We’re buckling down and making ourselves eat as much of the remaining food in our fridge as possible. We haven’t gone grocery shopping for at least three weeks (except for the occasional under $30 run for milk, cereal, and some fresh fruits & veggies) and we don’t plan to go at all for the next two weeks (since there’s still plenty to nosh on before we move). We’re concentrating mostly on eating things in the freezer and the fridge since there will be at least five hours between handing over the keys to our current house and getting the keys to our new one (we were luckily able to coordinate both closings on the same day, but the bank still needs a few hours to transfer funds in between). So we don’t want to worry about keeping a bunch of things refrigerated or frozen in a cooler in the moving van (or over in John’s sister’s fridge) if we can help it. Here’s what we’re dealing with (MTV Cribs style):
So I devised a little look-how-type-A-I-am system to keep us focused when it comes to strategically stuffing our faces. I’m a sucker for a list, what can I say? It actually took a little while to get the whole list thing figured out. I knew we needed a reminder about what we should eat, so first I made a list of all the random ingredients and items that we ideally should scarf before moving day. But it seemed like a chaotic little crammed piece of paper with too many things to actually absorb. So I decided to compartmentalize, grouping items that we could eat together and listing things in these categories: breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack/dessert. Worked like a charm. We now have this list staring us in the face every time we glance at the fridge:
- peas and carrot sides (J)
- broccoli soup (S)
- grilled cheese (J & S)
- turkey, cheese, & deli flats (J & S)
- tuna on wasa crackers (S)
- laughing cow cheese or almond butter on wasa crackers (S)
- breakfast for dinner omelette w/ frozen veggies
- pot stickers with frozen veggies
- burritos and frozen veggies
- pancakes with mixed berries
- frozen amy’s pizza and alexa fries
- sides to eat asap: brown rice & cous cous
- pumpkin bread
- ice cream
- mixed nuts & pistachios
We just cross things off when we finish them and then move onto other meals in that category. So far we’re on track to eat right up until moving day (since we have a few servings of a few of the things on the list- like pasta, pot stickers, a truckload of wasa crackers, etc). Here’s hoping we can get ‘er done. Have you guys ever strategically planned meals (for moving or just money management or organizational purposes?). Do you have weekly meal plans (Macaroni Monday? Taco Tuesday?). Growing up we had a pretty predictable rotation but there was something strangely comforting about it. I still miss Wednesday night pizza dinners…
Psst- I know the last few posts haven’t been very DIY focused (we blame our turkey coma) but soon we’ll be sharing some fun homemade holiday gift ideas along with a free downloadable calendar for 2011 and another home-related video. So as they say on SNL, stick around…
Second pssst- Holy bananas. Who watched Dexter last night? Was it not the single best episode ever? John and I couldn’t sleep from all the adrenaline rushing through our veins. Love that show.
UPDATE: See how we did when it came to cleaning out the fridge before our big move here.
You might have to create a condiment casserole! Gross, I know. Great way to use up mayo and mustard — deviled eggs or egg salad on crackers/bread.
I know the main worry is the refrigerated foods, but you can always consider donating some of the extra dry & canned goods to a food bank or soup kitchen. This time of year there are usually collection bins in grocery stores/churches/etc. Might help make the move a little lighter.
Great suggestion! We’re definitely planning to do that as well as passing along any condiments that we haven’t really been using to family and friends whenever they come over (like garlic bbq sauce, which was a gift, etc).
I JUST found you guys and fell in love with your house, and can’t wait to see the new one!!!!
My husband and I plan meals every two weeks and plan our shopping trips around what is in the fridge/freezer. It makes it easy and allows us to stay within our budget. It does require some thought and time but it is well worth in in the end.
Clean steel without a doubt. It looks great, and does not show fingerprints. You will come to appreciate that in the very, very, near future!!!
I’ve been intrigued about this laughing cow cheese (not sure if it’s the fun commercials or the convenience of the small portions) — how is it? I need something to spread on my wheat thins and this seems like a good option.
Also, speaking of a 2011 calendar, I’ve actually made one inspired by your 2010 calendar (as you may of guessed with my questions on that post! :P) And it’s almost finished. I need two more “quotes” (I’m making it as a surprise for my boyfriend for part of his Christmas present) I’m interested in seeing what you did for 2011.
