Weekly Meal Plan and Groceries

I  hope y’all had a great weekend.  Ours was pretty uneventful which is just fine.  I  hope everyone is safe after that awful ice storm.  Our snow has all melted away thanks to some warmer temperatures, but it has cooled back down now to normal winter temps.

I was late getting my weekly meal plan done this week, but I finally got it done.

Having a weekly meal plan really takes away the stress of what’s for dinner and for me it also keeps my grocery budget in check.  I make a grocery list based on my meal plan and go to the store once a week.  We started a facebook group for this very purpose.  Z Life What’s Cooking Group.  It’s also fun to see what other people are eating and  to get meal ides and recipes from others which helps with the dinner rotation rut.

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I picked up the needed groceries too.

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The cara cara oranges weren’t on my grocery list, but when I saw them it made me think of a friend so I splurged and bought a bag.  Hopefully it will also curb the sweet tooth cravings I’m having and keep me out of the doughnut shop! 😉

I track my grocery expense with the Dave Ramsey “Every Dollar Budget” program.  It’s free at his website.  To date my grocery expense for January is $75.00   I round up to the next dollar because all change goes into the change jug.

My grocery budget is $300 a month which includes food for us and the dogs, health and beauty, cleaning supplies, everything but alcohol.

Admittedly I am purposefully trying to keep my grocery expenses low by staying out of the stores which in turn keeps impulse purchases in check.   Also, keep in mind that we raise or hunt almost all of our meats with the exception of seafood and the chicken I purchase from Polyface Farms.  I buy the chickens in a larder of 15 whole chickens at a time and I usually do this twice a year, so I expect sometime around July I’ll be stocking up again.  This usually cost between $250 and $300 depending on the weight of the chickens I get.  I do have a $50 off punch card that I’ll use with my next purchase that I need to not forget about.

In full disclosure, this is the first year I’ve used the Dave Ramsey “Every Dollar Budget” system and honestly I had become pretty slack in tracking expenses.  This year I wanted to get serious about it and I think the Every Dollar system is going to be the trick.  Plus it’s free, my favorite price.

I believe this will be a learning experience for me this year to see the actual hard numbers on all of our expenses, but it will show us areas where we can tighten up on for the future.  Retirement is getting closer and this will help us get more prepared.

Hope you and yours have a great week.

Till next time,

Lori

 

 

Friday’s Frugal Five

Gosh, it’s really been a minute since I’ve done a Friday Frugal Five post.

And again, I am not ashamed to admit that I completely stole the Frugal Five from Katy Wolk-Stanley of the amazing website The Non-Consumer Advocate.  If you haven’t stopped by her website or facebook group, you really should.  Very inspiring, and a group of great people there.

Ok, here it is.

  1. We (for the most part) stuck to our meal plan this week and stayed out of the grocery store, restaurants and drive thru.  As a matter of fact I made a return netting me $7 and change.  The change went into my change jug.
  2. I increased my 401 contributions and my contingency fund deposits to absorb the raise I got 😉
  3. My bank has a change counter machine that is free to their customers so I cashed out my change jug and deposited that money into the freedom account category that is closest due (taxes!)
  4. I set up my freedom account categories for 2017 and adjusted those deposits accordingly.
  5. I bought nothing this week.  I put gas in the car and paid my insurance deductible for my physical therapy appointment, that’s it.  (Yes, I’m still in PT for cutting my finger – NOT frugal at all!)

Contingency Fund:  A contingency fund is a fund for emergencies or unexpected outflows, mainly economic crises such as a loss of a job or long-term illness or disability.  A three to six month fund to cover the cost of living expenses.

Freedom Account:  Think of the Freedom Account as a sort of holding bin. You deposit small sums into it each month because you are thinking ahead: You’re anticipating bigger, specific expenses down the road like annual insurance premiums, home repairs, personal property taxes…
(for example if you want to save $1,000 for personal property tax due on January 1st of next year and you get paid twice a month you would make 24 deposits of $41.67 into the contingency fund account to accrue the $1,000 you will need by then)

If you are familiar with Mary Hunt and Debt Proof Living, then you are more than likely familiar with the contingency fund and freedom account terms.

