Meal Plan Mondays did not exist in our house 5 months ago. I set the intention to begin meal planning for week day dinners back in August, and started with making a list of the dinners we have on a regular basis. I have never taken a formal inventory of what I had on hand before meal planning, but because I’m trying to stick to my zero based budget, I will be meal planning from the pantry for the last week of January.
I’m happy to say that the habit of meal planning has indeed become a habit for me. I’ve been meal planning our weekday dinners almost every week since I started. I even created some simple meal planning printables that work for my particular needs.
January is the first month that we’re trying the free EveryDollar app. We set a budget for $400/month for our family of 5. In my past attempts at tracking our expenses, our monthly expenses for groceries hovers below or above that amount. It’s the last week of January and according to our budget, we have $2.75 left for the month.
Meal Planning from the Pantry
First step – what do we already have on hand?
On January 21, here’s what I had in the freezer:
- Cooked chicken breast for BBQ Pizza
- Cooked chicken breast for enchiladas
- Homemade refried beans
- 1 lb ground beef
- Frozen blueberries
- Sweet potato puree
Here’s what I had in the fridge:
- Milk/Almond milk/Soy milk
- 2.5 dozen eggs
- 1 loaf of bread
- 1 container of ricotta
- 1 container of greek yogurt
- 2 lbs of cheddar
- 1 lb of mozzarella
- 1 pack of string cheese
- 1/2 lb bacon
- Green onion
Food in the cupboard:
- Corn tortillas
- Flour tortillas
- 4 cans of tuna fish
- 1 can light coconut milk
- 2 cans diced tomatoes
- 2 cans chick peas
- 1 can diced green chiles
- 1 can diced tomatoes with green chiles
- 1 can pineapple slice
- 1 can pumpkin puree
- Arborio rice
- Wheat flour
- White flour
- White rice
- Brown rice
- 2 boxes Penne
- 1 box Farfalle
- 1 box taco shells
- 3 boxes mac n cheese
- 2 boxes of chicken broth
- Spaghetti noodles
- Pinto beans
- Brown Rice
- Kidney beans
- Split green peas
- 1 jar peanut butter
- coconut oil
Baking our Way through the Blizzard
We actually did some shopping on Friday, January 21 because of the blizzard they were predicting for our region. The weather people were correct this time, and we’ve all been nestled in our home venturing out occasionally for snowy adventures. Having everyone home, however, has meant lots of meals being consumed!
I’ve already baked pumpkin muffins, blueberry muffins, pancakes, waffles, and homemade pizza. I’ve run out of all-purpose flour…which may warrant a trip to the store sooner rather than later…
Meal Plan for the rest of the week’s dinners:
Monday: Split Pea Soup
Tuesday: Bean Quesadillas
Thursday: Breakfast Foods
Friday: Baked Ziti
We’re going to try our best to stay within budget this month on groceries. My family really loves cheese though – if we go through our last block of cheese, we may have to go over budget!
Do you regularly take inventory and meal plan from your pantry?
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So impressive! I dream of being able to do what you do!
Thank you Anna – if I can do it, you can too. Start with planning one or two meals and build from there. One step at a time!
Lisa @ This Pilgrim Life says
I am trying to do something similar at the start of the year– mainly trying to base my meal plan on what we already have before adding more. Tracking my budget more closely would be both more beneficial and more scary, but I know it’s something I need to get back in the habit of. I do love the fact that working with what we already have pushes me to be more creative in my meals and pushes us all to be more grateful for the food we eat.
I also don’t think we’d make it very long with flour in the house! We ran out on the last day we were snowed in and I was thankful I could go out and get more!
Hi Lisa! Meal planning from what we already have has made me more creative and aware of what we truly “need”. I’m going to be doing this every month, probably toward the end of the month to be more mindful and to help our budget!
I agree: running out of AP flour and/or cheese would DEFINITELY warrant a trip to the store and going a few dollars over-budget!
Erin @ Stay At Home Yogi says
This is inspiring! I am trying so hard to stick to our budget for groceries in 2016. I know I have many overlooked items in our pantry and I need to get better at using them up! The blizzard almost pushed us over the limit for the month too!
Elaine @ sunnysimplelife.com says
I love meal planning and share mine every Sunday. It is such a great way to save time and money. I don’t know why more folks don’t do it. By the way that pizza looks so good. Thanks for sharing at Simple Saturdays!
Thanks Elaine! Yes, I’m getting to love all the benefits of meal planning too after doing it for several months now.
These are great tips on meal planning! I see some items I can add to my weekly planning that I did not think of.
Some excellent tips here Angela. Too often we don’t take the time to see what we actually have in the pantry and what we could do with them. I like your idea of Meal Planning Mondays it really sets you up for the week and you don’t have to stress about what to make for dinner. Saw your post at Women With Intentions link up. Have a great day.
I like this idea of meal planning with what you have – I need to do this more often. I can see where it could be a real money saver. Stopping by from Lets Get Real link party.
It is Kimberlee! There are so many things stuffed back in the cupboards or freezer that can be used up.
Lou Lou Girls says
Great post! Pinned and tweeted! Thank you so much for sharing this with us at our linky party. We hope to see you next Monday @ 7 because we can’t wait to see your new creations! Happy Friday! Lou Lou Girls
Your meal planning is impressive. I’m not sure I could do it without running to the store for that one more thing. Thanks so much for sharing with us at Merry Monday.
Thanks Sherry. It definitely helped that we had been snowed in and the roads were horrible! ?
I never have enough groceries at any given time for this to be successful at all. I need to do a better job of grocery shopping!
Thanks for joining us on the Alder Collective! Pinning, and we hope to see you again soon!
Christina @ Juggling Real Food and Real Life says
What a great post Angela! Thanks so much for sharing it over at Let’s Get Real. My rather small pantry is looking quite messy these days. I think that means that it is time to do a pantry meal plan as you have done here. It will be good for my budget and great for cleaning things up. That’s a double win! My husband will be thrilled with the budget help.
It’ll be a triple win then Christina! Good for the budget, using things up, and pleasing the hubby! ?
currently catching up on your posts. This was impressive! Sometimes it’s easy to end up saying “there’s nothing to eat, let’s go to the store!”, when in reality if we pay attention there’s always something to prepare a very good meal with. It’s like opening a stuffed wardrobe and keep saying “I’ve got nothing to wear!”. Too much of a choice and not being aware of what we already have on hand is to good at all, it keeps bringing us to useless consumerism.
This was a great inspirational post, thanks for sharing!!
It’s really true Jenny. I think I’m going to make it a regular habit in the meal planning. It also ales you feel rich at the beginning of the month when you have the freedom to buy meat and produce!
Hi Angela, thanks for sharing this cooking from the pantry strategy.
I really love the idea of having an inventory inside the pantry, honestly
I never did it before. OK, I did some decluttering every now and then, but
having the complete list of food items we have at home is precious when it comes
to meal planning. So many times I simple decided to order a dinner, while having
some risotto rice or cous-cous right in the pantry. Just like you did it, I’ll
give it a try with planning the last week of February based on what we have inside the pantry.
Have you tried to play with recipes when doing this type of meal planning? You know,
instead of mac’n cheese I’ll do the mac’n beens, because I have one tin of cannellini beans left on the shelf.
Hi Sacha! Thanks for reading and commenting. I’m not as adventurous as you Sacha – the other members of my family aren’t either!