It’s delicious! I’m addicted.
Thank you so much for this fantastic idea. It will come in handy next time we need to save ourselves a trip to the grocery store or need to eat up what we have. I plan our meals every week, but I have a very picky husband who just likes to eat out. Boo. I think this would probably help a lot. Thanks again!
Olives and Daisies says
Man! it seems like bad timing to try and do this right after Thanksgiving when your fridge is full-er than normal of leftovers! Every time I move Im so not that organized and it seems the fridge is the last thing to get cleaned out, but thankfully most of my moves are within the same small town…but this is a great idea, I wish I would have done this before our recent kitchen remodel!!
I love your organized meal system! I should probably do that, considering I have a freezer full of meat (my parents bought a cow and gave me all the ground beef, leaving the steaks for themselves…) that I have no idea what to do with. I too am a person that only shops when I really need to, and with my super couponing I only pay about $15 a month on groceries. I could probably get it down to almost nothing if I finished off what was in my freezer.
Thanks for this post! While we’re not moving, I just cleaned out the fridge this weekend and the hubby did our cupboards last week. We, too, are making donations of the items we’d NEVER eat — we’ve gone au naturel and mostly organic, so some of the old packaged items just aren’t edible for us anymore. Yuck. Now, on to the freezer!
Can’t wait to see the calendar and what you’ve got in store for the holidays. :-)
Mary C says
Ha, a fellow list lover! When my kids were toddlers and my parents lived with us, I had a one-month list of menus. I shopped by it and cooked by it. (Of course some nights were cereal only, or soup and sandwich only.) Somehow the list went away and now we’re cereal only several nights a week :) But what I really want to know is this: how do you cross out words on the computer??? I want so badly to do this trick, do tell how!!!
We use WordPress to write our blog, so that has a word-crossing-out button that we can press when something is highlighted to get that effect. But our actual meal list is handwritten and we cross things out by hand while it’s hanging on the fridge. Hope it helps!
What a great system! I’m definitely going to use it when we move. We love laughing cow cheese! Have you tried it in eggs? it’s delish!
Dexter was amazing last night. Definitely one of the best episodes of the season. I’m sad there is only 2 episodes left- wish it was all all year long :)
Ashley G says
Do you buy organic meat? Also, what types of things do you eat for dinner on meatless nights? Also…Kroger has Lifeway Keifer in the organic section…so delicious and healthy! I can’t wait to see your new kitchen organization!
We buy organic meat from Kroger when we see it (sometimes it’s sold out). And since we only eat meat around two times a week it’s not as much of an expense as if we ate it every night. Meatless dinners can be anything from a big plate of spaghetti to a frozen Amy’s pizza or even veggie pot stickers with rice or cous cous as a side. We also like omelettes or pancakes for dinner, bean burritos with rice or frozen veggies, various hearty soups like bean chili or ministrone, etc. Hope it helps!
I’m a strategic meal planner, every 3 weeks or so I create a meal plan. With the meal plan, frozen items, leftovers and the occasional dinner out, it lasts us almost an entire month!
Here’s an example
spaghetti in the fridge?????
.. sorry.. I’m italian
(good idea this list, anyway ;-)
I’m Italian too. Whatever you do, don’t tell my mom about the spaghetti.
OHMYGOSH DELI FLATS! That was by far the best invention that has ever, ever come to be. It was a recent discovery in our house when we went over to visit my parents for a weekend and ate them completely out of those cute little bready wonders. Love.
As for meal planning, I definitely am a list maker; we don’t have a set night of the week for any particular food item (except Fridays when I get to come home from work early and make pizza for my hubbs who works late on Fridays), but we keep two white boards on the inside of the pantry and when we finish something off we cross it off of the “This is What We Have” list and write it on the “This is What We Need” list.
Jenn L @ Peas and Crayons says
So after commenting earlier.. i went and looked in MY fridge. and heard crickets. lots of them. There’s zero food and barely any condiments at all!!! yikes! If i were moving again i’d be good to go ;)
About the Laughing Cow cheese – a girl in my office pops plain popcorn (wihtout butter) and dips the pieces in the cheese – it tastes *exactly* like smartfood popcorn, which I adore, but without all the creeoy chemicals that are undoubtedly lurking in Smartfood!
