4.12.09 - Meal Planning Challenge and Weekly Check-In

If you want to follow me in this journey, start HERE and read up on the last 9 weeks of the entire challenge and maybe, start a challenge of your own!!!

**I DID IT!!!**

I completed my 9 Week Meal Planning Challenge and boy, do I have so much to say about it:

1) This challenge has completely changed the way I think about meal planning, grocery shopping, coupon clipping & reading sales fliers and even cooking! It's NOT a waste of time, it really DOES work and the savings are REAL!

2) This challenge helped us cut our monthly (average) grocery bill by more than 50%, down to only $500 per month to feed a family of 3 breakfast, lunch and dinner. I am downright flabbergasted at the money we have wasted in the past and will never go back to spontaneous shopping nor will I ever have that "What in the world are we going to have for dinner?" conversation with myself again!

3) Thawing out that day's dinner has become part of my daily routine and, at the risk of being forced to eat PB&J or a bowl of cereal, you can bet I am eager to get up and do it every single day! :)

4) There's just no reason to throw away food at the end of every day, week or month. Buying only what you NEED for the week (yes, it may take some practice to get the proper proportions nailed down) and actually committing to eat it will end waste for good! Don't make excuses for changing your mind about what you planned to eat that week... just eat it and maybe adjust your weekly "leftover" and/or "eating out" options for the following week to give yourself more flexibility should you need it.

5) Planning 5 meals (that I cook!) each week works great for our family but I do need to make sure I purchase things in advance at Costco (like frozen chicken nuggets & turkey burgers, boxes of cereal, etc.) for us to eat on "Leftover" night in case there aren't any leftovers! I have gotten so good at only making what we three eat that there are rarely any leftovers, which I guess is a good thing unless you have "Leftover" night on your weekly Meal List! ha! :) Just another part of planning that I can improve on to make the most of Costco's bulk pricing.

6) Along the same line of thinking, I need to think ahead a little bit about the meals that will require tortillas, buns, bread, frozen vegetables and cheese and anything else that I can purchase in bulk from Costco and freeze to use at a later date. It seems the bulk of the money I spent each of these 9 weeks was on these types of items and better planning could've prevented that.

7) Similarly to #6 is thinking ahead and planning better for our breakfast and lunch here at home. I could've bought frozen waffles, poptarts and Kashi bars in bulk at Costco for much cheaper than what I paid at Safeway each week when we ran out. Just something to think about...

8) Something else I can add to my challenge it a budget for our "Eating Out" night, maybe a monthly amount or a total for the entire challenge that I can average down to a weekly amount...? I admit, some of the last 9 weeks David and I really went all out and spent over $100 on a nice dinner out, ALONE, which I think is great for us but it's easy to get carried away if we don't think about it ahead of time. :)

WOW! It sure feels good to be sitting where I am, looking back at a very successful challenge and I really can't wait for the next one! Depending on what I purchase at Costco this month, I know how many weeks my new challenge will last as I always start with how many portions of meat I have. Looking below at my Master Tally of Meats, it looks like I'll come out almost 100% even! I'll have one "Eating Out" left (could've been an error on my part) and blogging about it in list form has been a really easy way to keep track of it all. From time to time I did look through my freezer to ensure I was on count, which I advise you to do as well!

Here is my very last week's grocery list and meals:

I spent $79.67 today for this weeks meals:

Seedless Grapes
Green onions
2lbs each of Carrots, celery, kale and green apples (for David & Emily's morning juice... I buy this every week!)
Fresh Basil
(5) Light & Fit yogurt (David's lunch each week)
Anchovy fillets
Balsamic vinegar
Frozen Simply Steam peas, sugar snap peas, green beans and corn
Rolls for the meatball subs

This week's meals (Sunday 4/12-Saturday 4/18):
Chicken Ceasar Salad
Meatball subs
Italian sausage & penne pasta
Shredded BBQ sandwiches
Chicken-fried rice
Eating out

Masterlist Tally as of today:
  • (2) 1lb portions of chicken
  • (1) 1lb portions of stew meat
  • Turkey meatballs enough for 1 Meatball dishes
  • (1) 1lb Italian sausage
  • (1) Leftovers
  • (2) Eating out


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