The Objective: Save $ and trips to the grocery store.
The Plan: Create weekly meal plan
How to: It's as simple as grabbing your recipe books and sitting down with a pen and paper and writing down what your going to have for dinner each day. To make life easier here are some things I do.
1) Designate certain days of the week for certain meals or types of food. We always have homemade pizza on Fridays and now I am starting Soup Sundays. You can do this for other days. For instance, we have church on Wednesdays so I usually make a casserole on Wednesdays so that it is quick and easy and yummy. A certain friend of mine always makes spaghetti on Sundays because that's what her mama did. Don't be afraid to jazz it up! If you are a creative type and like trying new things allocate one of the days to trying a new recipe out you found on pinterest. If you do a certain type of food on a day make it different every time.
2) Create a meal plan based on what's on sale. You have to do a little research on this. For instance, I knew that hams where going to be on sale during Easter time. So I bought this giant ham for Jesse and I, I knew I could make at least 4 meals off of one ham. Safeway does a really good job of letting you know what's on sale (check online) and often has coupons in the Sunday paper and in store coupons, as well as using your member card. Here is a Safeway hint: Often I will make my meal plan first, then go to Safeway to the clearance meat section and make minor adjustments if there is a specific cut of meat that is 30-70% off. I have talked to the butcher and there is nothing wrong with the meat they can only have meat on the shelf for a certain amount of days, they just suggest freezing it immediately when you get home. Here where I live they have 12 hour sales at Roseurs and Super 1, if it is a 12 hour meat sale...get on it!
3) Make sure your pantry has the necessary basics. Rice, Flour, Salt, Pepper, some canned veggies, some canned soups, ect. Or hopefully you have a nice neighbor you can run to and ask for a couple cups of flour (I had to do that one 2 weeks ago on pizza night....DOH!)
4) Have a good recipe book. I don't know what I would do without my Better Homes and Garden Cookbook, My Cambells Cookbook and my own personal cookbook. The internet is great, but I know the recipes in these books are time tested and approved! I recieved a photo album with recipes as a wedding gift and I have kept adding each time I find a good recipe I love. This makes for easy meal planning.
5) Sit down and actually write it. Doesn't have to be neat, doesn't have to be pretty, just do it. The first couple times I tried meal planning...it got all messed up. This week got all messed up for me, but that is ok, keep on keeping on. The goal is to save money and not go out and to have all that you need so you don't make impulse trips.
6) Leave yourself a couple of free days. DH and I like to to enjoy 1 night out every 2 weeks. It keeps us from going insane. I think going out to dinner twice in one month is not going to kill the plan (as long as it fits in the budget). Also, you will notice on my meals plan a day will just say 'meat.' In order to fulfill my creative side I buy some type of protein and figure out what I want to do with it on that day. That's when I get my pinterest on. :) Keeps me challenged.
7) JUST DO IT! Take the meat out the night before, follow the recipe, make the dinner and ring the dinner bell.
There you have it. Here are some examples of my meal plans, if you can decipher them:
Here is to successful meal plans and fatter wallets!