More Organized Food Preservation: A Canning Planning Sheet

I’m a bit late to the game this year in terms of laying out my canning goals. But, with the majority of the summer harvest still to come on in this area, it’s not too late to make a game plan.

For a canning overview, I like to list out my canning projects by type (jam, pickles, etc.) rather than by fruit or veg because then it’s easy for me to see when I am way overdoing it in an area.

When you browse through canning cookbooks (this one is my favorite) it’s so easy to get caught up in the jewel-tone inspiration photos that you vow to make a double batch of every preserve that looks delish. Then come October you wonder how and why you have 14,000 half-pint jars of jam in your pantry, and – more to the point- how you’re going to use them when you also have a food philosophy that limits jam to “treat” status.

A canning master plan by preserve type helps avoid that by letting you see what kind of quantity you are really getting yourself into.

I scoured the internet for a visual planning sheet to help me get a move on and get my 2012 canning laid out but didn’t see anything that really worked for me. So, I made my own Canning Planning Sheet, and I’m happy to share it with you here.

This Canning Planning sheet is available for free PDF download on the Downloadables page. I’d love your feedback – these categories and the amount of spacing given are based around what I make, but if I have enough readers offering feedback for other categories, etc. I may be able to make variations on this theme.

Do you organize by category when you plan out your preserving?


  1. Shauna says

    I feel ya on 14,000 half pints of jam! I find that if I take a jar to a potluck or summer bbq, I have people asking for my recipe. I don’t give my recipes out, I sell my extra jars of jam :) The money from this helps pay for more jars and garden stuff and I find that people have no problem paying $5/half pint of homemade goodness. I have expanded a bit and am willing to sell any excess I can – soups, pickles, etc. My friends love me lol

  2. Hyla says

    I am guilty of the 14,000 jars of jam/jelly/butters. I went crazy last year! Cherry jam, cherry marmalade, apple butter, vanilla-pear jelly, blackberry jam and jelly, dandelion jelly, jalepeno pepper jelly, tomato jam… what was I thinking? That and I have enough dill pickles to last several years and the thought of canned green beans just about makes me gag. UGG!
    Last year was a huge eye opener so my game plan this time around is to only preserve what we love and used up. My focus is lots and lots of tomatoes and apple sauce. No more jam or jelly (with the exeption of the cherry jam I made yesterday. hehe).

  3. says

    Oh, GREAT – just what I need, ANOTHER canning book. ;)

    Good timing – I saw some great green beans at the farmers market last week and thought I REALLY need to get on those pickled green beans this year. And people will revolt if I don’t have pepper jelly at Christmas. I’m not nearly so ambitious as you, though I wouldn’t doing a few jams too this year.

  4. says

    I’ve never organized by category before, but this is a wonderful concept! I’m still deciding what all I plan to put by and how(canning, freezing, dehydrating etc) so this will be a great resource.

    • says

      This is designed for water bath canning, not pressure canning. If there’s enough interest, I can make a pressure canning planning sheet – but would want input on what categories people consider indispensable: maybe soups/stews, meat, veg, sauces?

      • Sunfire says

        Yes, please! We do a lot of soup bases, red sauce, chili, beans, and some veggies that go pressure-canned (carrots, potatoes, etc). My other half decided he wanted to make simple meals, something we can just “open a can, heat up, and eat” (usually have to add a little something to it, like rice, pasta or bread). I’d love to see your planning sheet for pressure canning.

      • Lady Banksia says

        I second that – I pressure can as well when the supply allows, and ’tis the season! Love the worksheet you’ve done already… thank you!

        I was a ‘jammin” fool one year, and try not to repeat that. I’m on a tomato kick right now, as my homegrown San Marzano’s are comin’ on like crazy! It’s been so hot, though, that even the jalapenos are stunted a little – about the size of my thumb. Had lots of tomatillo flowers, but all fell and not a single fruit!

    • Beth says

      Yes, please! I do some pressure-canned soups, sauces, and the occasional meat dish. These tend to disappear much faster than pickles or jam. They’re super-easy meals when life gets hectic, but one can only inflict soup-for-dinner on the family so many nights a week, and I’ve been stumped lately for new ideas.

