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I often times find myself making decisions about what I'm going to make for myself and my fiancee at work before I go home, and then stop at the store for any needed supplies on the way. Granted this is not always the most efficient way of doing it, but it does have a couple of advantages:

  1. Our schedules are often times unpredictable, and its hard to plan meals more than a day in advance.
  2. I can always ensure the freshness of ingredients.

That small thing aside, there are certain things that are fairly standard, which I can never remember if I currently have in the pantry or refrigerator. Do I have enough fresh garlic in the house? Lemons? What spices do I have in the spice rack?

It would be really nice if I could look online somewhere to see what I have in my pantry right now. Does anyone know of a good internet site for managing your current pantry, that might also have a system for managing our favorite recipes? I'm thinking it might be worth the effort to manage my pantry online for the ability to check on it at work for this reason.

Does anyone else face a similar problem, and what have you come up with to solve it?

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I bet there's an app for that. –  hobodave Jul 27 '10 at 21:41
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If this is a SE-appropriate question, which I'm not sure it is, it may actually be better-suited for the web apps beta unless its wording is changed. webapps.stackexchange.com –  Pops Jul 27 '10 at 22:23
    
Its a little old fashioned, but... pencil & paper? –  derobert Jul 28 '10 at 0:38
    
maybe planning a weeks menu before going shopping is a good ideal –  Ian Jul 28 '10 at 15:24
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5 Answers 5

We are not very high tech in our kitchen, but we cook a lot. We keep a fairly standard inventory and when we use the last of an item - it goes on the "List". We buy that item at the big shopping trip once a week.

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I keep a small DB of all my spices on a Dropbox.com account, which I can access with all my various computers and mobile devices. I tend to keep spices longer than strictly required, and its relatively easy to update when I run out of things, and with mobile access I'll always have the list handy when I'm at the spice market.

It works well for non- or semi-non-perishables -- I suppose you could make a similar system work for dry goods, as long as you made a note to mark them as "must buy" when your supply dips below some personal threshold; nothing is worse than thinking you have enough flour/sugar/molassass and finding that in fact you only have a half cup left!

Do you cook frequently? I used to have this exact issue with perishable goods when I only cooked once per week, but since going to preparing 6-8 meals per week, I have a better mental inventory.

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I'm cooking more and more frequently. Used to be a couple times a week, and now its more often. Part of my issue to is that I'd like something that both myself and my fiancee can update, since we often times drain the fridge/pantry independently, without telling the other. That's one of the unfortunate parts of having weird schedules. –  Nick Jul 28 '10 at 14:02
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My husband and I use an iphone app called "Grocery Gadget" that allows us each to add things to the (same) shopping list. Then, if either of us goes to the supermarket, we can see what we need. This is particularly good for knowing when to buy standard items like spices, flour and oil (provided we remember to put it on the app when we are low or run out).

I think it also comes on other mobile devices and has a web version as well.

See http://www.grocerygadgets.com/ for more details

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Anytime you're running low on something that is a staple - put it on your shopping list.Keep your list online somewhere.

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Online? hell, my mom used to just keep note paper on the fridge, and as we ran low on stuff, it'd get written down. My neighbor does the same thing. (I foolishly rely on my memory, which is why I probably have a dozen some bottles of hot sauce right now) –  Joe Jul 28 '10 at 11:41
    
@Joe Yeah but he wants it online because then if his fiancee eats up something he was planning on making then the list on the fridge at home isn't going to help him in knowing that he should go buy the item. This way his fiance can update the online list and he would know before he leaves work –  Kyra Jul 28 '10 at 14:10
    
@Kyra : this is the reason I call my housemate when I'm heading to the store. Of course, as he doesn't tend to work from home that often, it's not a problem. (past roommates, who didn't work all weekdays, and would raid the fridge and eat something I was planning for cooking dinner ... yeah, that got annoying quickly. I might've spiked some things with significant amounts of sambal so he'd pay attention to when I labeled things) –  Joe Jul 28 '10 at 14:38
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The closest thing I can think of to meet your needs is Cook'n. It allows you to enter your own recipes, search those recipes, adjust recipe serving sizes, create menus, generate shopping lists based on the menus (you can add your own pantry items for this purpose, including their prices), and analyze recipes' nutritonal values. It's a handy program to have, especially once you've input all your own pantry items and recipes.

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