no shopping challenge turned out to be quite a delight...an unexpected delight. Money has been tight and grocery expenses seemed to be skyrocketing so I decided to tighten the budget and really focus on how I was spending the family's grocery dollars.
I love it when times of struggle turn into time of inspiration. Don't you? I have been making weekly menus for the family for over a year but this weekend the proverbial light bulb went off. Darling daughter and I just returned from Costco where I actually stayed pretty darn close to my $200 budget (we went $7.88 over as I misjudged tax along the way). Moms, this made me VERY happy as we were spending $330-$400 every other week or so (sometimes every week!) and it had been a month since we went to Costco and I even treated darling daughter to the real wreath that she had her eyes on. She seriously loved it and was okay if I didn't get one but said she was going to save up her money so she could buy me one next year. I put back my sweet peppers and hummus and got the wreath. That girl, she melts my heart! She looks at the wreath with googly eyes everyday. AND....I picked up some "expensive items" as I got Tony Roma's boneless ribs and frozen brussels for Christmas dinner! Y'all, frozen veggies ROCK! Look for those that are just the veg and buy in bulk when you can. It saves some $$$ and makes life easier for you. Moms, don't we all need a break?
When we got home I got diligent. Diligent to the point of counting just how many wontons and chicken nuggets are in those big bags. Yes, I do buy some processed items to add into our diets here and there and my hubby and daughter ADORE their chicken nuggets! There are days I make them myself from scratch but juggling two jobs and a household has me picking my priorities and letting some things slide. Like the nuggets I used to shun due to....well, personal ego I think. A few nuggets with tons of veggies is fine.
With my list of what homemade frozen meals and meal starters I had in the freezer and my knowledge of what I just purchased, I sat down and wrote out a 4-week meal plan with the idea of little to no shopping until the beginning of January. We may need to get eggs but I did buy 3 dozen. 18 eggs for $2.19 is a steal when you can pay $5 or more for the same amount in other stores here on island. How much do you pay for eggs? Really, I want to know! I need to find a place with an amazing cost of living!
And here are a few menu planning tips. I like soups. They are easy to prep and leftovers make a great meal on late nights after horse lessons etc. I also plan easy to prep meals on my late work days to make meal prep easier. I am not always working from home or getting home just after 2 pm. I try to balance out the food loves of the entire family and having theme days that repeat are not a bad idea. I rotate those repeated meals based on what I purchase in bulk. From the bulk nuggets, wontons, sausage, tofu, and veggies, here is what I came up with.
The only meal on this list that requires an item I know I will need to purchase is enchilada night. I will be making homemade tortillas for taco nights but like store bought for enchiladas PLUS I will need to pick up some vegan cheese for mine. But since that is our holiday New Year's Eve meal I think it is okay, I will work it into my very small weekly budget.
And my other tip, be flexible, My family is used to me moving days around from time to time and since I have decided to do a 3 Day Refresh the start of January, those few days will be vegefied and that is okay, I have frozen veggies and plan to be shopping around then anyhow.
Finally, this meal plan does work with my eating plan. For dinners that are more carb-based, I tend to avoid the carbs earlier in the day as I know I will be eating them at dinnertime. It is all about balance and being flexible. And y'all, if you want to join me in starting 2017 with a refresh, email me. I would love to have you as an accountability partner as this will be my first time to try this!
Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for being able to refine my budget and to shop and meal plan better.
Daily Bible Verse: Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” ~ Hebrews 13:5
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