Next week marks the start of my new job and also the start of a cut in hours. Going from 40 hours a week to 32 hours a week (5 days to 4 days) has been my goal ever since I went back to work from maternity leave. An extra day at home with my baby, being a mom? I have been praying for the day this would be possible. I can’t put a price on time with my baby, but it has been a goal of mine to come up with ways to make up for this 1 day of lost wages. The hubby broke it down for me a few weeks ago when I was seriously stressing about how we were going to meet our savings goals with me willingly bringing home less;
(-)Daycare cost 1 day a week
(-) Gas to and from work
(-) Hubby eating out every day for lunch (his self-proclaimed sacrifice) as long as we have things for him to take for lunch (items that do not require heating).
Looking at the money we have going out, I know that a big area we could be saving on is groceries. The number of days I stop at the store on my way home for 1 or 2 things we ran out of is kind of ridiculous. Those 1 or 2 thing stops almost always end up with me walking through the store looking around the huge pile of things I am trying to carry (why would I get a cart for the 1 or 2 things?)
The number one way to save money on groceries?
Planning out meals for the week and even prepping some on the weekend can really help keep grocery runs in check. Less stops at the store equals less impulse buys and more purposeful food at home.
Purposeful Food: Food purchased with a plan on how that food will be used. It is TOO easy to go the store and pick out food that looks good only to get home and realize you are missing 1 or 2 essential ingredients to actually make something with that item.
If you notice my meal plan does not lay meals out by the day of the week. I like to be spontaneous like that. Never knowing exactly how our week is going to play out, I don’t like to set in stone when we will be eating certain dishes. Maybe it is my type-A-ish personality- but it gives me slight anxiety when things don’t go as planned. To avoid that nonsense, I just pick a few dinners, breakfasts, snacks, and lunches and know that they will all end up being eaten at some point!
This weekend I wanted to take my meal planning a step further to save even more money and have even better meals for the week.
step 1: shop your kitchen
I started out by looking through my cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer to see what we had on hand already. By shopping the kitchen first, I can use up items we have and purchase less to have whole meals at home. canned pineapple in the cupboard and frozen enchilada sauce in the freezer? Beef and Pineapple Enchiladas are on the menu. Pinterest is my best friend when doing this. I found chicken breast in the freezer- searched “chicken” on my pinterest boards and browsed around to find a dish I wanted to make (in this case Better than Takeout Instant Pot General Tso Chicken) or something that inspires me.
step 2: Make a List
I listed the meals planned and broke the ingredients into two categories: Have and Need.
It is always a bonus when the items that you “need” show up in multiple dishes!
Step 3: Convert Meal Plan List to Shopping List
The best technique I have found for making a shopping list is to separate the items out by category. If all of my produce items are grouped together, I can take a quick glance to make sure I have everything I need before leaving the produce section. Nothing is worse than forgetting something all the way at the other end of the store and having a to double back (cranky baby trying to get out of the cart is just a bonus).
Since nothing on my list was too exotic, I was able to get everything I needed at Aldi . Talk about saving money.. I could not believe everything I bought today for $82. I can never seem to get out of a supermarket under $150 (whether the food is actually that much cheaper or I impulse buy my booty off I’ll never know).
Here is a look at everything I bought this week (minus the paper towel, paper plates, and crushed red pepper).
What is your favorite method to meal plan? Is cost or convenience most important?
Stay tuned for printables of my meal planning tools!