As promised, I am back with our weekly menu and grocery list for last week. My Mom Talk Monday video last week was about this very topic, except in my quest to be authentic, I left out several key points. Hopefully this post will fill in the gaps and answer any questions you might have.
Meal planning is important to me because I don’t physically earn an income as a stay-at-home mama. However, I can have a positive impact on our budget by being a good steward of our resources. At our house, grocery costs are one of our larger budget items (outside of our mortgage).
Things I keep in mind when I am creating a weekly menu:
- Our grocery budget ($200 per week)
- How much food it will take to feed our family of six
- Items on sale
- What I have in the pantry, fridge, and freezer
- What produce is in season
- Any events we have on the calendar (meals we are hosting at our house, church events, meals for sick, etc.)
- New recipes I might want to try
- Meals our family enjoys
There was a time (when I had three less children) that I shopped at multiple stores, used lots of paper coupons, and kept a smallish stock pile of grocery items. I realize that if I still did these things, I would save money.
I could very easily feed our family of six on a smaller budget if I shopped sales at multiple stores and bought our canned goods and produce at Aldi. However, with four children, I am no longer able to do that. I largely stick with one shopping trip and one store per week, with some Amazon deals in the mix. I’ve had to find a balance with our food budget and my sanity. 🙂
I’ve said this a thousand times, but let me say it again: Your weekly menu and grocery budget have to work for your family. Your family’s health might require a gluten free diet, which will likely result in an increased grocery bill. Whatever your dollar amount is, creating a meal plan that works with that number is key.
Our Weekly Menu
I use this simple table I created in Microsoft Word to make my grocery list. As I discover items we need throughout the week, I jot them down and clip my list to the side of the fridge for easy access. To plan our weekly menu, I sit down with my list, calendar, grocery ad, and any new recipes I have in mind.
See my super fancy menu for the week at the bottom? 🙂 I number the meals I plan 1 through 7 at the bottom of my list and use this one piece of paper to plan our week.
As I mentioned before, I consider any activities or fellowship meals we are participating in as I plan our weekly menu. I write down my seven meals, in no particular order. Why, in no order? I do this because I like the flexibility it affords.
In planning, I know that even if something unexpected comes up, someone drops by, invites us over to dinner, or a child gets sick, I don’t have to stress. I have a collection of meals, the ingredients I need, and a plan to prepare them, all while adhering to our budget. I can mix and match meals according to how our day has goes (and as a homeschooling mama, this is important).
I also print off any new recipes I want to try. This week I had two: A bread recipe for my bread machine, and my friend Rachel’s macaroni and cheese.
Here was my weekly menu for last week:
- Monday: Spaghetti with homemade sauce (I had in freezer), green beans, and zucchini noodles (for me–the kids and Mark have regular noodles)
- Tuesday: Hubby Lovin’ Chicken from Trim Healthy Table, mashed potatoes, and roasted brussel sprouts (from freezer)
- Wednesday: Beef Roast (From freezer) , Mac & Cheese from the Country Contessa, Broccoli, and Homemade Apple Sauce (I bought two bags of Granny Smith Apples week before last on sale that the kids won’t eat in their original form)
- Thursday: Breakfast Casserole and Fruit Salad
- Friday: Vegetable Soup (Using remainder of roast from Wednesday Night) and Grilled Cheese
- Saturday: Family Gathering at our house. Hot Ham and Cheese Sliders from Andrea Dekker, and veggie tray. Family members brought additional items.
- Sunday: Grilled Chicken (using other half of chicken I made Tuesday evening), Roasted Sweet Potatoes, and raw veggies.
- Monday: Christmas Dinner at my parents.
Now, the reality of what we ate this past week was a bit different from my plan. Monday evening (you know, the same Monday I did the meal planning video) my dinner plans crashed.