Mmm, you’re making me hungry.
Hey y’all. Great post. Have you ever tried http://www.supercook.com? Its a great site that allows you to enter the ingrediants you have and it generated recipes that use that ingrediant, and asks you what other stuff you might have on hand too. Great for helping use up items that you don’t want to waste, though I tend to use it when money’s tight right before pay day :)
Thanks for the tip! We’ll have to try it out!
And this… is why I love you guys.
Keep the fun posts coming!
Sarah K says
My husband and I are big meal planners. It seems to be the only way we can eat dinner with out ordering a pizza. We pick meals out the Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone and have a date night at the grocery store to get all of the ingredients. This planning and eating more non- processed foods has not only made us feel better it has saved us a ton on our grocery bill.
Very excited about the upcoming christmas gift post!
I love your Type-A plan of attack! I am a Type B that needs the help of Type A’s out there…(are there any B’s left anymore?) One thing I wondered since I love your list making philosphy, do you have a list for when you move into your new home? For example…week one, move and unpack essentials; week two, paint bedrooms; week three, and so forth? You both seem so organized and it is inspiring how quickly you get things done!
I definitely have a to-do list for after the big move, but it’s more flexible than something that clearly states what we’ll do first. We definitely know we’ll unpack right off the bat, and then will probably move on to painting something, but we’re not sure what. We also have some appliances that we’ll need to replace so that’ll happen semi-quickly but we’re not sure the exact order of that stuff either. As Type A as I am, I’ve learned that house transformations (even the small ones that we’ll start out with) are never as cut and dry as they seem, so planning to be flexible and play things by ear is the best plan of attack for a control-loving lady like myself.
You could probably find a quiche recipe for your eggs and frozen veggies!
Mmm, that sounds good. Might bat my eyelashes at John and
demandkindly request a quiche for dinner…
Ashley G says
Where do you make/keep your lists? If you prefer paper over phone…check out Night Owl Paper Goods…they have the cutest notepads with darling animals and are Eco friendly…(though the animals aren’t white or ceramic!) I’m using them for stocking stuffers!
Well this list is stuck right on the front of our fridge, but many of them are in a notebook on my desk. Off to check out Night Owl Paper Goods now- thanks for the suggestion!
My favorite way to clean out the fridge is to make a bunch of pizzas with random leftover toppings. That jar of marinated artichokes? Yes, please! Thanksgiving Pizza? Why not?!
You might be able to use some of your condiments to make a non-tomato based pizza sauce. Or not, that could be pretty gross…
Rachel in NC says
I always keep a list of what is in my freezer and meal plan/grocery shop around it. I plan meals for the whole week and shop every Sunday. It’s a little obsessive, but it works well and keeps me sane!
you are hysterical! I finally found someone who makes more lists that I do!! : ) Love it!
This is why I love reading your blog–it’s so comforting to see there are other people in the world who do things like make a list of food in their fridge (I just did this recently as I decided we absolutely had to clean out our fridges before Thanksgiving). So it’s nice to know there are others out there who I can identify with!
BTW, I love watching Dexter also. After the end of last season I was worried they couldn’t top it and now it’s better than ever!!
When I moved out of state the entire contents of my fridge went to my sister, but I took my pantry items. This last move was just across town so I packed up the fridge and it was in a cooler in a moving van (in Phoenix in September) for a couple hours and everything seems to have turned out fine. I doubt you’ll have much of an issue in December in Virginia even for 5 hours. I applaud your frugality though. I’d probably do the same just to have less items to move but I say don’t stress about it!
Each weekend we do a weekly menu. My hubby and I sit down and write out what we’ll have each night for dinner, making sure to include leftover nights to use up any extras. We then shop from the grocery list. Our average weekly shopping trip for 3 (2 adults, 1 almost 5 year old) is roughtly $40. We do a lot of freezer cooking. It helps a lot with 2 parents both working full time out of the home, plus keeping up with our daughter’s activities like Tae Kwon do 3 nights a week. We know exactly what we’re having and don’t have to figure it out every night. This has worked very well for us for about 2 years now. I don’t see us changing that list making any time soon. The list is posted on the freezer door each week so we can see it quickly and easily and know what to pull out of the freezer before we leave for work that day.