What frugal fun did you have this week?

Till next time,

Lori

 

Five Frugal Things

There is a blog I follow that I really enjoy and get a lot of great frugal ideas from.  The Non-Consumer Advocate is based on the concept of use it up, wear it out, make do or do without.  One of her frequent blog posts is five frugal things and I find I get so much motivation from reading all the comments and different frugal tips.

Keep in mind that it’s the small things we do daily that make a big difference.  It’s not just about saving big bucks on a new car or a home loan because how often do you do those things.  It’s the day-to-day opportunities and choices we make that make the real difference in being frugal.  So, while they may seem repetitive and just a small savings, those are the most important.  It also creates habit in us to keep frugality in the forefront of our minds.  I like to make a game out of it.  See how long I can hang on to that $20 or altering a meal plan to use up what I have on hand already.

Here are my five frugal things.

  1.  I brought leftovers to work for lunch.  Actually the Z Man and I do this 99.99999999% of the time.
  2.  I made / reheated last nights dinner on the wood stove, saving on electricity by not using the kitchen stove.
  3.  Made a February challenge with some friends to reduce the number of days I spend to 4 days a week.   Last week was 3 days, and so far this week there have been 0 spend days.  This challenge does not include the spending of monthly bills, medical, or work related expenses.  I’m feeling that 4 days isn’t really a challenge for me, so I think I’ll lower it to 2 or 3 days a week.  What this challenge does is helps you plan all your purchases and prevents those quick trips to the store just because.
  4.  I did my monthly meal plan for February and purchased all needed ingredients (that wouldn’t spoil) for all meals in one large grocery shopping trip.  However, even though I planned all our meals for February, I’ve decided we are going to do some major freezer and pantry meals because we have plenty on hand.
  5.  Returned my books on time to the library and checked out three more.  No late fee and free reading / listening to books on cd in the car too.

 

Now it’s your turn.  What are your five frugal things?

Till Next Time,

Lori

Menu Planning

I know there are a trillion blogs out there that have menu planning ideas, instructions, down loads and there is a good reason for that.  Menu planning is key to a frugal lifestyle.   You are probably already aware that the best area of your budget to save money is in the grocery column.  The best way to save money at the grocery store it to make a list of what you need and stick to it.  But in order to make the list of what you need, first you need to know what you and your family will be eating that week / month.  That brings us right back to menu planning.  Here is a download of my February menu plan.

February Menu Calendar

As you can see it’s just a simple excel spreadsheet listing each day’s dinners.  I don’t include lunches because that usually is either leftovers or a salad in a jar for us.  Weekday breakfast is usually something I make over the weekend like muffins, whole wheat waffles and /or boiled eggs that we eat on all week.  The main thing that helps me is a dinner menu, so I’m not stopping at the grocery store on the way home because everything I have is frozen.  Planning = savings.

I make my menu around what I have in stock.  The things we grow and  “put up” including fruits, vegetables, eggs, pork and the venison that the Z Man harvests.  That means that my grocery list is mostly made up of fresh veggies, milk, butter, flour, sugar…. the main staples of cooking.  I make a monthly menu and then I do one large monthly grocery purchase.  I buy all the things that will keep for the month without spoiling.  Once a month grocery shopping has saved us quite a bit.  Making a menu, making a list and sticking to the list, I have found is the best way for us to stay on budget with our grocery shopping.

It’s also important to include special dates in your monthly menu plan.  For example you’ll see that for Super Bowl Sunday I have seafood nachos and buffalo wings on the menu.  Both of those recipes I had to buy specific items for, so I put crab meat and wings on my shopping list.  It’s not about depriving yourself of good food or eating cheap food, it’s about planning so you know in advance what you can afford and there are no emergency shopping trips because I forgot to set out the whatever to thaw.  It’s just a little tool that keeps me on track, and one less thing I have to think about each day.  It also helps me with meal ideas, I can refer back to a menu or add a new recipe that I want to try.  How many of those do we see on FB every day?  Yep, it’s that simple, but such a big help.

So, what’s on your menu for dinner tonight?

Till Next Time,

Lori