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Old 22-10-2014, 19:39   #1
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Keeping better track of food stores...

Hi all,

I'm wondering if anybody has any good ideas to help me keep better track of my food stores on board. I'm finding that after a large provisioning, I seem to loose/forget about items that were buried in what seemed like such a great spot at the time "Yeah, of course I'll remember that" you're telling yourself all the time... yeah right!

I'm not great with spreadsheets, and don't want to have to have the computer out every time I'm figuring out a meal...

My hand written notes seem to turn into a scribbled mess...

I've thought about maybe trying to cut out all the labels, and dealing those... Or maybe a system of taking pictures of items... But nothing that seems very convenient ;(

Does anybody have any great little tips or systems that will help me keep better track of what I have, especially as I'm stocking for longer and longer trips?

Thanks so much!

-Brian


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Old 22-10-2014, 19:56   #2
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Re: Keeping better track of food stores...

Keep your provisioning receipts in an envelope. Write the storage location next to each item?

...I sympathize with your "scribbled mess" when it comes to hand-writing. Computers are my go-to for writing that needs read by anyone other than myself.
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Old 22-10-2014, 20:04   #3
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Re: Keeping better track of food stores...

It is a bunch of work, but if you pre-plan and pre-pack all the provisions into 1 week packs (zip lock bags), and then number them, you will work thru them and not miss or forget anything. The racers do it this way.
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Old 22-10-2014, 20:09   #4
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Re: Keeping better track of food stores...

I know that you didn't want to use your computer but,,,,

I made up a spreadsheet with quantities of all the stores by storage location. From the printed copy I not only knew where my goods were but I also knew my stock level. Each item removed and used was marked off the sheet.

As an added benefit, I had my shopping list for re-stocking.
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Old 22-10-2014, 20:12   #5
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Re: Keeping better track of food stores...

The wife keeps a book on everything comming in and going out of the boat in food stores, and marks it down when it comes out of the storage. ya, she says its a pain but like I keep records on everything else, its just a page away from telling you what you have.
she says its also easier to make up her shopping list ..
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Old 22-10-2014, 20:13   #6
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Re: Keeping better track of food stores...

For general food stores I try to stow things in "sections" like in a grocery store.

Even though they're in cabinets or shelves, I can recognize when supplies are getting low, as in: Baking goods, Pasta, Beans, Nuts, Sauces, Veggies etc... as specific as you want.

The one thing I do keep an ongoing (handwritten) list of in a little book is freezer provisions. That area has a depth that I don't often get to visualize so I list the items and cross them off the list when used.
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Old 22-10-2014, 20:19   #7
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Re: Keeping better track of food stores...

I'd suggest that using an old business card index as a mini card index and use that to record items / location and when used. That would be far to much work for me however. Instead I would probably try using a variety of cheap coloured bags or containers and create a system where each colour represented a group. e.g red for sauces, yellow for pasta, blue for spice etc. And then I would try to keep these "groups" in specific locations to hopefully eliminate the need to record and refer to this info on a piece of paper somewhere. My theory with this idea is that you only need to look for the container for a particular food group, and when you do you will tend to pull it out of storage and every time you look in it for the item you are searching for, you will also see what else you have (and haven't) got and hopefully this will help it imprint on your memory.

Now on our boat, the wife is in charge of food provisioning, but she uses a similar concept of storing like products in specific locations. We also keep a small B5 spiral bound notepad on board that is used to record all stuff that we need to replace (food, spares, tools to bring next trip etc) as it occurs to us. At the end of the trip I drop the completed page(s) for that trip into my wallet when leaving and hopefully remember to refer to it other than the night before we leave on the next trip. In general this system seems to work pretty well, except it still doesn't solve the problem of ending up with lockers full of all those "what were we thinking when we brought this stuff" food items that no-one is ever going to eat!
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Old 22-10-2014, 20:35   #8
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Re: Keeping better track of food stores...

We were at an auction once and picked up 2 dozen chalkboards. Each one is about 10"x12". Fastened to the inside lid of all storage areas they make easy and quick note pads for what is in the locker. And you can use your hand to erase an item when you remove it.
Try looking on ebay, or just buy some chalkboard paint and paint the inside of each locker lid/door.
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Old 23-10-2014, 03:15   #9
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Re: Keeping better track of food stores...

I have a book dedicated to stock. It's a pain initially but once you get used to it it becomes routine to mark whenever something goes into or comes out of stock. I try to be religious about marking things down but occasionally forget so I do a complete stock check a couple of times a year and that makes sure that we don't 'lose' anything!
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Old 23-10-2014, 03:36   #10
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Re: Keeping better track of food stores...

