Thursday, October 9, 2008

Meal planning

I've recently started writing down a weekly menu. People have recommended this idea to me in the past as a way to save money, but I was resistant.

When I did daycare in my home, I belonged to a food program that provided menus to use for my daycare kids. I HATED it. I did try to stick to them. I was religious about writing in my changes, but it was a total chore & often made doing my job more stressful. The food program claimed I would save money by sticking to their menu, but for me that was never the case. I was always running to the store to pick up things to fit the menu & of course a few extra things just because I was there.

The Lots of Kids Household board has convinced me to give it another try. I could never use one of those services that provides a menu for you, my family is just too picky. Instead, each week when I see the thread about everyone elses menu, I take stock of what is in the house and come up with a dinner menu for the week for my picky family. I do not use my menu to shop, my rule is that I must already have 95% of what is needed for a particular dinner or it doesn't go on the menu. I also allow myself to shift things from one day to another as needed & even make modifications if I just don't feel like whatever I have put on the menu for that day.

Here is the menu I came up with on Monday:
Monday...hamburger & rice (like a stir fry with no veggies)
Tuesday...baked chicken & baked potatoes
Wednesday...pulled pork
Friday...potluck for the new rector, don't know what I'm taking
Saturday...baked beans w/ground beef
Sunday...pancakes & sausage

Now for our reality so far....
Monday...hamburger & rice
Tuesday...baked beans w/ground beef (moved from Saturday)
Wednesday...chicken strips and baked potatoes (modified & moved from Tuesday)
Thursday...pulled pork (moved from Wednesday)
Friday...still don't know what I'm taking to the potluck
Saturday...Tacos (moved from Thursday)
Sunday...pancakes & sausage.

While I didn't stick to the original days, I did not throw in the towel & order pizza like I might have in the past. I also have only been to the store once this week & all I bought was bbq sauce, milk, bread & butter!!!! Maybe someday I will have it all together enough to actually make up a menu before going shopping & buy only the things needed for my menu. For now, I only buy meat that is on sale & stock up on it when the sales are really good. I buy staples that I know my family will eat with whatever is left & I do my best to limit my grocery store trips to not more than twice a month. I think it is helping financially, but prices are rising so quickly that I'm not getting the reward of "extra money" I had hoped for when I started this. It makes me shudder to think how far underwater we would be if I were still going to the grocery store every other day & buying whatever sounded good at the time regardless of whether it was on sale.


Mirz said...

Oh, I like this post. I really try to stick to my menu, but there are just days it doesn't happen. I'm glad you are showing how you can juggle things around a bit. What I find helpful is that I plan 2-weeks at a time, so sometimes I will grab a meal planned for the future. Though, last night I ended up at the store for milk and decided to pick up lunchmeat for quick sandwiches. Again, in "better" times I would have just ordered take-out!

Mirz said...

Oh, I wanted to add--keeping your grocery trips to a minimum is one of THE keys to controlling your food budget. I do my "big" shopping once every 2 weeks, and then do a "milk-run" on the alternate week. It has helped tremendously.