Saturday, December 08, 2007

Grocery, Kitchen & More II : Meal Plan (beg. level)

Proverbs 31: 27 She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.

If you have been doing a grocery list and a meal plan for a while than this is just a refresher. I'll move on to intermediate and advanced grocery savings in my next post. But for now, after you start using a grocery list it's time to start making a meal plan.

My life was completed changed when I attended a ladies function at Grace Bible Church and the topic was meal planning. This lady stood up and told us how she planned the meals her family ate and that she spent less time & money at the grocery store. The week before I had 'planned' to make baked chicken,potatoes and carrots for my family. But as I flew through the grocery store with one kid I forgot to buy the chicken. Let me tell you something...your family will notice that the chicken is missing! Due to my inattention I had to have my dear husband go to the store to pick up the chicken for me. I knew something had to change and change drastically. This lady from Grace introduced me to the concept of meal planning and it has done all that she said plus more+. I do consider meal planning as a basic level skill and I will begin to discuss the intermediate and advanced skills in upcoming posts.

So what is Meal Planning?

A meal plan is literally just planning out what meals your family will eat over a period of time. You can do this in a variety of ways: on a calendar, make a list of (7-14 meals and cross them out as eaten, use index cards.... What is important is that you are a woman with a plan.

How do I make a meal plan?

I plan out my meals by using the meal plan that at the top of the page. I look at my calendar and write on the meal plan calendar any events that are occurring that will effect dinner (a long day out, other dinner plans, a meeting where Wayne will be serving dinner (I still make dinner but I need to be aware it cannot be a last minute thing), folks coming over for dinner, etc....). Then I determine which days need to be crock pot, quickie meals and more involved suppers. Also I consider the meat that is in the freezer that still needs to be used and what is on sale that week.

Hopefully, you have been collecting recipes your family loves, recipes you hope to try and recipes that you have already nixed. I write notes in my cookbooks as far as whether or not we like a recipe or not. (I even write a note that says make it in this or that pot, start this early it takes a lot of time etc.... )

If it's your first time doing this sit down and think of 7-14 dinner meals you make for your family on a regular basis. Write them down on a piece of paper. Locate all of the recipes, do not do this from memory, we are moms we do not have a memory anymore (you have children...your memory left years ago!).

SIDE NOTE: I put all of the recipes that I use in a binder so I can avoid going from recipe book to book. If I find a new recipe in a book I scan it print it out and put it into my book. I have a friend who rips the pages out of the cookbook and puts it into her binder. Do whatever works for you! My pages are in page protectors because I am a sloppy cook, Kim's pages are in page protectors also and she is a very neat cook! I add any recipes I have found on line, newspapers, magazines etc.... But only add recipes you have cooked and you like. You can keep the ones you want to try in another folder!

Now that you have determined how many meals you will be planning, and you have made a list of meals you'd like so its time to your recipes binder, cookbooks and grocery list out. You have determined how many meals you need. You have written a list of meals to make. Now you need to look at the actual recipe and check off the ingredients on your grocery list (or write them if you use a handwritten list, like Kim).

How does this save money?
1. Gas...You should have all of the ingredients you need to make your meal(assuming you got your cookbook out and you did not use your memory) So you should not need to make extra trips to the grocery store.
2. You will not purchase items you do not need to make your meals. Those unused items will not sit in your pantry unused and wasting your money.
3. Time...You will spend less time in the grocery store. You will not have to send your husband to the grocery store.(I personally hate to send my husband to the grocery store because he has a stressful job and I prefer he gets to come home and relax. He never complains I just don't like to send him because he never asks me to go to his job to help him.But that's just me....)Proverbs 31:14 She is like the merchant ships,bringing her food from afar.
4. Health Care....your family will start to eat more healthy food. Simply by avoiding Fast food you can increase your families health and lose weight.

Proverbs 31:11 Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.

If you ran a cafeteria, which we do as Moms, you would not show up and tell them lets wing it today. People would go hungry and the food would be poorly made. We make over 1,000 meals a year...Yes you read that correctly. As I began to approach this duty (and all of my duties) as a ministry I began to see how important and how vital my position is in our family. I do not work to make money, I work very hard to save and spend our money wisely.

If you have never done this before do not be discouraged. Just take a deep breath and start slowly. Plan a week, a few days or whatever you can handle and work up to planning a longer period of time. Oh beloved, this is such a wonderful journey we get to go on as wives and mother's we have skills to learn and a families to love with God's help. So just keep on going.

My most important tid-bit before the budget and Kim speaks her piece...Please pray over your grocery list and meal plan. It sounds sill but we needed fruit last week and God put oranges on sale for $1 for 4#. Girlfriend you better believe the One who raised Christ from the dead is in charge of the grocery store prices! Ask God to reveal waste, thrift etc...

*************THE McMaass Budgets Revealed*********
How much do the McVay's spend on Groceries..... $400 per month for a family of 5! (Plus 2 college girls every Tuesday, random visitors, country kids, Maass family & any wayward soul who wanders in during a meal or snack time!)

The Maass's spend $300 per month for a family of 3!

Both of our budgets are exact and they include food, toiletries, diapers, cleaning products, make-up basically anything you can get at Wal-Mart.

Please see comments for Kim's "two cents"!


Anonymous said...

