Thursday, October 4, 2012

31 Days to Financial Freedom, Day 4: Meal Planning

I've been planning my meals for about three years now.  As a template, I just use the "Understated" calendar in Microsoft Publisher and write in the dinners we're going to eat throughout the month, including lunch on the weekends.  I don't meal plan based on what's on sale that week because I'm lazy.  Instead, as a general rule, we just eat cheap! 

The secret to meal planning is to eat the meals you plan. I know, I know. REVOLUTIONARY!

For this month, we're trying to spend no more than $100 to feed our family of 4 every week.  Keeping that in mind, I decided to pick cheaper meals this month to make sure we stick with that budget.  My goal is to have money left over at the end of the month so we can use some of that budgeted money to fill up our deep freeze when select items are on sale. 

To make it easier on me, we pretty much have the same thing for dinner every week.  We eat tacos every Tuesday and homemade pizza every Friday.  On Mondays we generally have spaghetti, and Thursdays we generally have breakfast for dinner, but that can vary depending on what we have meat wise in the house.  My children appreciate the routine, and so do I! 

I also recommend throwing in one or two cheap meals that essentially cost nothing to eat every week.  I'm lucky that my husband will pretty much eat anything I put in front of him (except green beans).  My mother is not that lucky!  My step-father insists on meat, potatoes, and vegetables pretty much every night.  I think it might be a generational thing, or maybe it's because Pen was in charge at a young age for cooking dinner for his family, so he's just happy to have someone else cook for a change! 

Our weekly cheap meals are grilled cheese and soup, and breakfast.  The four of us can eat for less than a dollar a piece on these things, sometimes cheaper! 

Figure out what works for your family.  For us, having simpler meals throughout the week work for our schedules. 

From our monthly meal plan, Pen does the grocery shopping on Wednesday nights for the next week.  That's my best tip of reducing the amount of money you spend on groceries - send your husband, because Pen's main goal is to get out of Walmart as soon as humanly possible, thus reducing our amount of needless spending dramatically!

We've stuck with our meal plan all of September and the entire four days of October, and we're even going to be under budget for this week's groceries.  Pen spent $35 at Walmart last night, and we only need a little more meat from the other store tonight.

On a side note: our dishwasher has been broke since the first weekend in September, we have a couch on layaway that we have to pick up (and pay off), and our dryer broke last night.  Yep.  This is my life.

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