So I love posting recipes, but another equally important aspect of having delicious and well prepared meals without being totally stressful is menu planning.
My Dear Husband and I are saving like nobody’s business lately. Now is probably the only time in the history of EVER that we will have a surplus in our income…and don’t get me wrong, we DON’T make a lot, but we’re no longer paying for my schooling, Kyle’s schooling is covered by scholarships (smartie pants) plus my job gets him half tuition which is a big bonus, and we don’t have any living children so there aren’t tons of expenses. Anyway, we are saving for dental school, a car that we’ve decided to pay cash for rather than getting a loan, retirement, and a down payment on a house
…holy chalupa that is a lot of saving!
Anyway, the funny thing we are learning about saving, the young adults that we are, is that it makes you SUPER POOR. The good news is all of the money that we don’t have currently is at least ours, but it’s funny how we have to learn to stretch our dollars still.
So the point of this is we currently have a VERY tight food budget, which is not my favorite thing because I love food, and I love cooking.
I’ve planned our menus ever since we got married. Usually it’s pretty informal and I simply plan 3-4 meals before I go to the store every week, but I don’t plan when we are eating them, I just know those are the things I can cook that week. It’s worked pretty well, but it gets kind of exhausting planning meals EVERY SINGLE WEEK.
As we have been talking about budgeting and keeping our food costs down, I thought what about a MONTHLY menu? That way we can make sure we intermingle more expensive meals with cheaper meals, plus if something we need is on sale, I can buy it anytime in that month to make sure we’re getting the best deal.
This was a GREAT idea, and I think you should all do it whether or not you are watching your food dollars.
I decided the best way to insure we were getting an even variety of foods, was to make a category for each day of the week. A sidenote, I think this could be really fun for kids to have something to look forward to each night of the week. Anyway, the categories I chose fit our needs and helped to insure that Kyle and I were both happy with our meals, and we were keeping our costs reasonable. The categories I chose were as follows:
Meatless Monday: This one is pretty common, this is a way for us to cut down on costs (meat is PRICEY) as well as time to prepare the food and to eat a little healthier. Mondays aren’t my favorite cooking day because work is usually longer/more stressful on Mondays, plus we have Family Night so I don’t want to spend the whole day in the Kitchen.
Kyle’s Favorites Tuesday: I included this because I like to break the mold and make what some would consider weird stuff. I very rarely make the kinds of foods Kyle likes which isn’t fair, he never complains, but this way we both know at least once a week he can have one of his favorites.
New and Different Wednesday: This one is to make sure I am still having fun and getting to be creative in the kitchen. On Wednesdays I can try fun, new recipes. I chose Wednesday because it’s a shorter work day and I tend to have the time/energy to spend in the kitchen.
Leftover Thursday: Inevitably our fridge piles up with food so I like to plan a night to use them, which is another money saver!
Italian Friday: I could have simply called this homemade pizza night, but I thought we could have a yummy pasta dish now and then as well. I hate cooking on Fridays, but pizza and pasta are quick and easy, and pretty inexpensive since the dough is homemade all we really need is cheese, sauce and a vegetable.
Breakfast for Dinner Saturday: We LOVE breakfast for dinner, and this is another cheap meal because we usually have all of the ingredients on hand.
Comfort Food Sunday: This is the day for all of our classic family favorites
Have I mentioned that I love this? Because I love this. I don’t intend to stick to it EXACTLY, but it’s so nice that I only have to plan menus once a month, which honestly takes only a few minutes longer than planning for a week. The categories make planning easier because you at least have some kind of ballpark idea of what you will be eating. Here is a sample of my menu (which I am nervous to show because I am afraid of being judged for what I eat #dietitianproblems…but I thought it might spark some ideas in all of you!
Do you have any brilliant meal planning or budgeting tips? I’d love to hear them!