Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Turning a new leaf: meal planning

This summer I've been thinking and reading about ways to be more frugal; ways that I can trim our budget (or, hell, even set a budget!) and pay down more debt and increase our savings. We have a big trip coming up - two months in Texas - during which time we'll be paying two rents. We need to be as frugal as we can leading up to that.

Aside from the obvious ways to cut spending - no snacks or meals out, buying only when we really need something and not when we WANT something, getting clothes on consignment, reusing everything we can - I am absolutely committed to reducing our grocery spending. I know we spend more than we have to. However, I also have two priorities that I won't compromise on: buying local as much as possible and eating as healthily as possible (lots of fruit and vegetables in season). To achieve this I'm continuing to shop at the local farmers' markets (there are two great ones to choose from in the K-W area - a blog post to come) and as of yesterday I started to shop at farm gates. This is VERY easy here as many Old Order Mennonite Farms are only a 15 or 20 minute drive from my door.

I've also decided to do something else; something many people do every week and I've wanted to do for some time: make a weekly meal plan. Up until now, we decide what we're having for supper the same day that we make it. If I'm lucky, I decide the day before. This has resulted in more meals out, more trips to the grocery store and more groceries bought for full price. It also sometimes results in vegetables going rotten in the fridge when I forget what I have or buy it at the farmers' market and don't have a good plan for it. All this changes as of today.

Last night I sat down and made a meal plan for us based on what we like, what is in season, what I already had in the fridge. I didn't have any flyers in front of me. I knew I was going to the St. Jacobs Farmers' Market today and I knew what I would likely find. I expect the result of this new ritual will be a lessening of our food budget but I've decided to also set a limit on what I spend each week. I'm starting with $120 and hope to reduce it closer to $100 over time.

Here is our menu for this week:

Tonight: Brocolli strudel and corn on the cob (brocolli and corn bought at farm stands)
Wednesday night: Chicken simmered in white wine and fresh herbs (from the garden), roasted beets and potatoes
Thursday night: Spaghetti with cherry tomatoes and pecorino cheese (tomatoes bought at farmers' market today)
Friday night: Homemade pizza and salad
Saturday night: tourtiere (because Rose will be here and loves it) using beef and pork and apples from market, green and yellow beans (from market)

I'll let you know how it goes and I'll likely jump back into Shan's What's Cooking Wednesday (it's been a while!) and post one of the recipes from the week. Wish me luck. I'm not sure how I'll react to this much organization!


little b said...

I should be doing the same. I often plan three days in advance, but no more than that. I have been trying very hard to buy what is on sale at the grocery store and work around that. But, usually the meal planning happens in the store when I find out what is on sale. I could make use of the sale flyers that show up in the mailbox every week instead.

Julie said...

I've been doing this for years now. It doesn't always pan out the way I want it, because sometimes you just don't want what you planned for that day. For me it was a way to ease the stress, but it does save on money. that is for sure. the only thing I need to do is get the grocery fliers again. then i could plan with what was on sale. that would save even more. i cancelled our flier delivery because i thought it was such a waste of paper, but now i realise that it would help the budget too. good luck!