Every so often, Neill and I sit down and go through our finances to make sure that we are still on the right track. A few weeks ago, we did just that. Much to our dismay, we came face to face with the realization that more money was going out than coming in. And when we looked to see where the money was going, we discovered that we were spending an inordinate amount of money on groceries. Like, a lot a lot a lot of money. The worst part of this for me was that I often felt like there was nothing to eat in the house. Plus, there were lots of times when we ended up throwing unused food away after it had gone bad. It was not a good situation.
The answer we came up with?
Meal planning! Every Sunday morning before going grocery shopping, I sit down and come up with a plan for what we will eat for dinner in the coming week. So, for example, this past week the meal plan looked like this:
Monday 12/1: Salad with tuna and garbanzo beans with homemade salad dressing
Tuesday 12/2: Taco night with ground bison and all the trimmings
Wednesday 12/3: Spinach quiche with roasted asparagus
Thursday 12/4: Ground bison stuffed bell peppers
Friday 12/5: Leftovers
Saturday 12/5: Homemade pizza night and salad
Sunday 12/6: Grilled cheese and tomato soup
I try to reuse the same ingredients to minimize how much we have to buy. For example, at Costco the ground bison comes in a two pack. So, one pack went to the tacos and one pack went to the stuffed peppers. Another ingredient that did double duty was cheese. We bought a bag of shredded mozzarella cheese. We used it to top the tacos, I put it in the quiche, I mixed some into the peppers, and rest of it went to the pizza.
I also try to plan a mix of easy and more labor intensive meals, based on when we will have time to cook. I'm home on Wednesdays, so it was easy for me to make the quiche, roast the asparagus, and do all the prep for the stuffed peppers. Then on Thursday, when I had less time to cook, all I had to do was eat up the peppers in the microwave.
It has only been a couple of weeks, but so far our system is working out really well. Not only are we spending less on groceries, but also we are being more purposeful about what we spend our money on. And planning in leftover meals makes sure that we aren't throwing away food.