For the month of October, I decided to experiment with Monthly Meal Planning with a little bit of freezer cooking. September 21-24, I made a meal plan that covered to the end of October. It just so happened that the three main grocery stores around me each had a different type of meat on a pretty good sale (Price Chopper had ground beef, HyVee had Chicken, and Hen House had a one day sale on Breakfast Sausage). So I bought a ton of meat. Then I weighed, cooked, cut, bagged, labeled and frozen it. Some of it was raw, some of it was already cooked (I made a lot of Taco beef). I cut up the chicken depending on how I would need it before freezing it.
I had hoped to save money doing this. I looked at all of my grocery store charges for 9/24 through 10/29, I did some shopping on 10/30 but some of that is for next month. So far, I'm not seeing a savings, in fact, I seem to have spent MORE than I did the previous month. I'm not sure my math in entirely accurate since I did a little stocking up on things that were on sale. Plus we still have some of the chicken, beef & sausage from the big stockup left.
The one major benefit is that we followed our menus better this month. I didn't have to worry about not getting to the grocery store and ending up getting fast food. Since I bought most things at the beginning of the month and was mostly buying milk, eggs, fruits/veggies and other perishables during the month. I suppose if I calculated all of our fast food/restaurant spending then I might see the savings there. There were a few times that I had to switch two meals due to forgetting to thaw something or needing a perishable that I hadn't gotten to the store yet to buy, but I always had at least a few things on the menu for the week that we did have all of the ingredients for on hand.
I've spent the past week-ish with an excel spreadsheet open that I would add a meal to here or there as I thought of it and now I have our meals planned out through the end of December. Obviously things can change if I see something on one of the blogs that I read that I really want to make, but for the most part, this will just make life easier.
Here's what the October menu looks like now. The farther into the month we got, the more I deviated. Usually because I ended up not making something one night so we switched it to another night, but then I swapped a few other things around and then ended up like this. I started out with every Thursday being leftovers night, every Tuesday being Mexican-ish night, and every Sunday was breakfast for dinner. Not every change for the schedule is noted on the calendar. If I was just switching things around in the same week I didn't scribble on the calendar, if I was moving things between weeks I would scribble.
I'm working on transferring things from my excel sheet to an actual calendar. Some things that I am doing differently is not having Tuesday be Taco night. I'm tired of taco type things. But most Thursdays are still leftovers night. Sundays are still fairly easy/light meals. We have a big lunch with my parents on most Sundays, so I try to keep our Sunday dinners smaller.