Meal Planning and Eliminating Food Waste with an Organized Pantry
Have you ever looked into your pantry and said “I have nothing to make for dinner”? This is a common scenario for most people. There is a full pantry stocked with boxes of items, but we don’t see anything that we are interested in. Having effective pantry solutions to keep you organized can help tremendously with quickly answering this question! Here are some tips for keeping an organized pantry, saving money on groceries, and eliminating food waste:
Categorize & Contain. Baskets or bins with labels are key in keeping like items together. When you are looking for something specific, you have one spot to look at. A snack basket for the kids is super helpful!
Decanting into clear storage containers. When you decant or empty items into clear storage containers, such as cereals, baking items, or snacks, you can see exactly how much you have left. Here are a couple of great options:
Keep an eye on expiration dates. You don’t want to make that mac and cheese box for the kids at dinner time but realize it expired back in 2018. No fun for anyone! Use your bin or basket solution to stack or file items by expiration date so you use items in the order of which they’ll expire. An "Eat First" basket is also helpful in preventing food waste.
Challenge yourself to be creative with the items you have. Do you have a whole bag of potatoes sitting in the pantry about to go bad? Make a large batch of breakfast potatoes. Freeze some and have the rest throughout the week! Bread – no problem. I am always looking for some crouton crunch on my salads!
Meal plan. Keep your favorite recipes organized either electronically or in a recipe box. Quick and easy access. Pour that glass of wine on a Friday night and go online to your grocery stores to incorporate weekly sales!
Keep digital lists. Have you ever walked into the grocery store and realized you left your list at home? Use your phone since you most likely have it on you all the time. Make use of the notes app or other apps, such as eMeals to keep a running grocery list or for meal planning.
Know your inventory. Before going food shopping, take inventory of what you have so you are not buying double of what is already in your pantry. Keep a running list of items you run out of throughout the week (see tips above, use your phone!).
Source ideas to keep your menu fresh. Follow social media accounts and hashtags such as #mealplanning, #mealideas, #freezermeals or #organizedpantry for ideas! My sister, mom of 5 growing boys, has an account called Meals and The Menu (@mealsandthemenu). She posts great ideas for meal prep and recipes! Some other great accounts to follow include: @skinnytaste, @halfbakedharvest and @thepioneerwoman.
All you need is 15 minutes each week to keep your system in order! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like me to help you turn your unorganized pantry into a functional space that will save you money and decrease stress in the long run!