5 ways to organize your food

Hopefully y’all have been following my series on the TOP FOUR, MOST IMPORTANT AREAS OF ORGANIZATION. So far, I’ve covered how to organize your mind and how to organize your schedule.

Today I want to focus on HOW TO ORGANIZE YOUR FOOD. I consider food to be one of my top four, most important areas of organization for several reasons:

  1. It fuels our bodies and gives us the energy we need to accomplish everything that needs to be done throughout the day.
  2. It “eats up” a huge chunk of our monthly budget.
  3. It brings people together to create memories.

I was never really good at meal planning or budgeting until it became necessary over the past year. Our family’s income got slashed dramatically and we were also starting to experience some ill health effects as a result of years of poor eating habits. As much as I hate to admit it, I’m not 20 anymore; my old diet of takeout, wild cherry Pepsi and Little Debbie snack cakes just isn’t cutting it anymore. :(

So I recently got serious about making healthier, more budget-friendly food choices for my family. This is what works for us:

1. Make a weekly meal plan. One day each week, I plan my meals for the upcoming week and I write the entrees on my little refrigerator chalkboard.

2. Keep a running grocery list. My grocery list is based completely on my weekly meal plan. I scour my pantry and fridge and jot down any ingredients I will need to complete my meals. I keep a blank list on the fridge, so that when we run out of something, I can quickly write it down on the list. I cannot stress enough how much this little categorized list comes in handy.

To download a free copy, click here.

3. Alphabetize your pantry. OK, before you decide I’ve gone completely off the OCD deep end, hear me out … Because I (loosely) alphabetize my pantry, like items get stored together and I can always very quickly scan an area to see if I’m out of a particular staple. No digging in the back looking for that one can of kidney beans. I know exactly where everything is and when I’ve run out of it. Once you get a system like this in place, it is actually very easy to maintain.

4. Limit your inventory. I am not one of those people who loves going to the supermarket. I pretty much loathe it, actually. So I go as infrequently as possible, which helps our budget and keeps the food volume under control. Also, because I alphabetize and organize my pantry well, I don’t have the problem of storing 10 boxes of cereal or 20 cans of chili. I also keep certain items in labeled plastic containers and I only allow containers to be refilled when they are approaching empty.

When it comes to our freezer space, I just try to keep like things together in compartmentalized areas. This seems to be really helpful.

5. Keep it simple and cut yourself some slack. With today’s busy lifestyles, meal planning and grocery shopping is tough to squeeze into anyone’s schedule. My meal planning usually takes about 10-15 minutes max each week. And I always try to make a bit extra of each recipe, so I can pack the leftovers in lunches or have the meal again for dinner on the days I’m too exhausted to cook.

Hopefully, you can make your mealtimes a little easier by incorporating at least a few of these tips. Next month, I’ll be wrapping up this series by taking a look at HOW TO ORGANIZE YOUR FINANCES.

Happy cooking!

I’m linking this up to Home Stories A to ZNew NostalgiaWe are THAT familyThe Thrifty Home and Somewhat Simple.

25 thoughts on “5 ways to organize your food

  1. Can you come and make my pantry look as beautiful as yours??? You are an inspiration and just the kick in the pants I need to get my house in order! Thanks, Susan

    • Glad I could help motivate in some way, Kim. Now I need a “kick in the pants” myself to start working on my basement and garage! Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Very wise idea!!! I really need to do this,,,it would make shopping soooo much easier if I could see it Unfortunately I don’t have a pantry, Rats…My stuff is always way back in behind kitchen cabinets and in the dark. Maybe I could win a makeover on HGTV?
    There are still ways I can improve on this as I have imagined some good ideas like the clear containers that you labled. I really need this for my cereal, spag, oats, etc. Btw: on you Mon. menu, are you having chicken enchaladas? lol…. I have to get some items, now, I have to get things organized around here, It’s driving me a little crazy. I hate shopping for groceries too. Keep up the good work. I want to come live at your house…I feel so cluttered up :)