This isn’t related, but its funny you mentioned the Laughing Cow cheese, every thime I see that commercial with the girl going up to people in the mall I think “That sure looks like Young House Love Sherry!” The lady that tells the guy to buy “RUBIES!” Funny… :)
Never got that one before. Too funny! I’m too shy to talk to strangers at the mall though…
I love meal planning and I love working cost per serving from every meal. I can work a turkey like no other. Literally, .10 a serving would not be a stretch.Even doing that every few months, I play a game, “Make Do”. I see how long I can make it until going to the grocery store and how empty I can gt my freezer, fridge and cabinets. We usually eat pretty well until the day before I raise up the white flag and head to Kroger. The tipping point usually involves breading something in rice crispies dressed in some sort of ketchup or djion mustard sauce.
Sarah R. says
Love Dexter! I’m still watching Season One, on Netflix, but can’t wait to get caught up.
Your grocery bill is AWESOME. I’ll bet you love Kroger’s prices after shopping in NY all those years. Have you discovered any of the grocery/coupon blogs yet? I’m hooked on Southern Savers, but there are tons out there that will match up your grocery list with coupons. Love them!
Ooh I’ll have to check out Southern Savers! Thanks for the suggestion!
We have Taco Tuesdays each week with my in-laws. : )
Christine B says
Watched Dexter last night. Sooo freaked out. I have no idea how he is going to get out of it unless Lumen does give herself up for him. She should. I feel like she is making Dexter slow and careless. Plus he can visit her in jail.
Elle C. says
Un-freaking-believable! I just saw one of your comments that said you spend about $250/month on groceries, much of which is organic??? How do you do that? Does that include toiletries? Diapers? We are a family of four (the baby just has milk though). We try to buy organic produce, dairy and all-natural meats. And we spend $600 per month! This does include toiletries & diapers, but still, HOW DO YOU DO IT? Sorry for my dramatic typing, but I’m in shock, and APPARENTLY, need help with my grocery budget.
Well, we use cloth diapers which definitely saves us a lot of money. And that general number (it definitely fluctuates) does include toiletries as well, but we buy inexpensive paper towels and toilet paper and share one bottle of shampoo and conditioner, although we don’t really find ourselves buying that very often. It probably helps that I don’t regularly buy things like makeup or hair dye or any of those girly things. I’m totally a tomboy in that regard.
We also only eat meat about twice a week, which definitely saves money. And we use coupons & our savings card and try to shop only once every three weeks (which dramatically cuts down on snacky impulse buys which really add up). Generally speaking, we’re pretty frugal, so while we do buy organic, we usually buy what’s on sale and we eat leftovers and do everything else we can to keep costs down. Oh and we always plant an edible garden so we have free herbs and lettuce and tomatoes and raspberries between the spring and the fall (without worrying about any pesticides). Hope it helps!
elle C. says
BTW, it’s not like we even live in NY or LA and shop exclusively at Whole Foods. I’m talking Wal-mart and Super Target in Oklahoma City.
Rosemary H says
I have definitely made lists of meals like you’re currently doing. For both money management and moving reasons. Once, before moving, I made a casserole out of three different types of cheese, all my little near-empty bags of frozen vegetables, a couple of frozen chicken breasts, two different kinds of pasta, and whatever else was left in my fridge and pantry. It looked a little sad (being half spaghetti/half elbow noodles), but was a totally delicious way to use up all the little left over bits and pieces in my house.
I’ve never planned out every meal but one way I keep my costs down is to take out cash for grocery shopping. The grocery store off campus does 10% off for students on Mondays, so I try to go then too.
Ok- so we are not moving like you- but I proclaimed November as “NO SHOPPING MONTH” meaning no grocery store trips… our freezer was full, our pantry had more goods than a 7-11 and really other than milk and maybe lettuce I thought we could do it… It felt good to be alittle creative and really good to have no grocery bills for the month…We made it until Thanksgiving where it was necessary to do some shopping… We may have to try this again in a couple months
Carol N. says
My husband shops the Publix circular and for a week we can usually get by on $35 if we buy what is on sale. We don’t buy meat that often either although I do take turkey sandwiches to work a lot. But if they have a Boston Butt roast on sale, we will buy that and make our own BBQ and have that several ways; pulled pork sandwiches, over baked potatoes, in Brunswick Stew, etc. We try to use up our leftovers and keep using things from the freezer. I would guess our grocery bills average around $200/month including soft drinks and toiletries. And in the summer, we pick fruits and freeze them so we can use them all winter long on our oatmeal and in desserts. Nothing like a fresh-tasting peach dessert in the dead of winter!
Lonely Wife Project says
I kid you not when I say that we were sitting on the edge of our couch and biting our fingernails as we watched Dexter last night. It was a very stress-inducing episode!
Dexter = awesome. I wasn’t sure how they could top Trinity…but holy cow, they did it! Every week something happens I don’t expect. It took me an hour to fall asleep after it, it was sooo exciting! Did you see in the preview it looks like Jordan kills that Birch girl. I can’t wait and only 2 episodes left this season. I’m thinking Lumen is going to stick around, she has to…any other seasonal ‘friend’ he has had their stories have been closer to wrapping up by now.
Michelle Bryant says
As I just said on another post, my husband is in the military so moving happens often. Not just that, but I get a little stir crazy after we’ve been somewhere for a while. We may not move to a new duty station or city, but we do move no less than every two years. We’ve moved 8 times in 8 years. So, I guess we actually average annually.
As far as our left overs and things to use up, we usually just go with the make-a-random-casserole idea that someone else already mentioned in this post. My favorite one I’ve come up with to date was: Left over stuffing, the juice from canned yams, shredded cheese (hard cheeses taste best), eggs and whatever seasoning you have in the pantry. It makes a funky frittata, but it’s good.
Those are some huge containers of ketchup and mustard. Too bad you can’t heat up the ketchup for tomato soup… Have fun eating through the fridge:) susan
Lindsay A says
A couple of months ago, I noticed a few commenters telling you they thought your posts weren’t the same anymore. I hopped to the comments today, thinking there might be some people riled up that you haven’t been writing much DIY, but it looks like we’re all on your team. I loved this post and haven’t thought of grouping things categorically – thank you :) Hoping you’ll write a post on baby-led weaning one of these days!
We’ve done meal planning for a while now because it keeps us from going to so many restaurants. We both work outside the home (though my commute is way short) and before we started planning, it was hit-or-miss if one of us would feel like standing in the kitchen for half an hour making dinner. It was easier to say, “Hey, can you grab Wendy’s on the way home?” But now, I try to use what we have in the house (I shop once a week, but limit myself to whatever will fit in our reusable grocery bag–unless it’s a special occasion) and I can choose meals that are easier to make for days when I know we’ll be wiped out.
Also, we’re at about $250 a month, too. Buying generic brands has really helped us keep it down, while still allowing us to “splurge” on organic and/or locally made stuff.
Lady Kay says
Oh wow this is exactly what we are doing! We are moving next week. The last time we moved we left out some kitchen things (pots, pans, dishes) so we could eat right up to the day we moved. But then we ended up with a couple of half-packed boxes of kitchen stuff during our rush to get out of the rental house in time for the inspection and it was so totally unorganized. This time, I am buying some disposable plates, utensils, and bakeware. This week I will make some meals to put in the bakeware which I can freeze. I’ll pack up the ENTIRE kitchen a few days in advance, and then for the last few days we’ll eat off of disposable stuff & I can just pop the ready-made meals in the oven for dinner. No dishes to wash & pack the very last day amidst all the other stress of moving! If I have time I’ll be posting what I make ahead on my blog.
Oh Lord, I am Dexter OBSESSED. It was definitely a top-5 episode…[spoiler alert!] SO happy that he and Lumen finally got together. I hate that the seasons are only 12 episodes :[ It’s simply not enough.
I plan meals every week using what I call my whiteboard (a laminated excel sheet where I write down each day’s dinner with a dry erase marker and hang on my refrigerator). This makes life easy because I go through what I have in my freezer/pantry and only buy what is needed and on sale. I try to mix things up, but I also plan my dinners according to schedule (like my weekly group runs, I plan a quick light meal). I try to shop bi-weekly (other than bread/milk) and it seems to be working quite well. Good luck with your move!