Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Meal Planning Week 1


Over this summer, with me feeling TERRIBLE because of this pregnancy and the move, I have been pretty my the worst home maker ever. My house was never clean, unless people were coming over, and I didn't make a meal that took more than 6 minutes of prep. We spent SO much money on groceries and eating out this summer... I'm not even going to write how much we actually spent because it is just embarrassing. 

From what I can gather from the 5 or 10 minutes I spent on Google trying to research, I found that the average family of 4 last year in the States, two adults and two young kids, spends between $500 and $1200 on groceries per month. Since the dollar is basically on par and our eating habits are so similar to the States in Canada, I'm going with these numbers. According to last years USDA Food Plans I should be spending $537.90 for a thrifty plan and $1045.70 for a liberal plan. 

My budget on the app on my phone has been set to $500 for groceries since I started budgeting. I have made that budget in the past... not this summer. I think we can cut that number down though too with meal planning and learning sales. I don't know how to sale shop at all yet. That is step two. Meal planning is step one. When I meal plan, I generally make my budget. I have never actually crazy, low-cost meal planned before though. I decided that September was a good start off point! 

So, last week I made a plan for 13 meals, mostly low-cost and all easy! I chose to do a 2 week plan because I just don't have the time or energy to go shopping weekly. I printed out all the meals with recipes and directions if needed and posted them on my fridge. I went shopping and spent $149. I stuck to the list pretty closely but did pick up a few easy quick meals and snacks... like a frozen lasagna, some chips and sherbert.

I was a little unsure of how much of some things to buy. For example I have no idea how much milk we go through in a 2 week people or how much sour cream we would need for tacos and quesdillas. I figure I might need to get Jon to grab a few things on his way home from work once or twice in the next 2 weeks.

Wednesday I made two Chicken Cauliflower casseroles. One for that night and one for the freezer. We eat it over rice that I have a bunch of. Delicious! Not the cheapest meal but I had cauliflower that needed to be used and a flat of mushroom soup on hand.

Thursday I made Sweet Potatoe Quesidillas. This is also a meal that I had all the supplies from previous shops. Tortillas were in the freezer and the sweet potatoes had to be used.

On Friday I had a whole fryer chicken in the freezer that needed to be used so I made a herb roasted chicken that had been marinating since the night before in the slow cooker over potatoes and carrots. I whole chicken's are pretty cheap to buy.

Saturday was a leftover day! No cooking!

Sunday we had an easy meal day... Jon was cooking :) He chose Chicken Salad Wraps. It was made with canned chicken which I was hesitant about but it was really cheap. I gave it a shot and it was really yummy! The kids even liked it :)

Monday I made another family favourite, Black Bean and Beef Taco Salad. Super easy and yummy! At the same time I did all the prep for two simple Shepherds Pies, everything but the potatoes. I froze one and left one in the fridge for Jon to finish for Tuesday when I wasn't going to be home most of the day.

Tuesday, today, Jon finished the potatoes for the Shepherd's Pie!

Tomorrow is going to be another leftover meal day! No cooking!

So far, week one of meal planning is right on target! I have another week to go to see if these meals and groceries last us. Friday is the MCC Fair that we usually go out for a Vereniki dinner for, so that will be our one big eat out meal in the two week period!

I'm excited about this plan and can actually see it working, as long as I am diligent! But could I actually cut our groceries to under $300 a month! I'm going to just go along with this meal planning until I feel really on top of it before I start sale following and possibly even couponing! My boss needs to teach me about couponing... her last two weekly shopping trips cost her $0.19 and $0.25. How the heck did she do that!??!

3 comments:

Jaclyn_Rose said...

That's awesome! Your meals are sooo different than mine! Haha, like I said in my blog post, I really need to expand!

LeAnna et David said...

looks good! i'm pleased because I'm relatively on budget according to your USDA link for a low-cost plan. Hurrah! I do weekly meal planning--I do it weekly because in Canada we didn't have a car, and here our fridge is half the size of a 'north american fridge' so I can't buy more than a week at a time anyway. My mum seemed to do it by the month and then by fresh things in between. Sale shopping it made sense to buy huge joints of meat/family packs and freeze them so we always had the beginnings of meals in the house.

One thing that I do is set the amount I want to spend on groceries each week (so in Canada it was always $100 max). If I go over I make a note of it and try to take the money off the following week (not that this has been working well in the UK with the growing rate of inflation...I'm about two week's worth 'in debt' on the grocery tally). If I save money I can put it aside and use it for something particularly delectable. I also tally up my grocery lists in advance, as a rough estimate, to see if I'm likely to go over or if I need to disregard certain luxuries. And now I've been shopping online, so I get a store-estimate before I checkout. But doing it by hand takes time and I can't imagine I'd bother with that in your case!

Laura said...

Katie, I'd love to learn more about your plan, your recipes, and where you found your resources! I am all for a delicious low cost nutritious plan... are you able to share?