Keeping track of your home canning is a vital part of maintaining your pantry, as well as planning garden and bulk food purchases . Use my simple worksheet to help keep the guess work out of how much you need to put up in order to feed your family.
The pantry. Like so many other part of our homes, it needs to be tended and maintained in order to be at its best. For us, the pantry is a vital part of our home. I like to keeps ours stocked with ingredients that we use on a regular basis in order to avoid unnecessary trip into town. It’s nice to know that all of our favourites are just waiting for us, ready to be made into something delicious. This is where my home canning inventory worksheet comes in.
Part of keeping a well stocked pantry is knowing what your family likes to eat. Some people like to do this with a meal plan. That makes it really easy to know what you need to have on hand, because you know what you are going to eat. Others, like me, prefer to wing it. Over the years I have developed a sense of the things we need to keep on hand to keep everyone fed and happy.
In our home, our pantry includes a good mix of store bought items and homemade items. We are far from self sufficient on this homestead, and that’s OK. I spend a good part of our summers getting reacquainted with the farmers at our local farmers market stocking up of cases of fruit and veg just waiting to make their way into our pantry.
Before I start loading my car up with as many fruits and vegetables as it can hold (true story folks, ask my family), I like to take some time to go over what I did the previous year. This often involves going over any notes I made last year about our home canning inventory, as well as peaking in my pantry and freezer to see what is left over. It pays to know what you already have because it can save you extra work in the future. If you still have 12 jars of strawberry jam on your shelf, you might not need to make more this year. Or maybe it means you shouldn’t make more because it turns out nobody really likes it. Sometimes leftovers can be a sign that maybe that item isn’t something your family particularly enjoys.
After I have found out what is left over, I take some time to decide what I am going to put up this year. There are some things that I will put up regardless. Frozen fruit and vegetables are a great example. I always like to have them in my freezer.
Next its time to figure out where you are going to get all your raw ingredients from. Your garden? Fantastic, you are living the dream my friend. Farmer’s Market? Great! Make sure you are buying direct from the farmers so you know your money is going where you want it to go. Any way you do it, you are going to need something to put in the jars.
Keeping Track of your Home Canning
This is probably the most important part of home canning, keeping track of your inventory. This is where it gets personal. Maybe you have a notebook and just jot it down. Maybe you have a rock solid memory and you can store it all up there (good on you! I’m jealous of that skill). Fancy spreadsheet, why not! It’s whatever works for you. Because if it doesn’t work for you, you won’t use it. For me it just looks like a simple chart.
It’s not fancy but it gets the job done. I like to keep track of what I made (the item). The method I used to preserve it. The size of jar or container it was put it. And lastly, how many I put up. I would say the quantity is the most important for me. Because if I don’t know how many I made last year, I won’t know if it was enough for my family.
Other things to keep track of
A few other things I like to keep track of with my home canning inventory are:
-Notes on how the item turned out. I typically write this beside the line on the chart. Last year, the strawberry jam did not have enough sweetener in it. Noted and ready to be corrected this year.
-The date when we run out of an item. This is really good to know. This year we ran out of home canned tomatoes in March. It’s going to be a long time until July when tomatoes are available at the market. I definitely need to put up more.
-Notes about preservation methods. Did you like the way you preserved that food item. Last year I froze all of my tomato products. Yes, it saved my time while I was making them, but then I was always having to think ahead about getting it out of the freezer. This year, I am going to put the time in up front and can all the tomatoes so that they are shelf stable and ready to go when I need them.
-I also like to keep track of how many cases of each fruit and vegetable I purchase. It can help your with your food budget for the up coming canning season. It’s also a fun way to brag about all your hard work.
Tips for planning your home canning
There are things that you will only learn by doing. Often only if you do it multiple times. These are some considerations I’d like to share for planning your home canning…
-Don’t plan on making everything, every year. I will often make more than we need for a year of certain items. That way I don’t have to can the same recipes every single year. An examples of this for us is hot sauce and pickles. Both are quick and easy to prepare. Making more then a years worth isn’t much more effort than making 1 years worth.
-Don’t get bogged down thinking everything needs to be shelf stable (see previous tomato sauce example). Sometime we just don’t have the time to do everything. Have an item in your freeze (again, tomato sauce) is better than not having it because you didn’t have time to run it through the canner.
-Get creative with your preservation methods. There are so many ways to keep things that don’t involve your canner. Think homemade dried pasta to use up some of those eggs. Shrubs for making sure the fruit on the counter doesn’t get thrown away because it is past its prime. Blanched and frozen veggies in your freezer. Frozen homemade juice. The world is your oyster, think of what you enjoy eating and drinking and see what steps you can take to make it yourself.
-Don’t make something your family doesn’t like. THIS friends, is the big one. If you don’t like it, don’t make it. It will be a waste of your time and you food.
If you are interested in a copy of my Home Canning Inventory Worksheet, just use the sign up below and a copy will land straight in your inbox. Tell me, how do you keep track of all your home canning?