  5. says

    I can by the seat of my pants. Whatever looks good at the farmstand or whatever’s coming up in the garden. I have been known to overdo the jelly situation, and always redeem myself at Holiday time.

    I LOVE the worksheet and will be using. Thanks so much!

  6. Arrowleaf says

    Great idea! I can based on what’s left from the previous year, and what our favorites are. I plant my garden accordingly, so ultimately I end up canning based on what’s ready in the garden or in abundance at the farmer’s market. So far this spring I’ve canned marmelade, pickled asparagus, pickled garlic scapes, and tomorrow morning will be pickled beets! Too much jam leftover from last year means I bypassed making strawberry jam and will only freeze berries instead of canning them…Another reader posted about canning ready-to-eat meals….do you have experience in this department? Suggestions?

  7. says

    I love the book you linked too! I got is last year and enjoyed it so much. I’m looking forward to trying out more recipes this year. Thanks for sharing your planning sheet, I’m off to download. Cheers, Jenni

  8. says

    Another great resource thank you Erica! I envy your capacity to be so organised (and you are still sooo young) and still so *real* and down to earth…… household management judgement -not even a little. Thankyou.
    oh, and I also love Lianna Krissof’s work too. She has a fabulously easy to read writing style (much like you really) and all the recipies I have made from this book have been successful and great taste sensations!!
    Now if I can just work out how to stop being ‘meals on wheels’ and enthuse my kids to store up summer sunshine in beautiful glass jars as well before I cark it………

  9. says

    If you have lots of jam or jelly leftover, buy plain nonfat Greek yogurt and add it to that for a dessert treat. I top it with a few chopped nuts and eat it for dessert almost every night. It is a lot cheaper than buying the flavored Greek yogurt and I know where the fruit came from! You can use up a lot of jam very fast that way.

    • Lady Banksia says

      Great idea! I also sneak it into my smoothies with a touch of vanilla and cinnamon in the morning instead of other sweeteners… only need a little bit…

  10. says

    I should really start doing this. So far, my canning has pretty much consisted of whatever looks good at the market and whatever I feel like. I’d like to step it up, though, and a little more planning might be just the ticket, and would probably prevent me from having oh-so-much apple butter and so very little salsa.

  11. says

    I love this! Thanks for creating it and sharing it with us; it’ll be a good way to put my plans in my face in the kitchen and dovetails perfectly with how I track my canning.
    Last year I created a google spreadsheet to track my food preservation. When I first made it I mostly used it to track what I was doing, but this year I used it a little more to plan what I wanted to do. I have sections for freezing, dehydrating, fermenting, and canning. On the canning section I added a row at the end to track total number of jars – it makes me feel productive :)
    It doesn’t take long for me to update and it does help me look back and see how we’re doing with the eating portion of the program. Apparently, 36 jars of salsa was too much, but 21 jars of bread’n’butter squash pickles was not enough. I am rather inclined to take a two-year approach (since, for most of the stuff I make, that’s how it’s working out anyway) in which I make enough for two years instead of one. So I am not going to worry at all about salsa this year, and instead focus on other tomato products.
    The eating part is still the hardest for me, though. I am still learning both to plan our meals around what we have on hand (instead of arbitrary recipes) *and* to not hoard my favorites.

  12. Evey says

    I just started a needed food storage projection list for 35 weeks, the time that main crop garden produce would usually not be available here in the WV mountains. It’s mind boggling to think in these quanties. My dream home canned pantry in late Sept would include: Tomatoes 75 qts or equi. in pints,Corn 35 pints,Green beans 18 qts, Pickles 10 pints, Venison 35 qts, Misc. meat35 qts, Applesauce 16 qts. This is plus items s such as garlic 50 bulbs after fall planting and 50 misc onions. This is for 2 adults plus frequent guests. Does anyone else plan like this?

  13. says

    Planning? What planning?

    I should probably make a plan, but right now, my canning totally depends on what does well in the garden and the forest in any given year (last year rocked for wild chokecherries), and what goes on sale at the co-op in the fall…

  14. Jessie says

    Love the chart :-) I have a stack of canning books with little neon post-its sticking out of them, and I knew it would be hit-or-miss to remember which recipes I wanted to try out this year. I filled out the chart, noted which book/site the recipe was from, and I now have a roadmap to get through the harvest with. Thanks for sharing this!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>