dr.a. | I'm a novice investor; you are forewarned.
rockstar
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by rockstar »

Veggies have experienced the least amount of inflation, so I'm eating more veggies, which is good for me anyway.

It's hard to stock up on food since it's perishable. This leaves canned foods, which have a longer shelf life.

If you really want to stock up on meat, you'll need a dedicated freezer.
callouscrab
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by callouscrab »

We use https://grocy.info/ to manage our pantry. We love the software running on our cloud instance and the phone app (Android). Makes it very easy to figure out what we have and what we need to get.

The biggest challenge with this or the other app mentioned earlier is to keep the database consistent with what we actually have in the pantry - you have to be very particular to update the app after every consumption!
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Ivygirl
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by Ivygirl »

rockstar wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 3:58 pm Veggies have experienced the least amount of inflation, so I'm eating more veggies, which is good for me anyway.

It's hard to stock up on food since it's perishable. This leaves canned foods, which have a longer shelf life.

If you really want to stock up on meat, you'll need a dedicated freezer.
I considered a freezer but decided no. It would occupy space in my small house, it would use electricity to run, there would be the up-front expense of purchasing it, and in the event of electricity outage everything would spoil. I was out of electricity for 14 days due to an ice storm not long ago.

Instead I buy high-quality canned meat online. 24 14.5-oz. cans occupy a space the size of two shoeboxes and have an expiration date five years from date of canning.
rockstar
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by rockstar »

Ivygirl wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 11:18 am
rockstar wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 3:58 pm Veggies have experienced the least amount of inflation, so I'm eating more veggies, which is good for me anyway.

It's hard to stock up on food since it's perishable. This leaves canned foods, which have a longer shelf life.

If you really want to stock up on meat, you'll need a dedicated freezer.
I considered a freezer but decided no. It would occupy space in my small house, it would use electricity to run, there would be the up-front expense of purchasing it, and in the event of electricity outage everything would spoil. I was out of electricity for 14 days due to an ice storm not long ago.

Instead I buy high-quality canned meat online. 24 14.5-oz. cans occupy a space the size of two shoeboxes and have an expiration date five years from date of canning.
But does that meat taste good?

You have to balance inflation hedges with taste. A lot of the emergency food stuff isn’t good. And the backpacker stuff from mountain house is packed with sodium. This is tough times. My grandma relied on canned food a lot in the 80s. But I don’t remember a lot of it being all that good.
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Ivygirl
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by Ivygirl »

rockstar wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 11:22 am
Ivygirl wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 11:18 am
rockstar wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 3:58 pm Veggies have experienced the least amount of inflation, so I'm eating more veggies, which is good for me anyway.

It's hard to stock up on food since it's perishable. This leaves canned foods, which have a longer shelf life.

If you really want to stock up on meat, you'll need a dedicated freezer.
I considered a freezer but decided no. It would occupy space in my small house, it would use electricity to run, there would be the up-front expense of purchasing it, and in the event of electricity outage everything would spoil. I was out of electricity for 14 days due to an ice storm not long ago.

Instead I buy high-quality canned meat online. 24 14.5-oz. cans occupy a space the size of two shoeboxes and have an expiration date five years from date of canning.
But does that meat taste good?

You have to balance inflation hedges with taste. A lot of the emergency food stuff isn’t good. And the backpacker stuff from mountain house is packed with sodium. This is tough times. My grandma relied on canned food a lot in the 80s. But I don’t remember a lot of it being all that good.
I agree with the canned meat bought from supermarkets, it's sad stuff - greasy and watery with a few lonely gristly bits in it.

This meat is very good. It has two ingredients, meat and sea salt. So far I have bought the turkey and the pork. The pork slides out of the can in a solid mass like dog food, but when heated and teased with a fork it falls apart into excellent pork shreds ready for a BBQ sandwich. I doubt any cans will make it to their expiration date. :)

So far I have not bought anything from an "emergency food" or "backpacker" vendor.
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LilyFleur
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by LilyFleur »

