Meal planning is one way to spend less money week to week at the grocery store. You can take it next level by starting your meal plans using what you already have on hand in your freezer and pantry!
This is also a way to prevent food waste, rotate your stock regularly, and even reduce the number of times you go to the grocery store!
I have been a freezer meal prepper and have been using this method to meal plan for years, and now is the the perfect time now for me to share with you how I do it!
I have created a free printable starter guide for you with all of the templates you need to start creating your next meal plan from what you already have on hand in your freezer and pantry.
Get the free printable set here!
Step 1: Take inventory of your freezer
To start creating meal plans from what is in your freezer, you need to know exactly what you have on hand.
It is a project for another day, but organizing your freezer while you take inventory is a good way to start.
Using our printable template, use headings to categorize what you have on hand. This way, at a glance, you know exactly what you have on hand - and the quantity.
The template has the major categories that most people have in their freezer, but I can appreciate that not every family does. On page 2 of this template, you will see some empty categories to add more categories that are more relevant for your household.
Step 2: Take inventory of your pantry
Just like you do with your freezer, take inventory of the ingredients in your pantry.
I am not saying list every single spice or baking ingredient. I mean you could if you want, but I don't think you have to.
Take a look in your pantry and start writing down some main ingredients that you can use to make meals. Think, rices, pastas, soups, beans/legumes, veggies, dinner kits and unopened sauces. See above image to see how I have done it.
Step 3: Create recipe idea list
This is probably the most challenging part for most people. Figuring out what to make with the ingredients you have on hand.
I like to make a list of recipes that we know we love, organized by main ingredient. I look at my inventory and then plan a meal and choose a recipe using that ingredient.
You could also print multiple sheets of this page and do one page for each staple, you could do one page per meal (ex. breakfast ideas on one page, lunch on another, etc). It is up to you!
Not sure what to make with all that ground pork you got on sale?... or any ingredient in your freezer or pantry....
- Head over to pinterest and search "ground pork recipes"
- Do the same over on google.
- Pull out the cookbooks you have and thumb through them, or go to the back index and look for "pork" and see if your favorite authors have some inspiration for you.
- Ask in all the recipe facebook groups. There are thousands of facebook groups for every way of eating. Do a search and join the ones that are relevant to you!
- Ask for tried and true ground pork in the Meal Plan Addict Community
- Ask your household what their favorite meals are and add them to your list.
- Search your favorite blogs by ingredient.
Step 4: Create weekly or even monthly meal plan based off idea list
Once you have a list of recipe ideas - using what you have on hand - building a meal plan becomes a breeze.
Now, you can just plunk the recipes you listed into a plan.
Step 5: Grocery shop for odds and ends to complete recipes
Each week, now look at your plan and you will only need to grocery shop for odds and ends to complete the recipes and fresh things.
If you buy freezer and pantry basics (which will be different for each household), you will notice your week to week shopping expenses will drop quite drastically.
Are you ready to build your next meal plan from what you already have?
If you have questions ask them in the comments or head over to the Meal Plan Addict Community and get some help!
Don't forget to tag me @mealplanaddict on Instagram - I want to see you in action!