I first tried my hand at meal planning about a year ago, the whole charade lasted about two or three weeks – each day gradually slipping away from whatever we had originally planned, until the whole concept just completely fell through.
Now that I find myself in a beautiful new home, I am determined to stay on top of our money (as our overall living expense is significantly higher than my previous property) and try to avoid money related anxiety by attempting to plan our meals and budget our weekly food shop.
We’ve been doing this for a few weeks now and I must admit that it wasn’t the magical Pinterest start I was hoping for. It seems, for us anyway, that meal planning is something we need to work at…
First Few Weeks
On our first week in our new home, we attempted to plan our meals. The big problem we had here was that the food we hand in stock was all very random, so all the food was very different to the previous nights food. For example, it was a bit like Lemon Chicken, followed by a salad the next day and then sausage and mash the day after that. There was no real flow and left over food was racking up and we didn’t have the energy or creativity to transform our leftovers.
Originally, all our left overs food was being eaten as lunch the next day by my partner at work. It got rid of the left overs but didn’t solve any of our problems. One day it dawned on me that it was so wasteful for things like half a casserole or chilli to be eaten as a lunch, when it could in fact be turned into a whole new meal the next day.
Like I said, meal planning wasn’t coming naturally to me.
I had somehow managed to miss a pretty basic and staple part of meal prep and cutting down on wastage: turning your leftovers into something else.
My mine was blown.
The casseroles became next day cottage pies and the chilli became an interesting twist on burritos crossed with enchiladas.
Creativity seems to be a big part living the frugal lifestyle and it’s not something that comes naturally to me. I definitely need to research more foods, spend some times looking at cook books, looking online at recipes and surfing through Pinterest in order to get my brain thinking along the right wave length.
As I am a vegetarian, both our foods contain meat replacement products like Quorn mince/chicken pieces. I sometimes find that this makes things a bit tricker, so if anyone has any magic Quorn mince recipes bar the usual pasta sauce/chilli the please send them to me!
Learning To Budget
So we sort of have the concept of turn left overs into whole new meals down. Now we just need to properly budget our food shop!
Again, budgeting is something we are struggling with as we tackle this meal planning thing face on with a very ‘trial and error’ approach. I expect it will take us a few more weeks to fully settle down and work out what we can cut out and save money on, as well as plan meals that only need the bare minimum of extra ingredients to reproduce a whole new product from the left overs. After all, we can’t live off cottage pies, casseroles and chilli forever!
For now, we are getting our head around meal plans and food shop budgeting and I’ve learnt a few tricks of the trade from a few Google searches on how to save money on the food shop, which has helped a little bit. My partner doesn’t seem so sure on how a £1.75 money off voucher will benefit us, but I just have to keep telling myself, and him, that every little helps!
For more Money Saving tips, check out our Frugal Living Pinterest board: