June 2, 2020
Pandemic Inventory Meal Planning with OOLY

Does this pandemic have you currently panicking about what to cook for supper? Are all of your ingredients starting to blend together? Are you unsure of what the heck to even cook?! Yeah, it had me panicking, too… until I came up with this method for meal planning with what I have on hand. Droll roll please! – – – – We’re calling it Pandemic Inventory Meal Planning!

I want to say (and encourage) that you do NOT have to go shopping to use this method. Which is good for social distancing, am I right?! Plus, there are so many alternative options other than physically going to the grocery store. You could try online grocery pickup or even have groceries delivery to your doorstep. However, if you live in rural small town America like me, I understand that these may not be options for you. So instead, I encourage you to talk to your local farmers.

Right now I am getting a weekly “Rural Resilience Box” delivered to my door store. Over five local producers of dairy products, produce, protein, fresh roasted coffee, and yes even beer have joined together to make these boxes possible. There is enough food in the boxes for us for about three or four meals having to supplement some pantry items here and there. Now more than ever do we need to support the agriculture industry. Without farmers, there’s no food.

So please, I cannot stress this enough, do not go to the grocery store unless you absolutely have to. And only IF you have to, make sure you do enough shopping for multiple weeks. The less we are all out and about, the better off we are going to be in the long run.

Pandemic Inventory Meal Planning Method

Let’s get down to business! I am calling this the “Pandemic Inventory Meal Planning Method.” However, I hope that after all of this blows over, you find yourself still using it to help with food waste and help the bottom line on your grocery bills.

The Method and How To:

This Pandemic Inventory Meal Planning method has four easy steps to follow and one is optional. Even better, I know! They are as follows: 

  1. Rummage
    • Go to your pantry, fridge, and freezer and write down everything you have on hand. 
      • Don’t go crazy with the small things like spices that you only use once every couple of months. Stick to the basics.
      • For example: 2 pounds of chicken thighs, 1 pound of potatoes, 2 boxes of pancake mix, 3 cans of corn, 5 boxes of pasta, 3 jars of sauce, 2 sticks of butter, 3 bags of frozen veggies, etc.
  1. Organize
    • Now, separate the list into four categories: Starches, Proteins, Veggies, Miscellaneous. 
      • The reason you want to break it up into these four categories specifically is because a well-balanced meal is typically composed of a starch, protein, and vegetable. Your miscellaneous category could be a jar of pasta sauce, a packet marinade, cheese, salad dressing, etc.  
    • The easiest way to do this is to assign a different color highlighter to each category. Starches might be blue, proteins might be yellow, veggies might be purple, and miscellaneous might be pink. I usually sit down with my OOLY products and go to town. Plus, when it’s all colorful, it makes this task seem less daunting and more cheerful. More on OOLY below…
  2.  Make A Plan
    • A meal plan that is! This is when you want to start composing meals. 
      • You want to match up the colors to ensure each meal is composed of at least two items from different color-coded categories.  For example: Potatoes, Chicken thighs, Corn. Or: Pasta and Jarred Sauce 
      • Cross off those items so when you go to make your meal plan next week, you already have a list of what’s on hand. 
  3.  Make A List (Optional)  
    • If you absolutely NEED to go to the store, make a list of what you need!
      • Reminder that this is an optional step. If you’re not leaving your home then ignore it. Or, make a list of things you know you’re going to need when you have to go to the store.

How I OOLY

I came across OOLY while at work and I instantly fell in love. They have collaborated with me on some fabulous products to make this how-to post possible. So thank you OOLY, for creating beautiful products. I am a sucker for high-quality stationery products. I do A LOT of writing. This is so important to me because I feel more confident when things are neatly presented. Not to mention, it makes going back to revamping a recipe much easier. If there is nothing else in this blog that you don’t listen to, at least hear me out with this one – invest in great stationary products. They last longer, they look great, and it will have people talking!

I am a very visual person. I learn best by seeing things and I have found that color-coding things makes understanding them easier. Below are the products I used to make this blog spark a creative interest. I urge you to go check out what OOLY has to offer. If you have kiddos at home, you might find something that will spark their interest as much as your own. It’s easy to see the gray in these current times; but with OOLY, your days are sure to be filled with color!

Modern Writers

I love how the ink flows out of these bad boys. It allows me to add the small fine details to a list due to their 0.7mm tip. These gel pens have instantly been moved to the top of my list. Even better yet, the six colors match perfectly with the Pastel Liners making them the perfect pair. Where are my leftys at?! Perhaps the best part about these is that they dry nearly instantly unlike most other gel pens. You can write and drag your hand directly across the page without a purple wrist and or paper smear. Out of the two pen packs, these are definitely the more sophisticated of the two, but each has their place.

Pastel Liners

These are probably my most favorite out of the three products. To start, the colors are so bright. It makes a daunting task look colorful and beautiful. Even more so, they’re double sided. They have a 5mm chisel tip on one side – perfect for highlighting those pantry ingredients. And, the other side has a 3mm fine tip marker point – making it easy to underline, cross-out, or doodle around freezer items. I also like to use these while developing recipes. They make it super easy to highlight certain ingredients that go into one step. And, they also make it convenient to make adjustments without totally making them disappear for a recipe revision.

Fountain Pens 

I’ve been told on multiple occasions that my handwriting should be a font. Well, these fountain pens make my handwriting look even cooler. These do not bleed through my notebook’s paper. This is a big deal for me because I often use both sides of the sheet of paper for recipe revisions; or in this case, if I have a lot of pantry items on hand, I’ll use multiple sheets to ensure I didn’t miss anything. The bold eight colors add a special visual touch to anything that you write. Plus, they feel great to write with all day. The barrel of the pen is slightly larger than the standard, and it has a matte finish making it easy to grip without any slip.

The Why

Okay, so I know what some of you are thinking…”Why the heck would we want to do all of that?” While the answer may be different for all of us, the simple answer is this- It will keep you organized, it will help the bottom line on your grocery bills, and personally, it gives me a sense of purpose in my household. Journaling helps me relax and gives me control over something in a time where we don’t have control over most things.

One of the biggest reasons I like to take an inventory of what I have on hand is because it helps me to eliminate food waste. I hate wasting food – more than anything actually. Especially when I’m getting items from local farmers. They spend so much time, love, and effort into producing those products for them to go to waste. So, you might have to get creative in the kitchen and think outside of the box. But don’t worry, you’ve got this!

So please, share your journals with me by using the following hashtags. And, more importantly, let me know how much you love OOLY as much as I do. Stay safe & stay healthy, folks!