Meal Planning 101

"budget", "food", "meal planning", "menu", "recipes"Liz LuscombComment
I figured I would write how I plan our meals.  I know I've shared our weekly menu's before, however, I never documented the process.

If you're wondering why I choose to share this, the answer is very simple.  

I used to never budget for groceries and I never made a grocery list.  Once my family grew and my budget shrank, I relied on trial and error in order to find what works best for my family through budgeting, making lists, and meal plans.  By sharing my process, I feel like I can help others.

Alright.  On to step one.  The most important thing is to know your budget.  Every budget is different.  Whenever I first set our budget, it was way to low.  We found ourselves out of food days before pay day.  We also spent a lot of time running back and forth to the store for goodies to satisfy a sweet tooth, etc.

Our budget is $200 every two weeks.  (We are a family of five.)  Usually, I can stay a little under, however, we moved to a new state and prices here are a little higher on most of the food staples.  

Now that you have a budget in mind, the next step will be to create a menu.  I make a numbered list for 14 dinners.  I also make a category for breakfast, lunch, and sides.

Here is one of my meal plans.

 Next, I make  the grocery list.  I look to see what I already have in my pantry and then go from there.  I shop at 3 different stores: Sam's Club, Aldi, and Wal-Mart.  I find that I can buy most of what we need from these three and stay within the budget.

My list usually spills onto two pages.  I also purchase non-food items along with the groceries, which I set aside additional money for.

For additional savings, you may want to price match and use any coupons that match up to your list.  Also, I had roast on my menu.  While I was at the store, pork chops were on sale, so I purchased those instead of the roast which was twice the cost of the chops.  I do this for other items on my list as well.

My total estimate for this shopping trip was $206.82

My ACTUAL total cost for food items only were, $203.23

My NON-FOOD items cost me $57.75
This included a xmas gift, toilet paper, tissues, paper towels, and two boxes of diapers.