Food Storage: Bean Cooking Tips

Here are some great tips for cooking beans I’ve come across. Just thought I’d share them with y’all! Have a great week!! (I won’t be posting this week due to some crazy family schedules, but enjoy all the other reading there is to do!) 🙂

Tips for Cooking Beans

  • During hot summer weather, soak your beans in the fridge to prevent fermentation.
  • Drain off soaking water to reduce gas. 🙂
  • After soaking, get rid of any beans that have floated to the top.
  • If you soak your beans, but don’t have time to cook them, you can store them in the fridge in a tightly sealed container for 2 to 3 days before you cook them.
  • Just prior to cooking the beans, bring your cooking water up to a hard boil for five minutes.
  • To keep beans from splitting, cook over low steady heat.
  • Add salt and other acidic ingredients (like tomatoes and vinegar) once the beans are tender (especially if you’re having trouble with consistently tough beans).
  • Bean dishes are generally better the next day because they continue to thicken and blend their flavors as they cool. So if you want a great make ahead meal, beans are a great option!
  • Make a big batch of beans and freeze the extras for use at a later date.
  • If you plan to freeze beans, undercook them slightly (so they don’t lose their shape and texture as they thaw and reheat).
  • To freeze beans: Allow the beans to cool just to room temperature (about 1 hour), then place useable portions of the cooked beans into freezer bags or air tight containers with enough liquid (use the cooking liquid if available) to barely cover them (so they don’t get dried out or freezer burn). Make sure there’s room in the container for expansion of the beans as they freeze. Place in the freezer and keep for up to 3 months or so (6 months for a deep freeze).
  • To thaw and reheat frozen beans: It is best to thaw beans slowly so they don’t lose their shape and become mushy. Thaw in the fridge overnight if possible, in a pan of warm water, or in the microwave on the defrost setting (only if they are in a microwave safe container!). Once they are thawed enough to be removed from their container, put them in a saucepan with your choice of cooking liquid to reheat and finish cooking. Bring the beans slowly to a boil over about medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20-30 minutes, or until the beans are tender (depending on how ‘undercooked’ they were when you froze them). If they were fully cooked when you froze them, then cook them just long enough to reheat them.
  • Don’t cook kidney beans in the crock pot method. They need to boil first! (Red kidney beans contain a substance called phytohemagglutinin. It’s neutralized by boiling, but not by sub-boiling temps. If you eat raw or undercooked red kidney beans, you will be in for serious gastrointestinal trouble for the rest of the day, though it won’t kill you. White kidney beans don’t have as much phytohemagglutinin, but it’s still a good idea to make sure they come to a boil. Source.)

For other information on how to cook beans, click HERE.

Feature Friday: Eggshells in the Garden!

When I attended the gardening lecture at my local library, there was a tip that the lecturer threw out in passing and I almost missed it. She said, “Save your eggshells, crush them up and throw them around your trees.” Now that may seem obvious to some of you, but for me, who is still new to gardening and composting and the like, this seemed like a pretty random thing to do. But it intrigued me, so I wrote it down and came home and looked it up. And sure enough! Eggshells have a variety of uses in the garden. Let’s take a look at some, shall we? 😀

1. Sprinkle crushed eggshells around your vegetable plants to keep cutworms, slugs and snails away. (The crushed shells either cut them or just cause too much discomfort for them to crawl across and they almost always retreat.)

2. Use crushed eggshells around your fruit trees for a boost of calcium. (Did you know that 95% of an eggshell is calcium carbonate? Perfect food for plants!)

3. Mix crushed eggshells into your garden soil for a calcium boost. This is especially helpful in areas where you will be planting peppers, tomatoes, squash, or eggplant, which are susceptible to calcium-deficient diseases (like blossom end rot). You can even stick some crushed eggshells directly in the holes where you will plant the seeds. Granted, the shells will likely not break down fast enough to be of immediate help, but they will sure benefit a later season’s crops!

4. Use the eggshells (uncrushed) to make a potting shell. (Look for this on a future Feature Friday!)

5. Add the shells to your compost pile to add valuable nutrients to whatever your compost will eventually go towards.

Regardless of how you’ll be using them, be sure to rinse your eggshells and then allow them to dry out (otherwise you may end up with pesky animals in your yard who are attracted to the sticky residue). Then, for each of these uses (with the exception of #4), crush your eggshells by placing them in a plastic bag and hitting with a rolling pin, a cup, or anything you have on hand (awesome for getting out any frustrations.) 😉 If using the shells for pest control, leave them at this phase where they are small with plenty of sharp edges. However, if you are going to add them to the soil for calcium, place the crushed shells into a blender or food processor and process until the shells become a powder. (The finer you process it, the more quickly it will break down and become of use in the soil.) Then simply sprinkle it around your fruit trees, vegetable garden, and in potted plants as well.

