Meal Planning and Taking Stock of What’s In Your Pantry

This month I’m focusing on using up what’s in my pantry, fridge, and freezer. The New Year is a great time to take stock, plan goals, and move forward. We’re trying to do that with our eating habits this month. In my kitchen I have quite a bit of excess, lots of chicken and meat in the freezer as well as pasta and grains in the cupboards. I even have meals in the freezer from November Freezer Cooking that we haven’t enjoyed yet. Additionally, we’re making some diet changes around here, so I want to use up some of the less-than-healthy ingredients to make way for some more nutritious choices.

This past week I set out to take an inventory of what was in my two freezers as well as the kitchen cupboards. Have you done this recently? Even if you’re not going to eat yourself out of house and home this month, it’s a good practice to be in. You’d be surprised at what lurks in your pantry!

How to Inventory Your Kitchen

  • take everything out of your refrigerator, freezer, or cupboard
  • throw away any food that is outdated or spoiled
  • sort food items by type (meat, vegetable, grain, prepared food items, etc)
  • make a list of the different items you have as you return them to their storage areas.
  • replace items in such a way that they won’t fall on someone’s foot when they go to retrieve them.
If you do this once a month, you’ll easily be able to create menus just by glancing through your inventory lists. Once I had an inventory of all the food I had stored, I created a monthly meal plan. Here’s my rough draft of what we’ll be eating in January. (Subject to change.)
1. Picnic at the zoo. Dinner out (details here)
2. Lazy day at home. Guest post from Money Saving Mom here.
3. Pasta with Red Sauce, Broccoli, Foccaccia
4. Roast Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Cranberry Sauce, Vegetables
5. Chicken Noodle Soup, Popovers
6. Chicken Chimichangas
7. London Broil, Green Salad, Couscous Salad
8. Pizza and ChiChi’s Salad
9. Chicken Tacos, Rice and Beans
10. Pasta with Red Sauce, Vegetables, Biscuits
11. Turkey, Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, Green Beans, Pumpkin Rolls
12. Turkey Pot Pie, Green Salad
13. Peanut Butter Chicken, Broccoli
14. Rice and Beans
15. Pizza and Salad
16. Chicken with Wild Rice, Vegetables, Corn Bread
17. Mixed Grill (fish and Buttermilk-Yogurt Marinaded Chicken), Rice Pilaf, Green Salad, Garlic Foccaccia
18. Stuffed Pasta Shells, Green Salad
19. Swedish Meatballs, Mashed Potatoes, Steamed Carrots, Rolls
20. Burrito Bowls
21. Stir Fry
22. Pizza and Salad
23. Roast Chicken, Quick Seasoned Rice, Vegetables
24. Fish Tacos
25. Shredded Beef, Gravy, Rice, Salad, Fresh Bread
26. Pasta with Ragu, Green Salad, Foccaccia
27. Chihuahua Chili and Cornbread
28. Black Bean and Cheese Enchiladas, Mexican Rice, Salad
29. FishPapa’s Birthday! Grilled Fish, Rice Pilaf, Green Salad, Whole Grain Bread
30. Shredded Beef Tacos, Beans and Mexican Rice
31. Pizza and Salad

***Have you joined the Eat-from-the-Pantry Challenge? Over 700 people have signed up on our Facebook event page! Come back bright and early tomorrow morning to link up your progress reports.***

What are you cooking up this week? Do you have a meal plan? If not, how come?

For more meal planning inspiration, visit I’m an Organizing Junkie every Monday.

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  1. It's funny. I just did most of these jobs this week while I was off from school. I still need to reorganize my freezer, but it was just too cold to do that today (it's in my garage). I am having a Using It Up week so that I can use up some of the leftovers, etc. and the supplies in the freezer. I like your challenge and will be participating I think. Thanks so much for your good ideas. Just wanted to stop by and wish you a Happy New Year and to invite you over for Crock Pot Wednesday. I hope to see you there this week.

  2. Well, you all ready know I'm taking the challenge. I did the same thing but I'm also putting my items into the recipe generator at It may be good to use a few of these sights if we get stuck.
    My kids are in Public School though and my husband is a mailman so these challenges are hard in that department. One thing I do that I'll be blogging about tonight is visiting the grocery discount store and buying the bulk bags of lunch box extras such as granola bars and snack mixes. I will be making much more of an effort however to bake goods for thier lunches and do more pasta salads.

  3. I love how organized you are! I feel among a kindred spirit here:-)

  4. A whole month mapped out…good going! I just finished the week ahead…

  5. I love it when you post your monthly menus! It's such a source of encouragement and inspiration for me. (One of my goals for 2010 is to menu plan for a month at a time. Currently I do 2 weeks.)

    I think Crystal is right ~ you are Superwoman.

  6. Thanks for the list! This is something I definitely need to do. And I'm working on a meal plan. I find it hard to pick meals for a whole month, because inevitably I never feel like making what I have listed for that day. So I've decided to group a handful of recipes for each day of the week, so I can choose from several options. Still need to finish up the project so I can start applying it. 🙂 Thanks for the post!

  7. Yes, I'm meal planning (and have been for about a year). You can see what were eating at:

    The Mr. and I will be eating out some this week, as we'll be traveling. However, everything being cooked at home IS from our pantry/freezer!

  8. Moms In Need Of Mercy says:

Thanks so much for participating in this conversation about "a mom's life."

This is a place where moms can be themselves. Remember that each mother's path looks a little different. Please keep your comments respectful and kind. Reasonable minds will disagree in a nice way.

So let's talk about it, using "our big girl words."

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