Monday, February 22, 2010

Grocery Shopping In Your Own Kitchen

I'm having one of those weeks right now where I don't feel at all like going grocery shopping. My husband is out of town and it is the first time he's been gone since we adopted our three oldest kids. So, let's just say that their behavior has not been, um, up to par while Daddy is away. Anyway, it's on weeks like this one, or weeks when the budget is a bit tighter than usual that I employ a technique I call "shopping the pantry."

Before I had four kids, I regularly spent time with a wonderful, very wise woman from our church. She has grown kids and really exemplifies the Proverbs 31 woman. She taught me a lot of things, and the idea of "shopping my pantry" was one of them. I was so blown away by such a simple idea, and I wondered why I hadn't thought of it before. So, this post it to pass along what I learned just in case you, like me, have never heard about this before.

The idea of shopping your pantry is basically the idea of keeping inventory of everything you have in your pantry--and your freezer and refrigerator. I don't keep a written inventory of any of those things, but I generally have a fairly good mental inventory. But, sometimes things get pushed to the back of the fridge and get forgotten until they start to smell. And then other times, you end up with only 1/4 of a bag of frozen green beans, and 1/2 bag of blueberries, etc.

So, on weeks that you want to "shop your pantry," here is what you do:

First, go through your freezer, fridge, and pantry and make a detailed inventory of everything you have that is a food item--including condiments, oils, etc. Write down what it is and how much you have of it. This can be a bit time consuming, I admit. I think that's why some people choose to keep a running inventory of everything they have in their kitchen so they can skip that step.

After you've made your lists, look and see what recipes you can make with those items. Yes, we've all stared into our fridge and asked ourselves what we can make for dinner. But the idea of shopping your fridge is to figure out how many meals you can get out of the stuff in your freezer, fridge, and pantry. Can you feed your family until the next shopping trip? Now is the time to get the creative juices flowing! As you come up with recipes to make with what you have, cross off the items on your list as you use them. On a separate sheet of paper, write down the meals you have planned and the ingredients needed to prepare them. That way you won't forget what's on the menu.

You may find yourself with a lot of random ingredients that leave you wondering if there is anything you could possibly prepare with them. This is where the internet can be quite handy. You can search recipes to get some great ideas. There's also a website that is perfect for a situation like this. It's called, and you enter all the ingredients you have and it will bring up recipes that use those ingredients. So, esentially, it's kind of like a reverse recipe search.

After you have made your menu and have chosen your recipes, you may still need to go to the store, but your grocery list will be a lot smaller! So it's perfect for days when you need to keep the budget small, or you don't want to be walking up and down endless aisles at the store with a bunch of little ones in tow. <------ That's me!

This is such a simple and easy way to save money and cut down wasted and spoiled food. I would guess that a lot of my readers already know about this concept, but I just wanted to share this idea anyway because it has really been such a huge help for me. And it's a great way to be a better steward in the kitchen.

Do you like to shop your pantry? If so, what do you do to stay organized? Do any of my readers keep a running written inventory of their kitchen?


Jolene said...

One thing I do to cut down wasted leftovers is I have a dedicated shelf in my fridge for leftovers. Nothing should go on that shelf except for them, and that is one of the first shelves to check out when you go in the has helped me reduce food waste and also save $$$$.