And here’s another helpful hint: If you hard boil your eggs, save the water that you cook the eggs in. The water will have all sorts of nutrients in it that have leached out from the eggs. Allow the water to cool to room temperature and then use it to water at the base of your plants and vegetables.

Well, you just can’t beat free nutrition (or pest control for that matter)! So start saving those eggshells and best wishes in your gardening efforts!

Food Storage: 7 Points To A Successful Garden

Hey y’all! Since we’re quickly running out of time before gardening season is in full swing, I’m going to be cramming as much information in as possible in the next few weeks, hopefully without burning anyone out on the topic. 🙂

To start off, I want to share some of the information I learned at the gardening lecture I attended with a master gardener. I was a few minutes late (trying to feed some kids some dinner!), so I may have missed some good details on the first two points she covered, but I’ll share what I’ve got! 🙂

7 Points To A Successful Garden

  1. Raised Garden Bed
  2. Excellent Soil or Compost
  3. Proper Germination
  4. Adequate Sunshine
  5. Even Watering
  6. Proper Fertilization
  7. Mulching

Raised Bed: As I’ve mentioned before, a lot of the ground here in our area is just clay. You cannot grow a garden in clay. Well, not a good one anyway. So if you live in an area with difficult soil, the very first thing you need to do is make a raised bed. I like having borders on mine to contain the area, but your raised bed could be as simple as dumping a bunch of good soil in a mound. The height of your raised bed will be determined by what you want to plant. If you want plants/crops that have a simple root system, then about 6-8 inches deep would suffice. If you want to grow root crops (carrots, potatoes, onions, etc.) then you will want your bed to be a bit deeper (around 12 inches deep or so).

Excellent Soil or Compost: I’m so bummed I missed her information on this because I think it’s where I’m lacking most. But yes, excellent soil that is nutrient rich is definitely a key to a successful garden. The plants must have nutrients in order to grow well. If your soil is depleted of nutrients, the plants won’t thrive. If your soil is too sandy, all the nutrients and water you put in it will just wash away. So get some great soil to start with and you won’t regret it. I overheard a comment the master gardener made during a break in the meeting, and she said you’ll likely know if you’re buying good soil because it will be expensive. The cheap stuff is just blech. Don’t waste your money on it. (Uh… that might have been one of our initial problems.) 🙂 There are things you can do to enhance the soil you’ve got to make it more manageable, but that’s a whole topic on its own (we’ll try and get to that sometime!).

Proper Germination: Crops should be planted as early as possible in the spring and fall so the vegetables can grow and mature during ideal conditions. Sometimes this means you will need to start your seeds indoors (or purchase transplants instead of seeds) in order for plants to be outdoors at the optimal time. A tip for planting seeds, soak your seeds for 1-2 hours before you plant. This speeds up the germination process. (I soaked my lettuce seeds for about 2 hours prior to planting and they were popping up out of the ground 2-3 days later! We were shocked!)

Adequate Sunshine: Most plants/crops need full sun in order to grow well. This means they need a minimum of 6 hours of full sun each day. (So make sure you pick your garden location appropriately.)

Even Watering: She kind of glossed over this part, I guess assuming it’s pretty self-explanatory? But some things to know about watering are 1) use enough water to wet the soil down to at least 6 inches deep; 2) most gardens need about 1 inch of rain or irrigation per week during the growing season; 3) light, sandy soils need to be watered more often than heavier, dark soil and hot/dry areas need to be watered more often than more moderate climates; and 4) avoid getting the plant leaves wet if possible (a drip system is best), but if not, be sure to water in the mornings so the plants have time to dry before night (this will help prevent diseases from developing).

Proper Fertilization: Fertilization adds important nutrients to the soil to help the crops grow. There’s enough information on fertilizing to warrant its own post at a later date, but until then I’ve got a few good homemade tips. Sprinkle epsom salts around your trees, vegetables (peppers and tomatoes to be specific), or mix it into your soil prior to planting for better germination and growth (click HERE for application tips). You can do the same thing with alfalfa pellets (you can find them at a feed store… they’re rabbit food). And don’t forget your eggshells from the kitchen! Crunch those up and add them to your garden soil or compost pile for a boost of calcium (more on this to come as well!). Banana peels, orange peels… they’re all good for your garden and free from your kitchen!

