As I said previous, I have cooked batch/freezer meals. Once. I think I got three weeks of dinners for our family of five for $249 dollars or something like that. It was just dinners though. At that time the kiddos were eating lunches at school and breakfast was at best hit or miss. Mostly grab a cheese stick or toast and juice. Snacks were bought as needed, and there was a lot of eating out. Honestly, we were not saving, it seemed like our money was just flying out the window, well it was. We seemed to be always broke. Then about two weeks ago I was reading over Jamerrill Stewart's website Free Homeschool Deals, when I linked into her You Tube channel. (by the way, love the idea of Vlogs! Hmmm....) I was immediately hooked. I loved the idea of once a month meals. I loved how her large family operated. I loved everything about them. Jamerrill shared in one of her Vlogs, about Dave Ramsey's financial plan.My head was spinning! My heart was screaming "this is it!" You know the saying that God works through people? Well, I believe that, and this was an answer to our family's problems. Thank you Heavenly Father!
Deputy Dog and I sat down and had a real heart to heart about what I had learned. We started our research. For him, to really look at Ramsey's info and begin to outline it for our life. Me, to research ads, price lists, and how I could do once a month meals while I eat a clean eating Paleo lifestyle. If you follow my other blog The Goddess I Truly Am Inside, you know that in June I started eating a gluten free, then a paleo diet. It has really worked for me. Anyway, I digress...
We were really ready to jump in. This past Friday was a pay day. We decided this would be the best time to implement our new plan of action. Plus, if you looked at my cupboards/Refrigerator, it was right out of the nursery rhyme "Old Mother Hubbard." The only plus side to this was my Refrigerator got a really good cleaning out! I spent a few evenings when time permitted, to look at our local ads for the week. I want to give a shout out to all those who have compiled price lists for Costco and Aldi store, thank you, thank you, and thank you! From there I just put on my creative hat and planned out meals. Now Jamerrill utilizes one meal, such as Chili and feeds her family that for a couple of meals consecutively. It works for her. For us, we are not above left overs. But we have to spread them out. So with that being said I created certain days where we would have left overs for Dinner or Lunch. I also gave certain days a theme. For example: Fiesta Fridays, Soupy Saturdays, and Wednesday's will be Breakfast Nights.(Sorry could not come up with a catchy name for that.) That way it made it a bit easier to plan for meals on those nights.Then I printed off a blank calendar and proceeded to plug in the meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner.This is where my recipes and creative juices started to flow. Now my family will eat Gluten free but they are not 100% doing Paleo. So if they are having something that I do not eat, I made a notation for my alternate. I used the blank paper calendar first, which is good for me since I would not post same type of meals in a row. We love chicken, but eating chicken three days in a row, we begin to feel like we could grow feathers and cluck! After I made a mock up meal plan, with pencil I might add, I transferred it to my cute black board calendar that hangs in our kitchen. That way everyone knows the meal plans, or in case Momma needs a night off and then they can prepare it.
Method to my MadnessAlright, how did I do this? I will just break it down under headings. I think it would be easier to follow, I hope. I stated above that I checked our store's ads and consulted online price lists. Now granted I learned from various blogs that pricing on certain items can fluctuate. For instance, milk and eggs.We have our own chickens, the Ladies of the Yard, but they are molting, so eggs are hit and miss. (Deputy Dog calls them Union Workers, no offense) I also found that certain items can be misprinted. For example, a price list I looked at said cream cheese at Aldi was $1.69 each. For my Aldi, it was .99 cents each. I budgeted the $1.69 when I made my list. I also found that Costco had my Laundry soap and Dish soap on sale for the week. While I was shopping I did find deals on some things that I had not seen on my late night ad searching...Hello, Momma Brain!Or I decided to buy the kids a "goodie" that was on sale. Like I said this was my first time, so I budgeted for some hiccups. That is life right?
The BudgetWe crunched numbers. We figured that since we were out of much of our food, this was going to be a expensive trip. I needed to buy taxable items like toilet paper, cat food, chicken feed, cleaning etc. Do not get me wrong, we were not starving. I had some things still in our freezer. I will list what I started with. I took So we decided that $440 was what I was going to go out shopping with in cash only as Dave Ramsey suggests. It helps to not use the debit card, you will not over spend. The $440 would include all our food, cleaning items, etc. EVERYTHING! This shopping trip will be for September 25 through October 23. Guess what? My final spending was $419.37! I did not even use it all. So, again utilizing Dave Ramsey's approach, that extra money went into an envelope labeled groceries. It can be used towards items I may run out of for the month, or go towards the next month's haul.
The ListO.k. this is what I did. I made my list a little bit from what I knew I needed, what was on sale, the unit prices per items, cross referenced those with other store's products and what I menu planned for. I grabbed a Composition notebook and on each page I wrote down the store's name, what I was going to buy there and the quantity. I then wrote the price down for each item. For example: Aldi,
Bagels: 4x $1.69=$6.76 after I was done with all the items I was going to buy from each store, I added up the totals.
|One page of my list. Seriously there is a method to my Madness|
I made my plan of action. The whole purpose of this is to try and save money. So I really planned out what stores I could shop at that were fairly close to one another. Lucky for me, our local village grocery store had a heck of deal on chicken breasts $1.79 a pound and beef at $2.99 a pound this week. Wahoo! Plus the other major stores I shop at are all located by each other. However, there is one place that I love to buy my vegetable and fruit at. They carry local and they are so inexpensive.I mean $4.99 for a 10 pound bag of apples, .19 cents a pound for zucchini! I love that place! The issue is this, it is about 30 to 45 minutes from our home. But, four of the other stores are also located to it. So really I could shop there and not feel too bad. It is just not my normal stores, you know how you frequent a place so much to "change" is a bit foreign? But I can get over it. This time I was not sure what prices were on eggs and milk at Costco and Aldi. So it was a bit of more of a drive for me, chalk it up to research! Anyway, I organized my list in the notebook. I took a red pen to cross off my buys and to make any adjustments on prices, or if I had add-on items. I do not want to get into the habit of having Add-on items, but I gave myself that buffer in my budget this time. My total time shopping/driving was 5 1/2 hours.
My Stores I Shop AtI live in North West Ohio so I know that you may not have these locally. I implore you to find the best deals with in your area and match up the unit prices and weights of food. It really does make a difference.My go to stores are Aldi, Costco, Kroger, Meijer, Ciolino's (fruit and veggie market), Dollar Tree, and Dollar General.
For the sake of your eyes and that this post does not turn into a novel, I will post a "Part 2" for you all. I will break down what I had on hand, what I bought, and what I ended up Batch cooking and freezing up.
|The other side|
|One side of my counter|