Ivygirl wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 1:09 pm
getthatmarshmallow wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 8:05 am Re: #4. Some perspective.If you're a typical American, you spend about 9% of your household income on groceries. This is world-historically low. Inflation like we're seeing now moves that to...10%. Still world historically low!! As a Boglehead, with a high income, that's likely not enough to move the needle noticeably in your life. Keep to your budget if you desire, but there's no need to *stress.*
I'm not high income, and I'm not chill about getting poorer. Inflation is cutting into my investment money and retirement is 10 years away. The needle is officially moved.
I agree with you. I involuntarily retired this year when I was laid off from a part-time job. (I have "retired" several times, but I decided this was it.) Then one of my young adult children needed significant help for a life-threatening health condition. Will being careful with my food budget help that much in comparison to my expenses this year? Perhaps not, but over the years it has. I am frugal by nature, and I think part of the reason I had the money to help was because I am frugal. Kudos to you for your effort to eat well and spend less! :sharebeer
MP173
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by MP173 »

We have an unofficial "system" that seems to work.

Pantry has dry and canned goods and we do have a freezer. One of our biggest challenges is to use frozen products in a timely manner....meats or vegetables.

We shop at:
Local supermarket - about 3x per month
Aldi - 1x month, perhaps 2x
Costco - 1x month.

We check the local supermarket for sales...typically they will run meats on sale which we stock up on and freeze for future consumption. Aldi and Costco we have certain items which are purchased on a regular basis. Aldi primarily for produce, bread, crackers, yogart, broth, Red Bag Chicken...etc which we know the product and understand the cost vs other locations. Costco is used for certain items, primarily in bulk which can be stored.

Also we are big in gardening with fresh vegetables, often converted to canned or frozen products consumed during the year.

Typically we have a Sunday night dinner (perhaps a roast) which is doubled back on Tuesday. Monday and Wednesday are also prepared meals with Thursday night a buffet of everything left over. Food waste is vastly eliminated, plus I will eat certain leftovers for lunch.

DW is a creative cook...not many recipes as she creates meals out of available products. I grill quite well and during the winter will make soup (in big quantity) which feeds us one meal plus my lunches.

It sure helps to check the weekly sales to see what meats are on sale. Seldom do we pay market price for meats.

Ed
momvesting
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by momvesting »

Like you, I am also not a high-income Boglehead, so we are watching our budget at the grocery store. During the initial shutdown period of Covid, we were very fortunate to have a significant amount of food on hand. I remember before the panic buying, seeing one particular indicator (I will refrain from naming it as it is not currently helpful and is political), and sending my husband out to buy a large quantity of eggs, milk, and meat when I saw this need. But then the grocery stores around us were doing online ordering only and the spots were 2-4 weeks out. We did not know when we could replenish our groceries, so as a family we made one big decision: to cut way back on meat. We decided we would much rather use something like a pound of ground beef to make 2 taco nights (mixing beef with beans to have more filling), and 2 spaghetti nights with minimal meat in the sauce than to use one whole pound of beef for one dinner of hamburgers. We used one steak to make kabobs loaded with veggies, peppers, mushrooms, and onions instead of eating one steak per person. We started eating shredded chicken instead of chicken breasts. We made fish or shrimp tacos. Basically, we cut our meat consumption to about a third of what it was previously by using it as an ingredient in meals we could load up with beans and/or veggies. We no longer eat meals like marinated, grilled chicken breasts or steaks. At the time, it was in an effort to stretch out what we had, but it really changed how we eat and we did not go back. Minimizing meat and filling up on beans and veggies is healthier for the body and the wallet!
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Ivygirl
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by Ivygirl »

LilyFleur wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 1:02 pm
Ivygirl wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 1:09 pm
getthatmarshmallow wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 8:05 am Re: #4. Some perspective.If you're a typical American, you spend about 9% of your household income on groceries. This is world-historically low. Inflation like we're seeing now moves that to...10%. Still world historically low!! As a Boglehead, with a high income, that's likely not enough to move the needle noticeably in your life. Keep to your budget if you desire, but there's no need to *stress.*
I'm not high income, and I'm not chill about getting poorer. Inflation is cutting into my investment money and retirement is 10 years away. The needle is officially moved.
I agree with you. I involuntarily retired this year when I was laid off from a part-time job. (I have "retired" several times, but I decided this was it.) Then one of my young adult children needed significant help for a life-threatening health condition. Will being careful with my food budget help that much in comparison to my expenses this year? Perhaps not, but over the years it has. I am frugal by nature, and I think part of the reason I had the money to help was because I am frugal. Kudos to you for your effort to eat well and spend less! :sharebeer
Thanks. I'm not sure anyone has a good answer for what to do when the grocery budget has to be raised every month, especially when the budgets for every other bill and fuel have to rise too, but I've gotten several good leads to follow from commenters on this thread.

