Menu Planning, My Method for Saving Money and Weekly Meals
I was sent a Blue Sky Planner in exchange for a blog post on how I use it in my everyday life. I was not financially compensated for the following. Thank you to Blue Sky for partnering with me and thank you readers for supporting the companies that support this blog and my family.
When I first moved in with my husband, I was instantly thrust into managing and caring for a blended family of seven. I’ve had to navigate how to create a meal for a family of seven one week to just three people the next. It’s been three years since I stumbled through this process of not having enough food to having an over abundance and I feel like I have finally nailed down a system that works. And not just for my family, but I know this will work for any family if you’ll just apply a little time each week (or month) planning your meals ahead of time and creating a weekly shopping list like I do. Today I’m sharing the system that took me from a stressed out ball of mess to a worry free, dinner-on-the-table every night mom.
1. I have a separate planner strictly for meals and menu planning. Preferably, I like to plan a full month ahead, but weekly at the very least.
2. I pull out my family planner and I note special days in our menu planner. For instance, when we have friends over or when just Evelyn is home; someone’s birthday or church night when we eat out. I use a small planner from Blue Sky with plenty of space for me to include each meal and the day’s snacks.
3. I write down a menu for each day that includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and two snacks. I do this in front of my computer so I can be sure to add any Pinterest recipes I’ve been wanting to try or quickly look up a recipe that I don’t have memorized. I also reference the front cover of my menu planner, where I write down dinner ideas that my family enjoys regularly (Kung Pao Spaghetti, Salisbury Steak Meatballs, Taco Night, etc).
4. I print out the recipe for each dinner if I don’t already have it memorized.
5. I create a grocery list by category, referencing the recipes, my menus, and snack items. Next to each item, I write down the rough estimate of what it costs. This not only helps me understand my weekly grocery budget more, but it helps me to stay on task and within my budget (and often under!) while I’m shopping.
6. At the top of my grocery list, I write my total weekly allowance for groceries and what the total of my estimated cost is. If there is a difference, I know I’ll be under budget and I can choose to save the money or splurge on a fun dessert or extra snacks.
7. While at the grocery store, I keep track of the actual cost of each item as I place them in my cart. I write the actual cost next to my estimated cost in a different color. Before heading to check out, I add everything up to ensure I’m on budget. Often times I save at least $5-10 and can put that money in our vacation fund.
8. I’m ultra organized, this I know. But it’s because I’m lazy. And because I despise the repetitive questions: what’s for dinner? what’s for breakfast? can I have a snack? Once I’m home from the grocery store, I write up the menu for the week and put it on the fridge for the kids to see. They know exactly what each meal will be and what snack they can have. No more asking mom what she’s making. It’s heavenly.
This system is tried and true and worked miracles for our grocery budget. My husband appreciates that I have a dinner plan for every night and it makes it easy for him to pick up and help with meal making when I’m working on something or preoccupied with one of the kids. To grab your own planner for meal planning, be sure to visit Blue Sky for affordable and durable planners.