  3. Oh, forgot to tell you thank you for the link to print out more grocery list pages on your site. I love them. I wanted to ask you how do you keep your markers in place to be nearby the grocery list? Mine is on my refrigerator but no place for markers or cubby container to keep them in. How is it attached and where? I’ve been to your house for your sister’s shower but forgot to look. We were in the moment. I hope to see you soon to give you a gift card to buy the little guy something real nice. Love ya

    • Yes. I realize not everyone has a designated pantry space. This is the first home we’ve lived in that has one and I love it. In our other homes, I created a pantry of sorts by adding shelves in the basement or garage or by adding helpful containers in my cupboards. BTW, the container for my markers and pens is magnetized, so it attaches to the fridge. I can’t remember where I got it, but I’ll bet you could find one at Bed, Bath and Beyond, Lowes or maybe even Walmart. I’ll keep an eye out for you.

  4. I Love your pantry. Could you please tell me where did you purchased the plastic container with wheels. I would like to use it for dry dogfood. Thanks

  5. What a cool idea Susie! I loved the nuts and bolts organization as well, now if I could only find some space in my house to keep a container for the nuts, bolts, nails, etc… so for now I will focus on the food. Thank you for the link to the grocery list print out. I plan to use that and since we only plan our shopping once a month, we seem to be forming a habit of revisiting the grocery store several times more by the end of the month causing ourselves to go outside our food budget. SOOO if we try out your weekly meal planning idea hopefully we can reorganize and cut back on the extra grocery trips as well as buying unnecessary grocery items that don’t get used up in time and spoil…i.e..our produce. Thanks for the tips again, you’re an organized genius!

    • I’m definitely not an organizing genius … I know you’ve seen my basement and garage … atrocious! Any-hoo, I used to try doing like one major grocery haul a month, but I found that, well, you just can’t keep produce that long, so I’ve switched to about every two weeks. The first week, my meal plan includes all the “fun” meals that I’ve purchased special ingredients for and the meals that require the freshest produce. I call my second week “scrounge” week, ‘cuz I just basically plan my meals around whatever is left in the house. Sometimes this requires Matt to pick up an item or two from the store to complete a recipe, but it still saves us money and keeps the waste (and excess) under control. Boy does my fridge look bare after that second week, lol! Luv ya.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Lindsey. This is the first house we’ve lived in with a real pantry and I love it! In our past homes, we used shelves in the basement and garage to create a pantry of sorts. I have to admit, I alphabetized my canned goods back then, too. :)

  6. Great tips! All of these methods have been very useful to me, except that our pantry is not alphabetical but organized in categories we all understand–I am blessed to have fallen in love with a man who intuitively understands my classification schemes for most things (and vice versa) and we are teaching our child to put things away in the “right” places.

    We have found it very useful to maintain a list on our freezer door of what’s in the freezer. It’s just the small above-the-fridge freezer, but it does hold quite a bit, and digging around to see what’s there wastes energy and makes me cold! So we make a list and scratch off things as we use them. At times when we have a lot of perishable food on hand, we also have a list headed EAT IT!! listing all fresh produce, leftovers, etc. I use it when meal planning, and we all use it when looking for a snack, to minimize waste and yucky discoveries.

  7. Your tips are all fantastic and I feel like I’ve stumbled onto them at just the right time in my life. My hubby, kids, and I are working hard these days to really declutter, organize, and re-think how we do things. You mentioned your basement…ours is about 1 bin shy of being featured on TLC Hoarders! Lol. If/when you tackle yours, I hope you share your strategies and photos. Thanks again for sharing.

    • Thanks for stopping by, Marcie. Glad the info. could be of use to you. I’ll have to have some serious caffeine on hand before I attempt my basement. But you’ll be so proud … the other day I actually got one small section of it de-cluttered and swept, so you can walk without tripping over something. Baby steps, right?

  8. Pingback: Meal Planning-Getting Organized | The Inspire(d) CafeThe Inspire(d) Cafe

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  10. Where did you find the pantry door organizer… It seems to fit perfectly without hanging over the top of the door!

    • Jennifer, that door organizer was attached when we bought the house, so I’m not sure where it came from. I do believe I’ve seen them at Lowe’s, though, in the organizing section. It definitely comes in handy!

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