Like you, I want to be prepared to help. Part of the reason I want to have a deep, well-organized pantry is to share with others who get caught short. I have lived in cities for decades but I was raised in the country, and in the country we take food when we visit someone. Homemade banana bread or extra tomatoes from the garden or whatever we have. I have a relative who works in big-box retail and she is really scared. Her car is paid off now but the payment money has disappeared into rising prices so her budget is no better off than it was, she still can't save. She is 61.
dboeger1
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by dboeger1 »

I very much try to avoid decision fatigue in my life, and food shopping can definitely be a big source of it. Even worse, my wife always for some reason decides to have a huge meal right before going shopping and always fails to warn me ahead of time. Whenever we're at the grocery store and she asks me if I need something, food is the last thing I want to think about because I'm stuffed, so I'm of little help.

What I found works for me is weekly buying of vegetables that roast well in the oven, and then buying meat only as needed. Roasting vegetables is easy, delicious, and they can be mixed pretty freely to fit any meal. Meat is what tends to go bad in our household because we tend to buy bigger bulk packs for the savings, but struggle to finish it all in 1-2 meals. Buying on demand eliminates that stress and waste, at the cost of having to make more frequent grocery trips, which is not the end of the world assuming you have a nearby store and can go on slower weekdays. Fruit is best on demand too. Stock up on rice and dried noodles, and you have all you really need.

The downside is I don't really have many proper recipes for interesting meals, since roasted vegetables with a piece of meat and some rice isn't exactly all that exciting after having it every day. But it does free up my mind so when I do feel like making something more interesting or unique, I can just buy the ingredients as needed and not wonder what I have.
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Ivygirl
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by Ivygirl »

momvesting wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 1:28 pm Like you, I am also not a high-income Boglehead, so we are watching our budget at the grocery store. During the initial shutdown period of Covid, we were very fortunate to have a significant amount of food on hand. I remember before the panic buying, seeing one particular indicator (I will refrain from naming it as it is not currently helpful and is political), and sending my husband out to buy a large quantity of eggs, milk, and meat when I saw this need. But then the grocery stores around us were doing online ordering only and the spots were 2-4 weeks out. We did not know when we could replenish our groceries, so as a family we made one big decision: to cut way back on meat. We decided we would much rather use something like a pound of ground beef to make 2 taco nights (mixing beef with beans to have more filling), and 2 spaghetti nights with minimal meat in the sauce than to use one whole pound of beef for one dinner of hamburgers. We used one steak to make kabobs loaded with veggies, peppers, mushrooms, and onions instead of eating one steak per person. We started eating shredded chicken instead of chicken breasts. We made fish or shrimp tacos. Basically, we cut our meat consumption to about a third of what it was previously by using it as an ingredient in meals we could load up with beans and/or veggies. We no longer eat meals like marinated, grilled chicken breasts or steaks. At the time, it was in an effort to stretch out what we had, but it really changed how we eat and we did not go back. Minimizing meat and filling up on beans and veggies is healthier for the body and the wallet!
Stretching out meat is a solid tip that really works. I will use half a pound for spaghetti meat sauce that makes 4 meals, and the other half in a dish I never get tired of, which is hamburger soup (pretty much what it sounds like, vegetable beef soup made with browned hamburger).

I just wish I could eat regular spaghetti instead of paying more for the gluten free stuff made from brown rice and quinoa.
rockstar
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by rockstar »

Ivygirl wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 1:09 pm
getthatmarshmallow wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 8:05 am Re: #4. Some perspective.If you're a typical American, you spend about 9% of your household income on groceries. This is world-historically low. Inflation like we're seeing now moves that to...10%. Still world historically low!! As a Boglehead, with a high income, that's likely not enough to move the needle noticeably in your life. Keep to your budget if you desire, but there's no need to *stress.*
I'm not high income, and I'm not chill about getting poorer. Inflation is cutting into my investment money and retirement is 10 years away. The needle is officially moved.
This is how the dominoes fall. Folks pull back on their investment contributions and the S&P 500 falls even with low unemployment.

