I love to grocery shop and I love to cook. When I was first married my husband and I would feast on expensive meals often- budgeting when it came to food wasn’t in our vocabulary. Things are different now! I still love to cook and grocery shopping is my favorite kind of shopping, but now I need to stick to a budget. Making a Meal Plan helps me stick to my budget allowing me to try out the new recipes that I find in the many recipe mags, books and websites I love to read.
One of the first things I did when I started using a Meal Plan rotation is make a list of the meals we liked. I divided my meals onto 14 cards of 4 meals each so that I had room each week for leftovers, eating out, occasionally warming up a can of soup or a quick PB&J and also for the new recipes we want to try. I have the cards in an envelope on my fridge. When I make my list for groceries I pull out two cards and make a list of what I need for those 8 recipes. Having a 14 week plan also keeps us from eating the same things over and over again and getting bored.
I don’t necessarily go in order with my weeks (week 2 doesn’t always come after week 1), if one of us is craving a certain recipe or I have a lot of something on hand I’ll pull the card that matches that recipe or ingredient list. Behind each recipe I have an abbreviation for where the recipe can be found if it’s something I need a recipe for. I post the “key” to those abbreviations on the envelope that I keep my cards in.
This is an example from my cards:
2) Smothered Chicken (PRB)
4) Hawaiian Pork Chops (PRB)
1) Meatball Subs
2) Crepes (BHG)
4) Peanut Chicken (RBi)
PRB= Personal Recipe Book, BHG= Better Homes and Gardens, RBi= Recipe Binder
So from this list I have two nights of chicken, one night of pork chops, one night with ground beef, one with sausage (Jambalaya) and 3 meatless nights (of course if I wanted I could add meat to any or all of those nights if I wanted to). I can also use leftover Spaghetti Sauce for the Meatball Subs- 2 for 1!
Once I grocery shop and have the ingredients for these meals I post which meals are available for the next two weeks on the fridge and cross them off as we make them so we know what we’ve got to work with as we near the end of the two weeks. I don’t keep a rigid plan, it’s a pretty fluid easy to work with system. If it’s got a lot of perishable ingredients that I need to use quickly I tend to do those recipes at the beginning of the week or budget to pick those items up later. If there is an ingredient that is “hands off” I list it on the fridge so my husband doesn’t accidentally use up the cheese and tortillas needed for Tacos making late night Quesadillas.
We have had much success with this plan when we use it. After the boys were born I got away from it a bit but have been slowly getting back on track. I cook more and we eat better when we know in advance what our options are instead of just looking in the freezer and seeing a bag of chicken and trying to figure out what I need to make something with it.
Check back here each Monday for my weekly meal plan and follow up on how we did the week before!