Stone Soup for Five: Menu Planning Challenge - FINAL WEEK!

Menu Planning Challenge - FINAL WEEK!

Now that you've done all the hard work for May in planning your menu, let's put it to use and simplify and streamline your shopping and prep work so you stick to it!



If you want to go to spend less time and save money then you'll want to consider the BULK SHOPPING method.  It takes a bit of planning and organization up front, but will bless you for the rest of the month.  Make sure you've planned your month, like shown in week three.
  • Go through the recipes you've chosen for the month and make a list of all NON-PERISHABLE items you need to buy for the entire month.  Be sure to include hygiene items, laundry and dish soaps, spices, cleaning products, and any pantry (canned veggies, soups, beans) or freezer staples (frozen waffles, frozen fruits and veggies, etc).
  • Then, go through the recipes you'll be making just that week, and list all the fresh or perishable items you'll need for that week.  (Sometimes I've bought perishable items for two weeks at a time, but that's pushing it, especially with lettuce, etc.)
  • Go to the store and buy all the non-perishables for the month, and the perishables for the week.  
  • This means you have one BIG shopping trip for the month, then weekly in-and-out trips around the edge of the grocery store for fresh fruits and veggies, dairy, and meats.  (If you can stay out of those center aisles as much as possible, you won't be as sucked into impulse buys.)


If you follow Dave Ramsey's money advice (this is the book that changed our hot-mess of a financial life forever) you'll be bringing cash with you to the store and NO DEBIT/CREDIT CARD!  This forces you to stay on budget because you have to pay cash.  I used to use a calculator when I started using cash only, then I moved to keeping track in my head.  Now I pretty much know that if I get roughly the same things, I'll stay in the budget so I don't have to keep track to the penny anymore.

My friend uses online ordering for groceries at the local grocery store that offers it.  Even though it costs an additional five dollars, she said she definitely saves at least that much that by not going in the store and putting impulse or "it's on SALE" purchases in the cart.


What if I don't want to eat what I have planned?
If you don't want to eat what you have planned for that day, you don't have to! Swap with something you didn't end up making previously, or something you already have ingredients for.  If you can't then you just suck it up buttercup and eat what you had planned.  (Unless you have planned money ahead of time for eating out.)  We usually don't plan breakfast for dinner, because that is an easy go-to for nights that I don't feel like cooking. Plus, it's something my boys can cook easily too.

What if we have too much going on and I don't have time to make my meals?
Pre-prep is magic!  I try to set a couple hours aside on Saturday morning to pre-prep my meals.  (Fridays are my shopping days.)  This can be as simple as washing veggies and chopping lettuce for quick salads, or slicing, chopping or browning meats.  Some Saturdays I do full on pre-prep where I prepare the food ahead of time so I just have to put it in the oven or crockpot that week.  If I take the time to do this, it's amazing how often I usually feel like eating what I have planned.  In fact, if you hop over to my Instagram, you'll see a couple of highlighted stories of me doing just that, with the time it took me!

What if I really feel like ordering out instead?
If you planned for it ahead of time, go for it.  If not, save your hard earned money and make soup and grilled cheese, or breakfast, or left overs, or a baked potato bar.  I have a list in my recipe binder of all the things I could make when I don't want to cook and I try to keep these basic staples in the house or freezer.

If you want to see recipes and ideas other women are sharing, be sure to join the free Journal and Doodle Facebook group!

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