Monday, February 1, 2010

Stretching Dollars, Stretching Groceries

Last week, I took the plunge. Pushing aside my habitual procrastination, disorganization and impulsivity, I sat down and created a weekly meal plan. Breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, dessert or evening snack, and all beverages for each day meticulously planned out to the smallest detail, I then wrote a grocery list based on that plan. I estimated the cost of groceries required. And I had a fit.

Here's the thing. My meal plan was based on exactly how much every member of our household eats on a daily basis, and was made up of foods we regularly prepare and consume. Everything was to be made from scratch, and sales and discounts were taken into account. My total came to just about $140. Our weekly grocery budget is $80, but allows for an extra $20 a couple times a month for diapers.

How is this possible? I know for a fact that we have not been spending anywhere near $140 a week on groceries. I haven't been eating as much lately due to pregnancy sickness, but I certainly haven't been starving myself, and all three of our kids are eating well. My oldest daughter often eats more than she should, in fact.

With a great deal of difficulty I managed to pare down the grocery list to about $120, by stretching what I had on hand, planning some recipe substitutions, and doing without a number of items. I convinced my husband that I needed an extra $40 on the grocery budget. Then I went shopping. Without diapers, my total came to less than $100, and I ended up getting most of the things I had crossed off the list anyway. I realized that the only way we have stayed on budget every week is that we have been fortunately favoured with getting unexpectedly amazing deals on groceries and making great finds on the grocery clearance racks regularly. Thank God.

The second big challenge over the last few days has been addressing some greedy belly issues in our home. One of the reasons we usually end up scavenging barely-meals on Wednesday and Thursday every week (Thursday evening is when I grocery shop) is that certain people are frequently eating food that was intended for other meals / uses, and I am not on-the-ball enough to realize it. Now when someone asks for food, I refer them to the meal plan. Did you eat your lunch? Make sure you finished all your leftovers. You did? Then you'll have to wait for afternoon snack time. What can you have? The schedule says veggies and dip. You don't feel like having veggies and dip? Too bad. That's all that's available for this meal.

I'm not the mean mom, I'm just sticking to the meal plan. This is how I make sure the food I bought for the week LASTS for the week.

This is a whole new approach to life for me. It requires discipline I have never had before. But my goodness, do I wish I had done this a whole lot sooner. Goodbye mealtime battles, hello happy (less stressed) mom!

1 comment:

  1. YAY for the meal plan :) This is what I have been doing for quite a while now and it gets rid of the day to day guess work I used to have. It definitely makes for an easier grocery shopping experience! Now, if I could just find some really great coupons for things that I actually want. Apparently, getting a lot of great coupons only happens in the states...Doh...LOL!!

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