Saturday, January 3, 2015

Monthly Meal Planning

Back in December I decided that I was tired of making multiple trips to the grocery store. It seemed like every visit resulted in us getting things we had no intentions of buying prior to our trip. Which means that we ended up spending more than we intended too.

Then eventually at some point during the month I would wonder, "Where did all of our money go?". I know where it went. Right to all those extra little things I felt like we needed. Impulse buys.

In an effort to save money and stop spending so much of our extra money I started making a meal plan and shopping once a month. I still go to the grocery store once a week for milk and fresh produce. The difference is now I go by myself with a very short list. There's no one with me asking for Oreos or "tiger chips" (Cheetos).


So on the the last day of every month I sit down and make a menu for the entire month. I only plan dinners. My husband takes leftovers for lunch and the kids and I will have something here. We'll either eat leftovers from dinner, a salad or something else quick and kid friendly like sandwiches. 

What I love about meal planning is it takes the guess work out of what we're eating everyday. What I dislike about meal planning is that I literally cook everyday except for the one or two days I schedule a dinner out or eating leftovers. Pushing through my exhaustion and laziness did help in a big way in December. We only ate out twice in the entire month of December. Once for our wedding anniversary and we drove through Chick-Fil-A one day while we were hanging out. To give you an idea of how much we use to eat out -- On any given week we would probably visit Chick-Fil-A for lunch at least 2-3 times. Resulting in about $15-$20 per trip and that would be on the low end. Whenever I get a salad it's more than that.

Needless to say that was about $60 a week that we were spending on eating out. Not good. Creating a meal plan helps me to see what we're eating too. I cook everything from scratch. Everyday. (the black beans do come from a can. Sue me.) I try to create a mix of the soul food my husband loves with healthier options that I need and fun foods that the kids like.

I'm still working on getting it down to a science. The relief that monthly meal planning has given me is life changing. No more random grocery store trips. 

Do you plan your family dinners for the month? Have any tips for me? 

18 comments:

  1. Love this!!!! I will definitely be using some of your meal ideas! Can you post your meal plan every month? LoL.

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    1. Aw thanks!! I have thought about sharing them monthly. Some of the meals are "repeat offenders", LOL!! Most of them are new to the month. For example, off the top of my head I know we had gumbo and white chicken chili last month. Both of those are absent from this month's menu. I know for a fact we had meatloaf last month. It was so good my husband requested again this month.

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  2. You have no idea how timely this post is for me!!! I'm determined to decrease my grocery budget and make better use of my time by planning meals. Unfortunately, my monthly meal planning skills are not great at this point. I went through all my cookbooks, made a list of the meals I'd like to make in general, and tried to plug them into a monthly calendar. It's just too random. I'm looking forward to more tips from you :-)

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    1. The first month I did it everything seemed so random. I just went with it and figured I'd keep trying it until the process became smoother. This month it was definitely not as hard as the first month. I find it easy to plug in my Sunday meals first and any special days we might be having. Just go for it. Using pinterest makes it easy. I actually end up trying many of the things I pin. You'll get the hang of it and will be saving money in no time! :-)

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  3. I usually plan for a week or two, knowing that we will eat out, but I do love your idea of planning for a whole month! I think I will try!

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    1. Awesome! Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. Google will NOT let me be great. My comment vanished *poof*

    Anywho...I was saying how I love this idea and have a million and one recipes on my pinterest boards and haven't attempted to make 1% of them LOL

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    1. LOL, Google be trippin'!!!! Pinterest gets me through the month. I've found some really great recipes up there.

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  5. This is perfect. The first question that I was going to ask on Instagram is if you still grocery shop once a week. I am sitting here RIGHT NOW to see if I can come up with something. LOL Do you shop at the wholesale stores too?

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    1. I don't shop at wholesale stores but I do still make weekly trips for fresh produce and milk. I'm thinking about getting a Costco membership but I'm afraid we won't use it that much. Good luck with your menu planning!

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  6. So this is pretty interesting because hubs and I just started dabbling in meal planning. We gave it a shot a while back but we feel off track. I find that planning meals saves TONS of money. Heck, in our household we were spending over 1500 bucks/month on FOOD! The sad thing is we don't eat out a lot, BUT we tend to stock our cabinets with lots of junk food for the kids (7 y/o girl and two teenage boys ), Hubs loves to experiment with new recipes and I LOVE FRESH PRODUCE which makes for some pretty expensive habits. I'm planning on posting my vision board soon, and you better believe meal planning is a part of it. I feel HORRIBLE about the mismanagement of our money, but I know in the end, its not too late, so I'm really looking forward to changing some things. Thanks for the confirmation and inspiration. Good luck on your journey.

    Many Blessings!

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    1. I agree, fresh produce can be so expensive. I go once a week to get the fresh items we need and that allows me to really see exactly how much we're spending on produce. It's never too late to start saving and getting on track with your finances. Don't beat yourself about it because we have all made money mistakes. Good luck to you in 2015!

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  7. I meal plan bi weekly and I find that it not only saves me money but a ton of time in the grocery store. I'm one of those people that will walk around in circles in the store so a dedicated list does me very well and I am usually very good at sticking to it.

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    1. That's great. I hope to get to a place where I'm disciplined enough to go twice a month and not go crazy in the store. The grocery store is my Target. I go in there with intentions and come out broke.

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  8. As I was reading this I immediately thought, what about fresh produce? There is no way I can shop once/month because I need the milk/produce/etc. to be fresh...then bam, you hit me with it! I currently shop once every two weeks using a list but I don't meal plan (just a list of meats, veggies, etc. and I come up with meals based on what I bought and what's in the pantry). I do have a set amount of CASH that I can spend and that's it. Meal planning seems so time consuming and what if you don't really want what's on the list that week?! But truth be told, I need to do it your way anyway. Thanks for this approach. I'm going to give it a try next month!

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    1. It does take time to do it. I normally sit down on the last day of every month and get it done. Once you have a couple months done you can borrow meals from each month so you don't have to start from scratch. Let me know if it works for you!

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Thank you for taking the time to chat with me!