Saturday, February 23, 2013

Monthly Meal Planning

I am almost through my second month of planning our dinner menu a month at a time.  Last month I went a little over my normal budget of $400.  This month I believe I will be under budget which was part of my yearly goals for 2013.

A few days ago I went through our deep freeze and made note of all the meat we had in it.  I then started to plan the menu for March based on what I had on hand.

This is the planner I bought specifically for menu planning

Isn't the cover pretty?  It has a plastic sleeve on it also so I don't have to worry about it getting messed up.  On the inside cover is a little pocket that I keep my extra care bucks and all grocery related receipts.

I really liked that each month took up two pages and had a little section for notes, which is where I keep a running tally of how much I have spent.

When planning my menu I make note of leftover days, which is every Friday.  I also make note of the days I would like to use the crock pot and plan those dinner first.   Right now that is on Tuesday's as this is our busiest day of the week with kids activities. I try to use up the meat that I inventoried from or deep freeze first. I have everything I need for 3 of the 4 crock pot dinners.  I will need to purchase some chicken for the last one.  I write that down on my grocery list.

 I also make note of any day that I know ahead of time we will be out of town or eating out. 

I then ask for requests from my family of things they would like to have for dinner.  I work those into the menu.

My husband requested lasagna. Since he likes to cook and  normally does on Saturday and Sunday each week, his request will be planned for one of those days.  I do not have the stuff for this meal so I add that to the grocery list.  Kid # 5 request ravioli, since we are making sauce for the lasagna we will make sauce to use for the ravioli towards the end of the month, at the same time.

We also try to have soup once a week in the cold months.  Kid # 3 requested Cheese Soup , I have most of the ingredients for this and it will fulfill one of the soup nights for the month.  In my freezer I had a container of Chicken and Rice soup. Will use that up in March also.  That only leaves two other days I will need soup for.

As you can see, just in this short time I have 12 days planned already.  Now I just need to fill in the gaps.  I use the calendar to help me plan but often times if something comes up I can easily move dinners around.  By planning this way at least I know what dinners I have available even if we don't follow the calender.

As of right now I have spent $281.40 on groceries and household items this month. This weekend I will make a run for butter, a few snacks and produce.  So I estimate that my total cost will be around $300 this month.  I will update again at the end of the month :)

Friday, February 22, 2013

5 Things I Did That Were Frugal This Week

1. Did some batch cooking for the week on Monday since I had the day off.

2. I bought a can of paint off one of the local Facebook yard sale groups for $5 which I will be using soon in my frugal bathroom make over

3. Made my husbands lunches every night using leftovers from our dinner.

4. Made a pot of beans, chicken broth, shredded chicken and a couple crock pot freezer meals in a batch cooking session.  All of which will save me money.

5. Started to plan my menu for March

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Black Bean Soup

I love black beans, they are one of my favorite beans to eat and I often add them to tacos, chili and other soups.  Tonight I made this Black Bean Soup.  It as delicious and it will now be on the rotation.  Of course I originally found the recipe on Pinterest.

Of course I never follow a recipe exactly and I did a few things different.  I never buy canned beans.  They really are not hard to make.  I just made a pot of them yesterday when I was cooking dinner and put them in the frig until this morning.  I also did not use canned chicken broth.  I always have some in the freezer that I have made myself to use in place of canned.  One other thing I did is leave out the cayenne pepper.  Kid # 5 doesn't really like alot of spice and every time I add cayenne to things she says it is to spicy.  ( Not that she likes hardly anything we have for dinner anyway but one can hope ) 

Anyway we will be having this one again.  I am a little behind in posting my weekly Pinterest recipes.  I hope to be caught up before the end of the month :)  Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

5 Things I Did That Were Frugal This Week

1. Bought my hubs a used Wii game for Valentines Day.  He loves it and could care less that the game is used

2. I found new to us living room furniture on one of the Facebook yard sale groups in my area for a great price.  Woohoo!

3. Bought a few things to do a couple of projects with gift cards I received for Christmas

4.  For Valentines Day we went to lunch instead of dinner.  Saving some money and missing all the crowds

5. Returned some purchases I had made a Christmas time which ended up not being the items I wanted.  Got my money back and avoided the after Christmas return crowd :)

Monday, February 11, 2013

Love Sign

Here is my first completed project of the year!  This is a sign I made from an old cabinet door I bought at a garage sale.  I painted it white, bought the letters, painted them black and glued them on.  Easy Peasy!

I love how it turned out and I love the black letters on the white.  I found inspiration from Pottery Barn, here and and this pin on Pinterest here.  I love Pottery Barn, but I do not love their prices!

Friday, February 8, 2013

5 Things I Did That Were Frugal This Week

1.  I got to work 5 days this week.  That is 2 extra days I took on which I don't normally get.

2.  I got most of the grocery shopping done and I believe I am way under budget! Ya for meal planning!

3.  Stuck to my meal plan

4. Did a Pottery Barn inspired/knock off project which cost me nothing to make because I had most of it and the $6 I did spend I used a gift card for.  I will post about it soon.

5. Ate leftovers for dinner one night and sent several leftovers for my hubby's lunches this week

Sunday, February 3, 2013

January Grocery Budget and Spending

My grocery budget in the past has always been $400 a month.  This year I am hoping to cut that by at least a $100 a month.   We will see if that happens or not. Either way it is a challenge I am gonna try to reach. 

For the month of January I spent $411.13.  $11.13 over my normal budget :(  After further looking over my receipts I come to realize I spent $160.88 stocking up on good sale prices I saw through out the month.

For February we should do much better with the budget.  I plan to do my grocery shopping this week for most of the month. 

We just had a Costco open up 7 blocks from our house.  My biggest obstacle in keeping my grocery budget low will be keeping my husband out of that store.  He is fascinated with shopping there :(

In January I did not take my grocery money out in cash to spend.  This month I have already withdrawn half of the cash from our account and I plan to withdrawal the rest this week.  Whatever is left in cash at the end of the month I will deposit into our car fund.

I am really hoping that my meal planning has helped to pay off.  Now I just need to be weary of buying to many sale items even if they are at a good stock up price.

Friday, February 1, 2013

5 Things I Did That Were Frugal This Week

1. One of the days I worked this week, I ate lunch at work for free :)

2. I had 2 stay at home days

3. I cleaned the bathroom using homemade cleaner

4. I planned our menu for the whole month of February.  Now I just need to do the grocery shopping

5. Cooked our meals and we ate at home

Goodwill Find

Last week on my "5 Things I Did That Were Frugal This Week ", I posted about how I found something at Goodwill that I had almost bought online.  Well here it is

ya I know it is nothing fancy but I was in need of one and could not find it anywhere around here.  I was going to order one online and it was going to cost me about $20 with shipping.  I talked myself out of it and then the every next day found this at Goodwill for $1.99 or actually $2.15 when tax was added.  Sometimes it pays to be patient and keep looking.  Not always my strong suit :)