So far during the Cook More Real Food event we’ve completed inventories of our pantry and of our freezer, and now it’s time to get really practical and a make a plan for what we’ll actually eat with all those foods!

Your Tasks This Week Are:

1. To do a quick 5 minute or less inventory of your fridge.

Honestly, this should be fast. Just scrawl it on some scrap paper if you like. Don’t write down your fridge staples (soy sauce, lemon juice, etc.) but instead write down things like dairy, fresh produce, meat, eggs, etc. that will go bad if it doesn’t get used up!

2. To create a meal plan.

As I mentioned in the video, it can be for just one week, or you could do as I did and make a plan for the entire month. It’s completely up to you. If this is new for you, start a bit smaller so that you can ensure that you’ll be successful.

For those in need of some meal planning assistance, here are a few previous posts to help you out:

Organization in the Real Food Kitchen: Meal Planning

Meal Planning Primer

3. Make sure that you reference your pantry, freezer and fridge inventories often as you create your meal plan.

The point of all this is to actually use the foods that you already have, so have a look at the video and see how I did it, and then have a try at it yourself!

One thing that I always find helpful is to look at the ingredients on my inventory and try to think of what meals we love that include those things. I might still need to buy a couple of things to make the recipe work, but at least I’ll use up what I have and it gives me inspiration for what to put in my meal plan.

4. Decide what food you’d like to make next week (June 7/8th) to put in your freezer.

This can be either complete meals, like casseroles, soups, burritos, etc. or it can be meal components, like pre-cooked and seasoned meats, beans, soup broth or anything else that will make your meals come together more quickly and easily.

It’s always good to make some baked goods to freeze as well. Make things that will make breakfasts faster, that will serve as easy snacks, or bake things like bread so that you can just pull a loaf from the freezer when you need it.

I know that I can’t dedicate an entire 2 days, just because of the reality of having 3 little ones at home with me. I will probably take an hour or two each morning, as well as each afternoon. I might also do some work in the evenings once hubby is home or when the kids are in bed. Just do your best to come up with as much time as you can. If you can enlist any help (from a family member, a mother’s helper, your husband, etc.) then do it!

For more help as you begin to plan for your freezer cooking day, here are some amazing resources:

Preparing for Freezer Cooking @ Life as Mom (she is an expert on this topic and this post is FULL of links to very helpful posts on every freezer-cooking related topic you can think of!)

How I Plan My Freezer Cooking @ Money Saving Mom (another freezer-cooking expert, this post also includes wonderfully helpful free printout sheets!)

5. Write a grocery shopping list based on your planning.

One tool that saves me much time and hassle is this grocery shopping checklist. If you have a ListPlanIt membership, you could print one off of there.

6. Reward yourself for your hard work (chocolate, anyone?)!

This will probably take you 2-3 hours over the course of the week. It will probably be easiest to do this by setting aside a couple of chunks of time when you can do the work.

I know that it seems like a lot of planning, but you will be so grateful when you see how much easier your meals come together, and when you find that you are able to shop less and save more money as well!

I’m looking forward to having you all join me on Monday and Tuesday (June 7/8th) to do some major freezer cooking!

What is your plan for the freezer cooking days? Please share what you’ll be making, so that we can help each other out with ideas and inspiration!