Frugal Meal Planning 101 - Page 13 - Mothering Forums

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Old 02-21-2007, 08:03 PM
 
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Because I give my TIME a certain dollar value (when I waste time, I'm wasting money, IMHO)
Isn't this only true if you would otherwise be spending that time doing work that you would be paid for?

I know what my time was worth when I was working full-time. Now that I'm not, saving money *is* worth some of my time.

I agree with you though that you have to be careful to not spend so much time going from store to store that it affects your quality of life.
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Old 02-21-2007, 10:00 PM
 
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Isn't this only true if you would otherwise be spending that time doing work that you would be paid for?

I know what my time was worth when I was working full-time. Now that I'm not, saving money *is* worth some of my time.

I agree with you though that you have to be careful to not spend so much time going from store to store that it affects your quality of life.
I do work.
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Old 02-22-2007, 12:48 PM
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Well, I'm having to shuffle my meal plan around, because my parents took us out for dinner on Sunday, and I had more leftovers than I thought I would! I got an extra day out of my chicken soup. So, even though I think I'll do the BBQ ribs for tonight as planned, I never got to the cornflake chicken. Maybe tomorrow night.

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Old 02-22-2007, 12:57 PM
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I wanted to update my spending totals. I have spent $426 for the month. I was shocked to realize that $100 was spent on things like dog food, toilet paper, laundry detergent, and of course DH's extra purchases (he is getting better!). But, when I think about how careful we have been, I am realizing that we probably spent around $1500 on food in previous months (I just can't fathom how we would have spent less, even though I haven't sat down and actually figured it out). So, I figure we have spent a third of what we normally spend on food this month! Even though I want to do better next month (not sure how possible this will be as I am running out of meat), I think I have made a HUGE improvement!

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Old 02-22-2007, 01:55 PM
 
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Total so far in February: $474. My parents left today after a four-day visit and my frig remains stuffed. Aside from bananas (for smoothies) and onions, there is nothing I anticipate needing from the grocery store for at least a week.

Compared to last month's $1000, $474 is feeling pretty good. I don't expect to have any problems spending less than $26 in the next week. Feeding a family of four, with high-eating houseguests for four days, on $500 in a month feels like a definite move in the right direction.

I need to revise my meal plan, though. I did it based on expecting a fairly empty frig after the parents' visit.
You are doing wonderful!

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Old 02-22-2007, 01:56 PM
 
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I wanted to update my spending totals. I have spent $426 for the month. I was shocked to realize that $100 was spent on things like dog food, toilet paper, laundry detergent, and of course DH's extra purchases (he is getting better!). But, when I think about how careful we have been, I am realizing that we probably spent around $1500 on food in previous months (I just can't fathom how we would have spent less, even though I haven't sat down and actually figured it out). So, I figure we have spent a third of what we normally spend on food this month! Even though I want to do better next month (not sure how possible this will be as I am running out of meat), I think I have made a HUGE improvement!
I am so excited to see everyones progress. :

Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013.   If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!

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Old 02-22-2007, 07:56 PM
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I spent $31 today at Aldi's. I got a ton of great stuff. Not organic, sadly, but still, all unprocessed foods that I can make last a long time! I never would have thought about going there before this thread.

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Old 02-23-2007, 12:57 AM
 
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Suggestions:

For granola bars, check out Alton Brown's Granola Bars at www.foodnetwork.com. Phenomenal, and I sub flaxseed/wheat bran for the sesame seeds/wheat germ. Just be sure to press them (I rig up a whole bunch of liquor bottles, etc., for extra weight) after you bake them.

For cocoa, buy a canister of cocoa (Trader Joe's Organic is $5) and mix a couple of TBSP w/ a couple of cups of milk & a TBSP of sugar. Or, melt white chocolate in w/ your milk. We're not huge cocoa drinkers, but it has been pretty cold here, and I'm still working thru the first canister. Tip: Hershey's is cheaper, but it tastes chalky & gross. Frugal doesn't mean cheap.
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Old 02-23-2007, 01:39 AM
 
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Suggestions:

For granola bars, check out Alton Brown's Granola Bars at www.foodnetwork.com. Phenomenal, and I sub flaxseed/wheat bran for the sesame seeds/wheat germ. Just be sure to press them (I rig up a whole bunch of liquor bottles, etc., for extra weight) after you bake them.
Mmmm.. I love Alton's Granola Bar recipe! I just made some this past weekend, and put in dried cranberries - YUM!!!
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Old 02-23-2007, 05:07 AM
 
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I've spent about $430/$300! Whoops! I have enough food to last the month though. I saved all receipts and categorized everything I bought and I think I CAN stay within $300 and will try again next month! Who knew I spent so much on water! I was suprised to spend about $70 on nonfood items, more then I thought!

