The third and last part of my Meal Planning Maven series.. and your first action step to making meal planning and your budget work for you.
We’ve talked about what meal planning is, how to organize your family’s favorite meals and recipes. Having already gotten started with the basics, now we can talk about how to meal plan much more simply and quickly.
We have all done it. We get to the grocery store and can’t remember whether we have something at home in the pantry or not. I have either bought a duplicate item, or gotten home and realized that I didn’t have something that I should have bought.
Talk About Aggravating
This little annoyance is what led me to create my Inventory Sheets to keep me on top of our supply better. I can sit down and meal plan AND make my list all from the table. No more running to the fridge or freezer to double-check if something needs to be added to the list.
Stores Have Inventory Tracking. You Should Too.
We all know that the grocery stores know when they run out of something or get low so that they can order more. They can’t make money off of something that they don’t have in stock. Same way that you can’t make dinner out of something that you don’t have.
Keeping an inventory of what you have on-hand just makes sense.
Besides, we all have had that random rouge can of creamed corn in our pantry’s for years. *wink* Why not find a recipe to use that up?!
Waste Not: Food and Money
Having these inventory sheets at the ready makes a world of difference to saving both your sanity and money. If you have the filled out sheets at your disposal, you can plan to use up something that you may have forgotten you had. You can use it instead of tossing it. I don’t know about you, but I hate throwing out food. It’s like throwing out money to me.
Get the FREE Meal Planning Inventory sheets by clicking here or on the image above.
The hardest part of having an ongoing inventory system will be the first time you use it. It looks daunting to stand in front of your pantry and have to think about writing everything down. Trust me, it only gets easier from here.
Once you have that initial inventory done, it’s just a matter of crossing out and adding to it after you grocery shop. And since you have your Meal Planning Maven status fully up to par, you won’t be having to write down so much either.
You can either keep your Inventory Sheets in your Meal Planning Binder (we talked about that in part 2) or hang them on clipboards by each category location. I keep my Fridge one in my binder because it’s right in the kitchen anyhow. But I have my pantry inventory on a clipboard hanging on a hook inside my pantry. It’s helpful to have it right in plain sight if you want your family to remember to start crossing things off as they use them.
Shop Once; Spend Once
Since you have your Meal Planning under control, those “quick” stops at the grocery on your way home will be a thing of the past. If you think about it, even a $20 stop adds up if you do it once a week. (And that is being conservative.) An extra $80 added to your grocery budget? No thank you.
So save your money, your time, and your sanity by Meal Planning weekly and using these FREE Printable Inventory Sheets to keep on top of your Meal Planning Maven status.
One Thing To Watch For
Even the most streamlined and pretty system cannot account for those pesky kids and husbands. You know the ones that put back empty boxes or sneak out a bag of chocolate chips to eat behind your back and THINK you won’t notice? Make sure you do a quick overview yourself if you have had these things happen in the past. Just because that sheet is hanging there does not mean that everyone is going to automatically be accountable.
It’s a process. Change takes a little time to get going. But trust me, I’ve been meal planning like this for over 2 years now, and it only gets easier the longer we do it. You will get there too. I promise.