Before you read the rest of this post, go and take a look in your fridge. Don’t forget to come back now!
How many containers of moldy leftovers did you find?
I’ve got nine.
Nine fuzzy smelly science experiments that used to be delicious–and expensive–food.
Sigh. It happens to the best of us.
But that is why I am delighted to have discovered the number one step in meal planning.
What is it?
This simple step is guaranteed to save you money, and might even inspire you to culinary greatness. But the best thing about it is how dead easy and completely satisfying it is to do.
How to take inventory
1) Look through your fridge, freezer and pantry and first clear out all of the yucky moldy slimy stuff to make way for some delicious food.
2) Make a list of all the food that needs to be eaten up ASAP. Look in all the little jars and containers, drawers and shelves. I like to imagine the food as dollar bills, loose change and rolls of coins. Yes, this is crazy. But I really don’t want to throw it out!
3) Write your meal plan, making sure you include all those foods you listed above in the first couple of days. You might doubt me, but I’ve found it’s incredibly fun creating meals to use up those found treasures in new delicious ways. I will write a post on this soon, but think soups, salads, omelettes . . . mmmmm.
4) Even if you don’t do a weekly meal plan, a weekly inventory will probably spark your creativity and put at least some of your week’s meals on auto-pilot. This really will save you money and get you started in the mental process of meal planning. I find myself instantly inspired when looking at, say, a bunch of roasted broccoli from dinner. Presto! Broccoli Pita Pizza for lunch tomorrow.
Looking through your fridge can probably save you from trudging out to the store (where there is a 90% chance you will spend more than you planned). Using food you already bought means you don’t have to buy more food. Yup. Rocket science.
Taking inventory regularly will keep your fridge and pantry shelves less crowded so it will be easier to see what’s in there. This will make taking inventory–and using up what you’ve got–even easier.
It will also get you into the habit of thinking about your meals on a weekly basis, which is the first step in doing a full-on weekly meal plan. I will be blogging more about this fascinating subject in weeks to come but for now, trust me: it’s the cat’s ass as far as kitchen frugality is concerned.
And I don’t know about you, but I find that EVERYthing seems just a tad more appetizing when it isn’t surrounded by blue fuzzy rice and hairy black jam.
Now, off to do my inventory. So, which yogurt container has yogurt in it and which is that chili from three weeks ago? Help!