Monday, September 27, 2010

Meal Planning on a Budget

So yeah, 3 blogs in one day, it's a lot but I've been meaning to blog about this for a while. I've set our weekly grocery budget at $100 for our family of 3.5 which includes 3 meals and 2 snacks per day, plus toiletries. I usually shop for 7 days worth of meals at a time so it costs about $14 per day to feed my little family, about $4 per person for 3 meals a day, which is $1.33 per meal. Before I go to the store I make a meal plan where I write down 7 days worth of dinner ideas. To give you an example here is our latest meal plan:

grilled fish with lemon cream sauce, salad, rolls, and broccoli
bacon tomato quiche with salad
Zuppa toscana w/ baguettes and salad
Turkey Spaghetti with salad and baguettes
Philly cheese steak sandwiches w/ oven fried potatoes (oh man, these were good!)
Turkey burgers with baked zucchini fries and salad
Hot dogs with salad and green beans

We eat a lot of salad! I hadn't realized that. Anyway, once I know what I'm going to be eating I make my list of ingredients needed for these things, usually I don't need all of the ingredients because I've already got them on hand. I should mention that when I'm deciding what to make I usually raid my pantry first so I can incorporate what I've got on hand.

In addition to making an ingredient list I also list basic necessities like milk, eggs, bread, fruit, etc. and I list things like "3 snack items" (box of crackers, nutrigrain, etc), " 2 breakfast choices" (cereal or bagels, etc), "2 lunch items". I do this because for one thing I need snacks, breakfast, and lunch, but I also know that if I see something I want I'm going to be inclined to buy it. Setting vague limitations keeps me from over buying but allows me to add a few items to my cart that weren't specifically on the list.

Overall I've found that this works really well for us. No one goes hungry, we eat good food, and usually I come out $10-$20 under budget.

I'm curious to know what everyone else does? What's your budget, how much is an average meal in your house? Do you shop with a list or wing it?

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