Saturday, March 28, 2009

Menu Planning

We shop for groceries once every 2 weeks. That's it, that's all we need and that's how we save money and still have great food. Sounds a little rediculous at first I know. I didn't think we could do it. But we had been finding that we kept running back to the store for this and that which made our grocery budget explode. We also had taken to eating out more and more, also not good for the budget. We also have 2 small boys so grocery shopping can be a chaotic time if we aren't ready for it. What I have learned to do is to plan and plan well. I have a set time for groceries. I know that I will be at the store every Friday afternoon that I get paid (I get paid bi-weekly). I do my planning on Thursday night. The first thing I do is check the fridge, freezer and cupboards. Is there anything left in there that I can plan into my menus? Are there any staples that we are out of. (Usually I keep track on a white board on my fridge of things we need as we run out of them). Then I start to plan.
I start with 2 blank note papers. The first is for menus, the second is for a grocery list.
The menu paper I fill in like this:


I then start filling in. Wednesdays we always have pizzas, Jonathan works Wednesday nights and takes one to work and I pop one in the oven for me & the boys. Thursday nights are almost always leftover nights, I find that that is a good day to eat up whatever is remaining from the previous week.
I also note in things that are going on so I don't plan something complicated for a night we won't have time, and to remind me of potlucks and nights Jonathan will be out etc.
As I fill in my week I note on the grocery paper items I will need for recipes that I don't have on hand.
I also like to take this time to flip through my favortie cook books for inspiration. What looks interesting for this week? (It's also a good time to ask Jonathan if he's been craving anything too).

By then end of it my list looks something like this:

F - (boys getting pictures done) eat at store
S - fettucini
S - quesedillas
M - (Elijah swimming lessons) - Beef Stew with dumplings
T - Spanikopita
W - Pizza
Th - chicken and fries

F - Fish with veggies and home fries
S - (Potluck) - bring dessert
S - roast beef, cheesy potato casserole and veg
M - (Elijah swimming lessons) - fish and chips
T - chili & biscuits (make chili night before after swimming)
W - pizza
Th - leftovers

I don't cook big every night. At least twice a week I have something quick and easy (pizza, chicken and fries, fish and chips) and I try to keep something in the house for a just in case meal that I can heat up (like extra spagetti sauce from another meal that I had frozen) because you never know what could come up during the week.

I also plan for lunches. I like to take soup for lunch that I make on the weekend and divide up into plastic containers for the week.
The boys eat lunch at daycare on Monday and Tuesday, but Weds. to Thurs. Jonathan is home with them. So I make note of those days too. Usually mini pizzas, some sort of sandwiches and macaroni fits in there.
As well I fill in things like yogurt, applesauce, fruit etc. for snacks. And breakfast foods. I eat oatmeal every weekday, but the boys like cold cereal.

And that's it.

Everything I need for the next 2 weeks I know I have in the house. I also know that my grocery money is spent so I am not looking for money that isn't there later on. We've been doing groceries this way for the past 6 months or so and it's working really well. We used to do it every week, which worked too, but we find this saves us even more money (and less hassle shopping with the boys).


Donna-FFW said...

Sounds like a great way to organize!

Coleen's Recipes said...

Impressive, I admire your organization skills! My kids are grown, so its just me, him & the dog and I STILL have to shop twice a week LOL.