My friend suggested that I conquer the kitchen and my sanity by planning a menu. I've done this before without great results. Her suggestion was to pick 7 meals that everyone will eat and remake the same 7 meals each week. Easy shopping, easy cooking, easy organizing.
This is week 1 of the experiment. This month's menu is:
Sunday - Spaghetti Bake (noodles (wheels, penne, etc.), sauce, meat, shredded cheese, baked until bubbly)
Monday - Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
Tuesday - Homemade Mexican Rice, with seasoned beef, cheese, sour cream, salsa and tortilla chips
Wednesday - Beef and Mushroom Strogonoff
Thursday - Chicken Teriyaki Rice
Friday (it's Lent folks) - Alternate Bean & Mushroom Enchiladas OR Mushroom Alfredo (which would normally be Chicken & Mushroom Alfredo)
Saturday - Meatloaf w/Mashed Potatoes
I took stock of my pantry, refrigerator, and freezer......and made a list. I only bought the things on my list. I also included items for lunch. A common lunch that lasts all week is Chicken & Broccoli Alfredo. But mostly, lunch will be leftovers. Breakfast is either eggs, waffles, or cereal. My secret snack is homemade granola.
I am curious to see if I can keep up with the planning and stay on track. I posted my monthly menu on a bulletin board and taped the weekly menu, complete with breakfast, lunch, and dinner, on the door of my pantry. I bought two weeks worth of groceries and should only have to refill things like eggs, milk, and produce next week, which will hopefully make for a short, inexpensive shopping trip.
My same friend suggested that I think about what is reasonable to spend on groceries for a week, a month, a day, etc. I have always struggled with this. Am I spending too much? Not enough? Does what I spend make sense for us?
She had heard that a good amount is $4/day/person - $.50 for breakfast, $1.00 for lunch, $1.50 for dinner, and $.50 for snacks (2/day).
For my family of 7, which is sometimes only 5, that comes to: $20/day x 2 weeks = $280 and $8/day x 1 week = $56 (they're only here 7 out of 14 days)....grand total $336/2 weeks or $168/week.
I was surprised to find once I used this formula that I actually do spend a reasonable amount of income on groceries most of the time. To keep it in check, I need to make sure I bring a list, only buy what's necessary, and stay away from tempting, easy fix items like pizza rolls and cookies. Keeping staples in stock by buying in bulk is helping too. I always have enough flour, sugar, butter, oats, dried fruit, chocolate chips, etc., to make cookies, granola, waffles, cake (which I have not had in over a week!!), pancakes, or any other baked good my family desires.
I'll keep you posted on the menu experiment. I wonder how my family will like it?