Monthly madness

In order to save some money and stress less I have started to do monthly plans for our shopping and thought I would share our little secret to knocking a few pennies of the budget.

I start the month by sitting down with a Calendar, pad of paper, pen and recipe books/iPad, usually on a Sunday cause that’s Daddy and Billy’s day. This month I started the week before the start of the month as next weekend is a rather busy one with a Babyshower and Fathers Day celebrations etc so there wouldn’t be time to do any of this stuff.

I then go through the calendar and my phone and make sure all our appointments, bill payments, events and birthdays are all marked down. If there is a birthday and I have to buy a gift I might spend a few minutes thinking about the gift and writing some ideas down. The I move onto or monthly meal planning.

It sounds like hard work but meal planning saves us so much money it’s worth the hard work doing it. I plan absolutely everything so I don’t have to worry about loading Billy into the car and making a quick grocery run cause I have to admit quick is no longer something we can do since Billy arrived πŸ™‚

I have a pretty basic spreadsheet that I use with each week divided into days and meals and then whether its for hubby or me. In a typical week I try and make sure we get a bit of everything so each day is something different

So a typical week is:
Mon-Fri BF for Sean is egg and porridge.
I alternate between toast, fruit and porridge depending on how much time I have before we have to go somewhere.
Sat and Sun I try make us something nice like pancakes, French toast, egg and bacon or we may even pop out for a nice breaky if the weather is good.
Mon-Fri morning snacks are fruit (I list 2 fruits each so I know how many to buy and we never have rotting fruit in the bowl)
Mon-fri lunch Sean is leftovers and if there is enough for I will have it too otherwise I try have a salad wrap or soup etc (sometimes frozen leftovers that would be to small for both of us to share in a meal)
Afternoon snack is something baked or a sandwich etc (more on that in a minute)
Mon is usually pasta,
Tues is vegetarian,
Wed is fish,
Thurs is chicken or beef (depending on Sun roast),
Friday is homemade junk food night (pizza, nachos, burgers etc),
Saturday is open (usually I use this night to finish off anything in the fridge)
Sunday is roast night.
And of course by noting any events etc we will be attending through the month I can plan our meal plan around them and because Sat is always a free day if I need to switch things around or don’t feel like what’s on the plan it doesn’t make any difference I still use it all up at some point.

I love going through my recipe books or looking up funky new stuff online so our meal plans are never boring and often we won’t have the same meal again for ages (unless its a favourite).

Now that I have this all sorted it’s onto my next big task this one takes quite a while so get comfy.

I start by doing a quick stock take of what I already have and what I am running low on.
I then start listing everything I need for the month starting with pantry stuff (I buy these in the first big shop as they don’t expire). Then the meat (cause it gets frozen), the first shop is always the most expensive. Then I divide the fresh food into weeks and write them down accordingly. Next I hop online and place my first big order, thanks to my super clever sister in law I now do click and collect with Coles which means we don’t pay for delivery and its a nice day out for me at the shopping centre, I also use this day to get any gifts, clothes, non grocery necessities so before you head to the shops have a think about your needs for the upcoming month. The other 3 weeks fresh food usually aren’t to big a shop so I just run into town once a week to quickly collect it. Because I have it all listed out I just grab the list and head out the door.
This way of shopping is great, I know what I want and can get in and out without to much worry and I never shop when I am hungry either as that just makes me buy crap that looks appealing… Dam u marketing!!! Because I have thought through everything already I never buy to much or to little and there isn’t much waste in our house πŸ™‚
I find shopping with a baby quite hard cause he isn’t quite ready to it in the trolley and its impossible to push a pram and trolley when shopping so I usually strap on my trusty Moby baby carrier or ask my amazing Mother in law to come with. Both of these work a treat so if you are struggling try one if those options and see how u go πŸ™‚

20130825-223354.jpg (in the pic you can see: Banana Muffins, Blueberry and choc Muffins, Ham mini quiche, Oat Cookies, Steamed carrot, sweet potato and Pumpkin for Billy, our dinner and the slow cooker prepped for a pork Roast)

My darling husband can put away quite a bit of food during the day (he is by no means large, just hungry). Personally I think it’s cause his job (as a mechanic) is such hard manual labour so he needs to keep up his strength. But it means I have to think up clever lunch box ideas so he doesn’t get bored. So at the beginning of the month I do some baking prep work. I bake about 24 muffins, 12 savoury things and a batch of cookies and then freeze it for him to just pop out every day.
It takes pretty much all morning but its worth it in the long run, he was popping into McDonalds or the service station to grab a bite on the way home but now he has something a lot healthier and its saving us about $5-$10 a day (which if you average it out, that’s a saving of $140 a month).
In order for him not to get bored with it we alternate between sandwiches, the muffins, mini quiches, and ham and cheese crackers.
I also use my Sundays to do any prep work for the week. I will usually just cut up all the veggies i am using in my meals and put them in Tupperware in the fridge so I don’t have to chop again during the week.
Or I may take out the meat I am going to use and let it defrost in the fridge so it’s not a train-smash if I forget to defrost anything (we don’t have a microwave). Obviously if you choose to do this you can’t refreeze meat so be very careful. I also try prep some steamed finger foods for Billy to naw on as we are starting Baby Led Weaning and he is really enjoying the huge variety of food.
If I am doing well for time I will usually go online and pay any upcoming bills so we never have late fees.
Since having Billy I have not been as good with remembering things so I find this a great way of making sure I am in top of everything. When I get a bill I put its dues date in my phone’s calendar straight away and that’s it sorted till I do my monthly calendar πŸ™‚

You may not notice a huge saving at first or at least till you get the hang of keeping an eye o the specials and making use if what you already have. But our weekly shop has gone down from about $150-$200 to about $100 (on average). This also frees up my time considerably as I don’t wander through the shops trying to think of what might be nice to eat and then not ending up using it and of course it saves on multiple trips to the store so we saving on fuel too. Environmentally, you are leaving less of a carbon footprint by only making a few trips and only doing it when necessary, you are creating less food waste and (hopefully) you are using less packaging and plastic bags too.

Adapt this plan as you see fit, I know this may not work for everyone. But good luck with whatever you try do, I know it can be hard at first but I promise you will reap the rewards πŸ™‚


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