Mulching: Confession, I have heard this term in use ever since I started trying to learn more about gardening, but hadn’t a clue what it meant and was too embarrassed to ask. So forgive me if this is old hat to some, but now that I know what it is, I’ll explain it for anyone who doesn’t yet know. 🙂 Mulch is a lot like compost in that it is simply ‘stuff’ (preferably organic stuff- leaves, pine needles, newspaper, etc) you add to your garden to help it grow. Mulch, however, is only added to the top of your soil (kind of like a blanket- and you don’t mix it in) and it’s purpose is to protect the plants by preventing weeds, aiding in even moistness of the soil, keeping bugs at bay, etc. You mulch in between your plants, but not on top of them. I will do another post on mulching in the coming weeks as well for more in depth information and details.

So there you have it. Seven helpful points to a beautiful, bountiful, successful garden. Stay tuned for some super cool ideas, deeper details, and top secret formulas to help your garden blossom and bloom! 🙂

Frugal Friday: Homemade Pest Control

Well, I just spent a hefty chunk of change getting my house sprayed for bugs. I hate bugs. They do NOT belong in my home! Outside is another story… that’s their home. But inside is mine. (Although, I don’t particularly enjoy them outside either. :))
Anyway, I’ve heard of homemade bug remedies before but never really looked into them. But now, realizing how expensive professional help can be, I decided to give the homemade remedies a gander. So after doing some checking, here are some of my favorite homemade pest controls that use everyday household items and seem to solve the most common bug problems:
For Ants:

  • Use vinegar. Wash countertops, cabinets, and the floor with equal parts vinegar and water to deter ant infestations.
  • Flour and Borax*. Mix 1 cup flour and 2 cups borax in a quart jar. Punch holes in the jar lid and sprinkle the mixture outside around the foundation of your home.

For Flies:

  • Prevention: Keep the kitchen garbage tightly closed. Sprinkle dry soap or borax* into garbage cans after they’ve been washed and dried; it acts as a repellent.
  • Orange. Scratch the skin of an orange and leave it out; the citrus acts as a repellent.
  • Cloves. Hang clusters of cloves to repel flies.
  • Mint or Basil. Mint planted around the home repels flies. A pot of basil set on the windowsill or table will also repel flies (and well-watered basil produces a stronger scent).
  • Sugar and Syrup. You can make your own fly paper using sugar, syrup, and water. Click HERE and/or HERE for examples and instructions.

For Mice:

  • Mashed Potato Powder or Buds. Place instant mashed potato powder or buds in strategic places with a dish of water close by. After eating the powder or buds mice will need water. This causes fatal bloating. *Gross!*

For Mosquitos:

  • Prevention: Encourage natural predators such as dragonflies or praying mantises. Eliminate pools of stagnant water as they are a breeding ground for mosquitos. Perfumes, bright colors, flowery prints, and bright jewelry attract mosquitos.
  • Tansy or Basil. Plant tansy or basil around the patio and house to repel mosquitos

For Moths:

  • Note: If you can see moths, these aren’t the ones to worry about. Moths that cause damage to clothes are too small to notice. It is the larvae of these moths that eat fabric.
  • Prevention: Store items in a clean condition (moths especially like areas soiled with food stains or perspiration and will lay eggs in those areas– so don’t let your dirty clothes sit in the dirty hamper for too long) :); shake out your stored clothes periodically and hang in sunlight (this will kill the fragile larvae); keep your closet clean and dusted (moths love dust as much as fabric)
  • Rosemary, Mint, Thyme, Cloves, Peppercorns, Cayenne Pepper, Etc. Make a sachet out of a mixture or herbs and natural items such as the ones listed. Hang them in your closet, throw them in a drawer, etc. Be sure to tie them up well in the sachet so they don’t fall out and stain your clothes.
  • Dried Lavender or Rosemary and Mint. Make sachets of dried lavender or equal parts of rosemary and mint. Place in closets, drawers, and closed containers to mothproof garments.
  • Molasses, Vinegar, and Yellow Container. Make your own moth trap. Click HERE and/or HERE for instructions.

For Roaches: (my LEAST favorite! Yuck!!)

