Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What's For Supper? Savings! (Think About It Thursday)

Since we decided I would be a SAHM (stay at home mom) and not return to teaching elementary school this year, we knew we would need to watch our budget a lot more seriously. We cut our income almost in half when I resigned. Thankfully, God has blessed our decision and helped us find ways to save money in different areas. One of those areas is our grocery bill/meal planning. 

When I was working, I would stay at school until 5, come home, fix something for supper, eat, do some laundry and other chores, and bathe my son and put him to bed. I didn't have much energy or time to cook, and it showed. Many nights, we gave in to convenience and ordered out or went to get fast food. Other nights, I threw together simple meals that were too repetitive and not especially healthy or tasty.

When I knew I was going to resign, I was so excited to be able to make home-cooked meals again! I dreamed of finally making all those Pinterest recipes I'd been pinning in vain and saving money in the process. Insert the reality of having a newborn and a toddler (aka, no brain left) here. Every store trip was a marathon to see what I could grab quickly before during a toddler tantrum and/or baby meltdown. Even when I tried to put together a few new recipes to try, I almost always forgot a few ingredients, and trust me, when you've been through the kind of trips to the store I'd had, you did not want to go back!

Another problem I kept running into was wasting food. I would buy basics, like chicken breast and ground beef, planning to use them with various recipes, but something would inevitably throw me off each week (eating at a friend's house or not having an ingredient I needed for a certain recipe in time) and I'd end up throwing out something. This was especially true with fresh vegetables and fruits, so I had pretty much given up on buying them. Fresh ingredients are usually more expensive, so I couldn't risk not using them, meaning I didn't buy them as often as I wanted to.

Also, with a newborn and toddler, organization is everything. A little bit of organization can give Mommy a bit of sanity in the midst of chaos. I've been doing different organizational projects around the house, and with each one, a small amount of burden is lifted from my shoulders and I can breathe a bit easier. (Note: I totally expected chaos with two young children and still plan on adding more with more children in the future. I am totally embracing this stage of life, but it's nice to have a bit of control every now and then.) :)

About a week ago, a friend of mine mentioned she and her husband were going to start hardcore budgeting and another friend commented that she had started using a meal planning service and it was the best thing she'd ever done. She said she was able to get groceries for a family of four for about $75 a week. We had been trying to keep it under $100 per week since I quit, increasingly spending less and less. I had been spending less than or right at $100 each week, but like I said, food was wasting, and I was not pleased.
oven roasted organic chicken & mape glazed sweet potatoes

closeup of the sweet potatoes

A few weeks ago, one of the blogging groups I am a part of announced that they were going to host a giveaway blog hop about healthy eating. When I saw the comment from my friend, I knew I had an opportunity here. I decided to check out the meal planning site, and I loved what I saw! I contacted them to see if they would be willing to provide a prize for the giveaway and they were very enthusiastic!

I started a 3 month membership that day. I will be sharing more info soon, but let me just say, so far, I have loved all the recipes I've made! I feel very accomplished with every meal. I feel like an actual cook instead of someone throwing random things together and hoping for the best. I am excited to be feeding my family healthy meals that don't have any artificial ingredients that are good for them as well as delicious. I've tried new things, and been surprised by how much I liked them. I was a little worried that my toddler might not eat the meals well, but he scarfed down the organic roasted chicken last night and thoroughly enjoyed the roast salmon tonight. Can you believe we are eating that wonderfully for so cheap?! I'll detail this more in my review, but the grocery bill actually ended up being less than $70!

Stay tuned for more information in my review and get ready for a fantastic giveaway coming very soon!

Do you think a meal planning service could help you? In what way(s)?

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