If you spend any time on my blog, you know that I talk about meal prep all the time. It is my ONE thing I do on a regular basis. I love meal prep because I do not want to spend every evening in the kitchen.
I have written blog posts about different products that can help you in the kitchen, containers to use, and simple steps to meal prep plus tons more.
Yet, there’s one thing, one thing that really can be the backbone of meal planning and meal prep. This one thing can save you time and money.
The One Thing You Need for Meal Prep
The best tip I can give you for successful meal prep is to keep an inventory of what you have in home. This includes your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer.
This becomes especially important if you are freezer cooking because the last thing you want to do is throw away meals you’ve spent time preparing only because you forgot they were there, tucked into the back corner of the freezer.
Here are a couple of reasons why keeping an inventory can be important:
When creating your grocery list, knowing what you have on hand can make the planning go much quicker.
Buying too Much
There was a point when I didn’t keep an inventory, and we had so many packages of ground beef. Honestly, we probably had ten pounds at one point because I kept buying it thinking we needed it, when in fact that packages we had, had slipped to the bottom of the freezer.
Buying on Sale Confidently
When you know what you have, and you find a great deal at the grocery store, you can purchase confidently, knowing you’ll use what you buy rather than buying and ‘forgetting’ it for years until it becomes a freezer burned mystery meat.
You’ll want to create a system that will be easily maintained by you! So, what works for one person might not be the best fit for another family.
The first thing you’ll want to do is break down your freezer inventory into categories – frozen vegetables, meat, meals, sweets, etc.
Then you need to empty your freezer, and for the best case scenario – sort your items by category and store them back in your freezer by category. Sometimes this isn’t possible, I personally can’t sort that specifically, but I do have my freezer organized in a way that works for me.
When you are listing your freezer inventory – write down what the item is, the quantity and the size (ground beef, 1 pound).
When you have gone through your entire freezer, you put everything back and throw away any mystery packages.
This isn’t as important as freezer inventory, but it still matters! Most canned goods last a couple of years, allowing for you to forget something and still be able to use it when it is discovered months later.
Bulk items are more important to keep track of, knowing when you bought them and how much you have left. A simple inventory sheet is all you need – it doesn’t have to be fancy, a simple pen and paper is adequate.
Keeping Track Can Save Time and Money
Overall, coming up with a system, digital or paper, can help you save time when creating your shopping list and money at the store.
If you haven’t kept an inventory in the past, it might take some time to get the initial list going, but once you have your system in place, the updates take just minutes.
If you are interested in learning more about meal prep, and inventories, check out my ebook, Meal Prep Made Easy.