  • Prevention: Close off all gaps around pipes and electric lines where they enter the house. Caulk small cracks along baseboards, walls, cupboards, and around pipes, sinks, and bathtub fixtures. Seal food tightly. Wash food off dishes that will be left out overnight. Do not leave pet food out overnight.
  • Flour, Cocoa Powder, and Borax*. Mix together 2 Tbsp flour, 4 Tbsp borax, and 1 Tbsp cocoa powder. Set the mixture out in dishes. (Caution: Borax is toxic if eaten. Do NOT use this method around small children or pets.)
  • Borax* and Flour. Mix 1/2 cup borax and 1/4 cup flour and fill a mason jar. Punch small holes in the lid and sprinkle the mixture along baseboards and doorsills. (Caution: Borax is toxic if eaten. This method may not be for you if you have young children and/or pets.)
  • Oatmeal, Flour, and Plaster of Paris. Mix equal parts and set in dishes. Keep out of reach of children and pets.
  • Baking Soda and Powdered Sugar. Mix equal parts and spread around the infested area(s).

For Slugs and Snails:

  • Sand, Lime, or Ashes. Snails avoid protective borders of sand, lime, or ashes.

So if you’ve got a problem with any of the aforementioned pesky pests, you may want to give some of these solutions a try before you go shelling out the big bucks for a pro. Here’s wishing you a bug-free weekend! Ta-ta! 🙂

*CAUTION: Borax is toxic if eaten, so please keep it out of the reach of children or pets. You may need to use other remedy options if you have young children or pets in your home.

Source and additional homemade pest control remedies: http://www.surfinthespirit.com/home/pest-control.html

Frugal Friday: Money Saving Grocery Shopping Tips

Hey ya’ll! Since we’ve moved into our shopping portion of ‘The Plan’, I thought it might be a good idea to brush up on our grocery shopping tips and tricks to help us save a little time and money at the store.
Here’s a compilation of all the shopping tips I could find (well, the good ones anyway :))…

  1. Eat before you go! Duh. But do it! You’re far less likely to make impulse purchases if your tummy isn’t grumbling at you.
  2. Make a list of what you need before you go and then stick to it. Obviously if you see something at the store that should have been on your list but you forgot to write down, then go ahead and get it. But try to avoid any of those impulse purchases that you really don’t need and really can’t afford.
  3. Shop less. Try not to go to the store more than once a week. Not only will this save gas, but it also gives you fewer opportunities to make those blasted impulse purchases.
  4. Buy ‘Loss Leaders’. These are the real bargain items that are designed to get customers in the door (stores often sell these items at or below cost). You can often identify them because they will have a limit to how many you can buy. (But don’t just buy them because they’re there. Only buy them if you’ll use them!) So check the store circulars to see what incentives they’ve got and then add them to your list.
  5. Try store/generic brands. You may like them! And if not, most stores will refund your money.
  6. Coupons. Use them if you can handle it. Some stores don’t even need coupons. You can go online and upload sale prices to their ‘frequent shopper cards’ and then just scan that at the store. Either way, try to take advantage of the discounted offers out there.
  7. Stock up when items are on sale. I know some people say they never buy anything unless it’s on sale. Props to them. I’m not quite there yet, but it’s something I aspire to. 🙂 But I do try to stock up when there is a really good price.
  8. And on that note, know what a ‘really good price’ is. Just because something is in the advertisement flyer doesn’t mean it’s on sale. And 1 or 2 pennies off the regular price doesn’t exactly constitute a ‘sale’ in my book either, although the store will often tell you otherwise. So don’t get tricked by those little gimmicks.
  9. Shop the ‘Unit Price’. Sometimes buying in bulk is actually more expensive than buying the smaller/individual sizes! So check the unit price to find what is actually the better deal. (You can usually find the unit price on the sticker shelf label that lists the package price. If not, use a calculator and just divide the total price by the ounces in the package.)
  10. Remember that higher priced items are usually put at eye-level. So be sure to check the top and bottom shelves for better buys.
  11. Avoid ‘convenience foods’ when looking for the best deal (unless they’re on a fabulous sale). Sometimes I will buy pre-packaged or pre-sliced items because my time is more important than the money. But that is a rare occasion… or at least it should be. 🙂 It is much more cost effective to buy whole items and then cut them up yourself.
  12. Check expiration dates on dairy items as well as sale items. Frequently the items on sale are the ones that are about to expire. So don’t buy it if you won’t be able to use it before it’s gone bad. You’ll just be throwing away your money… no matter how good of a deal it was.
  13. Watch the scanner when checking out. This can be hard to do if you’re still unloading your cart (or if you have two wiggly toddlers running around), but errors occur more often than many of us think. If you catch an error in the price, some stores will give you the item for free. If not, at least you avoided overpaying. If you can’t watch the scanner, you could also check your receipt before you leave the store. But for me, once I’m out of the store, if I overpaid, it’s more of a hassle to go back and deal with the issue than to lose the amount of money I overpaid by (especially if I have kids in tow and ice cream that’s ready to melt). So try to catch it right when it happens.

