Scaling Down Grocery Stockpile

cathycdkFebruary 7, 2007

It's time for us to start using up food in our pantries and freezers and other stockpiles such as toiletries and cleaning products in anticipation of a majaor move. Has anyone implemented an "inventory reduction meal plan"? What types of things should we move? Spices for example?


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Some things to keep in mind (since you don't say what time of the year you are moving) - if it's during this freezing weather, your canned goods (commercially canned, and home canned) could freeze (even burst open). This can make them dangerous to use after they thaw. Frozen canned goods can develop tiny openings in the can seams which will expose the food to oxygen and lead to spoiling. Home canned foods will expand and can destroy the seal of the lid.

If you are moving when it's really hot, then your foods can degrade quickly from temperatures higher than room temperature (room temperature is the optimum storage temperature for most boxed/canned foods) - depending on how long the move is going to take (across town or across the country - you didn't say). Any liquids (shampoo, tooth paste, etc.) will also be affected by heat and cold.

You can make a food inventory and use your list to create your own weekly menus. Take a calender and pencil in your menus for the day, using foods on hand, until they are used up. Whatever is left, donate to a food bank.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 4:25PM
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You never realize how much stuff you have until it's time to move it. We moved on average of every three years from 1960 to 1970 - Dad worked for the Veteran's Admin. and those were the big years for promotions and moves. Mom had the system pretty well down pat.

How soon is your expected move? Will things be in storage? Are you trying to cut down on the weight of your household goods?

Canned goods and spices, pantry shelf items (rice, pastas, cereals...) etc. are easy to box and transport, but meat and frozen items arent. We did a lot of soups, stews, casseroles - all of which are really good at using stuff up - as well as regular meat meals. Best thing would be to take an inventory of the freezer items since those would be the "unmoveable" items. I'll bet on the recipe exchange forum you could get some good meal planning ideas.

We'd try to use up the cleaning supplies getting the house ready to vacate, but liquid soap, dish washer detergent, cans of Ajax, laundry soap can easily be sealed and boxed up. Anything nearly gone would be pitched. Personal items and toiletries the same - everyone had a box marked "personal items". You don't want to get into your new house and find you have to go and do a major shopping to replace everything.

I wish you good luck!

    Bookmark   February 7, 2007 at 5:17PM
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I wouldn't move spices -- unless they're whole pods or kernels or leaves, they don't age all that well, and you likely have a bunch of already-old spices in your pantry, so why not take the opportunity to restock on fresh spices?

    Bookmark   February 8, 2007 at 9:00AM
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Some good ideas expressed above.

You would find it almost impossible to move frozen stuff a significant without it losing all of the interior ice, very shortly after which it becomes risky to use.

Fresh produce doesn't transport well over any distance, either, especially in hot weather.

If you're getting near the deadline and there's still a lot of stuff unused, if you ordinarily eat lunches out, how about taking your lunch from home?

When it comes to packing flour, sugar, etc. make sure to secure it, for getting a mess of flour, sugar, etc. over everything in the box (plus maybe outside) is a nuisance.

Good wishes for getting 0 food left on moving day.

ole joyful

    Bookmark   February 12, 2007 at 7:15PM
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We moved last fall. Around the time dh interviewed for the job, we just started using it up. I had stockpiled some things at previous sales like glass jars of spaghetti sauce. I knew they didn't travel well so I gave them to my friend. I started going through the freezer and making meals with the meat because it is the most expensive to replace. I also tried to use up as many of the dry goods like flour, sugar, pasta etc., as I could. My rule on those things is they don't travel. I once had the experience of little bugs in all my dry goods. I refuse to take things from my old pantry so I'm not contaminating my new one.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2007 at 10:26AM
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As we're in the money saving forum, I'll admit that I do move spices and other staples.

At $4 and up, spices can be pricey. Things you use in a lot of, not such a big deal. The spices that I use twice a year but are essential for a favorite dish - that can add up. If they're still good, I'm taking 'em. (That said, I know that when my parents moved from my childhood home, there were some spices that were older than I was. Those could probably go.)

Canned goods, I'd try to use up what you can. I think I buy canned veggies every time they are on sale until they take over my house. I'd make a point to open up a can most nights for dinner. If you don't eat it in a few weeks, I'd pack a box for your local food pantry - it's probably a food you don't like any how.

