I think creating a monthly rotating menu is key to storing food. Most of the food that I stockpile is not ready to eat, so I need to be able to have a variety of things that I can make, and I don't do well to just make it up on the fly. It also helps me so I rotate through the food that I have. I have a montly menu (link to it in the documents section) of just general items.
Then, weekly, I get more specific (like if I list Chicken for lunch, I decide the week before what I'll make with chicken, like Chicken Noodle soup or whatever.) I look at recipes (I generally use Betty Crocker and Pantry Cooking and a few of recipe handouts that I've collected over the years. I look through the pantry, cupboards, freezer, etc. to make sure that I have all the ingredients for the recipes (at times, I will need to buy a vegetable or spice that we don't generally have on hand, although I've been known to substitute instead of buy something else.)
I try to cook things the night before, or get it thrown in the crockpot, or at the very least, set out the meat to defrost. Some days I do better at this than others, but I'm always grateful when I do. This month, I haven't been so good at doing this, and my family has had spaghetti or eggs or pancakes more often this month, and we have also eaten out once, which we REALLY try to avoid. Things just go smoother all around when I cook ahead of time. Sometimes it is just hard for me to remember that the night before when I want to relax, but I'm always kicking myself the next day at 4 pm when I've got kids coming and going, and we are trying to get ready to go to one of evening activities.
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