Monday, December 10, 2007

To Plan Or Not To Plan

I have to admit, I'm a list maker, a graph drawer and a checker-offer. I like making a paper plan of what I'm going to feed my family for dinner. I've made monthly dinner calendars and I've made weekly dinner calendars. But you know what I've found? Planning meals is a great thing if your time is more important to you than your money.

For me, it cost more for me to grocery shop around my meal plan. I’d plan out some great healthy meals and sure, it was so relieving not to have to try and come up with some dinner idea at 5pm when I was exhausted, Chris was just coming home from work and the kids were hollering how hungry they were.

But what I realized was that I was spending twice as much on groceries because I was buying things according to my plan, not necessarily according to what was on sale or in season or even what was already on hand. Plus I wasn't accounting for all the leftovers that we could eat so we would have a fridge stuffed with leftovers that would end up getting thrown away because heaven help me if I deviated from the plan I had worked so hard on.

So I stopped cold turkey and I shopped without a plan.

Some of you are gasping right now. Just take a nice deep breath.

I did keep track of things I ran out of like toilet paper, spices, eggs, milk….the basics….but the rest was decided as I shopped at the store. I bought what was on sale, marked down, or mis-priced, and I wrote my weekly menu plan on the back of my grocery list as I shopped.

I sometime WILL make a menu plan before shopping but that is only when I base my plan around what I already have and then just a get a few ingredients rather than having to buy all the ingredients to make my meals.

Which brings me to another point…

You must shop alone!

You can’t work all this out and find the best deals if you’ve got kids asking you questions, misbehaving in the store, or even if they are great kids but you have to keep your mom-radar on to make sure they are all with you and not lost somewhere in the frozen food section.

Ok enough...moving on....


Breakfast today - Pancakes (see, I told you I really do cook breakfast!)

Lunch - Egg sandwiches, apple juice, carrot sticks and dip

Dinner - I threw together some soup with the frozen meatballs, beef broth, spices (basil, garlic powder) and some veggies. Made baking powder biscuits and more sliced veggies and dip. $4.48 for dinner.


carrie said...

Oh my gosh! I thought I was the only one who didn't plan my meals! I've tried it and it does cost me more.

But while I do shop the store, so to speak, I usually end up buying the exact same things every week and just cook on the fly. I tend to throw the same things together at the last minute and it works for us.

I think it's a personality thing, because that's how I do school too.

Emily said...

I think you and Carrie would get along JUST fine with her school plan. :)

and that soup sounds super good. Very clever to do meatball soup.

I'd like to know what things you run out of quickest. I'm curious. that's all.

plus I miss you and this makes you type stuff for me to read.

duckygirl said...

I'm the opposite. If I make a plan I spend less, really. If I wing it I end up going back to the store for something I forgot and more trips always ends up being more money. Maybe it's due to never shopping alone??

I like to keep my plans simple, though I do occasionally ask hubby what he'd like to see on the menu and then I end up making Gyros or Steak...not so cheap!


EEEEMommy said...

What a great new blog! I've subscribed to the feed, and am very excited to get motivated about being more frugal.

I'm caught in the middle. When I plan meals, I get all creative and remember all the great things I know how to make and am hungry for. Shopping for gourmet meals is a lot more expensive than quick throwing together whatever is in the pantry at the moment. But, I also find that I spend more at the store because I tend to impulse buy without a plan.

A few of my friends sit down with the ads and plan their weekly meals based on what's on sale that week. I keep thinking that's what I should do....
Not sure how to get around going to the store without the kids! :(

Mrs. Querido said...

Are you one of those superladies who can pull a gourmet meal out of thin air on command? :) I cannot even think of seven meals to make, let alone compile it Iron Chef style depending on the sale items!

I am in awe. And envious :)