Sunday, October 5, 2008

Meal planning and shopping

Since I'm all stocked up from Costco, my meal planning and shopping for this week is going to be really simple. This is where I keep track of it, on a dry erase board that's taped to the side of my fridge:I keep my meal plan on the sidebar at mandajuice, but this is where I keep it in the kitchen. I make meals out of the meat I've purchased and then make a list of the ingredients I'm missing. Pretty simple.

I also keep separate shopping lists for different stores. F-M is Fred Meyer, which is the only place I can find orzo pasta, Max Factor mascara (the ONLY brand in the universe worth using!) and where I most like to buy my produce. W-M is Wal-Mart where I like to buy their store brand crack punch/cancer juice (Crystal Light), lean ground beef (least gristle of any brand) and that awesome all natural Jimmy Dean sausage. Target is Target, obviously and I mostly just have some stuff to return there when I get the chance.

The rest should be pretty straight forward except that FEND means I make something easy for the kids and Dave and I fend for ourselves. I also like to keep a little list reminding me what I have available for lunches, so I don't get bored/desperate/lazy and grab a burger (like I did today while we were out).

Do you meal plan weekly? Monthly? Never?

Also! Don't forget to tell me how you'd spend $1000. I need some ideas!

18 comments:

brainella said...

We recently started planning weekly menus. We were spending WAY too much money. The planning has controlled that significantly. I am cutting coupons and tracking the cash flow now. Go me!

BethanyWD said...

I have been working towards finding the best way to meal plan for my family, and in the last 4 months, I have finally found my/our groove. At first I tried to plan down to the fruit/vegetable, but that wasn't working (too specific). I settled on planning the "main course" (which can be pretty basic), then we can rotate in whatever sides we have that work with the main course (we do lots of steamed veggies). I usually plan for the week on Friday (so Sat-Fri), and do my shopping that day. I get all the foods for the main courses, and then our standard veggies and fruits (we mix it up a bit there). I also plan on a second, much smaller grocery visit during the week that I can do during my work lunch break. Of course we have similar FEND evenings; ours are called KIDS. HA. The planning definitely keeps our food bills down (we also rarely eat out) and make evenings more pleasant.

Jaime said...

I have never been much of a meal planner, but we just bought a house and eat out WAY too much, so I need to start ASAP.

Question: Where did you get that dry erase board?

Mandajuice said...

I got the planner at Michael's using their infamous weekly 40% off coupon.

Jaime said...

Thanks! Now I have an excuse to go to Michael's this week. :)

paper napkin said...

I go through phases where I do. Right now I am planning meals every week, because I had gotten in the habit of running to the store several times a week. It's right up the street, so gas wasn't an issue, but those quick trips usually end up with something extra in the cart, and I was going over our food budget.

dorie said...

Can you post the recipe for your mushroom orzo? Or do you have it posted somewhere already?

Mandajuice said...

dorie, it'll be the next recipe I post, promise! I actually photographed it about 2 weeks ago, but then got all the way through and never took a picture of the final product. DOH! So this week, for sure.

Ali said...

I keep a magnetic writing pad on the fridge and when I make my lists, I start at the bottom and work my way up the page. That way if I only have a few items I don't waste the whole page by tearing it off, I just cut it off from the bottom and get at least 4 times as much use out of my notepads. And I use a different sheet for every store (Costco, Trader Joe's, Target, etc.) so I don't have to worry about losing my list in my purse if I only get to one store per day. When I head out I only take the lists for the stores that I KNOW I'll have time to hit that day.

Anonymous said...

I am curious...I have never been to Trader Joe's as we did not have them where we lived, we recently moved and have one but it is a little bit of a drive, so...what is the benefit? Are there prices better? What does everyone buy there? We eat fairly healthy, mostly chicken or turkey products ie turkey dogs, ground turkey or chicken, etc. Whole grains breads blah blah blah. We are a family of four that normally spends $700-800 a month. Where we live now has an extremely high cost of living(for us)....I'm talking $8.00 for a pound of ground turkey....$4.00 for a gallon of milk.....$5.00 loaf of bread.......Since we moved I am spending our "normal" monthly grocery budget, in about two weeks!!!! Just wondering if TJ's would be worth the drive. Thanks!

Mandajuice said...

YES, YES, TRIPLE YES. Trader Joe's is worth the drive. Their prices are EXTREMELY reasonable and they don't change like grocery store prices do. They ONLY sell all natural products and they have a huge variety of really good stuff. My Trader Joe's list includes: hot dogs, WINE ($3 buck chuck!), dairy products, bread, tortillas, CLEANING SUPPLIES (I ONLY buy TJ's dishwasher detergent), rice (although I think their pasta generally sucks), and mostly snack foods. They have really tasty all-natural substitutes for stuff like cheetos and pop tarts and ice cream sandwiches. It's DEFINITELY worth the trip!

1hottiredmama said...

I meal plan -- but in a different way. I keep a running list of all the meals I could possibly make with what's in my fridge, pantry and freezer. Each morning I decide what we'll have for dinner. I do it in the morning in case I have to pull something out of the freezer. Then I mark that meal off my list. This lets me tailor the meal to my personal preferences each day. I keep a running list of items we need from the store and I only shop on Mondays -- after I've had a big breakfast with my girlfriends. That way, I'm not hungry when I shop.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Amanda....I think I am def going to have to check them out!

Leticia said...

I buy every other week so I plan about 10 meals at a time. I don't necessarily plan the exact DAY we'll have them, but I plan the meal. Like another commenter, the sides can be flexible.

I made a spreadsheet of everything I know how to make with whatever meat. Basically a list of all the meals we ever eat and every other week I look through it and pick out 10 meals. I plan my grocery list from those meals and separate it out by Meats, Refrigerated section, Aisles, or Fruits/Vegetable area. It really, really helps me to shop from a list so I don't get so distracted. The other thing I do is give myself like $10 (or whatever amount) for snacks, $10 for fruits/vegetables...that way I get what's on sale. I love grocery shopping. :o)

Elizabeth said...

I plan once a week. We go to the farmers' market on Sunday and buy what looks good (but with some sort of plan in mind, for the most part, or stuff might not get used), and then I plan meals around that and buy the remaining ingredients on Monday.

Tracy said...

I used to just go to the store every day or two and buy what I felt like making for the next two days. But, given the financial tightness, I did make a meal plan for this month. I figured out how much meat I needed, and bought that in bulk, and then broke out my weekly needs in shopping lists so I can go each week and get what I need. Fewer trips to the grocery store does help save money.

I also use a lot of the other sites online where people are doing weekly or monthly menu plans to try and get ideas.

The problem we've had is that my husband generally doesn't think that what I'm making for dinner "sounds good". He has admitted though that when he gets home and eats it, it is always generally good, and he enjoys it. It's just a difference not having what we want on a whim.

Mandajuice said...

Tracy, you're LUCKY! Every week I ask Dave what he wants me to cook for dinner and his answer is always the same: "I like everything you cook." I just wish he'd give me some ideas! Can you sit down with your husband while you're meal planning and get his input? That way he couldn't complain!

Jimmie said...

Hi, I just found your blog (from City Mama's $10 challenge page), and, at risk of sounding like a teenager, OMG, I'm hooked! :-)

My husband and I have just recently started planning dinner menus (I did them a month in advance) and have also been trying to keep costs down.