The big hot spot on my facebook wall is one of my recent statuses about my “successfully planned 18 dinners.” Eighteen is even huge for my OCD planning as I usually do 10-14 at a time. I can’t function without a menu and whats worse is trying to function with a menu without the right ingredients!
A few of the questions/remarks put to me were:
*How can anyone buy food for dinner 18 days in advance?
*Holy wow woman teach me!!! I soooo need to find a way to save money in the food department of my budget!!!
*Joanna, that’s awesome that you meal plan like that! I’ve been trying, but haven’t had too much success with it. Any tips?
I responded with my secret plots in accomplishing all of that and staying within a budget.
First, I figure out how many dinners I need to plan to get me from Pay Period A to Pay Period B. Next, I go partially insane trying to come up with that many dinners (in this case 18!!!) while trying to remain original and not preparing something everyone is burnt out on. I go through cookbooks, go to the Kraft website, call my mom, and ask Lowell what he wants. Once I’ve finished that, I prepare my grocery list based on my dinners. I write down how much of each kind of meat I need, how many fresh vegetables are needed based on the various meals, and whatever odd end ingredients I might need but don’t have on hand. Then, I write down the other usual things: cereal, oatmeal, eggs, butter, milk, bread, cheese, tortillas, etc. I buy everything I use alot of in the biggest quantities I can, so things like tortillas and cheese, for instance, are purchased in the largest packages available. I buy just about all store brand items, but you have to pay close attention because sometimes name brand is cheaper. Things like trash bags, ziploc bags, toilet paper, laundry detergent, dishwasher soap, and diapers you just have to buy name brand. And, we don’t buy snackie foods, that can kill the wallet! We do buy big bags of chips, Walmart brand for like $1.97, because Lowell brings some to work each day and the girls eat a pile of them at lunch sometimes. We don’t buy packaged cookies or “treats” either. If you’re feeling snacky over here, you can have an apple or string cheese. And, because our snack supply is just about nil, it is more reason to really eat up at meal time and that helps with the leftover problem.
Now, at some point throughout the time between pay periods, we may venture out for more fruits/veggies, milk, eggs, and/or bread, but that is it really. Bread is a rare outtage because I buy whats needed and freeze what I don’t need RIGHT away. It thaws out pretty quick…2-3 hours tops.
Then, I strategize meals and timelines. I make all the meals that call for fresh ingredients in the first half and the ones that require ingredients that will last a little while before going bad, or the canned/frozen ingredients, I prepare toward the end. And, my main goal is to eat left overs before the next grocery trip so that the fridge is empty enough to start a new cycle fresh.
I do believe that is the best way to explain myself. :) I hope this helps you out, or atleast satisfies your curiousity of my methods of meal planning madness. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.