So, for the past couple of weeks, usually on a Saturday afternoon, hubby and I have sat down and made a for-real meal plan for the week. I have tried meal-planning before, but my hubby wasn’t exactly ‘with it’ at the time, so I’d make a plan based on what I wanted, then hubby would suggest something, or he’d offer to cook or take me out to eat, and the meal plan went out the window. It’s not his fault, we just weren’t working together. Now, we’re sick of being ‘stumped’ about what to have for supper when 5 p.m. rolls around – or having partial meals everywhere, like a meat but no side dish, or a side dish idea but no meat. So we’re meal planning.
We start with thinking about what we have in the house – loads of pasta? Potatoes need eating? Relative gave us a ham? – and make them into the ‘bones’ of the plan, and then work out what we’ll need to buy to make meals out of them. This works for our budget, because we’re using the never-ending supplies in our cupboards. Right now we have about 9 jars left of pasta sauce, so we’re having a pasta dishes every week – and using the sauce on pizza, etc.
Once we have the meals planned out, we organise them according to the perishables. So, if we have a sloppy Joe night, and a burger night, they should be next to each other so that we only have to buy/use buns & meat once. If one was on Sunday and the other was the next Friday, the buns and meat would go all gross in that time.
We’ve also discovered that leftovers don’t really work for us all the time, so we are trying to make meals without having loads left over. Having leftovers usually means we end up eating them for lunch (a full dinner-sized portion of food) and then either having to make another meal later that night, or have sandwiches for supper. We’re being kind to our waistlines if we keep leftovers out of the picture.
Our food budget for the month has kept steady at a lean $200, and when we go shopping on Saturdays for the following week’s meals, we spend anywhere between $25-45 (less if we have coupons). That leaves us with a little bit extra to go on milk-and-egg runs, because we’ve also discovered that you can’t plot shopping trips around when you’ll run out of those things, because it’s utterly unpredictable.