Use up food: 9 tips for a successful stock take

Picture of my kitchen cupboard with jars and bottles

How to make the most of what you’ve got

Start with a stock take, if you’re keen make the most of the food you have without extra shopping.

I’ve done several month-long store cupboard challenges before, aiming to cut costs by using up food in my cupboards, fridge and freezer. 

Previous post: How I cut our food costs to £44 a week

Now, thanks to the pandemic, it feels like everyone’s on a store cupboard challenge!

It’s a weird combination of feast or famine. 

We’re encouraged to avoid shopping and face empty shelves when we do.  Yet there is a billi0n pounds more food in people’s houses than there was three weeks ago, according to the British Retail Consortium.

Right now, staying at home literally saves lives, so it’s vital to make the most of the food we already have.

Whether you want to use what you’ve got, avoid shopping or cut food waste, here are my top tips for a successful stock take.

Pin for later:

Pinterest size image of cupboard contents for my post with tips for a successful stock take

9 tips for a successful stock take

  • Start by making lists
    • A list of the food you have. Go through your kitchen cupboards fridge and freezer, and anywhere else food is stored (fruit bowl? garage? cupboard under the stairs?)
    • A list of meal ideas. I jot down meal inspiration as I go along, so I can’t forget before I’ve finished.
    • A hit list of abandoned ingredients. The stuff that’s been lingering too long, because I didn’t know how to cook it, didn’t really fancy it, or needed something else to make it edible. Select the top 10 you need to tackle.
    • A shopping list. Note down obvious stuff you’ve run out of and extras needed to make meals.
  • Get the kids involved
    • Enlist slave labour and count it as home schooling. Get your kids to help make the food list and suggest meal ideas.
    • Note: this does risk your children drawing up their own stockpile shopping lists, majoring on biscuits, sweets, ice cream and variety pack cereal (voice of bitter experience).
  • Don’t bin perfectly good food!
    • Focus on ‘use by’ dates on food that goes off quickly, like milk, meat, fish and salad bags. Eating food after its use by date could make you ill.
    • However, ‘best before’ dates are based on quality not safety. Might risk a stale crisp, but you won’t risk your health. Most packaged foods (tins, jars, boxes, bags) are absolutely fine way beyond their ‘best before’ dates.
  • Pull fresh food forward
    • In the fridge, put anything that needs eating up fast at the front, so you don’t forget the half tin of tuna, remains of the cream or last night’s leftovers. Then check your fridge every couple of days, to remind yourself what needs using up,  and make it into meals.
  • Fill up your freezer
    • Concerned something might go off before you can use it? Bung it in the freezer – meat, fish, bread, leftovers, even grated cheese and sliced banana.
    • Separate big quantities into smaller portions, so you don’t defrost more than you need. For example, I freeze bacon rashers and ham slices in pairs, and divide up packets of mince,  fish, chicken pieces, sausages and pastry. Use ice cube trays to freeze milk, leftover wine (what?) or make cubes of chopped herbs in water. 
    • Once stuff is frozen, decant from boxes into bags, so it takes up less space and you can fit more in.
    • More freezer tips here.
  • Use freezer labels
    • Invest in sticky labels for bags and boxes that disappear into the freezer. Magic words like ‘bolognaise for 4’ will banish future UFOs (Unidentified Frozen Objects).
  • Sort out your shelves
    • Organise stuff on shelves, keeping similar items together, so it’s easy to see how much you’ve got. This can help cut both food waste and double buying. No point leaving the house for tinned tomatoes if you’ve already got five cans spread over the kitchen.
  • Keep food fresh for longer
    • Don’t let fruit and veg rot in plastic wrapping! For example, I keep onions and potatoes in drawstring bags in a dark, cool corner; put kitchen towel in the the bottom of the salad drawers in the fridge to mop up moisture and always transfer stuff from opened tins into plastic boxes or glass jars.
  • Stick the lists somewhere safe
    • After all your hard work, don’t lose the lists!
    • I keep a shopping list stuck to the fridge and add to it, so there’s less chance of forgetting essentials when I finally make it to the shops. Keep any meal plan handy too, with big stars by stuff that needs to be eaten quickly.


Now – over to you. What are your top tips for a stock take? How do you keep track of the food you have in the house, before it goes bad?

I’m planning further posts on making the most of food you have, with tips on meal planning and cooking, so watch this space!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. 25th June 2021 / 3:27 pm

    I really appreciate you on this wonderful post! these tips had a great fantasy thanks for the tips

  2. 5th January 2022 / 11:21 am

    The dictate is fit for the approval of the turns. The change of website are fired for the turns. Pat is motivated for the enduring items for the turns and all issues for the theme.

  3. Joan christopher
    24th January 2022 / 9:16 am

    I was depressed some Months ago due to how frustrating it is dealing with bad credits, but reaching out to HACK VANISH via Phone: +1 (747) 293-8514 and Email: HACK VANISH (@) GMAIL. COM gave my life a new meaning, after I found him credible through positive reviews I read on a credit blog, in a twinkle of an eye, this great hacker got my credit score restored from 509 to 784 across the 3 major credit bureaus, all evictions and repossession has been wiped off, my LexisNexis and Chex system fixed respectively, to my greatest surprise, some days later, I received an E-mail confirming the approval of my pending loan application. I can confidently say 2021 was an exceptional year for my husband and I as we are proud owners of a new home and a brand-new SUV courtesy HACK VANISH, I would definitely recommend him to anyone in need of a genuine Hacker.

  4. Lyne Azabal
    26th February 2024 / 12:51 pm

    I Need A Hacker To Recover My Lost Investment? Go To Lost Recovery Masters

    Hello guys, I’m Lyne Azabal from France. In my investment with Acstons-Cc, I also lost 17 lakhs. Trading using the Acstons. cc app generated a profit of 197,153 USD after paying tax and a 25% fee, however they would not release my profit and all of my Bitcoins were frozen. I called my pals, who suggested I try LOST RECOVERY MASTERS, and to my astonishment they were able to assist me get back 89% of my money. Despite the fact that I didn’t get all of it back, I’m still really appreciative of LOST RECOVERY MASTERS
    For advice on recovering cryptocurrencies, get in touch with Lost Recovery Masters You can also ask them questions about any firm you wish to deal with.
    Contact them:  Whatsapp (+44(7537)-105921) Email ( Learn More

  5. zam zam
    25th April 2024 / 9:05 am

    BE SMART AND BECOME RICH IN LESS THAN 3DAYS….It all depends on how fast 
    you can be to get the new PROGRAMMED blank ATM card that is capable of
    hacking into any ATM machine,anywhere in the world. I got to know about 
    this BLANK ATM CARD when I was searching for job online about a month 
    ago..It has really changed my life for good and now I can say I’m rich and 
    I can never be poor again. The least money I get in a day with it is about 
    $50,000.(fifty thousand USD) Every now and then I keeping pumping money 
    into my account. Though is illegal,there is no risk of being caught 
    ,because it has been programmed in such a way that it is not traceable,it 
    also has a technique that makes it impossible for the CCTVs to detect 
    you..For details on how to get yours today, email the hackers on : ( < Tell your 
    loved once too, and start to live large. That's the simple testimony of how 
    my life changed for good…Love you all .

The contents of this blog are for information and ideas, and should not be viewed as financial advice. Use of the material is conditional on there being no liability for how you choose to use it. If you are unsure about any investments or financial issues, please contact a financial adviser.