- Create a List: We started by brainstorming our favorite meals. I then compiled a list of meals we enjoy and wouldn't mind having in a monthly rotation. We usually don't repeat meals in a month so this works out great. We have about 45 meals on this list that Phil and I each enjoy.
- Stock Up: Once we had that list created I worked to make sure my pantry was full of ingredients needed in these meals. Keeping bulk items on hand such as rice, pasta, tomato sauce, chicken stock, etc. helps us out a lot. We pick a brand we like and buy the largest quantity possible. In the end we definitely save money shopping this way.
- Plan: We shop exclusively at Meijer for the bulk of our household and grocery needs. We plan on filler trips to Payless (because it is closer) but overall we save enough money shopping at Meijer that it makes up for the gas and time, it's a 15 minute drive one way. I plan my meals by looking at the weekly ad, what I have in my pantry/freezer already, and what go to meals we haven't eaten yet this month. I plan for 8 dinner meals, and a few lunch items for Joel and Phil. For the most part we eat leftovers for lunches. We also have cereal, oatmeal or pancakes homemade out of the freezer for breakfast. When planning our 8 meals I make sure and include at least one soup, one crock pot meal, and 2 meatless meals. I also try and include at least one double batch meal for the freezer and one muffins/cookies recipe for snacks.
- Shop Bi-monthly: I usually end up spending approximately $70 during a 2 week shopping trip. Obviously that number was more when we first started and were just starting our stash but luckily right after Joel was born we had a surplus of Target gift cards and a months worth of grocery money we never spent thanks to the generosity of our church family. This made it so we could stock up without dipping in to our savings. Shopping twice a month has made me more accountable to my meal plan and my budget. I always set aside $30 for dairy, fresh produce and "oops" purchases throughout the month The rest of our budgeted money goes to household and personal items.
Here is our two week meal plan:
Monday - Bacon Chard Pasta
Tuesday - Brown Sugar Glaze Pork loin with mashed potatoes (doubled for freezer) and Peas
Wednesday - Kitchen Art Class (Katy), Phil (Out with coupon for bday)
Thursday - Vegetable Soup and French Bread
Friday - Out of Town (Muffins for the road and breakfasts while out)
Saturday - Out of Town
Sunday - Perogis and Peppers
Monday - Thai Cabbage Cups
Tuesday - Oatmeal Pancakes and Bacon
Wednesday - Out
Thursday - Chicken Chili
Friday - Homemade Pizza
Saturday - BBQ Pie with corn bread instead of bisquick on top
Sunday - Easter Meal with my parents