Wednesday, September 12, 2012

No Spend September: Menus.

A week late and a dolla short.
That's how I'm feeling about this whole "No Spend September" thing.
I started out wanting to be much more structured and organized than we were last year, but Justin wasn't really on board. So we opted to do the whole thing in a much more basic way.
But I guess we're still saving money, so its a win-win.

The backstory:
For the first time, we found ourselves having two full-time incomes in May. We've felt more comfortable with our finances and were able to enjoy summer, eating out, weddings, and new babies in the family. With my grad school loans coming up, vacation, the holidays, and Christmas in Florida...we realized we needed to make an effort to seriously spend less and refocus. 
Enter No Spend September.

I had grand ideas of using the envelope and having creative date nights and 'shopping our home'. But they weren't really sticking.
So we decided to just find our one big area of spending and cut back.
For us, that meant food.
Between J's eating out for lunch, us grabbing supper, and inconsistent grocery shopping...we realized how much $$ we've been wasting on food.
So, we decided to get back on a strict grocery/menu schedule.
And we love it!

I'm sure it seems like a no brainer, but planning ahead is key. At the beginning of the month, I identified a budget for grocery & household items. That helps when I'm planning & shopping because I know what we can and can't buy. We also plan out each meal and snack throughout the week. We only shop off our list, so that by the end of the week our fridge and pantry are mostly bare. This cuts down on waste...both food & money-wise!

We've found in the past that its easy to get in a rut and recycle the same recipes over and over. This is great if you love the recipe, but it can also lead to a "wellll, let's just grab Chipotle instead" attitude. For us, its important to have meals we look forward to and take our minds off eating out.
{We sound like gluttons, I know!}
While I like using blogs & Pinterest for ideas, I'm kind of over them right now. I have tons of cookbooks that I love and make it a goal to try at least one new recipe a week. This makes it way more fun for me!

Once you've made your menu and created a grocery list from that, the best way to save $$ is to shop cheap. Aldi, Wal-mart, and Trader Joe's are just about the only places I shop for groceries and household stuffs. Actual grocery stores are WAY more pricey and kind of stress me out. Aldi & Trader Joe's are actually owned by the same people and I love how affordable and healthy their stuff is. 

And finally, stick to it. Make each meal you said you'd make, don't go out to eat unless you have a giftcard or it was preplanned {ie. a family birthday dinner}, and don't make 'extra' trips to the store for snacks or dessert. We've already noticed a difference on our bank account and our bellies. Its also nice for me to be back in the routine of making supper nightly. And nice for use to feel more organized and in control of what we're spending!

If you have a money-saving tip you'd like to share,
I'd love to feature you!

And don't forget to link up to the {photo} challenge tomorrow!


megan said...

Great tips! I've started doing weekly meal plans #1 to save money and #2 to keep myself from making 430582 trips to the grocery store each week. :)

Amanda said...

These are all great tips!! We recently started making menus for each week & it is so helpful. Thanks for your insight! Have a lovely day :)

TwoFourFive said...

I'm trying to cut back on our food spending too! It's so easy to overspend in that area. When you realize how much cheaper it is to eat at home, it makes it so much easier to do. Great post! And I love your menu board :)

Emily grapes said...

Weekly meals are very important to do! When I would start them over the weekend, I would pour over the recipes and stressing over what to make which got me overwhelmed and I ended up stopping it. I too wanted new recipes every week to keep things interesting and it ruined me. haha

But I can't wait for the opportunity to do it again. Give it another chance and put more effort into it so I can save the money!!
Emily at Amazing Grapes

Allison said...

Having a plan definitely helps. I made a meal plan binder last summer and it has helped me stick to my plan instead of just grabbing a bite out. Great tips!

Ashley said...

this is so true lady! i used to be the every-other-day-publix-tripper....those $20 trips add up FAST!! i've started meal planning too. great tips!

Katie @ My Darling Days said...

Love this post! I did a general "Money Saving Ideas" post here:

And then one about menu planning here:

I'll do anything to save a buck... I love Aldi's. It's so cheap and they have good stuff.