If you’re like most homeowners, at some point you’ve had to spend hours and hours weeding through items in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer to take inventory of what’s available. But there has got to be a better way!
In this blog post, we’ll show you how to keep an inventory of common household items by using a free app on your phone (available for iOS or Android) that will automate the process for you.
What You’ll Need
Items which we consider as required:
- Phone with internet access
- Android or iOS cell phone
- Internet connection
- Note-taking app
- Digital photo of item
- List of inventory items
- Microsoft Excel / Google Docs spreadsheet
- Paper and pen
- Camera for your phone
How to Take an Inventory of Common Household Items
Note: The provided steps assume you have already downloaded the app, taken a photo of each of the items you want to inventory, and made a list. If not, here are some tips that will make it easier for you in the long run.
Step 1: Take a picture of each item with your phone. Note that it is important to take a picture as if you were taking a picture of someone/something (i.e. standing upright and looking straight into the camera is best).
Step 2: Open the app, log in with your username and password, and enter each item you want to inventory.
Step 3: Add an inventory note for each item you want to inventory by tapping “Add Note.” If you have multiple items that have the same note (i.e. many of these items are spices), create a list for each “spice” so that all instances of those items are archived in one place (i.e. don’t take a photo of each individual spice).
Step 4: Open the list, copy each item’s information (e.g. name, quantity, purchase date), and paste it into a spreadsheet document(s) on your computer (either Google Docs or Microsoft Excel).
Step 5: Take pictures of any products that you can’t easily track in your environment (i.e. gift cards you’ve purchased, sugar packets from coffee shops, etc.).
Step 6: To use this method to also track your food inventory, create a separate list for each “food group” so that you can keep track of how much of each food item you have in stock.
For example, if you want to make sure that you always have scrambled eggs and bacon in your kitchen, create two separate lists: one for eggs and one for bacon. This way, if you need scrambled eggs but the bacon is all gone, you will know to go out and buy more.
Step 7: Repeat the process for each inventory item you have.
Step 8: Use your spreadsheet to chart the trend of inventory items over time so that you can prepare for future needs.
For example, if you notice that you are going through a lot of soap, buy extra or try a hand-made alternative to plastic-bottled soaps like Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soaps.
Step 9: Add a photo of your inventory to your phone by tapping the “photo” button on the app and taking a photo of the list with your phone.
Step 10: Download an item tracker for your pantry or refrigerator to make sure you always have what you need in stock. For example, if you are missing one item in the pantry, download an app for managing pantry items like Keeps Recipe.
Another option is Check Food in My Pantry (Android only).
Step 11: Organize your inventory by category, then mark off the number of items you have in stock under each category (e.g. for spices, you might mark off 5 cans of tomato paste you have in stock).
This will help you when grocery shopping and will help you plan for future needs because you’ll know what to buy before going to the store.
Step 12: Keep track of your food/beverage inventory by scanning a barcode with your phone (see more tips).
Step 13: Record how long it takes you to do each task, then mark how long each application takes when you are done.
Step 14: If you’re interested in how long it takes you to make your own soap, see this blog post for a guide.
Step 15: Take a photo of the entire process so that you have something tangible to show people when they ask how long the process took or if you will spend less time doing it again next time!
You can take the photo with your phone or use an app like Snap a Photo (Android only) to take a photo of everything you do.
We hope you enjoyed the tutorial and will use this method to keep an inventory of your household items. If you have any questions about using the app or other suggestions for how we can make it better, please leave us a comment below or message us on Facebook!