Weekly Meal Plan Plan

The word on the street is that I’m not the only one who struggles to plan my meal scene. After a few weeks of experimenting with a more regimented approach, I have to admit that the results I expected have once again proven true. Planning my meals ahead of time made my life easier in a variety of ways: 1) no last minute scramble, 2) a sensible, shorter, and more complete  grocery shop, and 3) less money spent at the store. What’s not to love about that? With all those pros, it seems like I could hardly fail to plan my meals…. except that I do fail to plan my meals and after a couple of weeks doing just great I stumbled and we had a chaotic week with weird food and greater expenditures at the store.

So, here I am, putting all my meal planning cards on the table. I am going to attempt to post my meal plans here. I’d like to say that I’ll do it every week, and I plan to. I know you’ll understand if life gets the better of me from time to time. Just in case you’ve always wondered how Little Sis’ family eats all week, here you go.

Monday: White Bean and Kale Stew (Kathy Hester’s The Vegan Slow Cooker)

Tuesday: Crock Pot Burritos

Wednesday Potato Pancakes with Cashew Cream & Apple Sauce

Thursday: Asian Varia-Bowls

Friday: Homemade Pizza (Mr. Little Sis is awesome)

Saturday: Dinner at a Friend’s (Yay!)

Sunday: Homemade Pasta (Again, Mr. Little Sis provides)

Yes, that’s a lot of slow cooker going on. We have fall sports going on and I’ve found the Crock Pot to be a great help on these evenings. Nothing better than coming home from the gym or field to great smells and hearty dinners. As for the planning, I know there are a lot of systems out there. I am a luddite. Here’s my meal planning system.

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Not terribly high tech, but totally user friendly and CHEAP. So I make a plan and then make a grocery list from the list. Has taken less than 40 minutes every time.

So there you have it. All planned up and grocery store bound at some point.Here’s to better grocery trips and home cooked meals! Ta Da!

Dollar Menu or Vacation – You Do the Math

While I could continue to talk about breakfast until, well, probably for a very long time, Big Sis and I thought it might be more helpful to take a more rounded approach, and thusly we’ve moved on to lunch.  I admit that as a work at home parent, my perspective on lunch is probably a bit warped, but I did, in my former life (and by that I mean before children, don’t get weirded out), work in the outside world.  My feelings about lunch are probably most influenced by 1) my desire to eat something healthful and 2) my limitless capacity to be a cheapskate.

There was a time in our pre-kid two salaried life where my husband and I faced that “where does it all go?” money question.  We sat down with our bills and bank statements and it became very clear that the dinner time restaurant extravaganza we were enjoying was problematic.  We devised rules and our monthly finances eased considerably.  Not long after this exercise, we looked for the less obvious money drains in those same bills, and not so surprisingly given our predilections, it became clear that lunchtime had its own challenges to our new frugality.  The office lunch, the lunch date with a friend, the quick lunch on the corner, that awesome lunch truck that’s only in that part of town, the birthday lunch, the sad colleague lunch, the happy colleague lunch, the I hate my job lunch, the sunny day lunch….

Let’s do some quick math.  Most years have 260 work days (thanks, Google).  If you get two weeks off, that’s 250.  If you get federal holidays, that’s 240.  Let’s go with 240, even though I realize it doesn’t necessarily reflect everyone’s working reality.  How much do people spend at lunch?  There are a number of estimates out there, so let’s use some logic. I’m going to say the cheapest you can pull off is about $3, and that assumes ordering off the dollar menu at somewhere oogie, I mean at a fast food place.  I’m pretty sure a granola bar and a drink at a convenience store would get you pretty close to the same amount, so I’m going to go with $3 as the bottom.  On the other hand, if you go sit down somewhere, it seems to me you are likely to spend at least $10 (and that would be something relatively inexpensive like Pho or pizza).  So let’s slice it down the middle and call it an average of $6.50.  This is on the conservative side of the average estimates I found online.

Employing my meager but serviceable math skills, 240 x 6.50, that’s $1560 per year on lunch.  We will be taking two vacations this year for about that much money.  Do you like those lunches THAT much?  And if you do, are you closer to the $6.50 estimate here or are you straying into the $10-12 territory I saw mentioned many times.  Let’s run with $12 as well…  240 x $12, that’s $2880.  Almost three thousand dollars friends; and pardon me for saying so, but much of it is for food that is NOT doing anything for you; I’m quite confident you could benefit from a vacation at that price tag.  I’m also confident that we can give you some solid strategies and some more delicious and healthful options to get you through the gauntlet of work lunch.  Our course is charted – homemade lunches that feed our hungry cells and vacations that restore our spirits. Beach sand or bust!!