I’ve been a stay-at-home / work-from-home mom for about six years now. I’m a very organized person, but before I took the plunge and started working out of the house, I was doing my grocery shopping when I had a few spare minutes and things were out of control. I would impulse and over buy.
One of the first items on my to-do list was clean and inventory my fridge, freezer, and pantry. I don’t remember the exact number, but I was astonished by how many cans of cream of mushroom soup I’d accumulated over the years. I swear it was around a dozen cans, stashed alongside at least four cans of black eyed peas (why?) and a variety of canned cranberry sauces. The kicker? I had cream of mushroom soup on my grocery list.
It took a long time to get out of the habit of buying things without checking my supplies first. I was also buying ingredients with the intention of making specific recipes, but forgetting what I had or what I was planning to make and throwing spoiled food – and lots of good money – away.
I’m big on bullet journaling and found that a weekly spread with a section for meal planning was critical if I were to realistically kick my overbuying habit. My budget loved me and it felt great that my family was eating in more and wasting less.
Right now we’re socially distancing, especially at the grocery store. I decided early on that the grocery store would be my biggest risk and that I would lay out thoughtful meal plans with the intent on going only once every two or more weeks. To get that done, I needed to start by inventorying my pantry and freezer. I created a printable inventory to help track what I had so I could better prepare for trips to the grocery store. A matching meal inventory was a must! Now that I’ve been using them successfully for about a month, I thought I’d share.
How I use this: First, I performed a pantry inventory of everything I already had in stock, using a highlighter to denote in-stock quantities. As I’ve made recipes using those items, I’ve marked the appropriate number of boxes with an x. There are 15 total squares, which should be more than enough for tracking these items for a long time. I had no idea I had so many packets of salmon!
How I use this: The link for the freezer inventory takes you to an improved version of what is pictured above. This works exactly like the pantry inventory, only it includes columns to write-in the date it was frozen and a use-by date.
How I use this: The link to the meal inventory takes you to an improved version of what is pictured above. I keep this right on the refrigerator where I can see it. This has been a life-saver during my weekly meal planning and has helped me extend the time between shopping trips.
Big Box Retailers
Your local big box retailer offers up online shopping with one-stop pickup. My kids are devouring snacks like it’s their job, and the cost of buying Cheez-Its and drinks was getting ridiculous. Instead, we order snacks, drinks, and other items (like toilet paper and paper towels, if we’re lucky) and pick it all up with little to no contact with other people. It’s kind of amazing, and it keeps us from breaking the bank or making more trips to the regular grocery store. If you aren’t already a member of your local store, now’s the perfect time to make that commitment. You won’t regret it.
Save Money with iBotta
You can save even more time and money just by signing up with iBotta. I’ve linked up to my favorite grocery stores using my rewards or membership numbers and automatically save quite a bit on items I already purchase. At Christmastime, I converted my savings into an Amazon gift card and used it to buy a Bose Soundbar. Give it a try! If you join, consider using my code: oyxjtpi.
Let me know in the comments if these inventories helped you get organized. Did they make shopping and meal planning more efficient? Are you throwing away less? Eating in more? I hope so!