I’m guessing your FI number has also changed.

Looks like also shifting to food items that haven’t gone up as fast is another strategy along with eating out less. I’m seeing fewer and fewer people at restaurants at lunch time. I’m expecting restaurants to surprise with lower earnings in Q2.
getthatmarshmallow
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by getthatmarshmallow »

dboeger1 wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 1:36 pm I very much try to avoid decision fatigue in my life, and food shopping can definitely be a big source of it. Even worse, my wife always for some reason decides to have a huge meal right before going shopping and always fails to warn me ahead of time. Whenever we're at the grocery store and she asks me if I need something, food is the last thing I want to think about because I'm stuffed, so I'm of little help.

What I found works for me is weekly buying of vegetables that roast well in the oven, and then buying meat only as needed. Roasting vegetables is easy, delicious, and they can be mixed pretty freely to fit any meal. Meat is what tends to go bad in our household because we tend to buy bigger bulk packs for the savings, but struggle to finish it all in 1-2 meals. Buying on demand eliminates that stress and waste, at the cost of having to make more frequent grocery trips, which is not the end of the world assuming you have a nearby store and can go on slower weekdays. Fruit is best on demand too. Stock up on rice and dried noodles, and you have all you really need.

The downside is I don't really have many proper recipes for interesting meals, since roasted vegetables with a piece of meat and some rice isn't exactly all that exciting after having it every day. But it does free up my mind so when I do feel like making something more interesting or unique, I can just buy the ingredients as needed and not wonder what I have.
The freezer is really useful for us. Find a good deal on a pork loin? Portion it into freezer bags . We've done this even before we had a chest freezer, but it's definitely our biggest hack for reducing meat costs.

Another tip for reducing meat consumption is to think of it as an add-on rather than the center of the dish, complementing legumes. Replace some of the chicken in the rice bowl with chickpeas or lentils. Better for health but preserves more flavor.
rockstar wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 3:00 pm
Ivygirl wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 1:09 pm
getthatmarshmallow wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 8:05 am Re: #4. Some perspective.If you're a typical American, you spend about 9% of your household income on groceries. This is world-historically low. Inflation like we're seeing now moves that to...10%. Still world historically low!! As a Boglehead, with a high income, that's likely not enough to move the needle noticeably in your life. Keep to your budget if you desire, but there's no need to *stress.*
I'm not high income, and I'm not chill about getting poorer. Inflation is cutting into my investment money and retirement is 10 years away. The needle is officially moved.
This is how the dominoes fall. Folks pull back on their investment contributions and the S&P 500 falls even with low unemployment.

I’m guessing your FI number has also changed.

Looks like also shifting to food items that haven’t gone up as fast is another strategy along with eating out less. I’m seeing fewer and fewer people at restaurants at lunch time. I’m expecting restaurants to surprise with lower earnings in Q2.
It's hard to say! There's still a lot of post-pandemic demand, I think, but the issue locally has been finding staff. Lots of places cutting back hours.

I'm not unsympathetic to inflationary costs - by Boglehead standards we're struggling poors 🙃 - but for us, at least, there are easier places to cut (fewer car trips, more vegetarian meals, perfecting my sandwich bread recipe) than optimizing pantry spending, and ivygirl seems like an absolute rockstar there.
LittleMaggieMae
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by LittleMaggieMae »

Ivygirl wrote: Sat Jun 18, 2022 11:35 am
Would appreciate hearing how you keep inventory of your pantry, and make the most of the foods that you buy.
I'm cooking for one. I would think cooking for 2 wouldn't be much different. I suspect if you are feeding more than 2 people you may need to do something different...
#2 Buying Random Things Without a Plan to Use Them.
You avoid this by having a repertoire of "meals" or recipes.
You avoid this by using a Menu Plan
You avoid this by shopping with a list (based on your Meal Plan which is based on your recipes)

Do not shop when you are hungry. Do not go down aisles you do not need to go down (I skip the frozen foods aisles for example). Change grocery shopping from "entertainment" by seeing what you can find to eat to a challenge to "stick to your list".
#1 Decision Fatigue.
you avoid this by Menu Planning. You look out at your upcoming week and you figure out what "meals" you will need and then you decide what you make ahead of time OR what you will need on hand to make the meals.

