I've had several emails pertaining to Meal Planning so I wanted to go into a little more detail about my budget and strategy for you. This is what works for my family of 3, but obviously may need to be tweaked a bit to fit larger families/budgets. I hope I can explain this to you in an understandable way. If something is unclear please let me know.
We have a monthly grocery budget of $400.00. This also includes diapers and toiletry items, but does not include my shampoo/makeup. Every two weeks I go shopping, (spending a max $200) and during the two weeks in between shopping I keep a running list at home of items we run out of.
I shop according to my recipe lists for the two week period. I plan to eat out 3 times, and have two nights of leftovers. That means I plan about 9 recipes for the two week period.
I ran out of my pretty list writing paper, so over the past couple of weeks I've been writing my lists on random things. Here's my running tab of items we're out of, written on the back of an envelope.
I then take this list and add it to the Master List that I take shopping with me. The master list will have all my recipe ingredients for my meal plans, and also the running tab of things we're out of. I list my items corresponding to the layout of the grocery store. For Example, tonight we'll be shopping at Wal-Mart in Jackson, and the first thing you see when you walk into the store is the produce dept. So the first items on my list will be my fresh fruits and vegetables. Next is frozen items and meats, so those items I need will follow the fruits and veggies on my list. Does this make sense?
Here's my Master shopping list for tonight:
boneless skinless chicken breasts
mac n cheese
All of these items are listed corresponding to Wal-Mart's store layout.
Here are my 9 recipes I plan to make during the two week period. I have all of these recipes written down and if you'd like a copy let me know!
1. red sauce fettuccine with Italian sausage and mushrooms
2. roasted salmon with spicy cauliflower
3. Mexican pizza
4. crispy baked honey mustard chicken with squash and zucchini
5. roast in crock pot with potatoes and carrots
6. lasagna with salad
7. mozzarella chicken panini's with salad
8. deer chili
9. grilled steaks with fried potatoes and mac n cheese
Some of the ingredients for these recipes I already have at home, some of them are included in the master list. The "husband friendly" recipes such as the deer chili and roast in crock pot are for nights when I have play practice and won't be home. Also planned for those nights are chicken nuggets or frozen pizza which are both things Daniel can do on his own. I'm not saying my husband can't cook, he just works later than I do so he doesn't have time to plan meals. I like being in charge of dinner anyway. It's just a little way for me to give back to him for working so hard.
I also make sure I choose recipes that will taste ok heated up the next day. I bring leftovers to work a lot for lunch and Daniel comes to my work to eat with me.
On a side note, if you're a single person this method can work for you too. It will help you to eat out less and save money. Naturally your portion sizes will be smaller, or you can plan recipes for two and have your leftovers for lunch the next day.
How do you plan your meals for the week? What shopping strategy do you rely on to make it through the grocery store as quickly as possible?