Yep, we gotta get this part done. The only way your are going to stream line your menu planning process is by tackling the pantry and freezer. No fear! We will only do the pantry today as today is Day 2 of Speed Plan a Budget-Menu.
When Budget-Menu planning, you have to know what is in your house! This is key. Sorry for all the exclamations there, but it is so true.
You may be wondering what is Budget-Menu planning? That’s a new word I made up. You can use it too. It helps me think a little more streamlined. In my life I have found that certain phrasing keeps me on track. It creates a frame work for me to stay focused. That’s why I coined the term. At least I think I did.
How does this all work? In yesterday’s post we simplified the planning by coming up with the families favorite meals and labeled them accordingly. We needed to do that so we can get to some other steps.
Having a clear cut list of what we really like in our family will keep us from buying worthless foods, unless we decide to be really creative, and you all know I get that way. I am not saying it is bad to be creative but everyone will always have some mainstays in their monthly menu. It’s just how we are wired.
So with that list will come the all important need step of supplying food for what you will eat. Not what you think you may like, I will say this again, what you will eat.
If I buy a bunch of food and bring it home only to hopefully use it one day (I may or may not have been known to do this) then I will likely waste it. Whether it was on sale or not is not the point. I am still wasting. Wasting space, time, energy (mine) and money.
Take Steps to Mitigate Unnecessary Spending
How? By knowing what you have on hand already. Tackling the pantry will show you have on hand that works with what your family likes already. It will show you what you need to buy. It will show you what you need to get rid of. Yes, we will do that too.
Plain and simply spoken, one cannot stay on budget and work a proper menu without a visibly clean, organized and well tamed pantry.
Yes, my pantry becomes untamed quite easily in fact. We have a household of 6. Not all the people in my family see the need to put things back in the proper place. For that matter, I sometimes don’t follow my own rules. I get going fast and just slam it where it needs to go. That’s a bad habit that we all need to break.
Now, To Work!
For me, this task will take a little longer than normal for a few reasons:
- One, we moved and did not de-clutter when we moved. So I brought a lot of junk with us that I would have gotten rid of.
- Two, we went on an elimination diet just as I started THM. We bought food that I have not used since THM. Yeah, big waste of money. Thinking I would eventually use said food for the kids at least, one day, that day never came and the food came with us.
- Three, we used to live in the mountains and we were stocked. Stocked very well indeed. So stocked, that had I known we were moving I never would have canned over 100 lbs. of tomatoes this past fall. Nor would I have canned peaches and pears.
So yes, I have my work cut out for me.
Where to Start:
Grab a box or plastic bag, a trash can, and a counter top.
Take one cabinet or shelf at a time. Empty its contents into one of the three place:
- Box or bag = food pantry foods
- trash = trash, yes, some foods need to be thrown away
- counter top = foods that will go back onto the shelf
Get a clean wash cloth and some hot water with soap suds roll up your sleeves and get cleaning.
- Wipe down all the shelves and the food before you put it back. The jars and bags will often gather dust and junk. You don’t need that coming back onto your clean shelves do you?
- As you are placing your items back on the shelf, make a list of what you have.
You can use the printable I have or a piece of lined paper, your computer, another printable or your phone. My point: use something to write down what you have and keep this. Click on My Pantry for your printable.
After taking all these before pictures, I laughed because I don’t have a ton of space so changing looks of things for you to see an after may be a joke. However, I can see that it would help to put a lot of powders and herbs in jars that are now in bags. That would be nice.
You also get to see the food in our house that is on the naughty list if you look close. Hey, I am human. Although I try really hard, there are days when Lara Bars are floating around the house. For my hubby every day includes soda and chips. I am only fighting so many battles 😉
Keeping the Information
The pantry list will come in handy as you make your way to getting a menu put in place. It is so nice to be able to look at your list rather than trying to rifle through cabinets. I don’t care how organized you get, there will still be food items that you don’t see, or that you forget about. It always happens.
I will keep my pantry list in a plastic sleeve in a three ring binder because I like those. They work for me. You can keep yours on your pc, phone, or whatever works for you. Make it work though. This binder will also have all of my other menu planning helpers, like my families fave’s, old menu’s to inspire, grocery lists, etc.
Once you get this all done, you will be glad that you did. I promise. And, it won’t ever take this long again. Really? Really, really. How do I know? Because we will stay on top of this from now on. In fact, just about every time you go shopping you will be noting what you have and you will make sure you are not wasting.
Once a month you will be cleaning the shelves, if you need to. If nothing else you will be checking to see if they need a cleaning. Likely you will do that once a month, and again, it will never be as bad as it was this go around. The first time is always the worst.
No what about your spice cabinet and such? Personally, that is more like a pantry type of thing to me. So I will go through my spice cabinet while I am digging in my pantry and cabinets. I will still take notes because I hate it when I am out of a spice or herb from something we really love. That has happened a lot lately. Down with missing herbs!
Rather than get yourself worked up about how long this may take you. Stop. Breathe. Just do one cabinet. One shelf. See how far you get and then see if you can do more. If you can’t do more today. Do one more shelf tomorrow.
If you are walking around heavily weighted with burdens of any kind work like this can feel overwhelming. I know, I have been there, and to some degree I am even there with you right now. I have a lot of work to do. Yet sitting around waiting for things to get worse will only make everything worse. So I will leave you to it.
Hope this blesses you today!
P.S. Tomorrow we will have to do the freezer and the fridge. The principle will be the same with a few little tweaks. If you can’t get it all done now, that is ok. Do what you can, cause something is better than nothing. If it takes you two weeks to whittle away at it you will still be in a better place then where you are today! 😉
Any tips on organizing that you’d like to share? Do you know how it feels to not know what is in your cabinets? Do you experience the same thing I do or are you immune to that? If you have no idea, then what do you do so I can share in your bliss?!