Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Menu planning & grocery budgeting

Some of you have asked how I keep my grocery budget so low. Menu planning is my #1 tool to keep my grocery budget in line. I do stray every now & then but I really try hard to keep within my $200/month for groceries, toiletries, & diapers. (I do get a little help from WIC with milk, eggs, cheese, cereal--and I am so grateful to the state of TN for this help, but using sale prices this would probably only add about $80/month to my budget--still not too bad considering milk here is $5/gallon!)

I also plan my menus the week of grocery shopping (which I only do on paydays or twice a month) using the grocery store ads so I can maximize my shopping dollars and also be sure that I leave enough room to stock up on something I may be running low on.

So, here is my menu plan to get us through Aug 29th for your viewing pleasure. Many of these recipes are ones I have in my head or have used so many times I no longer look at the recipe, but I can certainly dig them out if anyone would like! Just leave me a comment.

This week through Saturday:
  • Veggie stir-fry and fried rice (using leftover rice from last night's dinner)
  • Kielbasa, fried potatoes, and green beans
  • Beef vegetable soup (in the crockpot since Friday is shopping day), bread
  • Grilled cheese/tomato soup (Sat lunch)
  • Hamburgers on the grill, homemade french fries, corn on the cob

The next 2 weeks (in random order--I usually decide that morning what to make from my list):

  • Meatloaf, mashed potatoes, veggies
  • Corn & potato chowder, garlic cheese biscuits
  • Kielbasa & veggie soup (Marc's favorite), bread
  • Spaghetti & Dad's homemade meatballs (I make extra meatballs & freeze), veggies
  • Stuffed shells, salad, bread
  • Chef Boyardee cheese pizza, veggies
  • Hotdogs on the grill, french fries, veggies or fruit
  • Italian sausage sandwiches with peppers/onions, pasta salad
  • Chicken noodle soup (using this homemade chicken broth recipe), cornbread
  • BBQ chicken breasts, rice, veggies
  • Chicken fajitas, mexican rice
  • Chicken nuggets, french fries, veggies
  • Pinto beans & rice, cheese quesadillas

Most of my meals take from 30 min-1 hr to make and I try to have most of my preparation done before I even start cooking. If I'm making soup, I try to have all my veggies cut up before lunch to make it easier. I also try to plan ahead--if I'm having rice one night and fried rice later in the week, I just make extra rice the first night so I don't have to cook rice twice. Or I shred whole blocks of cheese at once & keep in the fridge, etc.

For breakfasts, Z & I typically have cereal or toast with maybe fruit or yogurt if it's on sale. Marc eats cereal or his favorite, egg sandwiches. 2 Saturdays a month we splurge & have cinnamon rolls and bacon/sausage for breakfast & most Sundays we eat southern buttermilk biscuits with honey or jelly--yummy!

I've found a few breakfast ideas I'll be trying out these next few weeks that just sound great to me. One is Yummy Blueberry Breakfast Cake and the other is Baked Oatmeal (which is enticing since you bake the oatmeal in a large pan & then just reheat throughout the week--I hate to cook oatmeal!)

Lunches are typically leftovers for all of us, with the occasional pasta/sauce or mac-n-cheese thrown in the mix, depending on what's on hand & what's on sale. PB&J is always a plus, too!

This week in shopping, I'll probably go over my $100 a little because I just stocked up on diapers for the new little one at CVS & Walgreens. I put everything away already otherwise I'd take a picture for you, but here's a look at what I got:

Walgreens (total $13.91 including tax):

  • 2 bags of Hershey Kisses (to replace the ones my hubby ate while I was gone!), $2.00 ea, $4 total
  • 4 packs BIC pens, free after coupons
  • Scott toilet paper, 4 pack, $.99 after coupons
  • 2 packages size 1 Walgreens brand diapers (56 diapers each pack), $6.98 for both packs (that's $3.49 each pack--ask me how I did this!)

CVS (total around $16 incl tax after sale prices & extra care bucks used):

  • 2 packages Huggies newborn diapers (40 diap each pk), $7.99 each after coupons
  • 1 Johnson/Johnson baby wash, $1.99 after coupon
  • 1 J/J baby lotion, $1.99 after coupon
  • 1 CVS chapstick (free gift)
  • 1 CVS q-tips, $1.50

I used $7 extra care bucks but gained $5 back. I usually hate to spend this much at CVS but it just couldn't be avoided this trip--I had to use some coupons & extra bucks before they expired & let's face it--we'll need diapers at some point.

Hope you enjoyed a look into meals at our house. I'm tired now, so heading to bed!

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