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:
- It fuels our bodies and gives us the energy we need to accomplish everything that needs to be done throughout the day.
- It “eats up” a huge chunk of our monthly budget.
- 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.
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.