I tend to menu plan on Wednesday night for the week starting the next Monday. Wednesday is when the sales ads come out (I grocery shop on Thursday night or on Saturday). I tend to cook for the week - on Sunday. I also review what's in my fridge and pantry when I meal plan so I can choose what I have on hand that will use for the next week. I also make my shopping list. I don't need a written "inventory" of what I have on hand. I can see what's in my fridge/freezer and what's in my pantry. OK, I do keep a list of what's in the basement small chest freezer - so I don't have to go down there to see what I've got. :) I'm single. I usually have enough pantry staples to get me thru 6 to 8 weeks of eating...
#3 Food waste.
This is were Menu Planning and a repertoire of recipes comes in. Some of the "recipes" might be really simple things - like tuna salad sandwiches or a can of soup and crackers or PB&Js - meals you can make with what you have in your pantry.

Another helpful thing is to have some 'basic recipes' that you can "riff" on... for example: I can make homemade tomato soup with anything from canned crushed tomatos to canned whole san marzano tomatos. If I have fresh basil - I use it. If I don't I check if I have jarred basil pesto Or a tube of chopped basil in the fridge. I can use frozen onions (I might have bought a 10# bag and then prepped and froze a bunch of onion in 1 cup servings) or a fresh onion or I can "glean" the good parts off the last couple of onions that I realize are starting to go... I always have butter (purchased on sale so there's some in the freezer) and I MIGHT have heavy whipping cream or milk or maybe even some canned milk (if I was using canned milk in some other recipe if there's a bit left over... ). and BAM! Tomato soup!

I do the same thing with Chili and curries and hummus. I always have cans of beans and a variety of lentils on hand. I also have a variety of rice and different shaped pasta on hand. So, yeah, I eat alot of chili - but I have 3 different versions (maybe more if I add meat). I've got at least 5 different curry lentil recipes. I make hummus a variety of ways. I'm a Flexitarian. I eat meat - just not every meal or even every day. You get the idea - think beyond the recipe - how can you change it up? what can you substitute?

Another tip would be to add a "eat the leftover's day" to your menu plan. That's when you use up what you have in your fridge.

#4 Food Price Increases and Shortages.
I do stock up - based on what ingredients go into my "basic" recipes. I wasn't really effected by the shortages at the grocery store. Once I had a Menu Plan and my shopping list - I could substitute or "riff" on the recipes I planned to make if I couldn't find something I needed.

Inflation and shrinkflation haven't been too bad for me.

I'll be honest - my fridge and pantry and freezer are on a Last in First Out (LIFO) schedule. I do a "visual" inventory every couple of weeks to make sure I am planning to use up what needs to be used up first.

Every year in February and March I do a "survivor" challenge - where I try to menu plan solely around what I have at home - no grocery shopping allowed (other than for fresh veggies/dairy/eggs if needed). I check good by dates and try to use up what I have. There is a yearly food drive in May so I will usually have some canned goods, pastas, tuna, peanut butter that haven't reached their best by date that I will donate just to help 'reset' my pantry. And yes, I know I can use most of this stuff myself - even after they have passed their best by date....
dboeger1
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by dboeger1 »

getthatmarshmallow wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 5:17 pm The freezer is really useful for us.
Yeah, we end up freezing a lot of meat as well, but that feeds into another problem which is that our freezer is always packed to the brim. The problem is that in addition to meat, my wife likes to stock up on frozen dumplings and other such things that come in bags rather than boxes. None of them stack well, so opening the freezer door inherently has a non-negligible risk of death by cold, blunt trauma. It doesn't help that many meats don't stack very well either (a bent up rack of ribs can take up a huge amount of effective space). If we could fit a chest freezer, it would be amazing, but alas, we don't have the space.
mary1492
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by mary1492 »

1. You have to be a smart/educated shopper. Know the prices of what you buy. What is a fair price, what is a terrible price, what is a great price? I know the prices of what I regularly buy, and have no issue visiting 3 or 4 stores to get great pricing. One of the local Targets was mispricing their eggs for a few months. I'd regularly place an online order for 3 or 4 dozen and nothing else. The Target is in the same plaza as the grocery store, so takes me an extra 5 minutes to run in to get the eggs. They finally figured out their mistake and jacked the price way up, so now I just buy the 5 dozen pack from Costco. When things you regularly use go on sale, buy more of it than you need for immediate use.

