Meal Planning and Food Inventory: Waste Not Want Not (Part I)

In creating a sustainable lifestyle, it’s important to us to reduce our food waste. In this first part of a 2-part series, we’re showing you how we’re getting meal planning and inventory tracking organized. We’ll even provide you with a printable meal planner to help you with your own food waste management goals!

The items that we used to help make a difference in waste reduction in our household are Ikea’s VEMUND magnetic/whiteboard and LUNS writing/magnetic board for food inventory and meal planning, respectively.

Keeping Inventory of the Freezer

We’ve used the VEMUND on our freezer door. With the matching VEMUND marker/eraser holder, they keep track of the inventory of frozen foods we have in the freezer. Note that the VEMUND should be mounted on a wall using the key slot brackets provided on the back of the board. However, we didn’t have adequate wall space in our basement near our freezer so went to ‘plan B’. We purchased extremely strong rare earth magnets with mounting cups. Then we screwed the magnets onto all four corners of the key slots using a flat head machine screw fastened with a hex nut. I wouldn’t recommend mounting it in this way as using rare earth magnets will cost you as much as the VEMUND itself. It needs even more expensive magnets around the edges, or it tends to slide down the door! I wish Ikea had a lighter weight option that could be attached to the fridge; maybe one of their designers will oblige me one day! You could easily switch it out for a lighter weight generic eraser board if you have to mount it to your freezer too.

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The VEMUND is great for keeping us organized. Whenever we take something from the freezer, we erase an X to track how many food items are left and when we use the last item, we put it on the shopping list (or remake a recipe, like our chicken stock) if it’s something we want to continue to keep on hand.

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We’re already thinking of how we can improve this new inventory system. Adding in some thin tape on the board to make a grid will help to neatly separate rows and add additional columns. That will allow us to write in some headers – with information such as quantity, and date – to prevent items from falling prey to freezer burn.

Meal Planning

Over the weekend, we used up our last container of homemade chicken soup. Normally, it would go onto the remake list on our LUNS writing board upstairs but Hubs wasted no time. Even though our car is in the shop right now, Hubs is going to brave the cold weather and walk to the grocery store. That’s how much we love and use chicken stock!! As you saw last week, we adapted my grandmother’s chicken soup recipe for the VARDESATTA pressure cooker and it’s a staple in our household.

In the hall near our kitchen, we’ve installed the LUNS writing/magnetic board. It’s used to meal plan, keep track of our grocery list and the ‘to make’ list for the freezer. By planning our meals and recipes on a weekly basis, we’ll only purchase what we plan to use for a week’s worth of meals so nothing goes to waste. The slotted containers underneath the board are ideal for storing pen and paper. As soon as we run out of something, we just write it down to keep track for our shopping list.

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Since the LUNS board is also magnetized, we created a menu planner to jot down our weekly meals on paper. At the beginning of the week, we sit down to meal plan. We can then take the paper copy to the store when we buy groceries so we only buy what we need for that week.

Menu Planner

If you would like a copy of the the weekly menu planner for your own meal planning, click here: Weekly Meal planner_PDF.

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I love that we can attach our list to the LUNS with a magnet and pull it off when it’s  needed to shop!

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If you’re as concerned about food waste too, pin this post to share it!

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In part II, we’ll show you how we’re spicing up our life as we continue down the path of reducing food waste. If you want to catch up on anything you may have missed in the Sustainable Sunday series, here are the links:

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