The good news is I have cut our food spending in HALF! We usually spend at least $800/mo!

We are moving in a month, so the challenge in March will be to use our stock as much as possible!

I haven't done the price booking yet. I'm going to start this week, and when we move I'm going to start buying in bulk. I'm having trouble deciding what items to price book, could you share your lists??

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Old 02-23-2007, 05:14 AM
 
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I've been trying very hard to keep to the rules of this challenge. Here are the obstacles that I have encountered:

- I like to buy and use very FRESH produce. That means a trip to the grocery at least once every 2 days. The only veggies I will keep for long periods are root vegetables. I'll also keep apples and bananas for a few days.

- I live in tornado/major snowfall alley and I feel more comfortable with a very well-stocked pantry. When I did my inventory, I guesstimated that I could probably eat from the pantry/freezer for at least two months without going to the grocery store, if you exclude fresh fruit, veggies, and dairy. I simply don't want to deplete my pantry. I ROTATE my pantry supply, but I like to keep the shelves full (can you say paranoid : ). I've always kept lists of my pantry/freezer, too, in an excel spreadsheet.

- I cook to feed the freezer. So, I might make something like the base for cottage pie, a turkey tetrazzini, a meatloaf, keema mataar, tas kebap... and I'll double the recipe to freeze one. We might not eat that for another 2 months... so the cost falls in one month, but the consumption falls in another. YKWIM?

- We have our organic dairy home-delivered (milk in glass, not plastic) and it kind of kills a reasonable budget. I'm not willing to give up milk delivered in glass. :

So, while I really like the suggestions here, I don't think I'm going to be able to follow this challenge very well. If anyone has any suggestions about these things, I'd love to hear them!!! Help!! I'm failing miserably. Household expenses so far: $563.

Edited to add: My mother lives with us, so we are feeding 3 adults. Also, dh is from Turkey/we used to live in Germany and included in the total bill are Turkish and German groceries we can buy only through mail order.
I go to the store every 2-3 days for fresh produce also! I don't live in a tornado zone, but I'm a little paranoid ... so I like to have a decent supply of food on hand! I think rotating and inventorying the pantry supply is key. I think this challenge was intended for those not quite so organized! You sound like you have a good system!

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Old 02-23-2007, 12:40 PM
 
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DP bought me a small chest freezer!! I am so excited to be able to buy a little more meat in bulk from Costco, and make double dinners and freeze them. My goal is to have maybe a dozen meals or meal kits in the freezer before the baby is born at the end of April.
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Old 02-23-2007, 01:07 PM
 
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DP bought me a small chest freezer!! I am so excited to be able to buy a little more meat in bulk from Costco, and make double dinners and freeze them. My goal is to have maybe a dozen meals or meal kits in the freezer before the baby is born at the end of April.
Congrats on the freezer! It should make things a little easier for you, especially with another babe on the way

Well I've added my totals up and including toilet paper, etc etc my grand total so far is $287.14. I will need to buy produce/milk for next week still though and I would like to get some items back in the pantry... its looking pretty empty
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Old 02-23-2007, 01:44 PM
 
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Dh just bought us a freezer too!

Mama to 9 so far:Mother of Joey (20), Dominick (13), Abigail (11), Angelo (8), Mylee (6), Delainey (3), Colton (2) and Baby 8 and Baby 9 coming sometime in July 2013.   If evolution were true, mothers would have three arms!

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Old 02-23-2007, 03:07 PM
 
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DP bought me a small chest freezer!! I am so excited to be able to buy a little more meat in bulk from Costco, and make double dinners and freeze them. My goal is to have maybe a dozen meals or meal kits in the freezer before the baby is born at the end of April.
An extra little freezer really is nice. Fwiw, before my little one was born, I went insane during my 8th month of pregnancy. And ended up with 55+ meals in our freezer for my last month of pregnancy where I don't want to do squat and for ensuing months. Granted at least 10 of those meals were spaghetti sauce, but still. It can totally be done, even if you're as huge as a house (it just takes a little longer when you're bumping into the counter all the time).

