Friday, October 14, 2011

Meal Planning and Budgetting

Alright people - do you plan out your weekly meals and have a food budget? We are moving soon so I have been given the job of tackling our food budget and keeping things in check. Here's the problem - I have no idea what I'm doing. I'm not even sure what are good, healthy, and reasonably priced options for meals. I'm not sure what I should be aiming for. SO, I need examples of what a week is like for your family, so I can have something to go on. Thanks!


  1. Do you have a deep freeze and an extra refrigerator? That helps a ton.

    We shop for 2 weeks at a time, it cuts down on extra buying that happens when you go weekly and gives me a week off.

    I plan meals for 2 weeks and write my list from those meals.

    with 5 kiddos, my goal is under/around $300 at Sam's Club and the same at Wal-Mart. I have no idea if this is good or bad, it's just what we do. I remember when that number was $100 at each place.

  2. Healthy can be cheap. When you cut out the junk, it's amazing how much you save! Jillian Michaels always says "if it doesn't come from the ground or have a mom, it's not food" So....cheetos, not a food. Gummy fruit snacks, not a food. Ya know? Frozen veggies are sometimes cheaper than fresh. You don't need a meat/chicken at every dinner. Some meat free cheap and still healthy dinners we do regularly:
    1. beans and brown rice with cilantro, salsa, and avocado (if it's on sale.)*we make our own tortilla chips from corn tortillas. Just spray a little oil on them and bake for 10 or so min in hot oven and voila. That way you can control the oil and salt.
    2. frittatas. there are a zillion ways you can make them. It's an easy way to hide veggies!
    3. whole grain pasta with loaded veggie tomato sauce (i throw all kinds of veggies in the food processor and blend with tom sauce) If you feel you need a 'meaty substance' we throw in mushrooms.
    4. "mash" sometimes I throw couscous or quinoa in with black beans, sauteed squash and onion and garlic, whatever else.

  3. I think one of the biggest ways to save on meal planning is to just actually do the planning.
    When I fail to plan, we end up spending more on food than when I make a plan, stick to it, and don't buy extras. Every time I come home from the store, I'm disappointed. I have a horrendous sweet tooth, but for some reason I manage to not spend any money on sweet treats at the store - much to my disappointment when I get home!
    I plan our meals based on the grocery ad. In my housekeeping binder, I have a huge list of meals we like, side dish ideas, healthy snack ideas, and lunch/breakfast dishes we like. I look at that, and whatever awesome recipes I want to try from pinterest or magazines, compare to what's on sale and what I have coupons for, and plan that way.
    Another big thing that saves us a ton of money is to stock up on things when they're on sale. For example, they had whole chickens buy one get one free at my store today. Whole chickens are cheap and can feed my whole family, so I got 6. I am going to cook one next week, and the other 5 went into my deep freeze. My husband wants me to go back and get more. Another example is that today they had cheerios for $1.88. I NEVER buy sugar cereal and I NEVER buy cereal for more than $2. Recently, I got two coupons for $1.50 off 3 boxes of cheerios, so I got six for $8 something. That made them about $1.30 a box. When I stock up on things, I then don't have to panic when I DON'T plan ahead also because then I can open the freezer and pantry and pull out a healthy and filling meal. Other ways to stock up on healthy things are produce co-ops and buying organic meat straight from the source (we went in on a whole cow with friends and just got around 75 lbs of grass-fed, organic beef the other day, to stock the freezer).
    I also agree with Haley above, that meat doesn't need to be in all dinners. One of our favorites is like a Chipotle burrito bowl! I make Pioneer Woman ranch beans (DRY beans are way cheap, especially in bulk), pop some rice in my rice cooker, add cilantro, sour cream, cheese, avocado, and it's so tasty.
    Another way to save and still eat healthfully is to go homemade. I bake my own bread, make our granola, make pizza from scratch (this is really easy and REALLY cheap), etc.
    I hope you get some more comments, because I am always looking for ways to improve here!

  4. We share one of the same problems - a sweet tooth! Growing up we always had "treaties" haha in the house, and I tend to want to do the same now. Rather than an every so often treat, it seems we always have brownies or candy or something tasty that I grabbed. I have been better than I used to be, but then I come home and am sad, haha!

    I think once we move, we may need to start hunting around for a deep freeze.

    Also, anyone have tips on cooking rice? Every time I try it comes out disgusting. I don't know why it is so difficult for me to make rice! I have found a list of recipes online that we are going to try. We are going to attempt to do meat with dinner only every other day.

    And, finally, I have been reading about fasting from meat on Fridays, and I actually had done that the past 2 weeks, but now I realized that if we are trying to cut meat out regularly, then fasting from meat on Fridays isn't really going to be effective in the same way for us - so then I read about how it doesn't have to be meat, and I was sitting there thinking well what could I even give up - and then it popped into my head and I almost cried. Not my coffee! But I think on Fridays I will have to go coffee-less. This could be scary, haha!

  5. Rice - Seriously, Kelli, scour the thrift shops or craig's list or ebay and get a rice cooker! My rice was ALWAYS soooo horrible. I failed every time! I don't like to keep a bunch of random stuff in the kitchen, especially stuff that can only do one thing, but I LOVE my rice cooker (as a bonus, it can steam veggies too).

    Concerning fasting, I think you could still fast from meat if you want to. Or maybe pick something else, even a small sacrifice that brings to mind the huge sacrifice Christ made for us. It can be as simple as don't use salt or condiments with your food, or cream/sugar in your coffee, or sweet treats etc. If giving up coffee will make OTHER people suffer (your family), then it is no longer just your own sacrifice, it's theirs too! lol I've heard priests give this advice specifically at Lent - your mortification/sacrifice should not affect others. That's awesome that you're fasting on Fridays though! :-D

  6. I think you are right Andrea - maybe not coffee *completely*. BUT I do most days make a delicious mocha coffee, and don't just have plain old regular coffee. SO I think Fridays may be no mocha coffee days! I think that might be a good way for me to fast, but not force others to suffer themselves! Haha.

    Hunting for a rice cooker will begin tomorrow! I'm glad I'm not the only rice cooking failure, haha!