When we first stated out trying to find ways to save, our food budget was the first area we examined. We were spending and wasting so much money on food. I would buy groceries, at full price, and then end up eating out several times a week. I would spend a lot of time and money at the grocery stores then struggle with what we were going to have for dinner. The day would pass by with nothing planned and we would end up eating out.
One of the first things I did when we started our budget was set a realistic menu plan. I knew that I couldn’t go from not cooking to cooking full meals 7 days a week. I also knew that if the meals were complex I would get discouraged and start falling back into the same patterns. I started out by using a meal planning service. Once I got into the grove I was able to stop using it and get ideas on my own. I found a level of comfort that made cooking enjoyable and I was providing my family with great meals.
Each weekend I spend about an hour planning my menu and grocery shopping for the week. By doing this my family eats a great home cooked meal each night, and we are saving money. Remember, I don’t cook 7 days a week. I will often double up on what I’m making and freeze it for a future meal. We’ve also allowed Friday night for “pizza night” whether we eat pizza or not. Saturday night is usually left over night and time to get rid of anything that might spoil. I try to put my best foot forward on Sundays to start the week off right.
I came up with a grocery list and menu planner that has really helped me along the way. I post my meal planner on my refrigerator so I can see each day what I’m fixing and how much time I need to allow for prep. I can also write notes about my receipts and if my family enjoyed the meal. I love that I’m no longer scrambling at 5 o’clock.
Check out the Frugal Day Weekly Meal Planner (PDF). It’s free for you to use. I hope it’s as helpful for you as it is for me!