Monday, August 12, 2013

Meal planning and penny pinching shall commence.

I have been lazy as far as meal planning goes for quite sometime. Thankfully, I have an arsenal of great excuses (moving, vacation, toilets, trucks, etc). The irony here is that all of my excuses are the exact reason I have to get back to doing it. The fact of the matter is, while I spend maybe a full 30 minutes of my day on Sunday to plan a menu, make a shopping list, and look for coupons- it saves me a LOT. Not just money but it also saves me time during the week.

I get a lot of questions on how do I do this? How in the hell do you plan a menu and be organized? It really isn't that hard. I feel like my system is fairly easy. I open a Word document (or you can use your regular calendar- whatever works for you), and I figure out how many days I'm planning for. I've been on a two week kick because my refrigerator is smaller so I'm short on fridge space. You have two options: assign a meal to a particular day, or just plan out 14 meals and draw one out each day and that's what you have. I also rely heavily on my crockpot which is nice because I prep it the night before and it cooks the entire day when we're gone. I save more involved meals (that require multiple pots, lots of ingredients, etc) for the weekends or when I'm not working. Here's the plan for the next 13 days:

Tortellini salad and hamburgers
Slow cooker taco chicken bowls
Grilled hot dogs, potato wedges, corn on the cob
One pot chicken spaghetti with Parmesan knots
Sandwiches and home made chicken noodle soup
Matt's birthday- dinner out
Cranberry BBQ chicken with rice, peas
Crockpot sloppy joes, caesar BLT pasta salad
Chicken fajitas
Grilled steak, garden salad, shrimp with/spicy garlic sauce

I set a goal to make at least 5 new meals in a 2 week span. I am always looking to widen our selection of meals.

When I decide on a meal, I immediately add the ingredients I need to my master list, that way I don't miss anything. Once I get a final list of everything I will need, I go to my pantry and cross off the stuff I already have on hand. Then, because I am OCD and hate grocery shopping and my goal is to get in and out in 30 minutes or less- I organize all of my ingredients by the department (dairy, produce, meat, aisles). THEN I go through my grocery store ad, pull out the coupons I need. I also check online to see what I can find for coupons.

Then I shop.

All of the ingredients for this menu came to $144 and some change. Not bad. I did buy an extra gallon of milk and an extra loaf of bread to freeze because they were on sale. I also bought granola bars, popsicles, and ice tea mix.

What do I do for lunches? We make sandwiches or leftovers. What do I do for breakfast? Cereal. Sometimes if waffles go on sale, we have those. I also make pancakes and freeze them which we just heat up in the microwave and they are just fine. But for the most part- we have cereal, toast and yogurt.

It's hard to get yourself started but I swear- once you do it and see how much money you save by not stopping at the grocery store several times a week, and how much less stress you feel about figuring out a dinner on a whim, you'll be won over.



Unknown said...

My problem is that I like lots of fresh produce, and it goes bad...way too quickly to do a 2 weeks list. Actually my other problem is that, right now, I'm super lazy and pregnant and eat whatever sounds good :-/

Unknown said...

See I try and do this but this shit is really hard when you're just one person. I know about freezing things, but I'm NEVER in the mood for anything. Like seriously. Ever since I've committed to losing weight eating just seems like a bother. Or cooking rather. It's not that I don't like food, I love it. I just hate dirtying dishes because I'm lazy about putting them in the dishwasher or hand washing them.

Sometimes I'll be in the mood for tacos, but only for like half the package of ground meat. So I make it, refrigerate the rest of the taco meat and forget about it/am not craving it for weeks and by then it's gone bad (as are the veggies and stuff to put it them).

Also, I love the shit out of my crockpot. But I have no motivation to bust it out mid-summer, and this is the hottest month in Memphis. Come fall/winter that's all I really use, but it's hard.

I've got car/renters insurance and a class I need to pay for coming up, so I'm stepping back up my coupon game.

♥ Drazil ♥ said...

I do this too - only a week at a time...then I only get the ingredients needed for the meals. It works if I just keep at it. I get lazy..and slack off.

Steff said...

So the problem I have is that I'll plan out everything and buy everything, but then one day I'll be like, 'Mmm, shrimp pesto sounds good. I MUST HAVE IT!' Then i end up going to the store for ingredients. Do you ever feel like that, or do you just force yourself to eat what's planned? That only really happens when I'm really hungry, so I guess I could just try not to be hungry so often haha

middle child said...

I am trying to get my husband to stick with a menu like we used to but he changes everything around and tells me how to cook something .....well let's just say I really don't give a shit right now.
I am just looking for the perfect recipe that contains arsenic.

Shannon @ Bungalow960 said...

I go in meal planning spurts. I'm really good for a month and then I fall off the wagon hard. My main issue is that we eat mostly organic meat because of my lack of gallbladder (it's super finicky about chemicals and hormones), and organic meat spoils so quickly. So I'm always back at the grocery store within days.

Tamara said...

I keep telling myself to do this and that it will make it so much easier but then I don't and hate myself for it.
You actually put it into words that make it easier on my brain, so I'm totally opening a word document right now. Fingers crossed I actually do it. Ha!