Tracking consumption rate

I took this ‘time of opportunity’ to start tracking the consumption rate of some of the products we use.  Specifically, the rate of use of paper products such as toilet paper, paper towel, and tissue paper.  For toilet paper and paper towel, I just simply collected the cores over time.  I know this isn’t an exact science, since we may use different size rolls, but it gave me a a good approximation of the weekly and monthly consumption rate.  Knowing my inventory, I can now predict how long my inventory would last.

Did anyone else use this time to track consumption rates?


  • Comments (7)

    • 3

      Good morning Bigwig,

      Had already done this for a couple of my consumpion items that are used both here at the shack and on an evacuation.  One example:

      Labeled with a yellow stick-on and augmented with some Elmer’s paste, with purchase date, each hydrogen peroxide bottle I use to make my own toothpaste (H2O2 + baking soda) can be tracked for rate of use. It’s a near constant on quantity used per oral hygiene episode.

      From experience I know that in field environments … think of a vehicle evacuation … my consumption rate doubles.  This is typically because I could be standing manufacturing the stuff, preparing on tailgate of truck, etc.

      My tracking allowed me to determine how much I should carry on a 3 day, 2 night evacuation. The H2O2 is carried in my kit labeled “DDS kit”.

    • 3

      LOL…..I do this for everything we use. But having kids and a dislike of “running to the store” for whatever, this is how I plan meals and most things. Not much bugs me more than ” MOM!! (at  high decibel). We are out of X!!!!” This also has allowed me to shop sales as I know we use X amount of X and pick up the correct amount for a month/6 mos/ a year at a time. Since I have dogs/cats/parrots/cows/hens….in addition to kids, I need to stay ahead of the curve. A plus is that since I have done this for years, I can fairly accurately track what I will need to look for sales on.  I have meal planning down to a science for this very reason. 


    • 2

      I tracked my toiletries for about six months a few years ago. Took a permanent marker and wrote on various items when I first opened them, then took note of the time difference when I threw them away. 

      Lessons learned:

      • The marker written on a tube of toothpaste will rub off before you finish the tube. Some of those XL tubes last for a long time!
      • Toilet paper goes faster than I would have thought, especially during the winter when I’m using it to blow my nose after it starts running from being outside or if I catch a cold.
      • I started rotating through my toothbrushes every 3 months instead of the 6 I used to. I kept an eye on the condition of the bristles and it came out to be around 3 months between switches. I used to rely on my free toothbrush from my dentist every 6 months as my supply, but I now have to buy one in between cleanings. Don’t cheap out though and buy the 10 pack for $3, those toothbrushes don’t seem to work as well.

      All of this tracking helped me to build up a 8-12 month reserve of bathroom stuff. Look at expiration dates on things too though, sure it’s easy to go buy a Costco 4 pack of XL toothpaste, but if you can’t use it fast enough before it expires, then it’s a waste.

      • 2

        Good afternoon Rebecca,

        Real good policies and procedures !

        One matter I’d like to mention;  There is a large corpus of material on “expiration dates” and the related “best by [ some date – presuming one can read it after finding it]. I’ve asked some dentists and PharmDs about this … can’t place on web.

      • 2

        I’ve heard that many things are still good past their expiration date, is that true for the most part for toiletries?

      • 2

        For many of them, yes. Dry and solid items will likely last quite a long time past their expiration date.  Liquids and moist items are a bit more risky.  For any, if it’s changed consistency, smell, or flavor,  it’s got to go even if prior to exp date – like milk: you wouldn’t drink smelly milk that was a week before exp – you’d assume it was mis-handled. 

    • 2

      Yes!  This is also something I got my husband to join me in doing.  It’s been a bit of a fun joint project in prepping.  I mounted a pad of paper inside a kitchen cabinet to track cleaning supplies, food items, paper towels, tissues, pet supplies, etc that we use in that area.  We wrote on the inside mirror of the medicine cabinet in our bathroom with a sharpie for toiletries, toilet paper, etc.  The ink comes off glass with alcohol and doesn’t smear like a dry erase marker.   I clear it off every couple of months and record it in my prep spreadsheet.  It’s been interesting to see how long some items last and how others are used up much faster than I thought.  It certainly helped me know just what it would take to have X months of supplies on hand and when changes in our habits impacted the burn rate (hanging a microfiber under the kitchen sink for wiping up floor spills reduced our paper towel use significantly).  Oh and another thing I started/added: when a cleaning task or subjective maintenance task was completed to see how long it took to decide it was necessary to do again or to see if/when it was due for the cyclic ones.