Monday, May 4, 2009

Menu planning and grocery shopping

Our grocery bill has always seemed outrageously high so we decided to sit down once a week and plan the menu for the following week.

Each week I ask people in our household to put forward suggestions for the meals they would like. They're used to the rules of the house (no takeaways, no junky meals, etc) so the suggestions are usually pretty good. I weed through them and decide which meals make it to the menu for the week. I base this on the mid-week meals needing to be quick to prepare and cook so that dinner can be on the table fairly quickly once we're all home from work. Weekend meals are generally those that require more preparation time or longer cooking times.

Once the menu has been set I check what we've got in the cupboards and freezer and draw up the shopping list on my computer. I started keeping a price book a while back so enter the prices into the spreadsheet so we have a good idea of how much the groceries are going to cost us. Of course this does vary a bit as prices rise unexpectedly and when items are on special. Also, through the week I will have put other items on the list that aren't part of the menu plan - such as toilet paper, flour, sugar.

Having a list makes the shopping itself a quick and easy task as there is no wandering around figuring out what to buy.

The only items I may buy between the weekly shopping trips are fish and sometimes fruit and vegetables. Most of the time I don't even need to top up the fruit and vegetables.

I am currently looking at changing our shopping cycle to a fortnightly cycle and later may attempt to make it monthly. For now the weekly cycle is working and we are spending significantly less these days.

Also, I buy a 1 litre bottle of milk each week. When it runs out I mix up more using milk powder and pour it into the bottle. I've been doing this for the past month or so and no-one in the house has noticed or made comment. That's another cost saving for us.

Since I started this mission I've also stopped buying some items, including paper towels, serviettes, breadcrumbs and liquid hand soap. Instead of using paper towels I use old rags and wash them. Same thing for serviettes. I refuse to buy breadcrumbs when it is really easy to make my own using old crusts of bread (stored in the freezer until I need them) in the food processor. I've replaced the liquid soap with small bars of soap that I've collected over the years from various hotels, etc.

My next post will talk about some ideas around simple, quick meals that I make during the week. I hope there was something here you found useful.

No comments:

Post a Comment