My family of three eats delicious, healthy meals on a grocery budget of $100 a week, with enough leftovers for lunch. How do we do it? The secret is really quite simple, and you can do it, too.
We use this four-step process for planning and spending: Review the week, plan the menu, complete the grocery list and shop using a cash envelope.
Review the weekI begin by considering what’s going on in the evenings during the upcoming week and pick meals that fit the time we have for cooking.
On a piece of paper, I list the days of the week and what’s going on each evening. It looks something like this:
Saturday: Out with friends.
Sunday: Evening at home.
Monday: Matt, ManKind Project board meeting.
Tuesday: Work out at the gym as a family.
Wednesday: Matt, MKP group.
Thursday: Our son, Malcolm, goes to fencing.
Friday: Evening at home.
Plan the menuWith our schedule for the week set, I grab some of my favorite cookbooks and start meal planning.
This week, I picked:
Road to Morocco Lamb with Pine Nut Couscous for Sunday and Wednesday.Carrot Muffins on a Grid on Monday. Breakfast for dinner is a simple meal, and we’ll have waffles for the rest of the week.Southwestern Corn and Potato Soup and sandwiches for a quick and easy meal on Tuesday night after our trip to the gym.Pumpkin Polenta with Chorizo and Black Beans on Thursday when I’ll have more time to cook.Grocery listOnce I’ve pick out the recipes, I get our pre-printed grocery list off the refrigerator door. We keep it there so that we can quickly highlight items when we run out during the week.
With highlighter in hand, I review each recipe and highlight the ingredients we need or write them on the list, if they are ingredients we don’t use frequently enough to include on the pre-printed list. After making sure I have everything I need for meals, I turn my attention to other basics that we’ll need for the week, including lunches.
You can get a copy of our pre-printed grocery list at http://bit.ly/Pre-PrintedGroceryList.
Grocery shoppingNow, it’s off to the store with our cash envelope. Sticking to $100 might seem hard. After all, it’s so easy to drop extras into your cart and bust your budget.
We follow these four guidelines to avoid overspending:
Take just $100 cash with you.Unload the most needed items from your cart first.Stick to your list.Avoid stocking up. Buy only as much as you need.Give this method a try for a month and see how much money you save.
Durango resident and personal finance coach Matt Kelly owns Momentum: Personal Finance. www.personalfinancecoaching.com.