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Old 02-23-2007, 06:51 PM
 
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An extra little freezer really is nice. Fwiw, before my little one was born, I went insane during my 8th month of pregnancy. And ended up with 55+ meals in our freezer for my last month of pregnancy where I don't want to do squat and for ensuing months. Granted at least 10 of those meals were spaghetti sauce, but still. It can totally be done, even if you're as huge as a house (it just takes a little longer when you're bumping into the counter all the time).
I know - now I'm thinking about all that chopping and dishwashing with the belly bouncing against the counter! I'm thinking about pulling the food processer down and try to use that to do chopping. It seems like it just goes straight to puree though. It does have a cheese grater function on it though so that might help out.
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Old 02-23-2007, 07:54 PM
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My parents bought us a freezer before the birth of my second as a birthday present, and for a birth present, they gave us a month's worth of food! It was so nice to not have to worry about what was for dinner with a new little one and a toddler! It was worth its weight in gold when, after 5 weeks, we discovered that my babe had a cleft palate and I had to start pumping for her. I pumped exclusively for a year, and, even though I didn't have a lot of extra, because of the freezer, I was able to freeze over 2000 ounces! So, when I stopped pumping at a year, I was still able to give my baby breastmilk for almost 6 more months!

Congrats on the freezer!

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Old 02-23-2007, 09:08 PM
 
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Regarding these chest freezers . . . how much to they affect your energy bills?
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Old 02-23-2007, 09:19 PM
 
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I know - now I'm thinking about all that chopping and dishwashing with the belly bouncing against the counter! I'm thinking about pulling the food processer down and try to use that to do chopping. It seems like it just goes straight to puree though. It does have a cheese grater function on it though so that might help out.
You can also sit down at your dining table to chop stuff. As long as you don't have anyone climbing up you. If you can, just do triple or quadruple batches of whatever you're making for dinner. Less exhausting (at least it was for me) at that point in the game. Rather than attempting to do one of those cook-30-meals-in-one-day kind of thing (which would exhaust me even without being pregnant).
And really, I never thought I'd say this, but I prefer chopping onions by hand now to using the food processor (unless I'm making quarts of relish to can). Why? A good knife that took dh months to convince me that we needed. I think it's a santoku or something, but the price of $20 for the Kitchen Aid labeled one was nice.

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Regarding these chest freezers . . . how much to they affect your energy bills?
I honestly don't know, but it can't be more than $3-$10 a month for ours. We've had that little chest freezer since we got married (one of our wedding presents!), so we've never had an electric bill without it. But it's only a 4 cubic foot chest freezer, not a giant one that could store bodies. If I could do it over again knowing where life was heading for us, I would've gotten a 10-11 foot upright instead (I have short arms, digging sucks). Two Julys ago I got our electric/natural gas bill down to either $45 or $55, and that was with all our appliances plugged in doing their thing. (A recent bill was $86, including my parents staying with us for a few days and us doing diaper washing and drying almost every day.)

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Old 02-23-2007, 10:13 PM
 
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Regarding these chest freezers . . . how much to they affect your energy bills?
Our cost about $10 a month.

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Old 02-24-2007, 05:05 AM
 
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Dh just bought us a freezer too!
Congrats on the freezer

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Regarding these chest freezers . . . how much to they affect your energy bills?
The cost to run ours in nominal. We had ours unplugged for 2 months last year when dh was working out of the garage for a bit, and I couldn’t see any difference reflected for the time we were not using it or when we plugged it back in...and I checked
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Old 02-24-2007, 05:03 PM
 
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I just came back from my weekly grocery shopping. I spent A LOT of time meal planning for the upcoming week based on what was on sale and what I have in the pantry. I still spent about $115 and that was just on food, no toiletries, cleaning, ec. I really wanted to spend $75 a week. I know $115 is less than I would have normally spent, and is A LOT less than the take-out we would be having. But still, it seems like it took up so much time to plan and now I still have to make the oatmeal cookies to replace the cereal bars and the pancakes to replace the frozen waffles.

I need a pep talk or, better, some advice on how to cut my bill down.
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Old 02-24-2007, 05:15 PM
 
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I just came back from my weekly grocery shopping. I spent A LOT of time meal planning for the upcoming week based on what was on sale and what I have in the pantry. I still spent about $115 and that was just on food, no toiletries, cleaning, ec. I really wanted to spend $75 a week. I know $115 is less than I would have normally spent, and is A LOT less than the take-out we would be having. But still, it seems like it took up so much time to plan and now I still have to make the oatmeal cookies to replace the cereal bars and the pancakes to replace the frozen waffles.