The jar holding the remainder of my homemade spaghetti sauce broke into my already simmering pot. I was so proud of my first homemade pasta sauce (containing farm raised beef from my cousin), but I couldn’t chance any little Derringers eating slivers of glass, so it went in the trash. There’s no picture to document this incident because I could have cried.
It was 5:15 and my dinner was in the trash. It was almost as bad as pouring breast milk down the drain. Almost. Sure, I had other meals on the agenda for this week, but it was 5:15!
Why do I mention this dinner flop in a post centered around our weekly menu?
Because life happens. Things go awry. That’s the reality of motherhood. When those nights happen, I give myself grace and carry on the following day. We had pizza for dinner last Monday evening. That wasn’t on my agenda, but that’s okay.
I could have spent time beating myself up over my silly mistake. It was totally my fault the jar broke. I knew better, but was being impatient and tried to finish defrosting them in the microwave (my mother and extension agent- cousin are gasping right now).
I have learned, though, that there are two options when things don’t go as planned.
I can allow it to get me down and in a rotten mood, or I can chalk it up as a learning experience. I chose to do the latter on Monday evening, December the 18th.
So, mama friends, the next time your dinner plans go south, remember Abby’s spaghetti sauce debacle and know you’re not alone. 🙂
This week, I ordered Groceries via Kroger Clicklist and Amazon. Mark ran out later to get few additional items from Walmart that Kroger wasn’t able to fill on our Clicklist order.
The total for all food purchases for this week was $159.87, which included a $9 ham, a $12 package of chicken, and two Little Ceasar’s pizzas. We also purchased some paper products for the holiday gathering, diapers, reusable Swiffer pads, and medications to replenish the medicine cabinet after recent illnesses. These items were not included in the food total, as we budget seperately for medical expenses and personal care items.
A few other details:
- I planned for seven days, but won’t return to the grocery until Saturday 12/30. We have leftovers from our family get togethers that we’ve been enjoying. Therefore, the groceries I purchased will have fed our family for almost two weeks.
- I plan dinner meals only, as we rotate the same things for breakfast and lunches. If you don’t already do this, I suggest having 3 or so breakfast and lunch ideas each that you can alternate. Our breakfasts are usually: 1) oatmeal, eggs, and fruit, 2) sausage, pancakes, and fruit, or 3) muffins, eggs, and fruit. I just make sure I have the ingredients on hand or on my list for the week. Our lunches are sandwiches (turkey or PB & J), leftovers, salad, or what we call a “snack” lunch (hard boiled egg, cheese, fruit, ritz crackers, etc.).
- The ham I bought was way more meat than I needed for the ham and cheese sliders I made on Saturday. I portioned the remainder out into meal sized portions for our family and put it in the freezer.
- I made our bread in the (new to us) bread machine, so you won’t notice that on our grocery receipt.
- Once I plan meals, I will often tweak them a bit. What I write down won’t always be the exact meal we end up eating. For example, I might be in the mood for a different green vegetable than what I had written down. If we have it in the freezer, I will substitute and go about my business.
- We budget $200 per week for groceries. I realize this might be more than other families of our size budget. However, this works for our family. We enjoy a lot of fruits and vegetables, I eat a salad almost every day for lunch, and our boys have fruit for or with nearly every snack.
- I purchase some specialty foods, extra staples, or on- sale items when I have excess in our grocery budget. For example, I ordered a $19 bottle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil off Amazon a couple of weeks ago. This is obviously not an expense we have every week. Another example would be stocking up on frozen vegetables or fruits when they are on sale.
- I do frequently use Kroger Clicklist for grocery shopping. Yes, this costs $4.95. However, I can guarantee I save that much money not taking four children into the store. This cheesy little smile might be cute, but he is not a happy shopper. 🙂
I think that covers it! I realize that was a lengthy and in depth post, but I wanted to hit all the details of how I create our weekly meal menu and our grocery costs.
Please drop me a comment or email with any ideas, tips, or questions! I would love to learn how you create your grocery list and meal plan.