In my latest attempt to save money and time with menu planning and couponing, I decided to do a pantry inventory. Before going to the grocery store on Saturday I listed what I had on hand and some meal ideas to go with the items. I put an asterisk beside items that would only be used as a recipe ingredient, such as the several cans of French Fried Onions I had bought on sale during the Christmas season.
French Fried Onions - check; Cream of Mushroom Soup - check; cans of green beans - check; milk in fridge - check; black pepper in spice cabinet - check. SHAZAM! I was definitely going to be cooking green bean casserole this week! Other items that I needed to use in recipes were brown rice, cornbread stuffing mix, saltines, apple pie filling, chicken broth and tomato soup. Some of these had recipes right on the package and I can go through my cookbooks or look on the internet to find recipes in order to use what I already have on hand.
While making my list, I also listed items that needed to be used... soon. On this list were sweet potatoes, squash, regular potatoes, bologna and a can of biscuits. So I put these on the menu for this week, and added any items needed to go along with these items to make a meal or a dish. For instance, I already had everything needed to make a sweet potato casserole (brown sugar, butter, vanilla flavoring, eggs, marshmallows). I was able to get many ideas for my menus this week just by checking to see what was about to go out of date.
The inventory also helped me to know exactly what I was out of and I made a grocery list based on that. It was so nice to not wonder if I needed certain things. I just felt so much more in control when I was grocery shopping this week.
We had a family dinner on Sunday, so while making these "food" lists, I planned our meal. I wrote down the dishes, a list of what I needed to do before going to church and what I needed to do when I got back from church. It made getting a big meal on the table so much more stress free. Here's my list for that:
Morning: Cook squash, chop onions, put together squash casserole in dish for baking later, boil potatoes, make string bean casserole, put chicken in crock pot with bbq sauce and put oil in pan and set aside for after church;
After church: Put two casseroles in the oven, Put bbq chicken in oven to brown, fry the boiled fresh potatoes, set table, make tea.
Here is my main pantry/food cabinet:
These two cabinets are located beside the stove and I use them kind of like a baking center. They contain, flour, sugar, spices, cooking oil, coffee, tea bags, etc.
Here are my scribbled notes:
I want to start keeping this information in a nice little journal or notebook, so that I can refer to it each week.
Yesterday at lunch I organized my coupons.... after I finally found the coupon organizer! I haven't used it in weeks! Almost all of the coupons had expired, so I started over from scratch. I'm going to do couponing on a smaller scale this time. I just simply can't keep up with a lot of coupons in a complicated coupon organizing system, such as a shoebox, etc. It overwhelms me and I lose the incentive I need to use coupons in the first place.
More on my couponing in a later post!