A Cold and Snowy Day! Great for Meal Planning!

This is what the mega storm had in store for us today in Maine! Everything outside is brisk and wild. The snow is sweeping past with frightening speed and forming great piles on my deck and steps.

But I decided yesterday when I knew that today was going to be a day off from work (probably a very good thing) was to take on the task of meal planning for the month.

Let's face it. My hours are decreasing rapidly and with it my paychecks, leaving me worried, but confident that I'm going to be able to sustain enough income to last me for awhile. Certainly, the largest piece of our budget that we can control is food! And I worked long enough in the grocery industry to know just how to tweak the budget, while I batten down the hatches.

First thing first, a road map. It's easier to just go for it and grab the nearest thing to cook. I don't know of any woman (other than maybe Martha Stewart) who likes to hear the question, "What's for dinner?"

By the way, if you want to see a great video on doing meal planning be sure to check out Big Family Homestead's video on YouTube. They've got some great advice for anyone looking to take on the task.

Plug in the things that you know for certain first. Hubby plays in a pool league on Tuesday nights and after years of chasing schedules I have declared Tuesdays to be FEND FOR YOURSELF DAY. They are welcome to cook anything they can find, eat whatever... or not at all. I just know that I am not responsible for that day.

After that I plug in the recipes that we eat often. We eat a lot of RANCH CHICKEN. It can't be easier, boneless chicken breasts cleaned and covered in a pan with a mix of ranch dressing and parmesan grated cheese (the kind from the plastic can). Salt and pepper, cover with the sauce and cook at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes, until done. We serve it over rice with green beans, and it's the one recipe that college boy continually asks for when he comes home.

I'm in luck! Boneless chicken in family packs is on sale for $1.69/lb this week! So, I add it to the meal plan and to the grocery list. I'll figure out how many packs when I'm done with filling in the days.

I try to round out the menu with items that were beef and some that are easy meals for us like chicken patty sandwiches and french fries. When we know it's going to be crazy this is a great fast meal at an inexpensive price.

If you like pasta you can add it to the plan, spacing it out so that you aren't tired of it at the end of the month. Unfortunately, I can't eat pasta. I love it! It's my favorite food, but alas, it doesn't like me anymore. There are gluten free options, but I have yet to find one that I really like.


Yeah! This is such a liberating feeling! There is great freedom in knowing just what you are going to do about the dreaded dinner question.

Once I have it filled in I highlight the meat needed for each meal. I know that I am going to need several family packs of chicken, a couple big packages of hamburger, and a couple of ground turkey. Meat for us is the major expense out of our meal planning budget. This isn't by accident that the departments that generally ring the outside of the store are the ones that cost the most for the consumer, but also have the highest return for the store. I will also add that with the exception of deli meats, these departments like seafood, meat, produce are the healthiest sections in the store. Anything that is in the center aisles of the store are prepackaged and full of preservatives. Now, I'm not saying that we don't eat them, but they are really not good for you. Better to stick to the unprocessed foods and cooking meals from scratch.

Once I have my list of meats I make a list of the other items needed for the meals. I check my pantry for items that I might not have and I list those as well.


I know that there are many who say that it isn't worth it to shop at multiple stores, but in New England we don't have much of a choice, and most of those choices require that we travel to get there. I content myself with the knowledge that I am making a list and sticking to it.

Release dates for sales vary, so I check that as well. We do have a membership to Sam's Club, but it's over 30 minutes away. We use it for things we generally buy in bulk, and we always check the prices. As my husband likes to say, "not everything there is a good deal."

So, this is a fairly generalized form of how I handle meal planning. I believe that I can cut my costs by half and save the gas of running back and forth to the store. Yup, that's HALF. When I hear of people spending $500-$600 or more a month on groceries I cringe. I don't do many coupons and I know that by cooking the meals myself I can save time and money.

There are other ways to save on the budget. Buying meat in packages and even getting venison from hunting. I grew up eating it, so it's rather natural for me. Then, there's growing vegetables and canning. Produces is an extremely expensive part of the budget, and yet, we are encouraged to make sure they are part of our diet. A garden, even a small patio garden in buckets, will provide plentiful produce for a family.

As with all of it, I encourage you to try meal planning for yourself. Don't beat yourself up if you fail and go off course. There is always another month coming up. Find what works for you and improve upon that process. You'll find that you and your family will be happier in the long run!

Cheers from Maine!

No comments:

Post a Comment

 photo envye.jpg
envye blogger theme