The next section of my notebook is focused on what we eat. I have menus planners, recipes I have collected (but not placed in my recipe box) and inventory lists for my pantry and freezer. In the future, I hope to pull all my kitchen stuff into a notebook in and of itself, but for now it’s in my household notebook.
I plan my menus around the weekly grocery store circulars. For us, they are published on Wednesdays. That’s also the day I clean out the fridge. I try to work in things that are on sale that week and save some money. I also like using the Coupon Mom website for even more savings (it’s free, by the way). I incorporate leftovers (L/O) frequently for lunches. When I cook larger portions of meat, like a turkey breast or roast, I plan for that to feed us for three meals or more. For example, I can use a roast turkey breast for sliced turkey, turkey noodle soup and turkey fajitas. A $15 turkey breast has now been spread across three meals for about $5 per meal – and there are usually plenty of leftovers. I have uploaded a blank menu planner in the Widget box.
After a friend challenged me to feed my family for a week using only the food I already had on hand, I realized how much food is lurking in the dark corners of my freezer and pantry. From that point on, I decided to start using a system to track that food inventory. First of all, it prevents me from purchasing food I already have on hand (how many boxes of lasagna noodles can one family consume at a time?) and it helps me use what I already have on hand when I plan my menus. I found the inventory trackers at organizedhome.com to be the most useful. Why re-invent the wheel? You can find them here. Just scroll down the page a bit and print to your heart’s content. Basically, you write down an item and make one slash mark for each one of those items. When you use one of those items, you cross through one of the slash marks to distinguish that it is no longer available for use.
Using a weekly menu and keeping track of my food inventories have really helped our family save on the monthly grocery budget. And, too, it takes out the last minute oh-my-goodness-it’s-dinnertime- what-are-we-going-to-have panic and temptation to run through the drive-through.