After last weeks bombardment of lists and information, I wanted to give you some tips & tricks, or things to consider when making those lists that may help make it easier. I’m also going to give you some blank forms to use that will hopefully help to get you started as well (if you haven’t already :)).
So let’s see… I’ll break this down by lists.
List #1: This is pretty self-explanatory. We’re just taking our recipes we gathered and doing that multiplication I talked about in the ‘Multiply and Replenish’ post. I decided to switch my breakfast and lunch meals to a monthly multiplication system (in addition to the dinner meals) because I felt like I could get more accurate numbers of how many times I actually eat/make a meal. But if you’re using a weekly rotation for breakfast and lunch (and even dinner for that matter), your list might look more like this:
Another tip you could try to get more accurate numbers is to use decimal numbers. If you looked at the FS Organization Lists .pdf file for the meals, you’ll see that in some places I put a (.5) for the amount. That doesn’t mean I’m making half of the meal. It means I only make the meal about half the time of whatever system (weekly or monthly) I’m using. So, looking at the example above, if I had a (.5) for the times per week that I make hashbrowns, that means that I make them every other week, instead of 1 time a week. Or the same thing for months. If I had it for .5 times a month, that means I make it every other month. That helps keep amounts a little more realistic for those meals that you really don’t make ‘that often’.
List #2: This one is also pretty self-explanatory. But like I said, it’s a bear! So my tip for this one is to take your time! Do this one on paper first so that you can do it while you’re watching tv, or while you’re outside relaxing in the sun. You could just take all your recipes, keep them in their original form, and do the math right on the recipe cards or books and that would save you from having to re-write all the ingredients. However, that would make for a lot of papers, recipe cards, books, etc all over the place and trying to keep track of all of that and keep it organized is more of a nightmare for me than to actually write the ingredients over again. Doing them all in one list makes List #3 a lot easier as well. So that is why I opted for making a List #2. You choose what is better for you.
List #3: Alright. Last week I told you that when you’re combining the amounts for a certain ingredient (which is the purpose of this list) to be sure to convert them into a matching form. i.e. convert all of your sugar measurements into teaspoons, tablespoons, or cups so that you can actually add them together. The easiest way to do that is with a measurement converter. Here’s a link to an online measurement converter, so you can easily convert tsp to Tbsp to cups or to whatever you want.
The other thing to think about when deciding which measurement form to use, is what is the measurement form used on the actual product you buy? So, for example, salt. A canister of salt lists a serving as 1/4 teaspoon and then tells me how many servings are in the canister. So I can easily figure out how many teaspoons are in that canister. This being the case, I may want to put my ‘total salt number’ on this list in teaspoons so that it’s easy to know how many canisters I need to have. A serving of sugar is also listed in teaspoons on its’ bag, as well as things like baking powder, baking soda, cornstarch, etc. Flour is listed in cups. Pasta is by ounces and/or pounds. Cheese is by ounces, however if you buy the pre-grated kind it almost always lists the amount of cups in the package as well. So just take that into account. Looking back at the example list I gave you last week, I would probably go back and change my ‘sugar’ total amount to be 720 teaspoons instead of 15 cups.
And on that same note, it would also be helpful to go ahead and put right on the list how many canisters, bags, boxes, etc of your item that ‘total number’ equates to. So, again, looking at sugar… I could put 720 teaspoons for the total number and then below that, or in a new column (which I think I’ll go ahead and create) I could put ‘2 (4 lb) bags’. (Obviously these are not accurate numbers… I go through a lot more than 2 bags of sugar in a year.) Doing that will make it a lot easier to do an inventory if I just know how many bags of sugar I’m supposed to have, or boxes of baking soda, etc versus trying to figure out how many teaspoons of everything I have in stock. Agree? Agree. Glad we’re on the same page. 🙂
Oh. And another tip… you may want to do an inventory more frequently than twice a year if you’re really not good at restocking what you use. Three or four times a year might be better in that case to help stay on track. 🙂
List #4: Hm… this isn’t a very tricky list. It’s pretty cut-and-dry. One thing that may help is to wait until the end of the day to mark your tallies for what you had. This may help keep you from feeling like you’re on a diet and having to keep track of every little thing that you eat. 🙂 Or if you’re really good at remembering what you eat… you can wait until the end of the week to mark the sheet. My memory isn’t that good, so once a day would probably be better for me. 🙂
Well, I guess that about covers the Tips & Tricks! If you find something that really helps you out in your process, please share it! These are all obviously only things I have discovered that have helped me. But I’m positive there are lots more brilliant ideas out there! So if you’ve got one, just leave a comment so others can enjoy it as well.
And for those who would like them, here are the blank lists I’ve made for you to use.
Blank Food Storage Organization Lists
All four lists are on one Excel form. When you open the file, you’ll see 4 tabs at the bottom. Those are the four different lists. (Just a heads up… on List #1: FS Monthly Menu, the file is set to do the math for you. So just type in your ‘times per wk/mo’ and a ’52’ or ’12’ for the other column, and it will multiply it for you.) I also put an example on each page in italics just to remind you what goes on each page. Just delete them or type right on over them. If anyone needs it in a form other than Excel, let me know and I’ll see what I can do. Enjoy and good luck! 🙂