Saving Money by Simplifying Meal Planning
Guest post from Carrie of Wholesome Womanhood
Menu planning and figuring out the best grocery deal scenarios has always been one of my favorite things to do. On Tuesdays, my grocery ads come in the mail and my husband always comes in, holding the ads, with a smile on his face, knowing that I’m about to do one of my favorite weekly activities: peruse the ads looking for good deals.
Last October, I posted one of my weekly meal plans on our blog and a friend commented asking some questions, including how much I spent on groceries. We emailed back and forth a couple of times and during the conversation, something she said sparked an idea in my mind.
Why did I have to plan so much variety in my menus?
We already had weekly pizza night. Sunday mornings we make pancakes and Fridays are waffle mornings. My family loved knowing they would be eating their favorite meals every week. I realized that the variety wasn’t for my family–it was for me. And when I really stopped to think about it, I realized that making a different meal every single night was actually adding a lot of stress in my life. So in November I decided to try an experiment.
We spend $250 a month on groceries, but in the month of November, I focused on planning meals that were meatless or used chicken, since chicken is regularly on sale for $0.99/pound or less. I planned one week’s worth of meals and repeated those same seven meals throughout the month.
My goal? Spend $100 on our monthly meal plan. That left me $150 for our Thanksgiving meal and some wiggle room to stock up on any good deals that might come up during the month.
November was a tough month! My family isn’t big on meatless meals and they do like an occasional dinner with ground beef; but we stuck with it. I kept our monthly expenses around $100, spent $75 on our Thanksgiving dinner and stocked up on good deals with the rest. I was able to stock up on ground beef when it was $1.99 a pound, alfredo sauce when it was $1a jar, and canned beans.
In December I decided to do it again, only this time I was able to actually plan meals I knew my family would enjoy, using the items I had stocked up on in November. Ground beef and pasta. Chili, Pork Loin and Chicken Alfredo. I was able to once again keep the cost of our monthly meals down and pay for our Christmas dinner and stock up on items for our January meals all while staying within our $250 budget.
It worked out so well, that I decided to do it again in January, although at the beginning of the month I realized my freezer and pantry were full! So I’m planning simple meals using what I have in the cupboard.
A weekly rotating menu simplifies my life and allows me to buy good deals each week, which will in turn give us some variety in next’s month rotating meal plan.
Carrie is a stay at home wife and mother. She loves to learn new ways to take care of her family while spending less money. She blogs with her twin sister at Wholesome Womanhood.
Subscribe for free email updates from Money Saving Mom® and get my Guide to Freezer Cooking for free!
NEXT POST: Do-It-Yourself: Homemade Baked Doughnuts