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How Much Do Your Groceries Cost?

Just like the cost of our groceries doesn’t stop at the checkout line, the cost of your inventory doesn’t stop at the receiving dock. So as we head downstairs to rummage through our stockpiles, now might be a good time for you to head to your raw material and MRO storerooms and ask yourself, “How much do our groceries really cost?”

Sometimes my wife does the grocery shopping by herself. Other times, I tag along and try to help, but generally, I’m just the cart driver. Either way, as man of the house, it’s my responsibility to lug the goods upstairs from the garage to the kitchen. I take it as an opportunity to see how many of those little plastic bags I can dangle from each hand without cramping up, dropping anything or scuffing up the paint on the walls along the way. I try to make it seem like an impressive demonstration of my strength and dexterity, but we both know that I’m really just lazy and like to get it all in one trip if I possibly can.

The two of us usually share the job of unloading and putting away, and I wish I could say that my materials management experience extends to my home, but alas, we generally just shove the new items into the front of the refrigerator/freezer, kitchen pantry or downstairs closet, relegating the older stuff to the back. 

Every Wednesday morning, the trash gets picked up in our neighborhood. That means every Tuesday night my wife faithfully goes spelunking in the fridge, digs out anything that is rotten, moldy or past its “best-if-used-by” date, and often fills up another garbage bag for me to kick to the curb. My daughters and I affectionately call her the “FDA Inspector”  a role that she has come to relish.

I always find this process entertaining. My mother — God bless her  almost never threw anything out, even if it had transformed into another state of matter. Fruit with blue-green fur, soggy vegetables that you could poke a finger through and meat that was more frost than flesh were common in our kitchen growing up. Unless you had to eat the milk with a fork and spoon, it was still good enough to put on your cereal in the morning.

Mom wasn’t nuts. She wasn’t cheap. She wasn’t reckless about our health and well being. She knew that eventually everything would either get eaten or thrown out. The truth is that this stuff just didn’t bother her. She figured that we had enough sense to know what was edible, and if so inclined – which was unlikely – we could run the rest down the garbage disposal ourselves with minimal effort. Maybe she subscribed to the old “If it doesn’t kill you…” adage, and maybe she wasn’t all wrong. After all, my brothers and I are still alive and never had any health issues related to bad food from home — that I know of.

To be fair to my wife, she’s just watching out for our collective best interest, and none of us has ever suffered from bad food at our house either. One thing is certain: whatever manages to survive the weekly purge is good quality merchandise!  

About once a year (usually during the Christmas holiday) we also delve into the depths of the dry goods cabinets, tossing some of the stuff that hasn’t moved, and restocking everything else neatly according to item, shape, size etc. If we’re lucky, the fruits of those labors might last until New Year’s Day. 

So why do I tell you all this, and what does it have to do with inventory? In case you haven’t figured it out yet, this is analogous to the way some companies handle their materials.

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