Are you feeling overwhelmed with all the food you stocked up on to be ready to stay at home for a couple weeks? I can help! Meal planning is good for any time, but I think it’s very important during this time when you’re already stressed and having to cook from home more often. Let’s make sure we get all that food cooked, so it doesn’t go bad. And, let’s keep you out of the grocery stores as much as possible. I present you my Simple Inventory & Meal Plan.
I recommend you take some time to inventory what you have and make a plan for all that cooking. I’ve created this simple inventory list to help. Start by organizing your freezer. Check the dates and get rid of any expired or mystery food. Organize your freezer by putting like items together. As you are organizing, make a list of the items you have. In doing this myself I found 3 bags of shrimp. I love to make Shrimp & Corn Chowder and the salad shrimp from Target are perfect for it. Sometimes when I’m at Target I’ll pick up a bag so when I feel like making the chowder, I’ll have that perfect ingredient. Apparently I think about making it more often than I make it, which is how I ended up with 3 of them. But having that inventory list will prevent me from over stocking in the future.
Next go to your pantry. Write down the ingredients you’ll use in recipes such as rice, pasta, stock, beans, tomatoes. Again, check the dates and get rid of expired food. Sort and store your like items together to help you stay organized, which will help you feel calmer and somewhat more in control.
Finally, go through your refrigerator. When writing down the inventory of foods, include the expiration dates. This will help you figure out the order to cook things in so you can use things up (or freeze them) before they go bad. This is especially important for your meats.
Now, it’s time for the actual meal planning. As you look at the list of foods you have, you’ll probably think of favorite recipes you’ll want to make. Start jotting those down under Meal Ideas. Check what ingredients you have on hand and write down the other items you need to pick up under the To Buy category. Ask your family members for help in remembering some of your family’s favorite meals.
If you have a recipe binder (check mine out here) look through that for meal ideas. Now’s a great time to get lost in Pinterest for a while – as a distraction from watching the news and for meal inspiration. Check online recipe databases for more ideas. You can check out our Tastefully Simple database at cariblake.com. Click on recipes, then you can enter in search words, choose the TS products you’d like to use (or are close to ingredients you have on hand) and even the cooking method you prefer such as slow cooker, stove top or grill.
Write down all the meals you can think of – include breakfasts and lunches if you wish. Use your planner or a simple blank calendar to start planning out when to make your meals. You can plan out the next 10 days or longer or if that’s too much do what I do and just tackle a couple days at a time. I tend to change my mind about what I feel like cooking, so I like to just list the meals and then fill it out as I go. Cross the meals off as you make them – hey, you’ll feel accomplished!
Pro Tip – consider doing some batch prepping or cooking. If a couple recipes have similar ingredients, chop the veggies you need for both at the same time. While something is cooking in the slow cooker, prep another meal to keep in the fridge until you want to cook it. Or cook a bigger recipe, like chili, and portion it out for some leftover lunches.
I hope that spending time in the kitchen will help you feel accomplished and a little bit more in control during this crazy time we are going through. I know it does for me, and maybe these tips will help you feel the same.
I’d love to know how you are handling all the food in your house. Please share in the comments. And, if you have any questions about meal planning or prepping, let me know. I’d love to help!