I use a plain ruled notebook. Using the computer to maintain a spreadsheet is a royal PITA and I just did not keep it current. The plain paper notebook is easier and faster. I keep one sheet for contents of freezer, divided into categories like beef, pork, chicken, seafood and misc. Write the number of each on hand and then cross out and write new number on the line across the sheet. Lasts for a very long time before needed to start a new inventory sheet, which is usually when the freezer needs defrosting once each year.

For everything else, my notebook is divided into pages or sections by category. For example:
BAKING ITEMS (flours, all the various sugars, baking powder, yeast, corn starch, corn meal, masa, etc.).
BEVERAGES (drink mixes, cokes, beer, wine, juices, etc.).
SPICES.
TOMATO PRODUCTS (tomato paste, sauce, prepared pasta sauces, canned tomatoes, etc.).
CANNED VEGETABLES AND FRUITS.
SOUPS.
and so forth.

On each page the items are listed, with a column notation of stowage location (S-3 means starboard cabinet #3 in main saloon, numbering front to back for all cabinets and lockers. SF-2 means second starboard floor locker.) Next to the location notation is listed the quantity on hand. I cross out and adjust number as items are used and/or replenished.

The notebook pages are stapled together and new ones started each time I do a major provisioning, usually for ocean crossings or when I provision for 6 months or longer. Looking back at the stapled pages from previous provisionings helps me figure out what we should stock more of for the next big purchase or what we should never buy again because we did not eat it. I found that I simply do not have the patience to maintain this inventory on the computer or tablet or iPhone. A plain notebook works best for me.

Judy
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Old 23-10-2014, 05:56   #11
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Re: Keeping better track of food stores...

Our system is to keep stuff always in the same places. Say locker X is tea locker. If there is no tea there, there is no tea anywhere.

Another trick is to use containers. We have two plastic cages each side of the fore cabin. We keep pasta in one flour in the other one. The same rule applies: if there is no pasta there, there is no pasta anywhere.

Segregation and fixed locations. That's what works for us.

Off course, we never stock for more than 6 months so what is easy for us, may be quite more difficult in bigger boats with bigger crews going out for longer periods.

b.
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Old 24-10-2014, 10:34   #12
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Re: Keeping better track of food stores...

I have a comprehensive Excel spreadsheet that I use for provisioning and tracking. Before we leave, I print an updated copy and place it in a ringed binder with tabs (food, beverage, household, etc.).
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Old 24-10-2014, 11:01   #13
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Re: Keeping better track of food stores...

Quote:
Originally Posted by barnakiel View Post
Our system is to keep stuff always in the same places. Say locker X is tea locker. If there is no tea there, there is no tea anywhere.
......
Segregation and fixed locations. That's what works for us.
Me too .

I use the system of keeping open items in use stored in the galley and all other dry/tinned food supplies in the same spot in 4 under settee lockers. I keep fairly big quantities (these products often have a 2+ year expiry, so no harm in buying extra) and simply top up when one part of the locker starts looking low. It helps to replace things when they have nearly run out rather than pushing it until you have reached for the final packet/tin.

By the way, I find it helps tremendously to mark the top of tins with the contents and expiry date (eg T for tomatoes, P for peaches, S for salmon) so that I don't need to pull out multiple tins before I find the one I need and it is easy to see when a stack is running low. When I load up with a few dinghy loads of supplies every few months, I empty the lockers and put the newest stuff at the bottom.
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Old 24-10-2014, 11:27   #14
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Re: Keeping better track of food stores...

Two low tech ideas.

Make several copies of our interior layout. Mark what is stored where. Tape to bulkhead.

Use an address book; rather that your friends locations, show the food locations.

This works for other items, such as spares, tools, etc..
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Old 24-10-2014, 12:19   #15
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Re: Keeping better track of food stores...

out 7 years now and i make a computer spreadsheet of everything we put on the boat before sailing season. Print out a copy and put it in a 3 ring binder with an inventory of all the parts and everything else we have on the boat.

when we take something out we mark it off and when we add something we change the number. In the spreadsheet itself i made the columns very wide so pencil changes can be made easily.

Like BeBe every cabinet and storage place has a designation. SU3 is starboard upper cabinet number 3. This way we keep fairly good track.

At the end of the sailing season we start at the bow of the boat and work to the stern reinventorying the entire boat. The spreadsheet is updated and when provisions or parts are brought on board they are put into the spreadsheet and just before we leave a copy is printed and that is the last time the computer is used.
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