I'd certainly have spaghetti night with the 4 open boxes of pasta that are all different shapes and not large enough to be a meal on their own. Unopened boxes of pasta and other staples are easy enough to toss in a box and take with you.

Once you get closer to the move date, you're going to switch into pizza and convenience food mode anyway, so don't buy much anything new.

If you are moving across country, I'd get rid of almost everything. But if it is a shorter distance or you can swing it, I'd try to save some stuff.

Your liquor cabinet is another consideration. Pretty expensive to buy everything again (I'm thinking of the things you don't drink often or keep on hand for guests), but tough to move. Technically, i think it is illegal to drive with an open container of alcohol period, but police are unlikely to go looking for a bottle safely wrapped in a sealed box in your trunk or in the moving van.

Although I guess your oils and vinegars are a similar pain.

I don't know what else to tell you. Moving is a hassle. I'd get creative with your menus over the next few weeks and then pitch anything you are willing to replace and put the rest in Ziploc bags. Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 14, 2007 at 4:28PM
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Take every canned good out now and put on counter. List. You may find as I did that you have cornered the market on some exotic ingredient. I had 5 cans of coconut milk, several of chili, etc. Try to develop menus with what you have a lot of, or give some away. then do the same with spices, and baking ingredients. I did some throwing away immediately. Apparently 1985 was a good year for cumin & cinnamon, as I bought several jars then. Actually once you start doing this inventory you may keep it up after you move.
I realize that spices may be expensive but do taste them, and make sure there are no bugs in them before you do move them.
They lose flavor quickly if they are dried and powdered.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2007 at 8:36PM
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At $4 and up, spices can be pricey.

Very true. I buy my spices at my food co-op, in bulk. If I want to buy a couple of teaspoons of oregano or 15 cents worth of cumin, I can. That way it stays reasonably fresh and I'm not investing big bucks in a spice collection that largely just ages. Most co-ops no longer require membership to make purchases. If you're in a larger city or university town, you may want to look for one.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2007 at 9:10AM
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If you do move your refrigerated food, don't lose the box! We did, and, boy, did we have fun when we found it three days later. :)

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 10:37PM
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Some friends of mine moved across country. Before they left, their friends held a series of good-bye parties. At each of these gatherings, this couple brought items they were not moving. Any adult there could pick and chose as many (or none) to take home.

These included half-full boxes/bottles of cleaning products (laundry, window cleaner, bathroom spray, etc.), canned and dried foods (including open bags of flour), and bottles of open liquor (kept in the trunk of the car).

It was fun to think of them every time I used the Borateem or made a margarita from the 1/4 bottle of tequila they offloaded.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 11:36AM
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When I moved recently, I made monster cookies from the opened packages of flour, sugar, candies, etc. I then had a ton of cookies to give to anyone who helped us move.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2007 at 1:44PM
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You didn't mention if you are moving locally or cross-country.

One thing to keep in mind if you are moving cross-country is that the moving companies usually charge by weight. That $.49 can of tomatoes could add $1 to your moving costs. A bag of flour, maybe $3. Sometimes you're better off giving away your food and cleaners etc once you factor in the price of moving them. I have found that a lot of people don't take that into consideration.

Best of luck in your move and enjoy your pantry creations. I'm sure you'll find a lot of unique dishes to prepare while whittling down the surplus.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 1:12PM
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Thanks for all the suggestions.

We are hoping to move from Phoenix to Cheyenne, so it's a pretty good distance move. However, we aren't so sure our house is going to sell, so we aren't getting too excited. While we wait, I am still trying to keep a close watch on our food stockpile. I recently took inventory of our freezers: among other stuff, 3 turkeys, couple pork loin roasts, couple corned beefs, lots of chicken breast, 6 lbs of liver (and I am the only one who eats it). My goal is to plan some batch cooking so that we can have some heat and eat meals down the road.

A couple things that have helped so far: due to evening schedules, I've desiganted Monday as pasta night and Thursday as grill night. Friday is use it up night, where we finish leftovers and partial packages of things, maybe everyone eats something different that night.

Another change that I've had to make is to say yes instead of no when my kids ask me if they can have something, like ice cream, pudding, popsicles, etc. Now I say yes, because when it's gone it's gone, and I'm not buying more.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2007 at 2:32PM
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