Okay, I (Kim) am adding my two cents in here as well...
If you worked outside the home you would be expected to know your job and to be able to do it well. The same things applies at home. God has called us to be at home, to be busy in our homes, and to work as if working for the Lord.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart,
as working for the Lord, not for men, Colossians 3:22-24

14 She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar. (or as Kyle says, "From Wal-Mart")

15 She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls. Proverbs 31:14-15

It is our job to take care of our homes and providing meals is part of that job the Lord has called me/you/us to do. My family depends on me to provide meals 3 times a day, 7 days a week, 1,092 meals a year with $75 a week to do it. You NEED a plan for that! If you just wander into your pantry and refrigerator every time it's time to feed your family, you're probably spending more time trying to figure out what you can make with what you have, spending more money buying random things that you have no plan for, and still may not be able to make a complete nutritious meal.

By taking the time to make a plan we are more likely to stay within our budget and able to find ways to use up what we already have on hand. Using up food we already have is the best way to stretch limited funds. Taking the time to think things through in advance is the only way to turn 1,092 meals a year into a manageable task.

With that said, let's talk about how to make this plan happen.

First Things First
You need a notebook and a pen (or your favorite word processing program.) Now, make a list of all of the things you like to cook and your family likes to eat. Don't worry about costs yet. Use the following categories:

Main Dishes

Starches (Rice, Pasta, Potatoes etc.)




The next step is to go through your list and highlight all of the dishes that are budget friendly or that can be adapted to be easy on your budget. These highlighted items will be placed on a new list. The new list is your Master List. Just in case this is beginning to seem like a lot trouble, let me encourage you don't give up yet. This may take as long as 2 hours but it will save you so much time in the long run that it is clearly time well spent.

This thought process should happen fairly quickly once you get the feel for it. At first it may take as along as long as 2 hours but it will save you so much time in the long run that it is clearly time well spent. It will become second nature. You'll face kitchen crises like bumper veggie crops, turkey leftovers (again!), and pantries that at first glance seem empty. Don't despair! You have a good brain and a vested interested and before long you'll be able to plan for a month without any trouble. Remember, God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called.

All the good casseroles, ground meat dishes, favorite veggies, homemade breads and desserts will take center stage. If your new Master List is somewhat skimpy don't worry. Make a list of new items you would like to try, and plan to use them along with family favorites. If they turn out to be winners, then add them to your Master List.

For my meal plan I already know that I do soup on Mondays, we have HOPE group on Wednesdays, we eat leftovers (or I make something new from leftovers) on Saturdays, and we eat with the McVays on Sundays. So that only leaves Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday that I have to use my master list for!!

Breakfast, Lunch, and Snacks
What I do is make a list of 10 things for breakfast and 10 things for lunch and just rotate that list so we only eat the same things twice a month and I don't have to think about it.

For snack I just make a list of things to choose from and make sure I keep those things on hand. I don't do anything formal for that.

You know your family's likes and dislikes better than anyone else. You know what they are most likely to enjoy. Use your knowledge wisely. If you already know everyone hates liver, then don't try to make it acceptable to them. It's a waste of time. Buying food that you already know the family won't eat is always a huge waste of money. Instead, try to plan around their likes and dislikes within reason. As the family menu planner, your job is to find that balance and put it into practice.

***It's Kyle again... I do not plan out lunch & breakfast. I keep a list of what we eat for these meals and just keep ingredients on hand to make these meals (oatmeal, sliced cheese, waffles...). I do record what I've made on my meal plan calendar (sometimes) just to avoid making the same thing 2-3 times in one week.

Kim Maass

Carpio Family said...

Yea!! Meal Plans rock. I can't even tell you how blessed i am that i can whip out the calendar and see what we are having. I meal plan around our schedule, which before i didn't, and it was crazy. Since we have guest over except two nights a week, i have increased the recipe sizes. I also add one leftover night, eat out night, then according to our week i decide how many frozen, pre-prepared, slowcooker, or just regular dinners. This has so blessed me. If carlos has a question about what's for dinner, i just whip out the calendar, i feel so organized. I meal plan for two weeks at a time. I used to do one week, but i realized this year that i could just bump it up since i now have accumulated more recipes. Oh and the idea to organize your meal binder is Genius. right now i only have 3 sections for the meats, nd that working out supper. Carlos loves to help me pick out dinners, even Easton gets involved. i downloaded the HEB grocery list off their website and just adjust it to my needs.

Kathryn, Michael and Alex said...

I love meal planning.

I do one week at a time and it saves so much money.

God is in control of our food because one particularly tight week I was able to feed us on $31 and I too feed two college girls and an eight year old boy who is gaining quite an appetite!!!

Rachel said...

You ladies have some wonderful suggestions! I hope you continue doing posts like these!

We found an upright freezer on Craigslist this summer and put it in our garage. Now, I make double or triple of meals like soups, stews, casseroles, and such and freeze the others for later. It's great to have "no cook" nights every once in a while!

Since we only have one child that doesn't eat much, we had a lot of leftovers that we got sick of eating. Now, we only eat leftovers for lunch and eat sandwiches or something else if there aren't enough. This keeps hubby from eating out at work and me from eating a sandwich everyday, and we don't waste food.

Unknown said...

I loved the part about praying before you shop--it is so exciting to see God bless me with special deals on specific things!

(Large Family Mothering)

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