Since school has started I've been making weekly menus and pretty well sticking to them - HOORAY! I feel like I should get a gold glittery star for this alone....apparently I'm the only one who thinks this because I have no gold glittery stars :(
The problemo- is money. Matt and I were talking and felt like my weekly grocery runs weren't saving us money as compared to eating out as we felt they should. So I started thinking and decided that instead of making a weekly menu I would make a monthly one. I meticulously plotted out what to make each day (except for the few Friday night football games where we'll eat out or at the "construction" stand as my kids say). I tried to think of what could be easily made or things I could make once and then reuse as a vegetable or a part of my meal later in the week. Another thing is I didn't want to get bored and feel like we were having the same things. My final portion is that since I've been cooking more (and I usually tend to get into a rut where I get bored and feel like I only know how to make 3 things yada yada yada and for the life of me don't know what to cook...) that lead to me deciding that once a week I was going to try a new recipe. So I've been pinning on pinterest and only trying to pin things that have a few ingredients, look simple and things we would like.
So after making my menu (on a blank calendar I printed off) I had to make my grocery list. To avoid just going recipe by recipe and writing down all the ingredients I started with meats and went through and counted how many recipes I used ground beef and wrote that number beside ground beef on the list, how many used chicken, etc. So my list instead of how many items was how many meals I needed to get out of it because everything I make uses approximately 1.5 lb of ground beef or a couple chicken breasts etc. This helped me keep from having a 17 page grocery list. I tried to meticulously go through and make sure that I didn't forget anything because I am very likely to get in there with big dreams and get distracted, forget half of what I need and have stuff sitting in the fridge or pantry I don't end up using because I don't have the right stuff.
Final step ALDI! If you haven't been there you should! It's sooooo much cheaper than anything else. It's different than a traditional grocery store: you pay a quarter for your buggy and get it back when you put it up, things aren't arranged just like a regular grocery, they don't have every single unique item, no deli, no extra stuff like clothes etc, they only take cash/debit - no credit, and you have to bag your own groceries. The idea behind it is less overhead and the savings carry over to you. I absolutely love it. My mom on the other hand is horrified and almost broke out into hives in there - you be your own judge.
2 fully loaded carts, several questions of exactly how many children I had, and a receipt half my body length later I had spent $330 dollars on a month of meals. Now let me clarify this is a lot for me to spend at once, however I had been spending around $150 for each week. This time however I didn't stray from the list at all, buy random stuff, or buy any toilet paper, cleaning supplies etc. that type of stuff.
It took me FOREVER to put it all away. I should also say if I didn't have an extra fridge in my garage and 2 deep freezers out there this would not work because there is no way I could store it all. I reorganized and streamlined my disaster of a pantry yesterday too.
Matt thinks I've lost my mind, when heading out to the garage to grab a kid a juice (it's been our beverage fridge) he asked me if I would like anything like a sour cream, or a bag of shredded cheese etc. (because it's jam packed with supplies). Funny man.
So I plan to keep record of how it's going, what I cook and don't and I've written down my shopping list again so that next month I can tweak it if I change things and no recreate it because our menu is filled with family favorites we want each month and hopefully it will not change a ton yet provide us with a lot of variety in our family suppers. We'll see. I am keeping my fingers crossed I didn't just waste a ton of money on a dream that's going down in flames! We'll see!!!