Menu Planning & Grocery Spending

Our food costs are way out of control!  It is obscene how much money I spend to feed a family of 3 each month  and I’ve been perplexed on how to bring it down.  Couponing doesn’t help.  I shop at Wegmans and I can get their store brand items cheaper than any name brand + a coupon.  And their store brand products are just as good, if not better, than most name brands.  In addition to spending a ton at the grocery store, I eat out too much.  “Hi, I’m Jess, and I’m a fast food addict.”  How many of you said in your head, “Hi, Jess” after you read that last sentence?  hehehe  We’ve been eating out at a nice sit down restaurant once a pay period and if you add drinks to dinner, that’s a hefty bill.  And getting pizza or Chinese takeout once a pay period adds up, too…I’m trying to be real here and lay all my cards on the table.  As a side, I was talking with my friend, CC, earlier this Summer about writing a book.  I’m worried that strangers won’t “get” me or find me entertaining because they don’t know me; they’ve never heard me speak.  My friends hear my voice in their head when they read my blog.  She said I will connect with strangers because I talk about things that other people think or have experienced but don’t talk about it.  So they will relate to me.  That was great encouragement to me and I love CC even more for that.  Anywho, so I’m bearing my food soul here for you peeps and we can’t be spending our too few dollars on all this food!

All the bloggers who save a ton of money credit extreme couponing, menu planning and shopping only once a month with keeping food budgets low.  They also live in areas that have cheaper costs of living than I do and have a variety of lower cost grocery stores around, i.e. Aldi, Kroger, Publix, etc.  I thought shopping once a month was ridiculous; what about produce?!  It’s not going to last that long!  Then Holy Spirit-led Homeschooling guest posted on Money Saving Mom and she listed specifically which produce items they eat the 1st, 2nd and 3rd weeks and then canned produce the 4th week.  Pretty impressive!  I rarely by canned produce, unless it’s specifically required for a recipe and there really is no substitute, i.e. a jar of marinated artichoke hearts for spinach and artichoke dip.  But I do buy frozen produce and have even frozen fresh produce I’ve grown, picked or bought.  So, I can make produce stretch a month.
I’ve done my fair share of menu planning.  Y’all have seen me fall of and climb back on that bandwagon over and over and over…  But I only planned dinner menus.  I realized earlier this week that that has been my problem!  By not planning or buying for all lunches and breakfasts, there’s not enough in the house for those meals.  Hence I go out more and B eats cereal every morning.  And that shit has got to change! So, I made a menu plan for 3 meals a day Wednesday, being conscious of what is already in the house.  I saved over a third at Wegmans yesterday over my last shopping trip.  Now granted, two weeks ago, we were out of all meat, so I had to restock our meats.  When I do that every 2 months, the bill is higher.  But during my last shopping trip, I bought half the meats at Costco, so I still saved some good money at Wegmans yesterday.  :o)  I planned 14 Breakfasts and 14 Lunches but only 12 Dinners because there will be 2 “Leftover Wednesdays” in there.
So, fingers crossed that I am turing over a new leaf and am on the track to food savings!  Now I’m off to type up the menu plan from my notes and hang it in the kitchen for all to see and stick to.  Pray for me!

UPDATE!

I showed B the printed out menu plan.  He started hyperventilating over the fact that cereal for breakfast is listed only 3 times in 14 days.  LOL  But he got excited when I let him pick out what we’ll have for dinner tonight – Saffron Rice with Shrimp – and I intend to have him help me.  He taped the menu plan on the front of the top oven, “Where all the magic happens,” he said and had to add some drawings.  It’s very simple, and I hope to improve on the variety, but it’s a start:

5 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    I promise we spend 5x more on food than you do… it is truly disgraceful. I just can't get it together, I don't know how my mom did it!! There were 4 of us and we had 3 square meals a day… at home… and not microwaved!! Sigh, hopefully you'll inspire me, this shit has got to change!Kathy

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  2. Bahar says:

    It's not just about eating at home..I know people that eat at home more than most and still spend too much. Expensive recipes, ingredients they don't have means having to spend $50 on new ingredients for one dinner recipe. I have a list of breakfasts, lunches and dinners because I need to jog my memory for ideas that are known kid-pleasers or easy on the wallet. Costco's freezer section helps a great deal with entrees, lunches and sides and their quality is always good. Meat is much cheaper bought in bulk from there as well. Yes, you spend more in one trip but you save overall. Eating out can still be enjoyed but don't waste money on drinks or appetizers when you're already getting a steak meal for example. "Eating out" doesn't always have to mean expensive. We order Chinese but I order from the lunch menu when its cheaper and we have leftovers for at least a day or two afterwards. My kids love Boston Market…but one meal for 3 gives us one dinner and a lunch the following day for the kids…for less than $25 for a dinner and a lunch? That's pretty good in my book. I could spend the same for Wendy's…but no leftovers…so that's not a wise way to spend $20, ya know? Set a budget and play around with your choices within that budget for a couple months and find a way to enjoy and cut corners on other food expenses that aren't necessary.

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Okay, How is your menu plan coming along? I am going to sit down and make mine this weekend with a budget… we'll see how it goes. Your son is actually excited about saffron rice and shrimp?? How wonderful, my kids get excited about chicken nuggets *gag* I am putting a stop to a this crap eating too. It's about to go down in my house next week… if you hear screaming it's my starving kids.Kathy

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  4. It's going great in one aspect – there's so much food in the house we are not eating out. However, by planning every meal, there's so much food in the house we aren't going to be able to eat it all. LOL! So some of our meals will roll over to the next pay period. That's a bonus – less groceries to buy next pay period. :o)

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