Sunday, January 10, 2010

Meal Plan = Save Money

I'm beginning to understand how meal planning can save money.

  • I shop less often (out of the store = no impulse buying)
  • I buy less
    • instead of buying whatever I might need, I buy only what I know I'll need
    • with a meal plan, I'm forced to learn how to portion better. When I portion better, I waste less.

Meal planning, I notice, requires some kind of technique. No, I don't have one yet, but I did learn something. I sat down to make my schedule of meals for the upcoming two weeks. I began listing our favorite meals .. then I realized "I'm doing this backwards!"

I went to the cupboards and freezer and listed what meals I could make from what I had. A quick peek through everything, and I had a list of 40 suppers, 8 lunches, and 5 variations of breakfast. That's nearly a month of eating! The only thing I would need to buy would be lettuce for accompanying salads. Wow.

Here's the Supper list:

3 - Pork Chops, Potatoes, Corn
5 - Chicken Noodle Soup, Biscuits or Buns
3 - Chicken Fettucinni Alfredo, Ceasar Salad, Garlic Bread
3 - Pizza
4 - Potato Soup, Biscuits, Salad
3 - Chicken, Stuffing, Potatoes, Carrots
2 - Holubshi, Potatoes, Corn
2 - Sloppy Joes, Rice
2 - Spaghetti & Meatsauce, Ceasar Salad, Garlic Bread
1 - Lasagne, Salad
6 - Beef Stew, Bread
6 - Steak, Baked Potatoes, Peas / Carrots

Suppers = 40

Here's the Lunch list:

5 - Chicken Salad Sandwich
2 - Macaroni & Cheese
8 - Tuna Sandwiches
2 - Tuna Noodle Casserole
1 - Chicken Nuggets
2 - Ham & Cheese Crackers
4 - Tomato Soup with Soda Crackers

Lunch = 24 (plus we can usually have leftovers for lunch)

Here's the Breakfast list (loosely estimated):

4 - Waffles, strawberries
10 - Oatmeal
4 - Omelette
10 - Cereal
5 - Pancakes

Breakfast (loose estimate) = 33

Hmm. 40 Suppers, 24 lunches and 33 breakfasts, and all I really had to buy was salad, milk, eggs and bread. I had no idea there was so much food in our house!

At this point you may be wondering, "Yes, but what about when you depleat your supply? How do you maintain a low grocery budget THEN?" I'm with you. I wondered too. Then I was reassured by Life As Mom's post, "But What if I Can't Refill My Pantry?".

Anyway, Week 1 of the menu plan saw some changes, mostly because I do not yet portion properly. But, I'm hopeful :)

Have any tips on how menu planning has worked for you? What do you do? I'd love to learn from your experience ... :)

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