Budgeting 101 - Meal Planning (how I do it)!

Good evening once more,

I can't believe it - I had my post almost fully written, was going to finish it tonight and hit publish... but it is gone; grrrrr, so frustrating! Oh well - time to just move on and rewrite; lucky for me this is a topic I love, and am very passionate about!

So tonight I am going to talk about menu planning... don't think I am a whizz at this; I am far from it! However, we do practise this regularly, but for me it is a sanity-saving issue, not a money-saving tool! One day I would like to be more organised, and change it up into more of a money-saving exercise; but that requires far more time and patience than what I have currently got!

So I will start off by talking about how I plan - we do it in the most simplest of ways, and then I will go into more depth in the next post on how I would like to see it work for me in the future... when time is less of a premium in my life! 

I have created my own fortnightly meal-planner, as I couldn't find one online that had everything I wanted in it; and for us, due to my pay cycle being fortnightly, a two-weekly meal planner was necessary. 

My fortnightly meal-planner

So this is what my meal planner looks like - I have colour-coded it, and have included spaces for lunches, snacks, dinners and schedule. For me currently - I only manage to fill out the dinner and schedule lines, I just don't have enough time to really pre-plan lunches and snacks... one day! Underneath I also have room for a small shopping list and a 'To-Do List' (which is generally related to meals - such as taking meat out of the freezer, or other such exciting things 😉)! I don't use these every time, but they're handy to have there should I need to remember something specific for that fortnight.

I also start off my planning by filling out the schedule first, it gives me an idea of what to expect that week - how to plan around activities, guests, trips away and other things that come up. For example we have regular guests 3x a week, which you can read about here , and one of our guests won't eat any pork, another doesn't like any kind of fish and the third won't eat sausages... so all of these kinds of things need to be taken into account when planning the meals. Another thing I did last term (which I need to remember to do again now), was on Wednesday my daughter has gymnastics, and I would always try to make a crockpot meal on those nights. My reasoning for this was because I would pick her up, so we'd be a bit later, and she would come home tired and hungry after such a busy day; a crockpot meal meant I would have something nutritious and warm ready earlier on those nights, than I would have if I had to cook from scratch.

Then the weekend after pay, I sit down and go through the specials in our local supermarkets - noting down prices, and which supermarket to purchase it from... and then continue on and finish my list - we only have a Countdown and New World here, and I find they both have products we like. So later that same weekend, I head off (generally on my own) and starting with Countdown (as it's the furtherest away), I go through both supermarkets and following my list (mostly), and get what I think we need. I do one BIG shop a fortnight, but try to leave $40-$80 for smaller shops as we need to (bread and fruit and other such things). I also have my own excel shopping list - I have it as a big A3 laminated on my fridge, so I can tick things as I run out (I am so NOT good at this though), and as a two-sided A4 list that I can then take to the supermarkets - this seems to work well for me.

The fridge copy of my shopping list

The two-sided A4 size list that goes to the supermarkets
- I am holding it like that so you can see it on both sides!

Then on the Sunday night - I sit down and decide what meals I am going to cook for the next fortnight, based on the food I have bought earlier that weekend... which is a very backward way of doing things, and the reason why meal planning doesn't save us money!

Having sat down and put a planner and a shopping list together - it makes my grocery shopping and meal planning a fairly simple affair, and I know the more time I put into getting organised, the easier it'll get! 

I am a recipe junkie, and have a shelf full of recipe books, and my computer has loads of downloaded recipe books, along with photos of recipes from books I have borrowed! Nothing is organised on the computer, and I shudder at what it would take to go through these and get them into some sort of order; and yet I keep collecting them!

My favourite corner of the house... My cookbooks!
My splurge is my Healthy Food Guide Magazine once a month!

I also have a folder full of recipes that I have printed out over the years - it is full to the brim, and currently very messy because I can't fit everything in; but most of these recipes are my tried and true ones! I also print off recipes that I like the look of, but haven't always managed to try everything I have printed yet *oooops* 😏!

Once you get past the mess - my folder is reasonably orgnaised; I keep all my old meal plans (the idea is to recycle them, but I like trying new things too much *grin*), and then all my recipes are actually filed in alphabetical order... it's just the front of it where all the new recipes are, because I can't fit them in!

But despite having all these wonderful resources at my finger tips - you will generally find me flicking through the internet and Pinterest on a Sunday night, drooling over recipes and trying to decide what to cook in the coming week! 

Then once I have finished my meal plan it goes into a plastic folder, with all the appropriate recipes behind it, and is kept up on my window sill. This way hubby can see what we're having each night for dinner... currently the kids don't care too much, until it is dished on their plates; but I intend on getting them more involved in the process as they show more interest.

So - this is how we deal with this... but there is so much more I could do to be more organised, and to do this better. 

My next post will discuss what I would like to do to make it easier for myself, and how I can turn it into a money saving exercise after all; and I will share my favourite resources with you all 😃!

Plus a give-away... so stay tuned!


You can check out my previous posts on budgeting here:

The Introduction

Budgeting 101 - Part One

Budgeting 101 - Part Two

Budgeting 101 - Moving On from Money

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