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Menu planning and a well stocked pantry.

Posted by: valeriefender on Aug. 13, 2010

Do you feel like August is an insanely busy month? I know for me and my family, August is super busy. The garden is starting to produce more and the official start to canning season has begun! For this busy mom, that means even more to do.

Perhaps you don’t can or freeze produce for use in the winter, I’d be lost without it after so many years of “putting up the harvest” and having it on hand during the cold winter months. Yes, I may be a bit old fashioned in that regard, but I love looking in my pantry and seeing jars of fruits and veggies that were either grown and canned by me or at least canned. :)

Even if you don’t can, I know you can appreciate a well stocked pantry! Any cook does. How wonderful is it to walk into your kitchen and know that you have the ingredients you need to create a wonderful dish or meal for your family. Let’s face it, that is why we have a pantry, right?

This is the first blog in a series I am working on about stocking your pantry and menu planning for busy days ahead. Menu planning can be a huge time and money saving tool, if you can get into the routine of using it.

Having a well stocked pantry can seem like an overwhelming task sometimes. It took me years to figure out just what I needed to have on hand as a staple of my pantry. There are always special things that I have on hand at different times of year, but for the most party, my pantry contains the same foods all the time.

Menu planning is a wonderful tool in helping you when you are having to restock your pantry. If you spend a bit of time planning even a rough outline of what you want to serve your family for the week, it will save you when it’s time to go shopping.

There are many ways to go about planning a menu for a week. Some people start with a cookbook or recipe file, find recipes that they want to cook, make a list of them and make a list of items that are lacking or running low in their pantry to make the list of dishes. Another menu planning trick is to go through the grocery ads and make your list based on what is on sale that week. Yet another method is to start in your pantry and freezer, and plan around what you already have, filling in holes as you find them.

However you plan your menu, they key is to make sure you have the ingredients needed to cook complete meals for your family. Gluten-free foods or not, a menu is a huge budget stretcher. Feeding a family these days can cost a small fortune if we are not careful!

Now, the menu itself can be as detailed or as general as you need or want it to be. Use list of tasty meals, dishes or a detailed day by day menu, it’s all up to you and what works best for you. I have tried them all, for me, a detailed day by day menu is best. At one point, I felt that too much detail would feel too confining. :) As my life gets busier and the demands on my time grow, I have found that not having to think about what I’m cooking works best for me. Just go to the given day on my schedule and it tells me what to cook, what to pull out of the freezer and what prep-work I need to do for the next day.

You may not want that detailed of a menu, whatever works best for you and your needs is what is best! The most important factor in this, is to USE your menu planning. Think of it as a tool to help you get through your busy life, save you money, and avoid the dreaded question of, “What’s for dinner”. It will also help you to have and maintain a well stocked pantry. They tend to go hand in hand, both being time and money savers for your busy life. :)

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