I have a list of what's in my freezer, fridge, and cupboard tacked to my bulletin board. Yes, I absolutely update it every time I use something. Yes, I think my husband thinks a nice little "vacation" in a padded room is probably necessary. (For the record, I think it is a fantastic idea. I could use the time away)
About six months ago, I started planning meals a day ahead, then a week ahead, then a month ahead, trying to use as much as what I had in my fridge/freezer/pantry and buying as little as possible.
I guess my love with Meal Planning actually started one week, between paycheck where I literally had what was in my kitchen and $15 to feed my family with for a week. Lord...I panicked. And cried. And yelled. But, I actually accomplished it, with meals and money to spare.
And today, I got a message from my friend Brenda, who rocks and sometimes blogs here, and she needed some help with Meal Planning. Between the two of us, we came up with 2 weeks worth of meals with what Brenda has in her kitchen and less than $30 spending money. Brenda and I feel like we've conquered the world, and I feel like I should share some Meal Planning hints (even though Gabe told me I should keep them all to myself and "charge people out the nose for it"....gotta love my husband)
So, here you go. Be grateful I didn't take Gabe's advice.
*Keep track of what's in your house. That means organize your pantry. I learned this the hard way when I was convinced I was out of peanut butter and found 7 full jars in my cupboard. Yeaaaaah.
*Have some go-to meals, and keep the stuff for them on hand all the time. My go-to's are taco soup, ramen stir fry, frittata, baked potatoes, and grilled cheese. That way, even if you are short on time, you know you have stuff to make SOMETHING.
*Plan ahead as far as you can. I just finished my July meal plan. But it's a fluke, so please don't think it goes this well every month. It doesn't, I swear.
*Keep a calendar of it.
*Don't feel bad if plans change, because, guess what? Plans change. I've crossed stuff out and replaced it with other stuff on a regular basis.
*Make a list of meals you would like to have ahead of time. I took pen and paper and asked Ella and Gabe what they would like to see on the menu next month.
That's about it. Sound simple? It really is.