Since being laid off from my job in October I have found myself with a little more time at home and a lot less money to spend. So I have taken the task of saving money as my new part time job in order to not have to go out and find a job outside of my home.
In an effort to really be mindful of my families finances I have started paying more attention to our grocery shopping budget. A few months ago I started clipping coupons and watching the grocery store ads for great deals on the items that my family uses. This actually is a pretty easy task since I have three major grocery stores (including my favorite one stop shopping center) within a mile of each other and a fourth (but my least favorite to shop at) not far the other direction. After having pretty good success with my coupons I decided to add another step to my grocery budget consciouness; menu planning.
Now granted, we have always had some sort of “menu plan” around our house. And by that I mean that there has always been food in the pantry from which something could be concocted for dinner, but rarely has there been a “plan” about what that might actually be anytime before one hour prior to dinner. There has also been a lot of nights where I had no idea or motivation for what to make so we just went out and, well, that no longer fits into the budget.
So last week I took the leap (with my blog friend Meredith as my guide) and wrote out ten meals to cover two weeks (I only did ten to allow for the consumption of leftovers and because sometimes I just don’t feel like making dinner and so we eat cereal!). I then made a shopping list based on those ten meals, making note of what I already had on hand, gathered my coupons and headed out to the store. I did all the shopping for those meals along with stuff for breakfast and lunches. My total grocery amount came to $126. Now that did include a few household items (laundry soap, dryer sheets, and toothpaste) but it did not include much meat because I already had most of what I needed in my freezer.
At home, after the groceries were put away, I set to work doing a little prep work, such as cooking up all my ground beef and chicken (see here for a great way to cook your chicken) and seperating it into meal portioned freezer bags and shredding all my cheese and doing the same with it (we are not big cheese eaters, so shredded seems to be the only way it get’s eaten here.) Then since I was feeling motivated I went ahead and assembled the enchiladas that were on the menu plan and stuck them in the freezer. (I also had enough ingredients to deliver a small pan of enchiladas to our neighbors who are always blessing us!)
We are now headed into week two of our two week menu plan and so far it is going great! I did have to run back to the grocery store one day last week for two forgotten items, but have not stepped foot in there since last Tuesday. Although I will probably have to go sometime this week and pick up some more milk and bread. Our fresh produce and vegetables are starting to run low, but we should make it through most of the week, and when it runs out I’ve got frozen veggies and fruit that I canned this summer to tide us over.
I’ll share my actual meal plan with you in another post but for now I am setting to work on my next two week (ten meals) plan and would love any suggestions for what your favorite family meals are.
I am also working on getting all my meals and their required ingredients into an Excel spreadheet (because I truly LOVE spreadsheets! honestly, they make my heart race, especially ones that I can use the merge feature on!) with the idea that I’ll get all of our meals in and be able to create my shopping list through a merge document. That makes my heart go pitter-patter!