Good Morning Friends! This week is less about organizing stuff in the kitchen, and instead utilizing the organization you have in place. The purpose of a kitchen is meal prep, planning, and food storage … and all of these things are easier with meal planning, and meal planning makes keeping these spaces organized easier too!
Welcome to the 52 Weeks of Organizing Challenge! This is Week 18 in the series! Please note that these weeks are not built on one another and you can start at any time! It’s never too early or too late to begin organizing!
Do you already meal plan? Or is it more of, let me see what we have to eat around here? With teenage boys in the house, I will say that I have a good combination of both. I try to keep the pantry items organized with a couple of sections in mind – one for items to be used in meals, and one for things that can be eaten without a lot of preparation. Teenage boys eat a lot, so it is important that they know where food is they can freely eat, without asking me to prepare it, or asking me where to find it.
Now, on with meal planning … I first started meal planning along with OrgJunkie … and she has some really great resources, recipes, how to get started items on her site. So, please run over and visit her! My meal planning is semi-structured, and allows for a lot of rearranging when necessary. I used to do much more strict meal planning, but with so many things going on right now, a less structured plan is easier for me at this moment. Especially when I make meals that I think there are going to be leftovers, and the teenage boys devour all of it in one sitting!
So … how does kitchen organization and meal planning go together? Easy! First, you need to start by taking inventory of what food you have in the house, and then build some meals around those items. Then, make a grocery list based on what items you need to complete each meal. Mine looks something like this:
Tacos – need cheese, tortillas
Spaghetti – need noodles
Pork Chops – (no needs, have all ingredients)
Pizza Night – (no needs, delivery)
Salisbury Steak – need potatoes, 2 cans french onion soup
15 bean soup – need lemon, onions
Hamburgers – need, buns, tomatoes, potato salad
This would complete my shopping list for 7 different meals, and then I would just add to the shopping list items that are needed for snacks, breakfasts, lunches, and other household items. Normally I keep ingredients in the house for about 10 meals. I have about 30 meals that we eat regularly and are rotated through the months, and some are more seasonal items.
Since the fridge and pantry are clean and organized, it makes quick work to see what I have and what my needs are. I am also able to buy meats and other items on sale that can be frozen and stored without worrying if they are not on sale this week for the meal plan. For the plan above, I purchased pork chops and italian sausage on sale last week, and incorporated them into this weeks meal plan.
There are other meal planning tools that are much more detailed, and if you are a couponer, you may spend much more time planning and purchasing. I have done both of these things in different seasons of my life. However, right now, I need fast and easy … and my food budget is a bit more relaxed.
Below is a picture of my fridge – I basically pull out the magnets with the meals, and my boys will indicate what they want to eat on which day of the week. It is a pretty low tech system, and maybe not as cute as a bistro board … but it has been working for about 4 years!
On the construction/remodeling front … the giant bathtub is out of the house … hopefully we can get a new wall built this weekend and start getting the closet functional again. I hope!!