The Super Whites The ordinary life of a Super Mum

The Super Whites
Frugal Sarah Says

I meant to do a Frugal Sarah Says post yesterday but I just didn’t have enough time. This week’s shopping and budget is a little complicated for a number of reasons, we have friends staying on Wednesday night so I need to do my shopping today but payday is only on Thursday. Then Friday is a holiday and so is Monday so I need more food than in our regular week because Ron will be home. (Yes Ron, its all your fault for eating so much!) But my shopping list and meal planner system is working so well I don’t want to deviate and instead I will just plan a few more dinners and lunches and buy the groceries on the credit card until I can fiddle the bank accounts on Thursday!

I start the week on a Sunday planning the meals and the shopping list for the two weeks ahead. What meals I plan also depend on whether its a payday week or not, budget weeks usually mean a couple of meals from the freezer. Family freezer favourites are oven fish and chips and also homemade pies using left over slowcooker stews as fillings or bolognaise sauce. I write out the days of the week, usually not including weekends when we are a bit more flexible.

Monday: Gina’s meatballs & mash
Tuesday: leftover pasta & garlic bread
Wednesday: homemade pizza
Thursday: Roast chicken & veg
Friday: Chicken Risotto

Then I start the shopping list. I usually shop on a Wednesday so I check I have the ingredients for Monday and Tuesday already in the fridge and pantry. In this case the meatballs were in the freezer so all I had to do was take them out to defrost in the fridge on Sunday and make mashed potatoes. Tuesday’s pasta used up the leftover veg in the crisper and some bacon lying around after the weekend. Amy and I always have breadrolls for lunch on a Tuesday because we go to the bakery after playgroup so I make garlic bread with the leftover rolls. The shopping list for the rest of the week included a chicken for roasting, some mozzarella cheese for pizzas, veg for roasting and chicken stock cubes for the risotto. I already had enough risotto rice.

At the same time I was also planning next week’s meals so I can spread out the shopping across our pay schedule. Next week’s list included peanut butter and cheerios which were due to run out but would probably last until next week. This has been the revelation for me. I used to just buy things as we needed them which meant that we either ran out before I went shopping, or we had two lots of something for a few weeks until we finished the dregs of the last lot. This was especially true for household products like dishwashing powder, liquid and soaps. Now I check things weekly to see how long they will last and instead of replacing them all in one go, I spread them out across the weeks. I think I have managed to decrease our weekly spend signifigantly this way by only buying groceries when I actually need them to cook with rather than ensuring that our pantry is fully stocked at all times.

Now I have a core shopping list which changes slightly from week to fortnight to week if that makes sense. Things I always buy weekly: bread, milk, fruit, veg, yogurt, biscuits
Things I always buy fortnightly: toilet paper, pasta, ham, cheese, herbs, eggs, wraps
Things I always buy monthly: cereal, rice, coffee, tinned tomatoes, margarine, frozen fish, frozen veg, oven chips, peanut butter

I buy meat and chicken in bulk and then plan my meals around that. So this week I am planning a meal using chicken thighs on Wednesday so I will buy enough chicken for two or three meals and then plan another meal using thighs on Friday or Monday. I also plan my more complicated meals for a Thursday because this is a preschool day and I have more time to cook and prepare a more elaborate meal while Stella naps.
I am investigating using an online butcher for meat purchases but I need to empty my freezer before I can buy another lot of meat. I did a little inventory of the freezer on Sunday and will be using lots of leftovers over the next two weeks, this should save us even more on the weekly grocery spend.

Some more examples of weekly meal plans from the last few months:
Monday: Cauliflower Soup with Chorizo
Tuesday: Pesto spagetti & garlic bread
Wednesday: Thai chicken curry & Rice
Thursday: Lamb and Bean slowcooker casserole
Friday: Oven Fish and Chips

Monday: enchiladas
Tuesday: leftover pasta & garlic bread
Wednesday: pies
Thursday: Lamb shanks & mash
Friday: leftovers

Next week I am going to do a little assessment of how our budget is actually going and will do a comparison between our expenditure for Jan, Feb & Mar ’09 vs. Jan, Feb & Mar ’10.

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