I ask you, is there a more satisfying feeling for a prepper mom than adding items to your emergency supplies? Every time you check something off your list and squirrel it away, you feel more confident that you’re preparing your family for the unknown.
The problem is a stockpile needs organization and maintenance or it becomes more frustrating than helpful. So I decided to test out some of the food storage apps to see if any of them could help me set up a useful organization system. Which food storage app is best? Well, the answer is complicated.
A food storage app is an invaluable addition to your prepping
After years of accumulating preps, my number one goal is now organization and accessibility. It’s not helpful to have masks and sanitizer if I can’t find them when the pandemic hits. It’s beyond frustrating to be in the middle of meal prep and realize the jar of sauce you thought was on the shelf in the garage is not there. And don’t get me started about the amount of food I have wasted by not properly rotating it.
I needed a system that:
- Is easy to maintain over time
- Allows me to easily check for items that need to be rotated or tossed
- Accommodates all my preps, not just food items
- Helps me keep track of the location of an item–I keep things in my house, garage, and in two outbuildings so this is a big one for me
- Allows me access to all this information even when I am out running errands
Several of these requirements indicated I needed a food storage app as part of the solution. I have tried several organizational methods over the years to tame my preps–spreadsheets with multiple tabs, lists in notebooks, and clipboards with laminated checklists and attached grease pencils–with little success.
Thus, I simply continued to add to my supplies hoping I would have what I needed and know where to find it when the time came. Bad idea. The COVID pandemic has illustrated how inefficient, and potentially harmful, this non-method is if I need to find things in a hurry.
A comparison of food storage apps
So I went on a mission and discovered three inventory apps that seemed the most likely candidates for my purposes to determine the best food storage app.
- Food Storage, an app I used years ago but figured it had been updated since then.
- Pantry Check (iOS only at this time)
- Inventory Wolf, an app specifically geared toward preppers
Food Storage and Pantry Check work in similar ways. You can either scan package barcodes or manually enter items into the app to create an inventory that helps you to rotate and restock. This is a huge help if you stock up on freeze-dried food from a company like Thrive Life. You’re investing money for that long-term food storage and need a way to always know what you have and where it’s stored.
Inventory Wolf is entirely different. It works backward by giving you very specific lists of what they believe you will need and then you work to check off those lists.
For my purposes, I quickly eliminated Inventory Wolf. It is an intriguing idea for someone just getting started who wants step-by-step help, but to try and identify what I already owned that matched their lists was too overwhelming for me. I might try it if I was new to prepping and wanted help creating a Go Bag or Car Kit as it gives detailed instructions about what to include.
The pros and cons
That left Pantry Check and Food Storage. I compared their usability by inputting the same twenty items and then playing around with the features. I discovered fairly quickly that while they are similar, Pantry Check is easier and faster to use. Plus, it has a beautiful visual system where you can see a picture of the exact brand and packaging of your item. This helps when you are looking through your shelves to find the specific item that is about to expire. Pantry Check also had more ways to search and locate items and a feature where you can backtrack and see you if already entered an item.
It’s not an open and shut case, however. Food Storage is designed for preppers and has a feature that allows you to set goals for food storage and know where you are in the process. Also, Food Storage is a one-and-done app that you download and own forever. Pantry Check is an app, but also a service. You can input up to 200 items for free. After that, it is $12/year for up to 2,000 items and $29.99/year for up to 10,000. Happily, I stumbled on a half-off sale. I like that the subscription doesn’t automatically renew so I can test it out for a year without further obligation. You can get compare and contrast yourself from Pantry Check and Food Storage.
If you don’t want to pay for an ongoing service, you should know that both apps function similarly. They both use a phone to scan or manually input and export items, add expiration dates, and note the location of an item. Also, both have a handy feature that allows you to quickly add items to a shopping list for restocking. Food Storage still does the job, it’s just not quite as user-friendly. There may be other good ones out there as well, I just selected the three apps that looked the best suited for my purposes.
Ultimately, I prefer the Pantry Check app, and here’s why I think it’s the best food storage app.
- Easier and more efficient input of items. So easy and fast that I managed to input about 500 items in only a few hours! These were food and medicine items that mostly had bar codes.
- It has a unique feature called Timeline that allows you to see which actions you took on any given day. This is handy if you are busy so you can look back and see if you already added those grocery items to your inventory.
- You can search for items by general category, type of product, or specific product. For example, a box of Cheerios can be searched either by “breakfast food,” “cereal,” or Cheerios. This assists you in keeping track of how much breakfast food you have stored, how many boxes of cereal, and how many boxes of Cheerios you have on hand.
- Taking items out of inventory is as easy as scanning them directly or performing a quick search and tapping Finish. Pictures are invaluable to ensure you are removing or rotating the correct brand and size for inventory accuracy. This is probably my favorite feature as it cuts down on search time when I have several brands on a shelf.
- You can share the app with family members so they can add or remove items, but I prefer to maintain control over the inventory. I simply ask them to let me know when they take something from storage.
Disclaimer: Neither I nor anyone on Team Survival Mom is affiliated with these apps or their creators and receives no benefit for recommending them. It is simply my opinion based on my experience.
The best food storage app is…
After four months of regular use, I can share that Pantry Check has become the most useful organizational tool I have to help me organize my pantry and preps. It definitely requires some discipline to remember to enter new items or scan out used ones. However, once something is entered into inventory, it is ridiculously easy to find out what and how much I have, where it is and when it expires.
This is life-changing for me. I no longer waste time searching in multiple locations for a specific item or wondering what needs restocking. Also, I can double-check when I am at the store to see if I should take advantage of a sale or pass on it because I have enough. In short, I can worry less and enjoy life more.