Modern menu building on a budget – step 2: take inventory

“Eat what you want after you have eaten what you should.”

– The Newer Knowledge of Nutrition: the Use of Food for the Preservation of Vitality and Health, Dr. E.V. McCollum, 1918    

… and eat what you have before buying stuff you want. We’re going to put the old adage – waste not, want not – into effect. After you’ve thought about your buying habits, take an hour or two and familiarize yourself with what’s lurking in your pantry and fridge.

If you’re anything like me, you might have a ton of onions, some potatoes, and a head of cabbage in your crisper, eggs coming out your ears, and a pantry full of grains in amounts you could justify at the time but make you shake your head in disbelief at the moment. Write it all down.

Group your food according to these categories and subcategories:


– Fruits

– Vegetables



Frozen foods

Dry goods






Canned goods


Once you know what you’re working with, you’ll have less waste on your hands and it will be easier to supplement what you do have with ingredients to round out a full meal.

In our next post we’ll show you how to build a template.

Published in: on 23 November, 2011 at 10:48  Comments (5)  

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5 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. I’m excited! My pantry is more surreal than yours, but perhaps it can be brought down to Earth…

  2. I find if I can see it, I’ll use it! Also, air-tight glass storage jars are your friends.

  3. […] consider your inventory. What can you put together with the rice in your pantry and the leftover veg in your fridge? How […]

  4. […] your inventory in hand? Saved a ton using coupons and sales flyers? Built your template? Now here’s a […]

  5. […] 2. Take stock of what you already have. Raid the fridge and, while you’re at it, make sure food is where you can see it. Nothing worse than finding two rotting halves of an onion. Look through your pantry, too. A great tip from Vintage Eater, vintagejenta, is to put your grains and beans into air-tight, clear glass jars. Again, if you can see it, you’ll use it.  […]

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