How many times do you find a favourite item in the grocery store on sale? Maybe it’s soup? So you buy three or four? Send it to the pantry, or cupboard for storage. Maybe it’s dry pasta? Again, you stock up with whatever amount you can store.
Ultimately, when it comes to frugal groceries and meal planning the key is to know what you have in your inventory. You can save yourself so much wasted time and money in the grocery store by already knowing what is in your house BEFORE you start meal planning. Once you get really good at knowing what you have on hand, or at least taking stock of what you have before looking at flyers or recipes, it becomes easier to spend less and still have delicious meals to look forward to.
Seems simple enough right?
I used to be a day to day grocery shopper. You know, one of those people that was in the grocery store many times per week to pick up some random things here and there as I needed per each specific meal. It seemed easy and convenient. I could go in and pick out what I wanted to have that night or day, and get home and prepare the meal. BUT…When you really stop and add it all up…It’s crazy how much I was spending on groceries, and wasting even more because I would often end up having more food than I could really use in a week. Especially if hitting up the baked goods, and fresh fruit and veg every time.
I would rather buy less and eat it, than buy more and toss it!
If you start within your own house (even BEFORE looking at your recipes!!!), it can guide what recipes you could choose from. Start in the pantry! Look for items that are closer to expiring. Some chicken broth close to the end of it’s shelf life? Look for a recipe that calls for chicken broth. Or make rice, or pasta using broth instead of water to add more flavour, use it to steam your veggies, make soup! Have some random crackers in the cupboard where you just can’t seem to find the bottom of the box? Why not try looking at appetizer recipes? (Hint: Look up bacon candied crackers, OMG! You will not be disappointed!)
Use your food to get creative!
Finding recipes to use up ingredients in your house is a great way to experiment in the kitchen. You will likely find recipes you may not have considered if it hadn’t been for planning your meals using what you have first. You may even find a new family favourite!
In order to successfully and quickly plan meals from what you already have, it’s really helpful to have a list of your inventory somewhere. Mine is rarely perfectly up to date, but even the slightly inaccurate list is extremely handy. Check out one of my previous posts: Taking your inventory In this post I share the way I track the food that I have in my pantry and my freezers. The more thorough you can make your list, the easier it is to plan your meals!
The other system that I use and LOVE is the whiteboard on my fridge. Check out another related post: Ever forget what groceries you bought?? You will find my super handy (slightly time consuming, but don’t fret) way of jotting down some of the fresh groceries that I bought but did not plan for. When you buy things like humus for snacking on, you may not remember that you have it after a couple days of life hitting you in the face. Rather than having to throw it out after finding it again in the back of the fridge, if I have it listed on my whiteboard, I can easily pull it out when I need a quick snack.
Meal planning doesn’t have to be overwhelming, or something to dread. But I will say, that it is way more fun if you have some tracking or organization of the food you already have. Even if your food storage area is just a small shelf for “stocking” up on groceries.
Anything to enjoy and simplify the process of choosing to make great food at home instead of eating out!