Tuesday, February 22, 2011

meal planning.

I have always had a pretty laid back attitude towards grocery shopping, and meal planning (or lack there of).  I would check my bank account balance, and figure out roughly how much I could afford to spend, and then go to town.  Usually trying to keep in mind meals, but really just throwing in what sounds good.  I usually ended up with organic milk, organic eggs, some fruit, a loaf of wheat bread, and fun drinks & snacks from the natural section.  We didn't really put "bad" things in our cart, just not the kinds of things that would keep us fed on groceries alone.  I would always, always, every day, spend tip money on meals.  I'd eat at Subway or Panera for lunch every day, then we would get Quiznos or order pizza, or swing by the grocery store again for an impromptu meal.
I'm starting to realize how expensive this all is.  Before, we would spend up to $200 a trip at the grocery store, but we went maybe twice a month.  And we would have to subsidize. Now, we are going to write down breakfast, lunch, and dinner for the whole week (figuring in when we don't have to cook because of late work nights or whatever), and taking note of when we can use leftovers for lunches.  I can't believe I have been spending so much on my lunches for years!  I mean, I knew $10 for a salad and an iced tea was steep, but I kept on doing it day after day.  I guess I figured that since I was at work, and working hard for my tips, I could spend them on myself at lunch guilt free.  Plus, it was convenient.  Convenience rules.  A lot.
But no more.  This week my girls and I sat down, and came up with a list of acceptable foods that were healthy & yummy (breakfast, lunch, and dinner).  Then came up with meals for the week, based on our list.  I circled the meals we would have from each category, and then bought the groceries we would need (that we didn't already have on hand) to make those meals.  I was proud to find myself doing things like buying a block of cheese to shred, because it saves a dollar.  Silly.  But it all adds up.
It feels really good to be more in control of our spending habits.  It feels good to have that peace of mind, knowing what we are going to eat.  For some reason, I always found it SO stressful trying to come up with what we were going to eat for dinner each night.  It always fell on me to make the decision, we usually couldn't all agree, and it was time consuming & expensive.  Sigh.  So it's really relaxing to know that the supplies are already in my kitchen, we don't have to go anywhere or spend more money, and no one can complain because we chose the meals together. Peace on Earth.
Here are the steps I will take to make this goal a success:
  • make a list
  • bring my lunch to work
  • make the girls lunches (they actually like to make their own!)
  • buy only what's on our list
  • stay withing budget
I can't wait!!!!!


LunieBin said...

Hey Nicole! Thank you for the birthday wishes....It is hard to believe that I am going to be 35 tomorrow......I am hoping to start crossing off my "goals" for the next year....It is always exciting to start fresh......I read your post about meal planning...I find that if I dont plan for the week we end up eating terribly.......So, every Sunday I sit down down and plan meals for the week..make my list abd grocery shop..It works great.....I love feeling organized and ready.....One of the things I am most looking forward to is writing to you again..I miss it...I miss sending you packages and just miss your company....I will write you a letter this weekend and get it out to you.......

Jamie said...

this is EXACTLY what I do and for almost the exact same reasons as you. Every Sunday I make a list of what I am going to eat for the week, breakfast, lunch and dinner. I check to see what ingredients I have or need and make my grocery list. I grocery shop on Mondays after work. I know exactly how much I can spend and I have a calculator with me so I stay in budget. This also helps in case there is something extra I forgot (batteries, sponges, etc.) or something extra I want (cookies, a candle, etc.) Just like you said, it is amazing and so stress free knowing what you will be eating each night AND knowing that you are saving money!