We are now heading into the 8th week of meal-planning, that’s 35 family dinners that we made at home. I can’t even tell you when this had ever happened before in our house.
Previously, meal-planning never occurred to me; we were more about what was simple and what was convenient for our busy family. It led us to spend heaps of money on food; I’m talking about $300 each week — that’s almost $1,200 a month for a family of 5. It’s not a crazy high amount, but we had to get it under control.
I had done my research on meal-planning on the internet, but all I found were meals that I knew my family would either not eat or not be satisfied with — I needed real heart meals that would quench their hunger but that would curve our spending habits at the same time. So I made a list of the meals I wanted to try, took an inventory of the contents of the fridge, freezer, and cupboards and then made a list of what exactly we would need to get these meals on the table.
Then I started checking out the flyer list to see what was on sale and what I could price-match at Wal-Mart. If I was going to start saving money, it just made sense to get all the shopping done at one store and in one trip.
Wait I’m getting ahead of myself here.
Let’s take it back and see where our spending got out of control.
It wasn’t because I was buying a double-double at Tim Horton’s everyday or going to Starbucks on my way to work. It wasn’t because I was purchasing grade-A steaks and filet mignon for dinners. I did neither of these things. It also wasn’t because I was shopping at some high-priced fancy grocery store either. I still regularly bought from Wal-Mart, checked sales and made as many meals at home as possible. I know that even doing what I was doing, it wasn’t enough, and the budge kept growing. Here is what made the budget explode through the roof:
– repeating the same old’ meals week after week
– buying snack foods, even on sale
– buying high-priced cereal and letting the kids eat it for dinner or nighttime snacks
– buying soda products and the salty snacks that go with it
– allowing the kids to eat snacks instead of meals
Snacks were the big one for us. We needed foods that we could quickly eat on the go. It’s not that these snacks were unhealthy, but rather just expensive. Plus allowing the kids to eat cereal and snacks whenever they wanted, their meals often went uneaten and found its way to the trash bin. Again, it’s not that these items are crazy expensive it’s that they don’t stretch and last for as long as we needed them to for the week ahead of us.
So now, we make a carefully planned grocery list with a meal plan, and we stick to it. I’m not saying we always follow the meal list in the order it’s been written, but we do try our best to keep with what is on the schedule.
Our Budget-Friendly Family Dinner Meal Plan, Week No. 8
I try to shop either on Wednesday or Thursday; it all depends on what I need to buy and what is on sale that week.
Monday: Oven-Baked Meatballs with Linguine
Tuesday: Smothered Chicken with Mushrooms
Wednesday: Loaded Baked Potatoes with Caesar Salad
Thursday: Lemon Parmesan Pork Chops with mixed vegetables
Friday: Pizza Casserole
Saturday: Best Crockpot Ham, mashed potatoes, and corn
Sunday: BBQ Ranch Chicken Legs with Rice and vegetables
∅ None This Week
What We Already Had in Stock:
∅ chicken legs, frozen mixed vegetables, various spices, frozen broccoli, frozen corn, sugars, and honey.
This week we spent approx. $189.04
Click here for this week’s grocery list.
I post my weekly menu to encourage menu planning and to give meal ideas, not as a nutritional standard. You should feed your family based on your priorities and values. What are you eating this week? If you have used any of our meals, please post a photo and tag us on Instagram or Twitter. We’d love to see how it turned out. Leave us a comment to share your ideas.