Thursday, February 21, 2013

Saving By Meal Planning

I'm not usually one to make New Year's resolutions, which is why I'm sharing this now and not two months ago. With us having to move twice this year along with traveling around the country for various other reasons, we're trying to save as much money as possible this year. Deployment made saving easier since there was extra money coming in and one less person in the house. Now that Hubster is back, there's no tax free income and no hazardous duty/family separation/etc. pay. In the past month I've taken many recommendations from other blogs to cut spending here and there.

Honestly, the biggest change in recent spending has come from grocery shopping. I went from spending $175ish weekly on just the girls and I, to roughly $150 for the four of us. Meal planning has made all of the difference. Before I head to the grocery store now, I plan a complete menu for the week and use my grocery checklist to buy exactly what I need. In the past I would go in blindly and pick up a bunch of random items in hopes of being able to put them together in the form of some sort of meal. This lead to many impulse purchases and tons of wasted food. Occasionally, I even had to go to the grocery store more than once a week which is a pain because a) I hate going to the grocery store, and b) more opportunities to spend money on crap I don't need.

When it comes to meal planning and shopping, I've found that the most difficult part is really just deciding what to put on the menu. Pinterest has been a lifesaver for dinner ideas! Especially CrockPot recipes! I go to Pinterest when I really have no idea where to start. I've also gotten lucky that some of my blog friends are fantastic cooks, so occasionally I steal their recipes. As a last resort, I use my own ideas and dishes that I know we enjoy. Keep in mind my memory is limited to only a few meals that I would rather not repeat week after week after week.

There are also of meal planning blogs and websites out there, however I find it hard to stick with those because they often have something like a sandwich or bowl of soup as their meal. They are a good starting place to pluck your favorite dishes out of though! I try to keep each recipe relatively simple. I don't like to go overboard with tons of ingredients or weird stuff that's hard to find. I generally dumb down the recipes that I find anyway. Everything I make is child friendly since both girls eat exactly what we're eating. I try to be relatively healthy as well, but from time to time stuff like BBQ wings sneak onto the list.

Once the weekly menu is put together, the shopping list is easy. I check what we already have in the house and then check what I need on my shopping list. The key to shopping with a list is to only buy what's on the the list. I use this pad from the Container Store. You could probably also search Pinterest for free printables.

When I meal plan, I really only plan for dinner for seven days, but my shopping list reflects breakfast and lunch. Normally lunch is left overs from the night before, or something simple such as a sandwich or light pasta. Breakfast can be anything from cereal to waffles or toast.

To hold myself accountable in the future (and maybe help you guys out), I'll be posting my weekly meal plan and grocery checklist each Monday before I go grocery shopping. Meal Planning Mondays! Woot!

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1 comment:

  1. I absolutely LOVE meal planning, it has saved us soooo much money! I will go through our pantry on Sunday night and see what we already have and then plan from there. It has been amazing. :)


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