Tuesday, April 1, 2014

I Suck At Menu Planning

Last year, I was out of work for a few months, thanks to my body finally giving out. (Un-diagnosed Scoliosis will cause way too many issues, let me tell you) Living with our normal expenses drained our savings super fast, and left me in a mess of anxiety attacks on a daily basis, which didn't help my rehabilitation.
Story time! When I was in the seventh grade, our math class did a project to learn how to balance a checkbook and make a budget. When I got an A, I took the budget and outline to my Daddy to show him that I understood how money worked. Instead, what he did was sat me down with a stack of "bills" and a stack of "money". Then, he said something that's stuck with me:
"If you run out of this (money) before you run out of this (bills), you're going to go hungry. Your budget only works if you stick to it, and never spend an extra dime. And, Baby Girl, you gotta know that Life happens. A lot."
Needless to say, I've been paranoid about having enough money for most of my adult life because of this. But Daddy was right, so I'll get back to my point.
I began doing research about how to save money. Couponing was the first thing that came up. Sadly, you kinda have to have money to start couponing. And, usually, a printer. But through blogs and Pinterest, I found a smaller way to start saving money, and making my dollar stretch: MENU PLANNING!
I suck at this.
I was used to grocery shopping once a month, and buying in bulk, when I lived with my (Southern and Italian) Mom and two brothers. In my mind, the only way to prepare for the month was to buy meats and pasta, and make a casserole almost every night. Sadly, my husband doesn't understand that, if it ain't a casserole, it ain't real food. Most of the time. So, I was left scrambling to learn how to cook real food (not boxed or casserole'd), and usually ended up with an overwhelming grocery list to accommodate a month's worth of meals.
Once again, I sucked.
I couldn't stick to a true budget. Some meals were simple, like spaghetti. Some were a little more extravagant, like stuffed pork chops and homemade mashed potatoes. The thing I lacked was consistency. And a realistic idea of how much food actually costs. This was when I really discovered Aldi's, but that's another post.
This month, I'm determined to break the cycle using some very helpful tools, like the FAVADO app.
I am going to take my standard $250 budget, and work at a weekly meal plan to see if I save more money in the long run.
**NOTE: I do receive WIC, which is an extraordinary program for mothers of young children and infants. I even got a double breast pump to rent FOR FREE with them since I'm Exclusively Breast Feeding. This program allows me to buy milk, beans, peanut butter, fruits & veggies, and juice with vouchers, which I will not include in my meal budget. I HIGHLY suggest this program to everyone. Look into it. You'll be glad you did.**
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I checked Pinterest for more printables, and this one, so far, is my favorite. Check it out!

I will update more after grocery shopping on Thursday.