Blake took over the bill-paying (thank God), which helped me tremendously. Even though I get some sort of sick joy out of writing checks and putting stamps on envelopes (no, seriously, I LOVE it), trying to keep up with it was too much for me. So, I was left mostly with the tremendous tasks of planning for housework and dinners. Since tomorrow is Wednesday and I will be making our meal plan for next week, I want to share how I do it and how I stay in a reasonable budget.
*I shop at Publix for our weekly groceries. The meal plan is for Sunday through Saturday, but I make the plan on Wednesday or Thursday based on Publix's weekly sale ad. I sometimes also buy groceries at Target, but mostly just from Publix! I try to only buy what we will actually need for the upcoming week. However, there are things I almost always buy when they go on sale regardless of whether or not I plan to use them in the upcoming week - Old El Paso taco kits (they are B1G1 frequently), condiments, salad dressing, cereal/oatmeal, Tostito's, pickles (weird, I know), olive oil, and pasta sauce. Those are staples I like to keep on hand, so I usually grab them when they're on sale.
*When I make a list, I try to think about what I can buy in bulk and spread out. For instance, if pasta is B1G1, I might stock up on pasta and we'll have it a few nights within a couple of weeks. Or if I buy a 5 pound bag of potatoes, well... I need to think of ways to try to use those 5 poudns before the potatoes start growing weird things!
*Honestly I am not 100% sure how much we spend per month on food. We include household items in our "grocery" budget, so we keep all of that around $350-400 a month. We are working on figuring out exactly how much is spent solely on food, but I would venture to guess it's around $275-300. We eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner at home the majority of the month so I think that's a reasonable amount for two grown people. I also have not been couponing much lately, but plan to start back now that I am not in Zombie/Newborn-Land anymore!
So here's how the plan happens:
1. Think about our schedule for the upcoming week and make note of any nights we might not be eating dinner at home or nights I won't have time to cook (Wednesday nights are for sure a no-cooking night and usually one other night during the week or weekend.)
2. Look at what we have in the pantry and fridge, trying to pay attention to anything that might be expiring soon.
3. Look at the Publix weekly sale ad on their website on Wednesday. I look through the ad once just to see what all is on sale. As I look, I am coming up with ideas of what to cook keeping in mind what I already have in the pantry.
4. Make a table of what meals I plan to make based on what I have in my pantry and what is on sale. I list out the ingredients. If there is an online recipe, I copy & paste the link on the table Sample... ignore the fact that it doesn't fit on the page. I have tried to re-format it like six times and now I just don't care:
Poppyseed chicken and rice; roasted broccoli
1 lb chicken; 1 can cream of chicken; Worcestershire sauce; 2 head broccoli; lemon juice; garlic
CP BBQ Pork; green beans and potatoes
2-4 pork chops; BBQ sauce; fresh green beans; small potatoes; French Onion or Onion Soup mix
Creamy chicken Florentine; roasted zucchini
1 lb chicken; frozen spinach; garlic; flour; lemon juice; chicken broth; oregano; 1 c cottage cheese; parmasean cheese; pasta spirals; 2 zucchini
Beef tacos; black beans and Rotel
Old El Paso taco kit; can of black beans; can of Rotel; shredded cheese; sour cream
Grilled hamburgers (grill or George Foreman); potato salad; roasted squash
1 lb hamburger meat; seasoning; 1 lb New Potatoes; mayo; mustard; 2 eggs; pickle relish; paprika; squash
Biscuits; bacon; eggs; shredded cheese
*FFYS = Fend For Yourself
*BFD = Breakfast For Dinner
5. I highlight the ingredients I need to purchase and make my list using Publix's weekly ad and grocery list feature. Not everything I purchase is on sale, so I type it in.
6. Go grocery shopping! Lately, Blake has been the one to actually go to the grocery store. I am so grateful for his help! My goal is to start getting up early on Saturday mornings and go during Maleah's early morning nap, but I haven't quite done that yet!
7. Put the meal plan on the dry erase board on our fridge. I try to look at it each morning to make sure I have everything ready - thaw out meat, veggies still edible, etc.
And voila! We have a meal plan!!
Now, if ever there is a time that something comes up and we aren't able to follow the plan, I just do a little rearranging. I usually try to just bump a meal to the next week. I also usually have at least one meal that has some non-perishable ingredients per week (or items in the freezer or something), so I can make a switch if needed.
Anyway, our little meal plan works pretty well for us. Hopefully I can get back to couponing next month and keep better track of how much we are spending!