2. A well-stocked freezer and pantry makes things very easy. I only purchase what's on sale. If it's not on sale, I don't buy it. I have the ability to easily throw together probably 8 to 10 weeks worth of meals if I had to without going shopping. I never take a shopping list with me. I have a general idea of what we could use. I simply go through the aisles checking what's on sale. The one thing I will do before heading to the grocery is to check the weekly mailer and digital coupons for anything I might want.

3. Invest in a box of zip-lock sandwich bags (when on sale of course) as well as plastic food containers with lids. Nothing gets thrown in the trash if it hasn't gone bad. Leftovers will always get recycled into another meal or two.

4. Get familiar with your grocer's clearance sections. Learn what day(s)/time(s) the biggest markdowns are done and shop then. Meat and poultry approaching expiration date are fine - use for dinner within a day or two, or straight to the freezer with it. Bakery items on clearance are great - just put them straight into the fridge. Toss them into the toaster or microwave for 15 seconds before using. I can't imagine what kind of preservatives they use these days as the stuff rarely goes bad, even after a month or more! Regardless, if I'm going to buy bakery items (including bagels, rolls, etc.) I may as well get them 50% to 75% off.

5. Buy canned goods and non-perishables in bulk when they go on sale. One time the zip-lock baggies had a major discount, and I took probably 20 boxes. What do I care - they will get used and result in greater savings.

6. Do not fall in love with brand names. Be willing to use store brand or brands you've never heard of. If you need to pacify yourself, pick up the brand name and hold the ingredient list side by side with the no-name brand. Most times they will be identical. Many times, the brand names are simply white-labeling their products for the store brands anyhow. Maybe 10 or 15 years ago, I was comparing Santitas (cheap) and Tostitos (expensive) tortilla chips. After some investigation, I found they were coming out of the same plant.

7. If you have a local Aldi, try it. It's probably 75% their own brands. The quality is excellent, and the prices are great...even with the increases over the past few months. You're not going to have the same selection as a traditional grocer, but do you really need it? I'll buy milk, dairy, and canned goods at Aldi, and some of the produce, which is generally much better priced than the grocery.

8. Review your receipt before walking out the door. I will regularly find incorrect pricing from the register not matching the shelf price. It's annoying when it happens. If the price is wrong, I have absolutely no problem walking back to the shelf, snapping a picture of the shelf price, and going to the customer service desk to get a refund. Know your grocers rules for how incorrectly priced items are handled? Do they just give a credit for the difference? Give you the item for free? Some other way of handling it? Do not simply wave off an incorrect price. That is the grocer stealing from you, your savings, and the future growth of that savings. In my case, it's probably $100 to $150 a year that I get credits for. It's also possible that I get incorrect pricing more often because most all of what I'm buying is (supposed to be) on sale.

Our weekly grocery tab averages $50. Periodically it will go to $75 or $100 if I stock up on something on sale. Every now and then I will skip shopping for a week or two. I haven't changed any of my shopping habits/rituals since inflation has taken off and our grocery bill has not deviated much.
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Ivygirl
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by Ivygirl »

mary1492 wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 7:24 pm 6. Do not fall in love with brand names. Be willing to use store brand or brands you've never heard of. If you need to pacify yourself, pick up the brand name and hold the ingredient list side by side with the no-name brand. Most times they will be identical. Many times, the brand names are simply white-labeling their products for the store brands anyhow. Maybe 10 or 15 years ago, I was comparing Santitas (cheap) and Tostitos (expensive) tortilla chips. After some investigation, I found they were coming out of the same plant.
I don't doubt at all that they are made in the same plant, but is it weird that I can actually tell the difference? Santitas are thick chips that snap off, Tostitos are delicate and shattery when crunched. I like Tostitos texture best for eating with dip.

However Santitas or other inexpensive tortilla chips, even stale ones, are fine for a cooked dish I sometimes make: oil a baking pan, crush a thick layer of tortilla chips in the bottom, layer on a large can of refried beans (and seasoned ground beef if desired), pour over a jar of salsa and about a cup of water, and top with cheese, then bake. I'd say it's about $9 and makes a 13 x 9" pan, maybe 6? servings. Reheats very well. It can be made "taco salad" by adding shredded lettuce and tomato, sour cream if I'm being fancy. The leftovers are good for breakfast with scrambled eggs.

