dave ramsey, budgeting, & meal planning!
budgeting has always been tough for us. now that we are a family of 3, we had a heart to heart about spending, saving, and most importantly, budgeting and sticking to the budget. in comes, the infamous, dave ramsey. it’s hard…real hard. but, like motherhood, very rewarding. i am an extremist at heart so naturally cutting our current $800 average we were spending per month on food to $300 was where we started. i love a good challenge. how did we do it? you’re about to find out!
*we stopped eating out. the majority of us eat out because we don’t know what to make for dinner or we are missing ingredients. the truth is, it started to take more effort to pack this family up and eat out than it did on just cooking at home.
*plan ahead, a whole MONTH ahead.
*use cash and add up your groceries as you shop. i literally write down every price next to the item on my list, then tally it up as we go through the store.
*start your monthly meals by looking through your pantry, fridge, and freezer and using the ingredients you have. do this each month and then fill in meals and make your shopping list from what you need with the added meals. this helps with wasting food, buying things you already have, and forces you to get creative with what you have to save money. if we have noodles, you better believe i am making 5 different meals with them (stuffed shells, spaghetti, fettucine alfredo, chicken parmesan, baked mac n cheese, ect).
*make little cards with meals listed on each one. this saves you time on thinking about what you are going to make for a month. i have 60 pre thought out meals along with the recipes saved as bookmarks in my phone. i simply choose meals with ingredients we have and then continue adding in from my pile of pre thought out meals. check the recipes, add things i need to the grocery list, and bada-bing, i am ready to go to the store.
we do a costco and publix run twice per month. this saves time, stress, and over spending. most of our meals are based on things we can use in several ways. like english muffins. they are our hamburger buns, our muffins for sausage, egg & cheese sandwiches, and also for quick english muffin pizzas. we save on buying hamburger buns and pizza dough. when we do homemade pizzas on the grill, i make the dough with my bulk flour from costco. it costs us maybe $2 a person for amazing homemade pizza. another cheap dinner is having breakfast for dinner (BFD). we make french toast with turkey sausage, english muffins with turkey sausage, egg, and cheese, and homemake pancakes. i use this recipe for homemade pancakes.
for breakfast, we eat eggs (organic and bulk from costco), cereal, oatmeal, fruit, or english muffins with butter and jam. we also get bulk coffee k cups at costco along with hormone and antibiotic free creamer. we totaled up our costs for a morning coffee and an english muffin with 2 eggs and it is $1.41. amazing. costco is the best and when you plan ahead, buying in bulk saves you a TON.
for lunch, we do leftovers, kosher hotdogs or all natural ones, sandwiches, english muffin pizzas, perdue chicken strips (they are as close to organic as you can get), hamburgers, or grilled cheese. occasionally, we do salads when we make a bunch of chicken and can spice it up a bit.
i use this grocery list for the store. i can fill in at the top some of the meals i am shopping for in case there is a good sale and i want to flip one out. i like to put groceries in the middle and household/personal care items in the bottom check boxes. you can download this grocery list and another helpful list from design sponge.
every month i make a HUGE batch of homemade spaghetti sauce with the organic bulk sauces from costco and their organic ground beef. it is easy, cheap, and SO good. you can find one of my pasta sauce recipes here. i buy 6lbs of organic noodles at costco for $8, this will last way more than a month, same with the sauces. i get months and months worth out of the sauces, often close to 8 months. the big boxes of canned sauces are $8 or less. i also make a batch of homemade pizza sauce for homemade pizzas and english muffin pizzas. again, costco sauces and some seasoning and in an hour, you’ll have amazing sauce! we jar up the pasta sauce and pizza sauce and freeze it.
my favorite meals that can be doubled for leftovers or that just make A LOT at once are chili, pasta sauce, hamburgers (freeze the others), meatballs for sauce or meatball subs, breaded chicken, lasagna, baked ziti, and beef stew. the options are endless.
we try to pick one fresh vegetable a week on top of the organic frozen broccoli we get in bulk at costco (it lasts a long time and is SO good). often times we do asparagus and i put it with chicken and a side of rice or in a cream sauce, fettucini alfredo is always yummy with it. we choose two fruits normally, one bulk at costco and one at publix. normally a huge box of oranges at costco or apples will last us a month or more. publix has smaller quantities since we often waste the fresh stuff if we have too much.
our monthly breakdown:
so this month (april 1 to may 1) we have spent:
restaurants: $24.31 (this includes $5 pizza when i was sick, $4 for coffee that everett treated a friend with, $13 for a lunch date, and one fountain coke for a beach trip). we will spend less at restaurants from now on.
TOTAL: $281.30 !
if you have to feed small children, the costs does not increase that much because they don’t eat large portions and they can have portions of what you make. chicken, broccoli, rice, frozen veggies in stir fry, and chili can all easily be given to children and you will probably still have leftovers. remember, portions should be appropriate, we often over eat in america. we use smaller plates and start with a small portion and almost all the time, we are full on way less than what we thought we needed.
here are some of my go to recipes:
we use hormone/antibiotic free cream for anything that calls for milk, we already have it in the house and milk is just expensive, not healthy, and not needed. if you have small children that you are giving milk to, switch to almond milk that you can easily make at home or buy at the store. cows milk causes hormone disruptions, early periods in young girls, and allergies. more on that later :)