Well this is my second attempt at once a month meal planning. In addition, I did a once a month Walmart shopping trip. To clarify, a "Walmart" trip is generic for stocking up on household things. Toilet paper, cleaning products, etc. On my own I came up with a "master" list. I am not tech savy so I can't link the PDF or anything. But what I did to create the list was walk through the house and make note of anything that fit on the list. For example, the bathroom gave me a lot to put on the list-toilet paper, toothpaste, floss, etc. Then when it's time to do the once a month trip, I go through the list and mark what we'll need that month.
All in all the January trip went quite well! The stats were that I spent about $150 on groceries (again, this is simply for ingredients for the monthly recipes as well as anything extra I could think of. It is not an all inclusive trip.) And I spent about $110 at Walmart. My personal goal is to spend a total of $800 a month on groceries, Walmart items and gas. (Only my vehicle, not John's too.) This is a number I came up with that works for our family-your number will be different of course. Once I totaled my monthly trips and subtracted it from $800 I had $135 to spend each week. This includes gas and any extras I'd need each week. (Milk, fresh produce, the ketchup I forgot on the big shopping trip, etc.) If I'm only running into the store to get 5 things I'm a lot less likely to stray from the list then if I'm running in for 30 things.
So far the month is going well and I can tell it's going well because for 3 months prior to this I had tried spending only $200 a week on groceries, gas, and Walmart. I went over every single week. Usually by $20-$30. However, this is the first time that I've actually come under each week! Granted it's only pennies, but still-I'm under budget for the first time since trying to stick to a budget!
So far this month one of the bigger things I've learned is that meals
can be moved around. Since I already have all the ingredients I can
move them as I see fit. A birthday party popped up on a day that I had
planned to spend more time in the kitchen. Easy peasy, I just swapped a
slow cooker meal instead. What I do to keep track is cross off in
highlighter what I've already cooked. Then I know what's still
available to cook on any given day. I also penciled in 2 meals that I
could double for the freezer. Each month I have freezer meals I can
pull from-usually 2 or 3 a month, plus days for left overs plus a pizza
night every friday. So in the end I'm only cooking a meal 4-5x a week.
Not bad. In case you wanted to see-here's the menu for this month.