Refried beans, salsa, and tortilla chips are in my pantry, so if I have cheese in the fridge, I've got dinner.

*Editing to add: corn tortillas shredded with a knife can be used for the bottom layer instead of chips, a good way to use up the last of a bag.
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Ivygirl
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by Ivygirl »

I see the potential savings of shopping only the sales, but unfortunately for me that seems to lead to #2 Buying Random Things Without a Plan to Use Them. :oops:
mary1492
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by mary1492 »

Ivygirl wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 10:05 pm I see the potential savings of shopping only the sales, but unfortunately for me that seems to lead to #2 Buying Random Things Without a Plan to Use Them. :oops:
Well, obviously you'd stick to sale items of things you regularly use or have some idea of how you might use it. Pig knuckles may be on sale, but even if they were giving it away I wouldn't take it.

Update...Ok, on second thought, if they were giving pig knuckles away, I might pull out my phone and google for some pig knuckle recipes, and then take them.
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Ivygirl
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by Ivygirl »

mary1492 wrote: Wed Jun 22, 2022 2:54 am
Ivygirl wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 10:05 pm I see the potential savings of shopping only the sales, but unfortunately for me that seems to lead to #2 Buying Random Things Without a Plan to Use Them. :oops:
Well, obviously you'd stick to sale items of things you regularly use or have some idea of how you might use it. Pig knuckles may be on sale, but even if they were giving it away I wouldn't take it.

Update...Ok, on second thought, if they were giving pig knuckles away, I might pull out my phone and google for some pig knuckle recipes, and then take them.
:D I've never had pig knuckles, but hey, oxtail used to be a poverty food, it's just about as odd, and now it's discovered and gourmet, so I guess it could happen for pigs!

Advice on this thread has made me more mindful of sales. My "stack it high and sell it cheap" grocery store had big cans of name-brand baked beans as a loss leader for $2.28 and I made sure to get some. I'm providing for fall and winter since that is when I like to eat beans. I might have walked past that sale before.
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Ivygirl
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by Ivygirl »

Ivygirl wrote: Wed Jun 22, 2022 6:16 am
mary1492 wrote: Wed Jun 22, 2022 2:54 am
Ivygirl wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 10:05 pm I see the potential savings of shopping only the sales, but unfortunately for me that seems to lead to #2 Buying Random Things Without a Plan to Use Them. :oops:
Well, obviously you'd stick to sale items of things you regularly use or have some idea of how you might use it. Pig knuckles may be on sale, but even if they were giving it away I wouldn't take it.

Update...Ok, on second thought, if they were giving pig knuckles away, I might pull out my phone and google for some pig knuckle recipes, and then take them.
:D I've never had pig knuckles, but hey, oxtail used to be a poverty food, it's just about as odd, and now it's discovered and gourmet, so I guess it could happen for pigs!

Advice on this thread has made me more mindful of sales. My "stack it high and sell it cheap" grocery store had big cans of name-brand baked beans as a loss leader for $2.28 and I made sure to get some. I'm providing for fall and winter since that is when I like to eat beans. I might have walked past that sale before.

Edited to add: now googling about pig knuckles...

Editing again to add: OMG yum must try
Topic Author
Ivygirl
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by Ivygirl »

mary1492 wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 7:24 pm 7. If you have a local Aldi, try it. It's probably 75% their own brands. The quality is excellent, and the prices are great...even with the increases over the past few months. You're not going to have the same selection as a traditional grocer, but do you really need it? I'll buy milk, dairy, and canned goods at Aldi, and some of the produce, which is generally much better priced than the grocery.
+ for Aldi! Mine happens to have terrible produce (just this location probably) but I will make a special trip of several miles to stock up on their canned evaporated milk, kitchen trash bags, ziploc-style freezer bags, coconut oil, and chicken/beef bone broth. To me these products are better quality than those bought anywhere else.
mary1492 wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 7:24 pm 8. Review your receipt before walking out the door. I will regularly find incorrect pricing from the register not matching the shelf price. It's annoying when it happens. If the price is wrong, I have absolutely no problem walking back to the shelf, snapping a picture of the shelf price, and going to the customer service desk to get a refund. Know your grocers rules for how incorrectly priced items are handled? Do they just give a credit for the difference? Give you the item for free? Some other way of handling it? Do not simply wave off an incorrect price. That is the grocer stealing from you, your savings, and the future growth of that savings. In my case, it's probably $100 to $150 a year that I get credits for. It's also possible that I get incorrect pricing more often because most all of what I'm buying is (supposed to be) on sale.
I'm too shy to do this :oops: but I probably really should.
mary1492 wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 7:24 pm Our weekly grocery tab averages $50. Periodically it will go to $75 or $100 if I stock up on something on sale. Every now and then I will skip shopping for a week or two. I haven't changed any of my shopping habits/rituals since inflation has taken off and our grocery bill has not deviated much.
I can't manage $50 a week without putting important things back on the shelf. My budget does include cat food and supplies though.
mary1492
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by mary1492 »