I need a pep talk or, better, some advice on how to cut my bill down.
Yes, it does take time to prep your homemade food, but it's homemade! You'll feel all warm and fuzzy when your family's eating the good food you made for them. And you won't be loading them up with preservatives! I think I've gotten so used to preservative-free stuff that now I'm slightly allergic to them. Which sucks for when I want to snag something at the store or whatever for a quick snack, but better for my insides.

It does take time to streamline your budget and be able to plan meals quickly. Took me almost a year of watching sales and stocking the pantry along the way, but now dh and i have gotten to a darn good total (to us) for our food and eating out budget - food was the black hole in our budget before we starting buckling down. Now, I can whip out a monthly budget in 20 minutes or so (but I'm a freak and remember what I've got in the freezer/pantry so don't always need an inventory list). Don't be discouraged because really, every little bit helps, and it's not going to be an instantaneous turnaround. You're saving money *and* preparing healthy food.

(Was that an okay pep talk?)

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Old 02-24-2007, 05:19 PM
 
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So I'm super late on this, but I'm going to sub and write down the assignments to start doing in April when our crazy schedules calm down a bit!

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Old 02-24-2007, 06:51 PM
 
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Old 02-24-2007, 07:13 PM
 
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I just came back from my weekly grocery shopping. I spent A LOT of time meal planning for the upcoming week based on what was on sale and what I have in the pantry. I still spent about $115 and that was just on food, no toiletries, cleaning, ec. I really wanted to spend $75 a week. I know $115 is less than I would have normally spent, and is A LOT less than the take-out we would be having. But still, it seems like it took up so much time to plan and now I still have to make the oatmeal cookies to replace the cereal bars and the pancakes to replace the frozen waffles.

I need a pep talk or, better, some advice on how to cut my bill down.
It gets soooo much easier as you go along, I promise! The first month I did it it took a RIDICULOUS amount of time, thought and energy. The second month it was much easier. This month - heading into March is my third month - it would be a no-brainer except for this allergy fiasco. I combined this effort with feeding the freezer and making a household binder, though, so I now have a list of staple meals and a bunch of recipes on deck at my fingertips. And I spent $275 this month on groceries - in NYC, with a lot of organics, multiple allergies for dd, and dh only eating meat and cheese! And no one's hungry.

It's very, very worth it. In less than a year it'll be old hat and just the way you do things. And the best part is, at least IMO..you'll be teaching your kids the same thing - smart money management, frugality and meal planning. What a gift!!

Hang in there!

Jude
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Old 02-25-2007, 03:47 PM
 
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Thanks for the pep talks! I did do a lot better than I usually do. I did TONS better when I count how much we are saving in take-out/resturants. As a family, we didn't have take out all week, which is HUGE for us. My partner went out to lunch once but kept it under $10. And, I do feel good about what I'm feeding my family and what I am modeling for my children.

A logistical question, though. I was very confused at the grocery store because there was so much stuff on sale that wasn't listed in the weekly flier. How do I find out about those? I ended up buying some other stuff, especially produce, because it was on sale. I tried looking on-line but it gives me the weekly flier.
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Old 02-25-2007, 09:56 PM
 
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TxMominCT;7391132]So I'm super late on this, but I'm going to sub and write down the assignments to start doing in April when our crazy schedules calm down a bit!
TxMominCT

Just wondering if we have a new assignment comin' to add to your list
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Old 02-25-2007, 10:07 PM
 
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i'm really LATE to this forum but am enjoying it so much and hope to catch up to you all. here's a link i just found for "cheap and healthy" recipes. i've not looked through them all yet but am hoping they will be just what they claim to be. maybe this will be handy for another mama too!

http://www.faqs.org/docs/consumer/recipes/

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Old 02-26-2007, 12:44 AM
 
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Went to Winco today. Any of you live near one of these? Definitely some cheaper prices, but questionable quality, IMO. Some stuff it doesn't matter--Minute Maid orange juice is Minute Maid orange juice, for example. Mission tortillas. Good Earth tea. (All these items were at least $1 cheaper at Winco than elsewhere.) I'm not buying saline-pumped chicken breasts no matter what the cost. There were no organics at Winco.

Trader Joe's is still coming up cheapest for many items. And mainstream stores for meat on sale. And the natural foods co-op for bulk organics and spices. Will I drive to Winco for tortillas and orange juice? No. But if I'm in the area when I need those things, I'll pop in for them.

Surpassed my goal of $500 for February. ($558) Felt the need to stock the freezer a little since there were some good prices on meat and chicken for the meat-eaters in my household--prices that would be gone by March 1. Because of this, I've reduced my goal for March from $500 to $440.
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