How did you do with you budget analysis?
Maybe you aren’t done yet, but you should have started. It takes how long it takes, don’t rush it, do it properly. Even if you aren’t ready with your budget, we’re going to move into the next step of meal planning.
Don’t stress about this. You can come with us now and get started here. The last step and this step CAN happen concurrently. Or you can wait until you’re ready with your budget. This post will still be here and you can come back to it. The point is to simplify. If you’re feeling stressed about this exercise, you aren’t simplifying.
It’s a system. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to think through, focus, plan, and prepare. Take the time, work the process. Make it yours – if you don’t, it won’t work for you.
Okay, preparation. Meal planning is simple, right? Look up an ad or a recipe, make a list, go shop – right?
Well, yes. You can do that. You’ll most likely be over budget month after month, not have appropriate meals to suit your needs, or you’ll have an overload of inventory in the pantry.
I used to have all three as issues for my family.
Then I learned about inventory. Seems simple. Inventory. One little word.
For me, the old inventory was excessive. I used to go to the grocery store every other Thursday (payday) whether I needed food or not. List in hand, culled from the advertisements for the stores. I’d spend anywhere between $100 and $300 – every. Other. week.
I’d bring the groceries home and have nowhere to put them because the fridge, freezer, and pantry were all already full.
But it made me feel content.
I had provided for my family.
In fact, if the old me came to my house now and looked in the pantry, she might just start twitching and convulsing. There are empty places, gaps, space in that pantry.
Yet right now, today, there is enough food in my house to feed my family healthy, nutritious meals for more than a month. I have better quality of food and spend less than 1/5 of what I used to spend. I buy organic, local, sustainable food now. Food I couldn’t previously “afford” to buy (My priorities weren’t aligned, but that’s another post…)
Try to make an actual healthy meal out of that old mess though and you’d have been hard pressed. I always had random trips to the store for key ingredients that were missing. If you’re feeling the same way, then continue reading …
So, where to start? Blank sheet of paper. Notebook paper, scratch paper, it really doesn’t matter.
You can find templates and pretty PDF files on the internet, but I wouldn’t spend the time. You don’t need fancy for this.
**NOTE: This will take some time the first time or two you do it, but it is CRITICAL!
Kick everyone else out of the house if you need to.
Take your blank sheets of paper, grab a pen or pencil, and inventory everything in the pantry, freezer, fridge, anywhere you keep your food stuffs, health & beauty products, laundry, cleaning, paper goods. And I mean EVERYTHING – condiments, even spices, Crazy Uncle Joe’s anchovies that you keep around for his annual visit.
Write it down. Now walk away. Don’t look at it right now. Get a snack. You’re probably hungry after looking at all that food.
Keep the inventory handy for the next few days and cross off items as you use them so that your inventory is up to date when we reach for it next time.
In Light & Love