Have you ever been in a similar situation where you were halfway through making dinner, only to realize you were missing a key ingredient? It has happened to all of us at one point in time or another. This can be extremely frustrating. And it leaves you scrambling through your pantry, hoping to be able to call a last-minute dinner audible.
But, take heart, friends. There IS a way to avoid this. Here are my best tips for building food storage, using the par level pantry stocking method.
Have you ever heard the phrase, ‘up to par?’ Most restaurants use the par level method on items they use regularly, and when it comes to ordering, they follow that. This way, there isn’t too much, or too little of their food items on hand. This is referred to as “inventory par levels”
After 20 years of working in restaurants, I adapted this to work in my home pantry.
Perhaps you’re wondering what the par level method even is? Simply put, it’s making sure that your pantry never runs too low on a particular food item that you use on a weekly basis. It’s up to you to decide where that comfort level is. Sounds easy enough, but there’s a little more to it than that. Here’s how to stock your pantry with par-level methods in mind.
How the Par Level Method Works
The par level method involves finding out what your family consumes on a particular food item each month and then following up with stocking your pantry staples to reach those levels. This can be done with dry beans, salt, cornmeal, peanut butter, canned fruits and veggies, and more.
Once you’ve done so, it doesn’t mean that you’re finally done or that you’ve arrived. You will still have to make sure that those foods never fall below that par level by taking a weekly inventory. The amount of inventory is up to you.
Take for example, if your family goes through 10 jars of spaghetti sauce a month, you need to make sure that you maintain a comfortable stock level of 10 jars. But if you’ve already gone through say, 3 jars, you’ll want to make sure that you pick 3 more jars up during your next grocery store visit. This is an important part of food storage, and is the key to less stressful meal planning.
Why You Want To Use The Par Level Method
This will help you save money. By shopping for basic staples, and keeping what you use on hand, you will have less waste. Once a month shopping also means less trips to the store, and less money out of pocket.
Be Patient and Save For Stocking Your Pantry
This method may sound fairly expensive and way out of your league, but it doesn’t have to be a rush and you certainly don’t have to break the bank to do it. You can reach those healthy stock levels gradually over a period of time.
A smart move on your part would be to wait until those items that you use often go on sale, and then stock up. That way you’ll feel better about not only saving money but also reaching your goal.
Make a Running Shopping List
Even if you have an excellent memory, it will be next to impossible for you to remember exactly how many of every pantry item that you go through each month. So, make a list of each food item that you use a lot of and write down the quantity that you go through each week.
You can use a notebook, note cards, or an electronic method of keeping your list. The important thing is that once you pull an item from your pantry, you add it to your shopping list immediately.
This gives you something to compare with when you’re glancing in your pantry to find out what you need to pick up at the grocery store. You can even put small labels with that information below those food items in your pantry to make it easier on you.
Remember to Rotate Your Stock
While having a healthy supply of ingredients that you use often is a good thing, it won’t be for long if everything in your pantry ends up outdated. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that you are rotating your supply and not simply pushing your older inventory of pantry supplies to the back.
When you bring more stock home from the store, be sure to stock the newer dates in behind the older ones. Also, keep an eye out for close dated foods that you can incorporate with this week’s meals, that way you can use them quickly.
With the par level method, you’ll be the chef that never has to worry about running out of certain foods that you use often. You’ll also be comforted in knowing that you’d have a food supply that you could fall back on if times ever got hard.