Monday, January 19, 2009

Menu Plan Monday - 1/19/09

I found a blog about a year ago, called The Grocery Cart Challenge. You might have noticed on my sidebar. Although I've been a regularly inspired reader, rarely have I put her posts and money saving methods into practice.

For any of you that really know me, I'm a total sucker for a good bargain. I LOVE saving money! I have no shame in that the majority of my clothes are from TJMaxx, Marshalls, or even second hand stores. A pair of my favorite Gap stretch chinos I bought at a resale shop for $1.00.

But one area of my life that I really have absolutely NO discipline with is our grocery budget. Perhaps because I grew up in a pretty poor family, barely surviving with the help of WIC. I remember many times, our milk was powdered or our cheese came in huge 5 lb blocks. Perhaps it was because when I finally got out of my parents's home, I paid the rent by working in the food service industry. I worked at several places where I acquired a fussy palate for good food and wine. Either way, I love my food and if I want it, I get it. The unfortunate thing is that N is the same way. We love cooking and trying new things! But rarely do we budget what we're cooking or what we desire. It's one of the bad things about being in a double-income home: we have the income to do whatever we want when it comes to food.

The more I read Gayle's Grocery Cart Challenge, the more I'm convicted that I need to start applying some of her methods to our household. So yesterday I decided that this was the week to start, at least attempting, to create a weekly menu plan. This is huge for me! Usually dinner consists of take-out, ordering in, fixing something I have no ingredients for, thus an extra trip to the grocery store to get needed ingredients, along with a bunch of impulse buys.

So I took an inventory of what we already had in the cupboards, fridge, and freezer and tried to create a menu plan based on what I found in there. This is what I've come up with for this week's menu:

Gluten-free oatmeal with stewed cranberries and apples
Cold cereal and fresh fruit
Banana bread
Frozen waffles with stewed cranberries and apples
Eggs & Bacon
Peach French Toast Bake

Leftovers from the previous night, along with fresh fruit and lunch meat for my snacks. (I need to eat every two hours or I get nauseaus.)

Hot wings, celery, carrots
Italian Sausage and Bean Soup, cornbread
Mexican Chicken Skillet, corn tortilla chips
Popcorn (Thursday is our non-dinner night)
Blackened Shrimp over Creamy Polenta
Linguini with Clam Sauce

Based on this menu plan, much of what I needed I have in stock, so it's just a matter of purchasing the lacking menu ingredients. Tune in tomorrow, where I share my grocery list. Not that it's that terribly exciting, but if I put it out there for all of you to see, it's making me accountable. And when it comes to this area of our finances, I really need some accountability.

I guess what I'm kind of hoping for is for some of you girl friends to do this along with me and we can come up with ideas and be a sounding board for some experienced advice. If any of you are interested in trying this along with me, let me know. And just to ease the pressure...I'm just sticking my toe in the water. I can't guarantee I'm going to stick with this, but I'm just feeling convicted to at least try. :-)


  1. I do this to a degree, but not nearly as much as I would like. Like you and N, Ryan and I like our food. No one does this budgeting for food stuff better than the Reddings. We have always been inspired by their grocery budgeting goals! Good luck with your menu this week!

  2. I do the menu plan, but not to the extent that you did. We are like you, in that we just don't budget food. We don't set a limit for the dollar amount we use for food, but we typically know about how much per grocery expedition we spend. Seems to work... if it ain't broke, don't fix it, right? My original comment was way too long, so I'm going to do a "Menu Planning" post myself... :-)

  3. I find we do much better when I actually menu plan. For us that means planning everything, down to snacks. Otherwise there is much bickering. Planning also means a bit more variety to our diet. Trying to find new and different foods that our family of 5 can agree on can be a real challenge. That challenge is complicated by our fairly tight budget. Planning helps us keep a lid on our spending. (One trip out to eat for our family of 5 at any fast food joint can push us $30 a visit alone, never mind eating at a casual dining establishment!)

    Which reminds me, I need to add Menu Plan on my daily "TO DO".

  4. Oh goodness...I hear you on this one! Brad and I are so much like ya'll, it's not even funny. I really am trying to do this MUCH more, but feel like I keep hitting a wall. Between an incredibly picky husband (love him, but it's a pain!) and my multiple food allergy gets hard.

    All that being said, we obviously need to work on our food budget too and I'll do my best to travel this path with you. In exchange, please pass along any recipes you think we'd like and could eat (we're trying to make more stuff that the schnitz can eat with us) and I'll do the same. Actually, I have a REALLY good recipe that everyone actually loved that I'll send you either today or tomorrow.

    Good luck!

  5. Well, I'm flattered by the shout out from Alison...that was really sweet!

    But, truthfully, I think most of my cheap grocery success has been a very flexible husband and our joint desire for cheapness over taste. It's easier to be cheap when you don't care too much what you eat.

    That being said, I've developed many "cheap meals" that we really enjoy eating. Another "tenant" of utmost importance is that if you're out of money and it's the end of the month...well, you're eating out of the pantry (save things Doodle truly needs). Knowing that could happen keeps us well paced on our weekly budget!

    Portion control is another big part of it - if I plan a meal to last for leftovers, it better last. And, no snacking on whatever you find - it might just be an integral part of dinner the next night. I've found if you plan what is eaten when, your groceries last a lot longer.

    We'll see how long all these values last now that there's a third mouth in the picture. :)