Not planing your meals can make you plan for disaster. Running to the store for that one thing mid week that you forgot exposes you to all the stimulation they retailers want to get you to buy more. It is also more gas, more time, and usually more money than if you got that thing on sale.
It's my personal opinion that planning for a month is to extreme. It might work for some people. But our planning is constantly adapting for foods that need to be used up or something that I found that was a really really good sale. It's that adapting that saves money. Weekly plans work better for is, I got a dry erase magnetic board for the fridge. It works. I also have a form that I designed in excel. It has the days of the week on blocks, my personal matrix in the "extra" block. And two columns: one for a lost of basics we always have on hand and one for things we need to purchase to fill in the meals.
We use a matrix based on proteins. This gives us a variety of meals and assures everyone gets some of what they like to eat. It took me a while to come to the conclusion that you can't please everyone all of the time , but you can please everyone some of the time. If the meal isn't their favorite, their favorite will come in rotation. The basic protein, starch and fruit or veggie meal matrix keeps us balanced.
Our matrix is :
- 1 beef
- 3 chicken or Pork
- 1 fish or shellfish
- 2 vegetarian
Others have a different matrix, say maybe one based on themes, or tuoes of food like Mexican, Chinese, etc.
Having a outline helps make meal planning fast and easy. Having a list of entrees that your family likes and that are easy to prepare clinches the deal. We, like many families have a couple of basic "winners" that we eat every week. They are open ended so it possibilities are endless. Those are pizza and breakfast 4 dinner. Both are very inexpensive meals. Scratch pizza can be as low as 1.09 a pizza . Eggs these days are a dollar a dozen. Having a few really inexpensive meals affords you the luxury of a meal or two that is more of a splurge and still effectively averaging five dollars a meal for the proverbial family of four.
Having a binder of recipes and forms organized is a great help too. If you are drawing a blank, it's a good thing to have.
A plan and recipes that are easy and inexpensive and clean up is minimal is key in keeping the pizza delivery gremilins away. A delivered pizza can cost twenty dollars. A handmade one can cost 1.09 . Scratch lizzamcrust cossts .17 - .25 depending on your cost of flour. I just purchased pepperoni for .50 a package. With two dollar a pound cheese and a part of a pizza sauce jar from the DT, a pizza can be 1.12.
Note : groceries on the cheap is a different way to buy groceries. The emphasis is on replenishing what you have used rather than buying just what you need for a particular week. This allows you to only buy what's a RBP and means you pay 1/2 price for almost all your food.
If you spend more time planning your shopping trips ( no impulse buying ) and making meal plans, and less tome cooking, your budget will be better off. We spend 1/2 of the amount the USDA estimates oirmfood should cost. That figure osmcost of food at home: part of our weekly amount is stocking food for future meals. That figure is 55.00 a week so far this year. The average family of four can cost as much as 1213.00 a month, At 75.00 00 a week, that is 315.00. That's a difference of 898.00 a month or 10.776.00 a year.