With 2020’s various food shortages reminding everyone of how fragile our food (industrial) system really is, we returned to some good habits that had been put out of practice.
I mentioned in a fall blog post how we ordered a new freezer in July 2020 and it finally arrived in October. Again, shortages. We had a smaller freezer (not in use now, but might be soon – more on that later), that needed a new seal. It was also hard to find anything in it because so much was stacked on top of each other. The new freezer, with more space, allows me to put things into Order.
While safe and reliable food storage – be it the pantry or a freezer – is easily put into order, we got off track with our meal planning schedule this past fall. Here’s an example of a successful “monthly menu” from July 2020.
I use OneNote for my meal planning and menu. I’m not sure why I started using it, but it works. Then, I can always copy and paste from one month to the next, adjust dates, and make dinner change-ups.
Again, as part of the Year of Order, I have inventoried the downstairs freezer and upstairs refrigerator freezer. Then, I put together the menu for January. (February is started, but not complete.) As you can see, I missed the beginning a bit, but no worries. It’s not like we didn’t eat on those days! 😀 You can also see that I have listed an inventory along the side of the menu so I know what I have available. It’s great to “shop your freezer first” before heading to the grocery store.
With the exception of “soup veggies” like zucchini, I tend to keep most of my frozen veggies (hopefully most are from our garden) in the upstairs refrigerator freezer. I don’t really need to plan what veggie I am using as part of the menu planning. Often I will open the freezer and pick what seems like the best match for my taste at dinner time.
Part of this Food Order is in prep for our No Spend on Groceries February. Mr. Gordon has agreed to give this a whirl. The goal is to NOT spend any money on food in the month of February with these exceptions:
- We will continue to buy fresh produce for the chickens weekly (spinach and greens, apples, etc.).
- Unless we feel we have more than we need, we will continue our Misfits Market (affiliate link) order every other week – this is how we get most of our fresh produce.
- At any time, wine purchases will be allowed. 😉
- I know I will run out of milk for my coffee and I AM going to do my best to be satisfied with powdered milk, but I will not punish myself if I break down and buy a couple of half gallons. But I will try to be satisfied with the powdered milk. The brand below is pretty good and I have this on hand already. I find if you make it in a blender it’s better.
I hope that by doing this, we will not only eat the good food we have on hand already, that we will save some additional money in February. Again, this is part of putting Order into 2021: Finances into Order.
To prepare for our No Spend on Groceries February, we will likely pick up a small chicken bundle from a local farmer in a couple of weeks. I just learned this morning that we might be purchasing more beef as Mr. Gordon’s son is looking for someone to share a quarter cow beef bundle he committed to. That purchase would be happening in a week. Er… I guess we are going to have to get the smaller freezer back in commission.
Lists Support Order
I have said time and time again that I am a happy list maker. I know this might sound weird, but I love making a grocery list. Years ago when stores (like our beloved Wegmans) started to allow you to make shopping lists online, thereby allowing you to better stay in your budget, I was an early convert. Then, the mobile app appeared. (And of course the second app that allows you to scan your items as you load you cart – techie bliss!)
If you want to keep your food budget in order, never go to the grocery store without a list.
Never About Lack, Always About Innovation (And Planning)
This morning I watched Chicken Librarian’s Facebook Live event on making cranberry ketchup. Now I am all geared up to make cranberry ketchup, but of course, it’s not really cranberry season! Still, I am going to check the grocery store and see what I can find.
By trying out new recipes or ways of making dinner, you won’t get bored AND you won’t feel like you are missing out. In fact, you will feel like you are missing out when dinner is too often “on the fly” and you just throw something together. Now, I’m not saying that doesn’t work sometimes, but if “what’s for dinner” is always an afterthought, you might find yourself feeling disappointed more often than not.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this post. I will keep you updated on the meal planning and encourage you to give it a try, too. Aim for February! It’s a short month, after all.
Let me know if you do meal-planning / monthly menu planning, too!
I’ll also let you know how No Spend on Groceries February goes. 🙂
This Post is Part of the January Blog Drop
Steph - Elder Oaks Farm
Those plastic milk crates are a GREAT idea for freezer organization! Going to have to remember that for our multiple deep freezers. Digging through piles of frozen meat is no fun! My husband and I were just talking last night about how we have so many veggies from last years garden in the freezer that we need to start eating. Great post!!
Thank you, Steph! So YEARS ago when I was a teenager, I worked in my brother’s pizza shop. This is back when those little cartons of milk came in metal milk crates. He used to use them for storage in the shop’s walk-in freezer. I’d love to get my hands on some because they last forever. The plastic one pictured in this post is pretty cheap (Wal-mart) and will eventually crack and break from the cold. But, I’ll try to get is much life out of it while I can!
Enjoy those frozen veggies – I know we are loving our golden wax beans and ruby queen beets! Tastes like summer. 😀
Thank you for coming by and leaving a comment!
This is a great post Tracy! I agree with Steph! I have a really hard time with chest freezers (we have an upright freezer but it is being used by the Mister’s Mom! so we bought a chest freezer. It works, but it’s not the same).
I’m sure you know a) how much I love lists and b)how we always do better with a plan. And I love that you are doing a no-spend February. I still need to talk to the Mister and come up with a plan for a no-spend month. They’re so good! And I’ll have to look back at last week re: did we stick to our no-spend week. I think we did, but it’s all a blur so I need to check for sure!
Anyway, great post!! Keep it going! You’re knocking it outta the park.
Hi Kristin! So while I did get Mr. Gordon to agree to a no-spend grocery month (with the exception of wine, produce for chickens, and Misfits Market for us), he is NOT about a no-spend month. Mr. Gordon likes to shop on Amazon. A lot. (Yes, Mr. Gordon, I’m just stating the truth: you are an online shopper zealot.)
However, I might be able to get him to agree to a no-spend week, then maybe a no-spend “between the paychecks” – which would run about two weeks. Hmm. Maybe that is something for March and April.
So we didn’t get to put the second smaller freezer into use. Actually, it’s a bummer story. Mr. Gordon’s son decided to come up and pick up his quarter cow a week early and we missed his call. We weren’t at home when he came by (we were getting groceries). 🙁 Mr. Gordon felt bad, but tried to put on a good game face. I felt so bad. Anyhow, Kyle (Mr. Gordon’s son), said hello to the chickens and then went back downstate. He’ll have to figure out what to do with all of that beef!