Menu Planning

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!

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “Menu Planning

  1. TuTu's Bliss

    menu planning is still on my “to do” list. SIGH 🙂

  2. meleea

    Way to go! the menu plan is a life saver and a money saver!

  3. Tamara

    Here are a couple 2-part meals – using 2 packages of ground turkey – tear up 4 pieces of bread and soak in enough milk to saturate the bread (make it soggy) – then mis the bread into the lean ground turkey – using a griddle cook turkey patties (like hamburgers) – serve with red mashed potatoes (I buy a bag at Costco and cube them up and mash them with the skins on with a big scoop of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter (also from Costco) and a splash of half-and-half – so meal #1 is turkey burgers with mashed potatoes (make a BIG pot) – serve with fruit of your choice (peaches or applesauce are our faves) – then using the bugers that you don’t eat and the leftover mashed potatoes – in a large casserole dish layer the mashed potatoes and crumble the burgers into bite sized pieces over that layer and then pour over a can of creamed corn and top with potatoes and cheese – bake at 350 for 40 minutes – wah-lah – Shepherd’s Pie! You can also make this with shredded pork or ground beef – if you buy the pork chops at Costco that are really thick and cook them in a crock pot – use leftovers to shred and make this dish – it all tastes great and you always have leftovers for lunch.

  4. Tamara

    Okay – I had lots of spell errors in that last post but you get the idea – anyway, one more for you… have chicken for one meal and cook extra – cube up the uneatean chicken (you can also use rotisserie for this) – make casserole chicken enchiladas with the leftover chicken – take 6-8 medium flour tortillas or 4-6 large tortillas and cut in half and then make one inch strips with them – toss in a Pam sprayed casserole dish with the cubed chicken (I use 2-3 chicken breasts from Costco). On the stove mix in a can of cream of chicken soup, a can of mild green enchilada sauce, one can of milk, and a small can of diced green chilis – mix together until smooth and then pour over the tortilla strips and chicken and toss until covered with sauce – pat down with a spatula until smooth on top and cover with cheese – bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes – yum! Serve with sour cream and tortilla chips.

  5. Gina

    You’re such a spreadsheet geek!Good Job. I find myself at the store All. The. Time.Must get disciplined!

  6. mer@lifeat7000feet

    I loved reading this, Trish. I could learn from you about the recipe/ingredients spreadsheets–that is an excellent idea!

  7. Debbie

    you are my hero…and i want to see that menu…ASAP…I have a couple of easy recipes I can send you…they are faves around here. AS in I make them so much that I am now sick of them…

  8. Eryn

    I also love a menu plan, learned that from my lady friend Dee. She ROCKS at menu planning (or at least, she did when she taught Menu Night Delight!)

  9. Mom Taxi Julie

    Have you been to http://www.couponmom.com? It’s great! I used a similar site (the grocery game) for a long time but the coupon mom is free. MY favorites are anything Mexican!

  10. Homestay Mama

    OK, so I’m going to have to follow you closely here. Since I’ve retired, I’m on a strict budget, too. I know I’ve been spending way too much on food which is going to have to stop cuz I’ll be cooking for 3 homestay students starting January 31st!

  11. Brenda

    I always menu plan but every now and then I just rebel against my plan and don´t want to do it anymore. It is the best way to go,no doubt about it

  12. Ashley

    I really need to start doing this.

  13. The Aldridge's

    I love a good spreadsheet, I am looking forward to seeing more posts on that!!Cheryl

  14. blueviolet

    I found you at BATW and I’m amazed that people can be this organized. I’m so jealous!

  15. Dee

    Way to go girl! Menu planning is a great way to save money, time and stress. And it always makes me feel warm and fuzzy when I can have a thought out meal on the table for my family. Nothing brings family together better than a yummy dinner. I just love it when I’m center of attention at the dinner table. My family always pats me on the back then. I just soak up the love! To answer your comment on my blog–I’m not sure who said I was queen but I will claim to be menu planning princess:0) And even though I do accept the princess crown, there are days or even weeks that going out to dinner sound might nice and easy to me. I can’t meet this week. I still have sick kiddos and am finishing up the year end stuff for the biz and personal taxes. I’m available any time in February (except 2/5)Would love to learn your spreadsheet knowledge. Don’t forget to check out the MOMS recipe blog for great recipes. A lot of them are simple, proven and are labeled for time saving. As far as saving on meat. Some of my friends will plan out their meals pending the current week’s adds. Also, I have saved tremendously by purchasing half of a beef. I spent about $1.91 per pound on my ORGANIC, no pesticide/hormone meat. Perhaps you may want to go in on a beef together. Something to consider for later. I’m so proud of you for picking the eternal choice of finding ways to save so you can be home. It’s not easy but God will ALWAYS bless and provide. Our family and my life is testimony to that.

  16. Dee

    PS ….. my fingers get crazy! May the good Lord bless you, continue to provide for you, bring people in your path to encourage you, may you find pure joy in honor God in your role as a wonderful daughter, mom and wife.

  17. Mara

    I’ve been “planning” meals for the past five or so years…Not a total stickler to it, but I’m a planner, so it gives me peace knowing that I’ve got dinner options for the week….I;m afraid I”m a week to week planner!

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