I've never been one to go to the grocery store without a list, but I was constantly finding myself throwing out forgotten produce or hidden in the back of the pantry expired items. I felt wasteful. I was literally throwing money in the trash. I talked to my neighbor about it and she introduced me to meal planning. I loved the idea of only buying the items that I needed for the week. I loved the idea of not having to wonder at 5pm "what am I going to cook for dinner." Most of all, I loved not having to run to the store for last minute items. After about a month, I was hooked! Here's how I started:
- Inventory: Take inventory of what you already have on hand in your refrigerator, freezer and pantry each week. Add these items to your planner first. For example, if you already have fresh broccoli or a package of frozen chicken thighs, add it as an meat or side dish in your planner first. The idea here is to use what you have on hand before you plan to buy anything else. No more produce going bad or meat getting freezer burnt.
- Factor in Leftovers: I have two children and a hungry hungry hubby but I don't cook a full course dinner every night. Why? Because I factor in leftovers. I usually cook Sunday-Tuesday, make something in the crock pot on Wednesday, so Thursday is our leftover night. It saves me time and prevents us from being wasteful.
- Fill in your menu: Fill in your planner to make complete meals. By using what you already have on hand, you shouldn't have much more to add.
- Make your shopping list: Add what you don't have in your kitchen to your shopping list. Take it with you to the grocery store and stick to your list!