Alright. Well that about does it. 13 tips. A baker’s dozen. Do you have any tips that work for you? Feel free to share it with the other readers in the comments. In the meantime, enjoy your weekend and happy shopping to ya’ll!

Food Storage: Shelf Life & Expiration Dates

Hey all. I’m still not sane enough from all the organizational lists to move on to the shopping part just yet (give me one more week :)). So instead I wanted to quickly give you another thing to think about regarding the recipes you choose to use for your year supply, and that is shelf life and expiration dates. MOST foods that are shelf stable will last for over a year, which means you can easily gather a year supply of them without them going bad before you use them. However, there are a few that have a bit of a shorter shelf life, i.e. mayonnaise. Mayonnaise generally has more like a 6-8 month shelf life, cereal is generally around 10 months, a lot of snack foods won’t last a year (chips, crackers, cookies, applesauce in the serving size containers (the big jars last MUCH longer), etc). So my point is: 1) plan accordingly, and 2) check expiration dates.

Plan Accordingly
You can still plan for a year supply of meals that contain ingredients like mayo. You’re just going to have to get a little creative. 🙂 For example, just stock up on the rest of your ingredients for that meal as usual and then only get a 6 month supply or so of the mayo (so that you don’t just keep throwing away mayo that has expired). Just keep restocking your mayonnaise as usual (each time you use one, buy another and rotate). And then plan for what to do if the time comes when you have to live off your year supply and can’t get any additional mayo past your 6 month supply. Did you know you can make homemade mayo? (I’m sure I’ll post that sometime, but for now you can always just Google it.) Just plan to have ingredients on hand to make your mayo if you can’t buy it from the store. Ta-da! Problem solved. Of course, one of the ingredients for mayo is egg (not shelf stable), so there again… another reason to give powdered eggs a try. 🙂
So before you throw in the towel on some recipes due to a complication here or there, remember to think outside the box! You can also make homemade tortillas and tortilla chips! So if you’ve got lots of recipes with those, be prepared to have those ingredients on hand too! (And, yep… you guessed it… there will be a post on those in the future as well.) 🙂

Check Expiration Dates
This seems to go without saying, but it’s easy to forget to do! Before I started doing my food storage this way, I rarely (if ever) checked the expiration dates on the food I was buying. I’m still not perfect at it, but it’s really very helpful to do. One of the biggest things I’ve noticed is that different stores will give you longer/shorter expiration times on the same food (I think this is often by chance and based on when the store got their last ‘batch’ of canned goods in (or whatever product you’re looking at)). But, for example, I can buy a can of corn at Store X and have it expire in 10 months, or I can go to Store Y and have the corn last for 2 years. So if I’m needing to buy more corn, and I check the expiration date and see that the cans at this store are only good for 10 more months (when I know it can last for about two years), I may hold off until I can find corn that will last longer. (Or you can sometimes try and find later expiration dates towards the back of the shelf.) The basic point of this is: if you know a product can last longer than a year, don’t buy ones that are due to expire in less than a year.
And by this same token, don’t kill yourself trying to memorize the shelf life of every product on your food storage list! It will come. In bits and pieces, you’ll start remembering little things like ‘corn can last for 2 years’ and ‘mayo will only last about 6 months’, etc. (And if you’re a veteran shopper, you probably have this down pat!) But I know some people who make lists of what stores have what prices and where the best deals for this that and the other are… and honestly, by the time I’m done trying to do all that, I want nothing to do with a grocery store ever again! So for me, it works better to just let it come naturally. If I lose a few pennies in the process or my canned goods expire earlier than others I could have found, well then so be it! But the more I’ve been doing this, the more I remember what stores have what types of bargains, how long certain products will last, etc. and I’m not killing myself in the process (well… sometimes I still try to push it too far, but I’m getting better! :)). I try to just do what will work for me and keep me sane. May I recommend you do the same? Because again… once you reach burn out, you’re much more likely to just throw your hands in the air and be done with it (which is exactly what we’re trying to avoid). 🙂

So there you have it. My two tips worth two cents and the best of luck two you. 😀

Organization Lists: Tips, Tricks & Forms

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.

Blank Forms

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! 🙂