Well, you have looked in the far reaches of every cupboard, shelf and drawer, not to mention your fridge and freezer and now you know for certain those items you have in abundance and those items you will need to re-stock in order to keep your pantry in shape to provide your family with wholesome, delicious and frugal meals.
Now it is time to pull everything together so that you may shop at the Market with confidence and thrift....here are the tools that I use....
I use my Menu board (click for a link to a post with instructions on how to make one), my Winter Menu & the corresponding meal cards, the Market Day Masterlist and my Pantry/Freezer Masterlist and my ever faithful Vis-a-Vis marker. I also have a stash of coupons and the local ads for my favorite Market(s).
First, I look at my local ads and my stash of coupons to get an idea of what is on sale this week and what sale items I can combine with my coupons for maximum savings.
Next, I scour my Pantry/Freezer Masterlist to remind myself of the stock I currently have on hand. (I keep my Pantry/Freezer list in a protective sheet cover and use a wipe off maker to record the "comings and goings" of my inventory...easy peasy!)
With all of those facts in mind I start planning my menu on my Menu Board, keeping in mind activities planned during the upcoming weeks.
Above you can see the start of menu planning....you can plan a week or a month at a time. It will depend on how deep your current Pantry is and how much you plan to spend on your groceries.
Note that I plan for a "Lazy Leftover" night and try and have meals that are either crockpot or casserole type meals for the busy weekends. You will be less likely to "order out" if you have a very simple meal to prepare....soup & sandwiches are much less expensive than a pizza!
I check off the meals (the protective sheet cover and marker come to my assistance once again!) to make sure I keep variety in my planning.
Here...as they say, is "where the rubber meets the road"! This is when you make decisions that keep you within your budget and help you build your Pantry at the same time.
Now is the time I can decide if it would be best to "shop" in my freezer for the chicken (bought on sale, of course) I need, or would it be prudent to stock-up on the beef that is on sale at the Market? Perhaps I will serve more meatless dishes and continue to stock-up on meat for later in the year when I know money will be tight?
Now is the time I choose what Veggies & Fruits I will serve with each meal. Will they be fresh ( I only buy on sale and in season), or would the frozen or canned items I have stored be a more appropriate choice?
Maybe I will only purchase the perishables I need this week and I will save the rest of my Market Day Budget to use later in the month when the store runs its big Memorial Day sale!
What freedom and frugality a well-stocked, well-ordered Pantry provides!
Any surplus money at the end of each month can be devoted to:
re-stocking depleted inventory
deepening & widening variety of inventory
upcoming events, i.e. BBQ's, Picnics
In time you will notice a pattern and gentle rhythm to your Pantry. You will see trends at the Market and can anticipate when certain items routinely go on sale. It will become easier and less complicated to keep your Pantry stocked and inventoried when it becomes part of your homekeeping routine.
What a daily comfort it will be Dear Reader, when you can shop right there at home! How utterly calm you will be during times of sickness or crisis when you know that you still can provide your family with a delicious and thrifty meal.
And go ahead and smile when your dear Husband sweetly remarks that he just doesn't know how you do it! How can you put together such lovely meals, stay on budget and stock a Pantry? Your whole household will be much happier....trust me.
So Dear Reader, put on your coat and gloves, grab your coupons and your Market Day Masterlist and head out to the store. You will find a sense of confidence as you purposefully go about your shopping. You are indeed a good steward of the blessings that God has provided for you!
You are Providing Meals from Your Pantry!
I will be back on Wednesday with some tips on storing all your lovely Pantry goods.
Yours so kindredly,