Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Meal Planning

In the spirit of thirftiness I've been trying to plan our meals better, ALOT of our money goes to last minute pizza or Chinese take out because I'm too burned out to even THINK of cooking. 
The Mr is a great cook BUT by the time he gets home, gets changed, plays a little with W and we discuss what we could have for dinner, it's just too LATE to be getting STARTED. 
Plus he's a to the letter recipe follower, and he takes his time, so my hungry pregnant self just ends up demanding a pizza!!
So I started doing a meal plan this for the first time ever in 5 years of being married! 
And I gotta say.... I love it already
I decided to sit down and plan the whole month of meals out. 
There ARE repeats, cuz let's face it, we know what we like, and awesome new recipes are hard to come by. If we didn't have spaghetti at least once a week I think my toddler might starve....seriously, it's the only dinner he will ALWAYS eat (ok that and PIZZA). 
This makes it super easy! 
I just plug in our faves, and maybe something i haven't made in a while, some seasonally appropriate things and BAM, we have a whole month of meals planned out.
Then I went shopping. 
And I shopped for just those things that we need to make those meals
(and obviously and other staples we needed). 
And Guess what? I came in UNDER budget! Woohoo! 
I decided to forgoe Aldi's just this once to see if I could go to just TWO other places, that both accept coupons and get what I need. And I DID
I took advantage of the Save A Lot 10 for $10 monthlong sale, and got several things that we were going to need. 
Not a thing in my cart was over $1 each, so I spent $19 and got at least 19 items.  
That's pretty DARN good!
Then I hit up shop rite, since they were having some decent sales this week. Nothing EARTH Shattering, but I was able to see things in the circular that I knew were components for my meals, grabbed a couple coupons and made out like a bandit! 
This goes to show you that you don't HAVE to be a crazy coupon lady to get what you need cheaply-just keep your eyes peeled and check for printable coupons. That's ALL i did to save money
I have a confession...I haven't bought a Sunday paper in MONTHS. My mom just gave me one of her inserts this week, and it's the first one I've had since FEBRUARY
I had no coupon stockpile to work with. I just printed product coupons and used them with a sale! Bazinga!

Next month I plan on taking a picture of every meal I make, and somewhat of a breakdown of cost. It won't be an exact cost since some things I already have and don't remember how much I spent on those items. But I do want to give you an idea of how to feed your family on a TIGHT budget. 
I have no qualms about sharing with you what I've set as our monthly food budget, because I KNOW it's low, and I KNOW it's totally doable. In fact-I'll tell you a little secret....sometimes we have moolah LEFTOVER at the end of the month.
Our month food budget (for groceries & produce together) is $150. That's IT.
And I can tell you that's it's plenty for us. If you buy the RIGHT things, and don't expect the eat steak every night it works out just fine!
My budget for my shopping trip two weeks ago was $50 for two weeks worth of meals...guess what? I stayed within that budget AND we still have plenty of food for meals for the rest of the month. Right now we just need the basic staples that get used up like eggs, produce and bread to get us through to the end of the month! 
So don't be afraid to sit down and plan out your meals-it seems intimidating at first...but it does wonders for your wallet!

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