Now that you’ve Found the Pantry You Didn’t Have and spent time deciding What to Put in the Pantry and Organizing it, how do you make sure none of that neatly organized food goes to waste? Isn’t that the ultimate problem with having staples on hand? Here are nine tips for actually using the food in your pantry.

Pantry Inventory

1. Start by making an inventory. Post the list with check boxes for when people take items out of the pantry. (ProTip: if you hang a white board you can list your staples in permanent marker and use dry erase markers for the check marks, then you can simply erase the marks when you re-stock. Permanent marker will come off of a white board by tracing over the lines with a dry erase marker followed by Windex and a paper towel, if you ever need to change the list.)

When you shop, be sure to rotate your “stock” when you unload the new groceries. Oldest items should always be in the front, so they get used first. (No, you really won’t remember to grab a can from the back. Take the extra 30 seconds to do it right every time you put away groceries.)

Once per quarter, double check your inventory. It’s a great time to plan a week of use-up-the-food-on-hand meals, which does double duty of refreshing inventory and giving your grocery budget a break.

On a regular basis:

Make your shopping list

Shop from pantry first – marking things off list as you go

While you are “shopping” check pantry for items to replenish and add them to your list

Watch for sales and/or big box stores for bulk purchases of items you use regularly

Don’t buy specialty items in bulk unless they don’t ever expire AND you have room in the pantry (or if the sale/bulk price is lower than the price of a smaller amount, but then buy it and give away the excess)

Be sure everyone knows to let you know when they open/use the last of anything in the pantry. We have an electronic list and all of our children who cook plus my husband and I have access to the list to add things as needed. We always put the date added in parenthesis after adding it so the shopper knows it’s a recent addition. You can do this on paper, in a to-do app, in a shopping app, on the calendar – but make sure it’s someplace to which everyone has access.