Ivygirl wrote: Wed Jun 22, 2022 6:43 am
mary1492 wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 7:24 pm 8. Review your receipt before walking out the door. I will regularly find incorrect pricing from the register not matching the shelf price. It's annoying when it happens. If the price is wrong, I have absolutely no problem walking back to the shelf, snapping a picture of the shelf price, and going to the customer service desk to get a refund. Know your grocers rules for how incorrectly priced items are handled? Do they just give a credit for the difference? Give you the item for free? Some other way of handling it? Do not simply wave off an incorrect price. That is the grocer stealing from you, your savings, and the future growth of that savings. In my case, it's probably $100 to $150 a year that I get credits for. It's also possible that I get incorrect pricing more often because most all of what I'm buying is (supposed to be) on sale.
I'm too shy to do this :oops: but I probably really should.
Absolutely! Nothing to be shy about. It's your money and it is extremely common. Computerization and still having physical shelf price tags created the problem. They will not give you a hassle, it doesn't come out of their pocket, and generally they are more focused on customer satisfaction these days. They are all very aware that Aldi is in the neighborhood and you can just as easily shop there. When you see it happen, make it easy for them - go snap the picture of the shelf price and be sure you purchased the right item and not something that was in the wrong place with the wrong shelf tag. They want to resolve it as quickly as they can and get you on your way. They generally just scan your receipt and then credit it back to your card. Periodically they'll just give me cash.
Ivygirl wrote: Wed Jun 22, 2022 6:43 am
mary1492 wrote: Tue Jun 21, 2022 7:24 pm Our weekly grocery tab averages $50. Periodically it will go to $75 or $100 if I stock up on something on sale. Every now and then I will skip shopping for a week or two. I haven't changed any of my shopping habits/rituals since inflation has taken off and our grocery bill has not deviated much.
I can't manage $50 a week without putting important things back on the shelf. My budget does include cat food and supplies though.
Yes - we have no pets...just the two of us...empty nest.
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Ivygirl
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by Ivygirl »

Stumptowngal wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 11:50 am
Ivygirl wrote: Mon Jun 20, 2022 7:22 am [quote=goaties post_id=6736854 time=<a href="tel:1655717799">1655717799</a> user_id=17122]
Finally, I have begun ordering 5 pound bags of nuts from online suppliers such as ifsbulk.com. Twenty-five pound bags of millet. Usually much cheaper than buying that stuff in the store, although with shipping charges, you need to do the math to make sure. I freeze all grains and flours for at least a week before storage to kill any eggs which would otherwise hatch in our hot humid summers. I repackage big bags into smaller gallon ziploc bags before freezing, obviously! My freezer isn't huge.
Can you tell me some ways you cook with millet? I can't eat wheat, rye, or barley at all, and would be interested in adding a non-gluten grain to my meals.


I don’t store large amounts of millet but I do keep some on hand. I enjoy making millet muffins or bread; sweet potato millet stew; millet veggie cakes ( similar to using left over risotto, egg and veggies). It’s also easy just to add a bit while when cooking old-fashioned oatmeal for a bit of crunch. Very easy to get creative with it.
I almost missed this. Goaties has gotten me to try millet. Stumptowngal, are you willing to share about sweet potato millet stew? Sounds good.
finfire
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Re: Pantry Inventory and Grocery Shopping in Time of Inflation

Post by finfire »

I'll take a little waste over creating another spreadsheet for data that changes constantly. Life is too short.

Typically, I look in fridge and pantry. Make a meal plan for week , then shop for what I need.
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