Tag Archives: Meal Plan

Taking a Food Inventory

Taking a food inventory

A food inventory is ALWAYS my first step in meal planning. Before looking at Pinterest. Before looking at my Meal Categories binder. Before thinking of any meals.

“That will take forever!!!” you are probably thinking.

BUT. If you are consistently doing this method and using up your inventory, this doesn’t take long AND you are saving money by using what you already have. A stocked freezer or pantry is nice in theory, but food is money.

So, moving on to the method.

Inventory Planning Meals

Inventory

1. Inventory your pantry.

Write down anything you have that is useful for a family meal.  No, not the half bag of chips or the 1/2 cup of rice.  I’m talking canned goods, 1/2 or almost full boxes of rice, enough potatoes for your whole family. These are all components that can be used to make a complete meal.

2. Inventory your refrigerator

Same rule as above. Only usable items. This also helps you see what you can quickly throw together for a snack or meal to use up before grocery shopping. 1 nectarine and 1 plum? Great, cut it up for your kids’ snack this afternoon. Use it up! Food. Is. Money.

3. Inventory your freezer

I count freezer meals I’ve prepped in this one as well.  When I freezer prep, it’s because I’ve made a double batch of something or saved some leftovers. These meals are usually used up within a month.  Sometimes I have extra meat because it was an insanely great ad price.

Plan

Look at your list of ingredients and mentally put them together to make a meal. For example, I have rice, tortilla, chicken in the freezer, and Rotel.  All I need is some sour cream and cheddar cheese and I can make enchiladas.  Another example: red sauce and spaghetti noodles. All I need is some ground beef, or we could have a meatless spaghetti. Add these ingredients to the list on the inventory sheet.

Sometimes you will be able to make a full meal without buying anything additional. The key is to look for meals that only need 1-2 ingredients. This way, you are using up what you have and your grocery list is going to be short.

Download your FREE copy of the Inventory sheet I use and check out how I shop for these ingredients and plan my remaining meals: Ad Shopping.

 

 

Meal Planning Made Easy

Meal Plan Category.png

How many times have you stared at a blank sheet of paper trying to plan meals but the same meals come to mind? This happened to me so often…probably every week! Luckily, sometimes I wrote down our meals in my planner, so I would flip back through. I wasn’t consistent so it only helped a little. I knew I needed a better system.

Insert my meal planning binder!

Meal Planning Categories32

I began thinking of meals in categories. I’m not organized or consistent enough to actually have themed days like Meatless Monday or Taco Tuesday. (I would rather have a list of meals and choose the one I feel like making that night.) But once I started listing down meals by category, it was so much easier to think of all of the possibilities.  In order to keep it all in one place, I created this printable and store it in a 3-ring binder.

Click below to get yours! You can print off the pages that apply to your family.

Meal Planning Categories

2 weeks + Family of 5 Eaters = $151 Grocery Bill

When I switched to working part-time, I revisited our budget several times to see where we could cut back. One category that was always extremely high was the grocery bill. At an average of $800/month, groceries was the third highest spending category – just after mortgage and daycare.

I’ve always wanted to use the ads, compare prices, and use coupons or money-saving apps. I’d never taken the time to do those things, and I thought I knew what a good price was. I assumed shopping at Walmart gave me the lowest prices, but after using a price sheet I realized I was wrong!

If you’ve read how I create and use my price sheet, this is where I show it to you in action!

STEP 1: Shop your cupboards. Take inventory of what you already have. I knew I had about 8lb hamburger, a pork shoulder, and 2 packages of chicken to use for meals. These were past sale purchases that I knew I would utilize in the future.

STEP 2: Plan your meals. For 2 weeks, I plan 8-10 meals, which allows for a couple leftover nights,1-2 nights of dining out, and 1-2 “Clean out the fridge/freezer” nights, if needed.  I found that getting groceries weekly resulted in a lot of wasted food.

STEP 3: Ad prices go on the price sheet. Find which store has the lowest price and make a store list. I shop from 4 stores – 2 are pickup, 2 I have to go in.

  

STEP 4: For the remaining items, I searched online Hyvee and Walmart to see who had the lowest price. I order online and pickup at both of those stores.

STEP 5: Go shopping and be proud of all the money you just saved!!