Thursday, March 10, 2011

Meal Planning 101

Let's talk meal planning.
One of the biggest places in our budget to overspend is in our grocery budget.
I learned  many years ago the biggest asset in winning in the area of grocery shopping is a PLAN!

I think coupons are great and use them when I can, however they are lots of work and require even more planning.  I have also noticed that when the kids get sick or we are faced with a very busy or stressful time in our lives..the couponing gets left behind and we are left discouraged. Not to mention how many times we forget them either at home or in our purse ;)

Planning is still work, yet once you get started it gets easier every grocery visit.
I plan two weeks worth of meals. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Snacks.
I head to the grocery twice a month.  This doesn't mean you won't EVER see me at the store on an off week.  Things do come up such as needing cough medicine and Kleenex or a bag of M&M's :)

How do you do it?
First, I have a Master List of meals.
I have 12 weeks worth of meals typed up and ready to use.
Once it is time to plan I sit down with a piece of paper and choose what I want from my lists.
Once I try a new recipe and enjoy it, I add it to the lists.
I also try to keep summer meals/winter meals separate...


Wed: Eggs, Sausage/ Cheese Quesadillas/ Salmon, Rice Pilaf, Broccoli
Thur: Muffins/ PB&J/ Roast Chicken, Potatoes, Green Beans
Fri: Eggs, Turkey Bacon/ Fruit Smoothies/ White Chili & Homemade Bread
Sat: Pancakes, Sausage/ Panini Sandwiches/ Tomato Soup, Grilled Cheese
Sun: Cinnamon Rolls/ Bob Evans/ BBQ Chicken Cheesy Potatoes, Veggies
Mon: Eggs, Sausage/ Turkey Roll-ups/ BBQ Chicken Sandwiches, Baked Fries
and so on...
(you can also see I try to turn one meal into Roast Chicken leftovers into White Chili)

Once I have my meals planned. I grab my grocery list and start writing down what I need.
I also write down things I run out/low of during the week, such as laundry soap ect.

That's it!  We spend about $200.00-$220.00 per two week visit.
That is food, drinks, toiletries, cat/dog food.
That's around $400.00-$440.00 for a family of four for 1 month.
According to the USDA the average family of four "thrifty" is $524 and "liberal $1014.
Also at the average family of four spends $600.00 a month adding $20.00 for a dog.
*It is worth mentioning we purchase our own beef and pork. We help with the butchering and packaging.
A 1/4 of beef and hog lasts us a year.  The average cost would be about $33.00 per month.*
So, we are doing well below the average!

I do most of my shopping at Aldi and Meijer.
Meal planning and smart shopping are just one of the ways we make living on one income work.
I am blessed to be home with my children everyday, and meal planning is a big part of that!
Hope you will be encouraged and find this helpful!!

Blessings~Carla <><

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