Meal Planning to Use Up What We Have

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Take inventory of your pantry and build a meal plan around it.

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m trying to focus on what we have in our freezer this month since it’s full to the brim. We’ve also had some extra expenses that have drained the emergency fund, so I’d like to go under budget this month and start building that fund back up.

I confess it will be hard since food is a comfort at our house. When things are stressful…. I go grocery shopping. But, I’m going to try to beat it.

This week’s meal planning was a three-step affair:

  1. Take inventory of what we have.
  2. Plan meals from that.
  3. Figure out what is the minimum in purchases to make to fill the gaps.

Honestly? We could probably eat for a month with the food we have on hand. If the world and all its workings came to a grinding halt, we could eat. They wouldn’t be perfectly coordinated meals, but we could eat.

And if I exercised some creativity, they’d be pretty good after all. 

That’s my mission for the month. I noticed I now have FOUR butternuts and an acorn squash taking up residence in the pantry, so I’m also going to need to get creative with those as well! Last week I created a formula for our meal planning, based on our family’s weekly schedule. Last week it worked really well. (Read: I actually stuck to it.)

Here’s this week’s rendition:

* indicate cookbook recipes

That’s my plan.

What’s YOURS?

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  1. I’m working on eating down my freezer right now as well and getting rid of some convenience foods I like to eat in the summer, but not so much in the fall. I’m doing most protein rotation and my weeknight schedule.

    1. Roasted Rosemary chicken & new potatoes
    2. Beans & Rice, salad (freezer meal)
    3. BBQ pork sandwiches & coleslaw
    4. Meatloaf, baked potatoes & squash
    5. Chicken Caccitore? Unsure, but I want to use up some chicken
    6. Veggie Patties & Fries
    7. Swedish meatball crockpot

  2. I am not having much luck in my freezer cooking. Yesterday I took out some browned hamburger that was frozen to make sloppy joes. It smelled and tasted horrible!! Not tainted, just nasty. I could not eat it….sadly my husband chose to do so, yuck. I wrote some time ago saying the chicken I had with marinade in the freezer, came out all mush. I threw it out. Not sure how to proceed without wasting more money. I would love to be successful.

    • @sona, I remember when you wrote. I tend to think that your freezer isn’t working properly. It sounds like it may be thawing and refreezing. That would be ick and that would explain some of these things. Do you have a freezer alarm? They are about $10 and so worth it.

      Another thought, did you completely CHILL the meat before you froze it. You shouldn’t put hot meat in the freezer.

      • @Jessica,
        Thank you Jessica. I will try the alarm, however it is a fairly new freezer and the popsicles are staying on the stick, so perhaps that part is ok. I did not chill the meat first though. Just cook, cool on the stove and freeze, so will also try that.

        Also wondered if you can freeze an unbaked meatloaf (@eggs in it etc.)?

  3. Made this yesterday and it was delcious. Great way to use up one of the butternut squash!

  4. This one is also amazing. Can you tell I’m always trying to use up that butternut squash? My family love this one.
    Freezes well too.

  5. Thanks for rhe idea of the caterpillar method of putting the dough balls in the freezer. Why didn’t I think of that?!!! I seldom have room to put a full tray of dough in my freezer but can manage to put in a caterpillar or two. I ordered your cookbook for the Kindle. Can’t wait to look through. I’m making the vegetable Bolognese sauce today (I have some of my Abundant Harvest I need to use up).

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