Do You Love Your Pantry?
If I am being 100 percent honest, I have mixed feelings about kitchen pantries. In theory, they are a fabulous place to store food, larger kitchen appliances, and extra serving pieces we only use for special occasions. But more often than not, pantries are treated like a store, a place where anything one could ever want or need is right there at the ready. The problem is that pantries can only store so much before they become over-cluttered, underutilized, and just another space to manage. Food eventually expires, gets buggy, moldy, and can attract rodents. Many are very close to the garage, which does not help protect its contents from little critters. Pantries start with false promises of unlimited space, but the truth is they can get bad, very, very, very, quickly.
Time for a Change
Several years back, I cleaned out my pantry and was disgusted by all the waste. Food I bought and never tried, the food we decided we no longer liked, and food I forgot I had. My trips to the store were haphazard, my meals were getting mundane, and I wasted a lot of money. There had to be a better way.
I started thinking about my son’s school and the brilliance of a school menu. The same main courses served on a three-week rotation. If this system works for schools all across the country, it could work for me. I played around with many different ideas until I landed on a system that worked for me. Here’s how I did it!
Three Easy Steps
Step One: Decide on your rotation. I went back and forth from as often as every week to every six weeks. Then I simplified. Now I have around 25 to 30 recipes. I cook each once until I have rotated through all thirty, and then I start over. I don’t cook daily, so getting through them takes longer.
Step Two: Decide on the main course. It was hard for me to come up with 30 recipes that everyone in the family enjoyed. I started by thinking about our go-to places to eat out and what we get. I then tried to replicate that at home, which helped a little. It wasn’t until I came up with categories that I was able to create a variety of meals. And just like the schools, there are choices, so if someone doesn’t like what is being served, a few freezer options are just a microwave meal away.
Step Three: Decide where your recipes live. I store each recipe in a plastic page protector within a slim three-ring binder that lives in my kitchen. I tried other methods, but this one worked best for me.
Don’t Give Up
Getting set up was a little time-consuming, but once I was fully up and running, this method was a considerable time and money saver for me. Plus, it almost eliminated overspending, and my food waste has gone way down. More details on how I created my menu binder are coming soon! Make sure to check back as I will be posting soon, or better yet, subscribe to my newsletter and never miss a blog post again.