In this first part of a 2-part series, we’re showing you how we’re getting meal planning and inventory tracking organized in order to save money. Have you noticed how the price of food is skyrocketing? Now, more than ever, it’s important to reduce our food waste to keep our food budget in check. Afterall, if you’re saving money by reducing food waste, you can ride out price increases!
By the way, there’s a free printable meal planner further ahead 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 a magnetic/whiteboard and a combination writing/magnetic board for food inventory and meal planning, respectively.
Keeping Inventory of the Freezer
So many times in the past, we don’t know what’s buried in the freezer until we’re at the point where we have to throw away freezer burned food. If you have room, you can mount a dry erase board (a freezer tracker) on the wall. However, we didn’t have adequate wall space in our basement near our freezer. So we saved space by mounting it right onto the freezer door!
Right below the board, a magnetic shelf holds a marker and eraser that helps us keep track of the inventory of frozen foods we have in the freezer.
Opt for a light weight eraser board if you plan to mount it to your freezer too!
The white board 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 keep on hand.
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 on a Weekly Basis
We never used to meal plan and that was a big mistake! In the hall near our kitchen, we’ve installed this writing/magnetic board. It’s used to meal plan, keep track of our grocery list and the ‘to make’ list for the freezer.
By meal planning and choosing 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 this 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. Whether you keep track on a chalk board, like us, or keep notes on your phone, getting into the habit is a good thing.
Since this particular 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. Hubs can then take the paper copy to the store when we buy groceries so we only buy what we need for that week. When you fail to plan, you plan to fail where the budget is concerned!
Now you might be thinking that it would just be far easier to keep our grocery list organized on a smart phone. But would you believe that Hubs doesn’t even own one? He’s actually still using a flip phone. He hasn’t fallen into the trap of having to constantly upgrade technology that’s no longer supported (like my almost defunct iPad). So it’s old fashioned recyclable paper for him!
Over the weekend, we used up our last container of homemade chicken soup. Normally, it would go onto the remake list on this board but Hubs wasted no time. Even though our car is in the shop right now, Hubs will brave any kind of weather to walk to the grocery store to ‘stock up’. That’s how much we love and use chicken stock!! With the price of gas these days in the stratosphere, we might just make walking to the grocery store a more frequent occurrence. It’s a win-win when you think about it. Buy what you intend to use immediately every few days and you’ll automatically experience far less food waste. Plus, you’ll be fit as a fiddle.
Last week we adapted my grandmother’s chicken soup recipe for a pressure cooker and it’s a staple in our household. Pressure cooking helps save money because food is done in a fraction of the time. But even if we weren’t saving money, a pressure cooker would still be a cooking method of choice because it also intensifies flavour! And when you enjoy the food you make, again, nothing goes to waste.
If you would like a copy of the the weekly menu planner for your own meal planning, click here: Weekly Meal planner_PDF.
I love that we can pull our shopping list off the board when it’s needed to shop! I guess we’re just old school that way and don’t fall into the technology trap.
Please Pin for Later
If you’re as concerned about food waste and working within a budget too, pin this post to share it!
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 our Sustainable Sunday series, here are the links:
- Stock up on Chicken Soup with a Pressure Cooker!
- How I Pressured My Husband Into Cooking Our Meals
- Homemade Pesto
- Indoor Herb Garden
- Sustainable Sunday