The easiest way to be successful in meal planning for your family is to always have certain items on hand. These tips for building the ultimate meal planning pantry and pantry inventory will help you to have a lot of things on hand when needed to supplement your recipe list for easy meal planning. If you purchase the items for your meal planning pantry when they are on sale you can really save as well.
How To Build The Ultimate Meal Planning Pantry & Pantry Inventory
Whether you are creating freezer meals or simply trying to meal plan week to week, a pantry that has been organized and stocked to facilitate easy meals is a must. There are many things that easily go with any meal. You may also find that having things organized in your pantry gives you a better outlook on your menu and helps you keep your budget low as you grab from your pantry more frequently.
Create the Master Recipe Ingredient List and Pantry Inventory
One of the best ways to have the ultimate meal planning pantry is to sit down and create a master list of your most used recipes. Next, you will need to break down each recipe by the ingredients. You can combine those items to see what you use the most on a regular basis. This list can be useful for building your pantry, as well as your freezer and refrigerator. When you sign up for our meal planning challenge we will send you a special offer for meal planning printables to keep you organized.
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Look for non-perishable items like pasta, rice, dry beans, canned sauces, canned vegetables, oatmeal, cereal, salt, flour, sugar, and seasoning mixes. These are the items you are using more than any other. As you look at your list, you’ll be able to figure out how much of each you use month to month. I recommend having a 3-4 month supply in your pantry at all times. When you see these items on sale at the grocery store be sure to stock up. This tip alone can save you hundreds of dollars a year! If that isn’t in your storage or budget range, that is fine. Just make sure to keep these items always in stock by adding back to your shopping list each time you use the last item in your pantry.
Install Appropriate Shelves and Storage
If you want to have a great meal planning pantry, you need to be able to easily see what is on hand at all times. This means having the right kind of storage and shelves. Things like tiered shelves for those shorter items that don’t take up much space, or even using an over the door shoe holder for spices or seasoning mixes are great ideas that help you take advantage of limited space and keep everything easy to see. I also love using the can storage options for easy rotation of canned goods. Especially when you use the same things over and over again, you may find that an older can gets forgotten and you end up wasting it.
Rotate items regularly. When you add new items to your pantry, always make sure to rotate old items up front. Rotation is vital to keeping your pantry stock used without going to waste. Using the right shelving will make it easy to put new products behind the older ones so you are constantly rotating stock out of your pantry to make room for newer items.
Stock up when items are on sale. One of the best ways to build a great meal planning pantry is to stock up when items are on sale. By making your master list as mentioned above, you can easily know how much of any given product you go through on a regular basis. This makes it much easier to manage when you see a great deal on things like canned goods, mixes, seasonings, and soups that you use regularly in your meal planning. Having stock on hand for simple meals like spaghetti, tacos, casseroles, and even pancakes or oatmeal can take a lot of burden out of your day to day cooking schedule.
Things we grab when on sale:
Canned vegetables to add to soups like corn, black beans, pinto beans, or green beans
Canned tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and canned pasta sauces
Rice, dry beans, instant potatoes, and dry pasta
Oatmeal, breakfast cereal, spices, honey, sugar, flour, cocoa powder, nuts, and chocolate chips
Create your Own Homemade Mixes
One of the biggest money saving tips for your meal planning pantry is to create your own homemade mixes instead of buying prepared items. Buying spices when on sale, or even in bulk at your local warehouse club store can make it much more affordable to create those blends you pay high dollar for regularly. You can even assemble your own dry ingredients for many items to help keep your food healthier and have easy to prepare items on hand at all times.
Our favorite homemade mixes to keep on hand:
Taco seasoning, ranch dip mix, French onion dip mix, fajitas seasoning, season salt, and Italian seasoning
Pancake mix, biscuit mix, brownie mix, hot cocoa mix, and cream soup mixes
Don’t Forget to Stock your Freezer
While your freezer isn’t part of your traditional pantry, it can definitely play a big part in your meal planning efforts. Some use freezer meals for easier weeknight meals, while others simply keep basic ingredients on hand so any night they can grab things from the freezer to throw a meal together. If you find fresh produce on sale during seasonal events, don’t hesitate to stock up and add to your freezer. You can also add things like frozen ravioli, noodles, biscuits, and meats of all kinds for fast and easy meals. Using fresher ingredients from your freezer can save time and keep you from eating fast food and wasting money in your budget. If you are looking to stock up on organic meat, Butcher Box is a great option. You can also stock up on meat from Perdue farms and they will ship it to your home.
Some items we keep in the freezer:
Noodles, Biscuits, Dinner Rolls, Ravioli, and Tortellini
Breakfast sausage (homemade or purchased), hamburger, chicken, turkey, pork tenderloin, and hot dogs
Chopped onions, bell peppers, mushrooms, and tomatoes for adding to sauces or fajitas
Flash frozen beans, corn, squash, and zucchini for grilling or roasting
Flash frozen berries for smoothies
Twice baked potatoes, hash browns, or homemade French fries
Building the ultimate meal planning pantry and pantry inventory is all about keeping things on hand at all times that make it easy for you to pull together a meal at a moments notice. Simple to prepare meals are always a great choice, and these tips for building your pantry for meal planning will make it much easier to manage.
Looking for more meal planning ideas? Check out more information here
Meal Planning with an Instant Pot
Meal Planning Tips with Picky Eaters
Meal Planning – Once a Month Meals
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Janet Vinyard says
Hi Melissa, Great post! We buy Zaycon Ground Beef and love it. I agree with you that everyone needs to have several months of food on hand. It’s hurricane season again and it’s great to be prepared for possible power outages. Of course summer thunderstorms can knock out the power as well! Thanks for sharing this information! Blessings, Janet
Glad you found it helpful. Thanks!
I just cleaned and organized my pantry so it would be the perfect time to start this! Thanks for sharing at Welcome Home Wednesdays!
What a great idea! I promise it will save you time and money.
This is such a great post. I am still learning to be better at meal planning, even at age 64! I wish I had had this guide when I was younger. Thanks for sharing at Thursday Favorite Things. 🙂
Carol L says
This would be great IF you had this same information using KETO friendly foods. I’m diabetic, so most of the items listed are taboo…KETO keeps me from having to go on insulin. I know, this is for “regular” people, not those with diet issues, but, just sayin’!
Yes, and I know I could just ‘do it myself’, but I’m looking for an easy way! LOL!
Honestly, this is a great post. Thank you!
I can say that I implement these ideas. I have a 6-9 month pantry. My small upright freezer is stocked with meats that I bought when on sale. My canned goods and dry goods are also bought when they are on sale. I have a spreadsheet that lists all foods in the pantry and the freezer. I note how many of each item I need to have on hand to get me through 6 month and also list was I actually have on hand. My freezer list also includes the date the item was bought or frozen. I plan my meals by what has been in the freezer the longest. I don’t bother doing a refrigerator inventory. I go through my inventory once a month to see what I am running low on. I date all pantry items with the Best By dates and rotate quarterly.