All adult life is planned. The education that we have, the career that we are seeking or growing. Traveling for vacations and getting married are all mapped out in advance. As adults we strategize our finances for major purchases such as a new automobile or a house. We plan and organize our social activities and our work-week. We manage for our self-care with appointments for hair care, nail care, and massages. We even structure the care of our pets. But when it comes to something that we must do everyday like planning for meals we fall very short.

A popular theory exists that we become easily overwhelmed when we have to plan a complex activity. Especially those that happen frequently, require our full attention, and some creativity. When tasked with such activities we often simply give up when it all becomes too much to manage. Who can blame us? The flawed human body requires so much food for energy to maintain optimal health. Who has the time or stamina to constantly be thinking about what we are going to eat, let alone get it sourced and onto the plates.

Meal Prep Made exists for this very reason, we believe that it all starts with a little education, motivation, and guidance. With a solid plan we can stop wondering what will we have for dinner tonight and take control of what we eat all day, each day. Once we stop winging it, we can better manage time, nutrition, and costs.

What does this planning look like and how do you get started? I like to tell my clients to begin by thinking of a time in the past when you planned something fun. Maybe it was the last time you planned a vacation or other fun event. Where did it all start? Likely you pictured the outcome you wanted.

In the case of meal planning we like to think of the outcome as a goal. For the sake of this course on budgeting, we will assume your goal is to put healthy and delicious meals together that can keep you on course with a food budget.

Regardless of where you prefer to grocery shop, you must set your personal budget accordingly and utilize grocery items in such a way that you do not get bored with what you are eating. However, if we never know what each meal truly costs or fail to use the food that we purchased effectively, it is highly likely we will fail to reach our goal.

Let’s start with a practical exercise. You are being given your first assignment in this budgeting course. Its objective is to take an inventory of all the food items you have already purchased. You will build a spreadsheet list of all the food ingredients you have on hand. We have provided you with an example below. Start with your cabinets and pantry, don’t leave out spices and condiments. Move on to the refrigerator, and then lastly log all the items in your freezer.

Once your sheet is completed the goal will be to challenge yourself to use most all of the items for as many meals as you can. Move items around on your spreadsheet until you can line up a recipe that you are familiar with. When you find that you are missing an item to complete a Meal Idea, then and only then do you add it to your shopping list.

Take An Inventory

Refrigerator Freezer Pantry Meal Idea
MushroomsChicken SausageCanned Tomatoes
Bell PepperWheat Pasta
OnionsPasta w Sauce
Cheese Pie CrustQuiche

Help Finding A Meal Idea

If you need assistance to find a meal idea for the items you have on hand, there is help out there. Of course there is an App for that. Supercook is a zero waste recipe app that is available to access on your phone, tablet or computer. Their technology allows you to add ingredients on hand and then scours their recipe search engine to find authors with recipes that will match up. This is a brilliant solution for food budgeting and meal planning.

Used Most of Your Inventory?

Congratulations, I bet you saw your food budget drop dramatically over the time it took to reduce your inventory. Hopefully you are convinced that better utilization of ingredients helps you to reduce costs. Now you are almost ready to begin your personalized meal planning. First you will need to clean and sanitize your food storage areas. After you have used most of your food inventory is the ideal time to clean since most everything has been removed. Tackle the fridge, freezer, pantry, cabinets, and any other food storage areas you may have.

Give yourself a pat on the back for reaching this level. You are on your way to being in control of your food budget!