Homestead Bullet Journal: From the Garden to Meal Planning

When I realized the potential of a bullet journal, my creative – and research-oriented – mind went crazy!  I had to find more ways to use it!

Since I knew our 2019 garden was going to be something involving a lot more investment in time and work, I wanted to add the garden to the “bujo”.  I also needed a place to consolidate all the sticky notes I seem to create with lists of ingredients, food, meal ideas, and how that incorporates with the garden produce we have and hope to have this year.

Bullet Journal Garden to Meal
How I use a bullet journal to keep our garden and meals organized.

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There are a ton of garden planning and meal planning ideas out there in the internet world.  None of them seemed to be that perfect thing for which I was looking.  While I’m usually one that needs to see that “thing”, I finally had to face facts and figure out a system that was going to work for me.  Trust me – it’s not perfect.  And in the future I’m sure it will change and evolve.  But for now, it works.  I did break down and purchased the Leuchtturm1917, but so far it has been worth it!  I also use these dual-tip pens by Reaeon.

First I needed to be “me” and write down common meals.  This may seem weird, but I needed to list them just to wrap my over-analytical brain around planning meals.  While I’ve always loved to cook, making sure we have enough groceries in stock for the week and cooking this often was a bit of a foreign concept.  So I wrote down “core meals” that we can live off of, ones that were able to spin in many directions (such as “meat, potatoes, vegetables”).  Some are a bit more specific, such as “pizza casserole,” but many have a core meat/veggie and I can just pull from the freezer, fridge, or pantry what we need and supplement the rest from the store.

Speaking of the store – there are just some things I can’t pull from the garden.  Like flour and butter.  But I know if I have certain items in stock, I can make just about anything.  Hamburger can turn into casseroles, burger, sloppy joes, chili … you get the picture!  There might come a time where I don’t use these two pages, but I’m one of those people who have to write things down, especially when I have too much on my mind!

For years I had wanted a garden.  Don’t really know why because I relied on the store quite a bit for food!  But this year is different – this year, it’s serving a purpose – to feed us.  But I had an overwhelming amount of things I wanted to plant, and I knew I needed to narrow it down.  As much as I wanted eight varieties of peppers, it just wasn’t realistic!  We hardly eat peppers!

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So I dedicated a page in my bullet journal to categorizing all those crazy plants – what we must plant, wanted to plant, what would be nice to have, and some perennials I needed to transfer from my parents’ to the farm.

How I categorized:

  • Must Plant – produce I know we eat on a regular basis.  Things like potatoes and sweet corn we go through by the pound nearly every week.  By producing our own food in this area we can save quite a bit of money by not having to purchase at the store.
  • Maybe Plant – these are plants that we would probably go through often.  We consume quite a bit of tomatoes in one form or another – pasta sauce, diced in casseroles, salsa.  The peppers are more of an experiment, but we can use hot for salsas, sweet for sauteing and possibly freeze.  Sugar snap peas – I never have good luck but I love them and want them without having to pay for them.
  • REALLY Want to Plant – come on – how cool would it be to grow luffa gourds??  Amazing!!  That’s how cool!  The broom corn/sorghum, Indian corn, and pop corn were not just because they were cool, but because I can see this as being a source of small revenue.  People in our area purchase Indian corn and broom corn for decorations in the fall.  Not many people can get locally-sourced pop corn, and there are many more varieties than what you find in a box in the store.
  • Perennials – most I need to transplant to the farm.  The asparagus is another potential cash crop.  Asparagus and rhubarb in our area is pretty easy to come buy, but those who have to go to the store to purchase it pay what I consider a crazy amount!  For some, these vegetables are hard to come by and we’re hoping to offer them for sale down the road.

Next up – what we eat and how it relates to the garden.  (AKA – nerdy garden math!)

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This is where my garden-planning-meets-bullet-journal-meets-meal-planning gets confusing … I wanted to be sure that we purchased enough seed and grew enough plants to last us through about a year.  It’s not imperative – I can always run to the store – but in a quest of being “homesteaders” and wanting to be more self-sufficient, along with saving money, I needed to plan.

My columns are:

  • What We Eat:  A list of items we eat that we can grow in the garden.  Such as potatoes.
  • Per Week/Month:  How much of that item we eat in a given week or month.  For instance – we probably go through 2-3 pounds of potatoes a week, give or take.
  • Per Year:  Taking our potato example – multiply the 2-3 pounds per week by 52 weeks and you get 104-156 pounds per year.  Since our potato consumption changes, I rounded to 100-200.  We can always give away surplus and it leaves room for bad produce, mice and mole attacks, or a family gathering/potluck dish.
  • One Plant Produces:  This is a gray area, and is dependent on so many factors – growing season, soil type, potato type, fertilization, moisture at the right time, mole attacks … (can you tell we had a problem with moles last year?).  It also depends on the source you’re using.  I read several sources that said one potato plant can produce 5-10 pounds.  I don’t think any of ours did that much, but they were kind of scary plants to begin with.
  • Plant At Least:  So if one plant produces 5-10 pounds, and I’m guessing we will need 100-200 pounds, we need to plant 10-40 plants (yes – I see my math was wrong in the picture!  I was on garden math overload at the time!).
  • Last Year:  The amount we planted last year.  Last year (2018) we planted 13 “scary” potato plants.
  • Enough:  No.  We had moles.  We had mice.  We had wet/damp weather that made a few moldy taters, we had several itty-bitty ones that weren’t good for much other than if you wanted to eat them like popcorn.  But in the future we can look back at the previous year, see what worked or didn’t, and plan the new year accordingly.  If we planted two types of potatoes and one excelled where the other didn’t, then we know that if we want a guaranteed harvest, we plant that variety.  Or if we plant 20 zucchini plants, we know that we had too many.  (Don’t ask).
  • Notes:  ‘nough said.

I did this with most plants, but some – like tomatoes – are dependent on what we actually do with them.  My goal is to can them for sauces, casseroles, and salsa.  We’ll see.  We might get a million pounds of tomatoes and not do anything with them other than farm them out to tomato lovers.

My final page is one of a genius moment.  I learned this little chart in kindergarten and it has helped me through many size conversions!

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Of course, I had to add my own nerdy-ness to it and break down sections, such as 1 gallon = 4 quarts = 8 pints = 15 cups = 128 ounces.  You can read for yourself all the other little cheat charts I made.  I was kicking myself for not doing this sooner!  It makes total sense, and a bullet journal is meant to be a composition of many things, including helpful spreads and art!  Granted, this is mostly for volume/liquid, but it was so helpful when converting quarts of green beans into 48 plants needed for freezing 6 gallon-sized bags!  But I’m so proud of it!

Many meal and garden planners did not integrate, which is something I needed as we are planning a garden with the goal of sustaining us for the year.  I hope this gives you some ideas for how to plan your garden – or your meals.

Want to watch the video?  Check it out!

How do you plan your garden?  What about your meals?  We’d love to hear – leave us a comment or Contact us!  Consider subscribing for future updates!

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