When I took on the challenge of feeding my family of five on $400 dollars a month, I knew that planning would be key. Our normal budget was $600.00 a month and we would eat out occasionally (in addition to the $600). With my busy schedule I was having a hard time finding the time to meal plan and to grocery shop.
What I Did First
I talked to my husband and got him on board. I explained that the more you go to the store, the more you spend. All of the time we ran because "french bread would go great with this meal" we were adding not only the french bread, but most likely an unplanned purchase.
Planning took me three days. (Not three solid days, but this took place over a weekend)
First I planned my menu. I found a lot of good advice HERE, on Money Saving Mom. This was the menu that my husband and I agreed would work for our family.
We decided that we could eat the same thing twice a week, but not back to back. This idea, actually makes it easy for me. For example, if its chili I can cook a 4 portions Monday at lunch. The kids and I will eat it for lunch that day, as a family we will eat it for dinner, my husband will take it for lunch Tuesday, and the rest will be saved for Thursday (or another day in the same week). So come Thursday, I just have to warm it up and make fresh corn bread.
I really like the idea of shopping once a month. I agree that it would save money. Since I am referring to this as my "soft start" the period of grace I have allowed my self to work out all the kinks, I decided to shop for two weeks, then perhaps try monthly shopping in December. The second thing I did was clean out my pantry, so I could make my shopping list. We raise our own meat and eggs, so this is going to effect how my shopping list looks compared to how your may look. After cleaning out my pantry, I found that I needed very little for the next two weeks.
bread (1 loaf)
rice (25 lbs)
nacho cheese (2cans)
chili (1 can )
cream of mushroom
cream of celery
cream of chicken
peanut oil (Thanksgiving turkey)
I spent $53.35 at Aldi and $95.33 at Kroger's. If I had not needed the peanut oil, I would have been at $110.68 for two weeks. Overall I was very proud of myself.
Look for my follow up post on how our first two weeks went. (Coming soon)