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Friday, March 1, 2013

Taking Inventory of Your Kitchen {+ menu planning!}

I'm trying to get better with planning meals.  I thought I was fairly decent at it, but after reading some other blogs and how they do it, I felt I was lacking a bit.  Basically in my head I always had about 4 meals running around in my head that I knew we had ingredients for, but I didn't schedule out an actual day to HAVE them.

Then I came across a blog that said you should take a kitchen inventory before you "think" you need to go to the store.  This got me thinking - tomorrow is our big grocery haul, and in my mind I feel like we are out of EVERYTHING, but are we really?

Well, as you can see from my list, we most definitely are not.  I was shocked and amazed as I kept writing and writing down things that I found in our deep freeze and pantry.  Here I was thinking we had nothing {just because I hadn't been paying attention} and look at everything that is there!

Now, yes, we will still go out every week for our staples: milk, cheese, fresh produce, etc.  But golly, I am still in shock of all the things we DO have in our kitchen.  Here are just some of the items that I know we can stretch some meals with:
  • Ground beef - 28 lbs! {hamburgers, meat sauce, meatloaf, chili, etc.}
  • 3 batches homemade freezer spaghetti sauce {we use for pizza sauce, spaghetti, stuffed shells}
  • a HUGE bag of brown rice {slow cooker fried rice!}
  • 4 bags of frozen veggies {to through in fried rice, stir-frys, casseroles, etc.}
  • Lots of frozen blackberries from last summer {smoothies!}
  • a decent sized bag of popcorn for kid's snacks {we pop our own}
  • oatmeal, unsweetened coconut and peanut butter {great for homemade granola bars}
  • 3 containers homemade salsa, plus 2 large jarred salsas {enchiladas, tacos, anyone?}
The point is this.

Give your kitchen an OVERHAUL before you head to the store!

Now we still need to head to the store tomorrow, as we are out of some essentials and items I need{chicken, milk, cheese, baking powder, honey, pasta, soy sauce...you get the idea}, but now that I've taken inventory of our kitchen I have a MUCH better idea of what we already have on hand.

I've got some great meals coming up, all of them using some of the items I didn't think we even had stored away.
  • Shredded Beef Tostadas {tortillas, salsa - already have!}
  • Baked Caprese Pasta {spaghetti sauce, basil, balsamic vinegar - already have!}
  • Broccoli Cheddar Chowder {broccoli, cauliflower, milk - already have!}
  • Bacon & Leek Fried Rice {rice, carrots, eggs - already have!}
Can you tell I'm excited?  Hopefully you don't think I'm yelling at you, or shouting {I probably could have written this whole post in CAPS, that's just how excited I am about this.}

So, what is the next step?

I'm printing off this calendar menu.  You can print it off here as well, in fact, I encourage you to!  It's the start of a new month {March already?} so lets all start off on a new foot.  Let's get organized.  Even though, the ground here in Iowa is covered in snow, something about the month of March makes me think Spring.

And spring, means spring cleaning.

And organizing.  That mean's throw out anything expired or rotten.

But since it's still colder than a witch's *#$%! outside and I cannot open our windows yet, I'll at least get started with organizing our meals.

And here's the thing - you don't have to be Hitler about this menu.  Be flexible.  Leave a couple of night's each week for leftovers.  If you are big on eating out, leave a night or two out for that.  Take advantage of your free time {weekends, days off} to prep some of the meals ahead.  If something comes up and you aren't home that night, throw the dish in the freezer.  You can pull it back out when you need it.

I'm stoked to get started on this.

Who is going to join me?

Would you like to comment?

  1. I try to be good about using things up but I really need to go through our pantry, especially things like spices. We have so much stuff I bet I have used once.

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  3. I am a pretty good meal planner, but now you have me thinking I need to do an inventory tomorrow morning before hitting up the store! Great idea Ally!

  4. Steph@Been There Baked ThatMarch 1, 2013 at 7:21 PM

    Great post Ally! I like to keep an inventory list of my freezer especially so I know what's in there and then just check off when we've used something.

  5. Ally's Sweet & Savory EatsMarch 1, 2013 at 8:37 PM

    Yes, you produce awesome meals Biz. I'm usually drooling reading about your meals...

  6. Ok... I'm a little bit OCD. I have weird obsessions with lists, tupperware, and sharpies. If I'm not organized like that then I'll go crazy. We always make sure everything is pretty bare before we go to the store. I never buy anything I don't already have either. I'm not a stocker upper because it won't get used if I do that. Only when things run out does it get added to the list :)

  7. I think we all have a little ocd in us!

  8. Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca)March 3, 2013 at 11:05 PM

    That inventory is a very smart idea! Also, you have very nice printing!

  9. I started by pantry/freezer inventory in Excel. It's working really well. I can even see what I have (quantity)...so if I happen on a good sale, I can tell if I can use it or not. I store a copy of the list in Evernote so I can read it on all devices...like phone for in the store. To make myself even more of a geek, I am thinking of exporting this inventory and comparing to my recipes, then I know what I can make right here without buying more "stuff".

  10. http://myblessedlife2002.wordpMarch 10, 2013 at 6:55 PM

    This is a great idea! I have 2 freezers in our garage and really don't know everything I have in there. Thanks for the inspiration!