With some many families struggling due to the economic recession, I often wonder how other families get by. I follow a blog called Trenches of Motherhood, and she often times does monthly challenges to see if they can stay within a certain budget for the month. The challenges are tough, but are an eye opener in the respect that that is literally all the money some families have. I wonder what kind of budget other families of 6, like ours, try to stick to. We try to stay around $800 per month for everything....groceries, fast food,...any food we will eat during the month. Before I go to the grocery store each week...I write a menu...with each meal broken down into the individual items I need to make that dish. Once I get to the store, as I am crossing them off, I also write the prices for the items down. Then I can calculate how close to budget I am staying. Some weeks, depending on what I am making that week, I spend less and some weeks it is more, overall we try to stay as close to budget as possible.
My aunt and uncle have always bought in bulk to save money. She makes a menu up and every Sunday they make up all the meals they will be having that week. While that works for them, it's never been something I was interested in doing in the past. But with my upcoming surgery I've been focusing more on 'freezable' type meals, and often times I will make 2 of whatever we are having for supper and freeze one of them. (I'm running out of freezer space!) Lately, with the kids being back in school, meaning 3 sets of homework, school activities, etc some nights we are just too busy for me to cook a full meal, but eating out when you have 6 people in ridiculously expensive. So, I've decided I'm going to try setting aside one day to make the majority of my meals for the week. There will be some recipes that I can partially make ahead of time, but all of them will take no longer than 10-15 minutes to finish preparing the day we actually eat them. As I prepare these meals I will photograph them as far into the process as I can go and still freeze/refrigerate them, and then the day we have them, I will discuss how to finish the dish out, how long it took to do so, and what our total cost for that days meals were.
Here's our menu for the next 7 days:
Thursday: Breakfast- Bacon and Toast
Lunch - lunch meat sandwiches, carrots and grapes
Supper - Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole
Friday: Breakfast - Cereal
Lunch - leftovers from Thursday
Supper - Mexican Chicken Casserole
Dessert - Homemade Banana Pudding w/bananas and wafers
Saturday: Breakfast- Muffin Melts
Lunch - Subway because Chris has a softball tournament (the Subway always offers $5 footlongs on tourney days...so we just take our own chips and soft drinks.)
Supper- Italian Beef Drip (this is perfect on busy days because you just have to throw it in the crock pot and let it slow cook, and when you make it a few days ahead and let it sit in the juices the meat becomes so tender it just falls apart.)
Sunday: Breakfast - Kids eat cereal before church...but following church we go out as a family for brunch...usually to Denny's and we order off of their $2/$4/$6 menu, and our bill is always somewhere around $30-$35, but this is our 'family day'!!! :)
Supper - Beef Stroganoff
Dessert - Blueberry Bread
Monday: Breakfast - Pancakes
Lunch - lunch meat sandwiches or leftovers
Supper - Chicken Parmesan, Salad and Garlic Bread
Tuesday: Breakfast - Bacon and Toast
Lunch - Chicken Viola
Supper Veggie Pizza
Dessert - Cupcakes
Wednesday: Breakfast - cereal
Lunch - leftover veggie pizza
Supper - Meatballs, salad, and mashed potatoes
I try to group together days where I am using repeat ingredients. Such as the casseroles, they require a lot of the same ingredients yet they taste so different that it's not a big deal to have them back to back nights. The beef drip and stroganoff both require beef chuck roast. So, I slow cook a large roast and split it up into what I need for each recipe.
I will also tell you that I spent $131 at the grocery store tonight, and that purchased everything (minus essentials you have stocked at your house like flour, sugar, etc) needed to make all of these meals.
I'm curious on how every one else plans their meals out for the week? Do you plan ahead or is it a decision made on a day-to-day basis?
How do you prepare to grocery shop? Do you make list? Do you stick to it? Do you have a budget and do you stay close to it?