Though it was never anything I found exciting before, since I've started cooking I've really enjoyed planning a weekly menu for the BF and I. Not only do I feel organized, but I consistently see how much money I'm saving by doing this.
This past week, I planned for six full meals rather than the three and leftovers I'd previously been doing. We're getting to the point where we have the money to spend on groceries, so while leftovers will definitely be eaten, we have more options and can start taking the second portion to work.
One thing that's helped my menu planning is to keep things varied. I planned one meal based each around a different meat (beef, pork, and chicken). I then picked a Mexican dish, a different kind of hamburger dish, and planned for a soup and sandwich night. While there are other categories I'll use in the future, this method allowed me to make sure I had a good variety. A couple of the dishes will still stretch for two meals and we won't get bored. I also made sure they would be easy to cook, so I planned for a crock pot recipe and a couple meals that I know will take only 15-20 minutes to prepare, like the soup and sandwich and a Helper night.
This weeks menu:
Garlic Mushroom Chicken (which incidentally does not have mushrooms; recipe will follow)
Cheesy Nacho Chicken on Corn Tortillas (crock pot)
Oven Baked Pork Chops (recipe will follow)
Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese sandwiches
Cheesy Spinach Burgers
The most exciting part about the menu is the grocery cost. After making my grocery list based on my menu and any hard to ignore deals in the Dillons ad, I estimated about $60 for groceries. My actual total? $27.30. And that includes not only the main course, but applicable sides and drinks, as well as sandwich stuff for lunches.
The breakdown comes to an average of $2.50 per meal per person. Which means on the 7th day, if we can splurge, we're having Little Caesars!