Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Once a month meal planning January 2013

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.

It is stressful trying to plan all the meals-even with a wealth of pintrest and tagged recipes.  I like everything to fit neatly where it's supposed to and that's a hard task when you're planning a month in advance.  But the challenge and the payoff has been worth it so I'm willing to continue sticking to it.

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