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mamaj180

Do you meal plan? Food shop

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mamaj180

So Ive heard a lot about meal planning. Usually I decide that day what we will have dinner or the night before ect. Just curious as do a lot of you meal plan? I don't think it would work for us as sometimes we wouldn't feel like a particular dish on that day. Or things pop up appointments. We are a family of 6 soon to be 7. currently we spend 400 on our weekly shop that includes nappies for 2 act fruit veg meat and everything. I also bake all of the kids snacks and treats myself. Ive read a lot of people doing a 250 shop it just seems unrealistic for our family to get it any lower. I hope I don't offend anyone. I am willing to try meal planning or any tips on getting our food budget down.

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twirling

Hi there, I read about meal planning for years before trying it. Like you, I felt it wasnt for our family as I didnt think it would be flexible enough.

 

I tried it about 6mths ago and loved it (have gotten lazy and havnt done it for about a month). Whilst I did/do think it saved us money in the way that we didnt have to pop into the store to get 'xyz for dinner' and come out with lots of extras I still spent about the same (or maybe a little more as I had EVERYTHING I needed for the week).

 

The thing I LOVED about it was I was so much more organised. No more trying to think what to cook for dinner, which I hate! And I had all the ingredients that I would need so more finding I was missing something that I needed.

 

We were fairly flexible with our plan. If I didnt feel like mondays dinner I would make thursdays etc. I wasted less as the more perishibles (salad leaves etc) where used earlier in the week after after shopping. And if we had a late afternoon/evening activity I would plan dinner accordingly (slow cooker on or something easy).

 

If I try really hard we can shop for between 300-350 so I cant really help you with spending less! Sorry. We have fairly high expectations for healthy fresh food so it will always cost us more.

 

Right... off to make a meal plan!

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lizzzard

My Mum always meal planned when I was growing up. Even today, all my friends remember the menu that used to be on our fridge hahahah

 

Basically, my mum would ask for input to the plan for the week ahead (e.g., each of us would get a choice or two). My mum would then use the menu plan to create her shopping list for the week, taking into account what was already in the pantry/freezer, and what amounts were needed over the course of the week (in order of the grocery store layout...hmm...come to think of it, my mum was seriously organised!). Then when we did the shopping, the only things that went in the trolley were things on the list.

 

She usually stuck pretty closely to the plan, but would occasionally swap a couple of the nights around. By creating it only a week ahead, she could usually predict when certain things would come up and plan for them accordingly - e.g. if she knew she had a meeting on Wed, she'd plan something that Dad could prep etc. Friday nights were always something easy like soup and toast, and sometimes there would be a takeaway night in there too.

 

My parents were great at budgeting a relatively small household income and I think this was a good contributor to their achievement. As a bonus, I loved knowing what to expect as a kid (although on the flip side, I'm terrible at being spontaneous with my own meals now!).

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MarchyMama

I sort of meal plan.

 

I have six wire baskets that stack on top of each other, in two sets of three. I put the base ingredients for each meal into a basket, so I'll put two carrots, an onion, two tins of tomatoes, some garlic and the italian herb blend of spices into one of them, as well as a ziplock bag of pasta. That's a spaghetti dinner - and I'll stick a post-it note on the front of the basket that has what other things I'd need to add - mushrooms, zucchini and the beef mince.

 

As I empty each basket I go through my cupboard and add a few other key things to the now-empty one. I find that I have a lot less 'extra' on the shelves, and only purchase what I need to make up what's in the baskets.

 

I found that the best thing for me, to keep the shopping down, was to organise the pantry. Put like things with like and make a conscious effort to look properly at what I have in there before I go to the supermarket.

 

Online shopping also helps, even if I don't actually order online I make my lists up online, print them off and stick to the list.

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twinklestars

I do! I've been meal planning for years. We get paid fortnightly, so the day before I sit down with my recipe books, supermarket catalogues and a list of favourite family meals I've made to make things easier.

 

I grab a note pad and pen and go through my freezer, fridge and pantry making note of things I have sitting there I can use in my meal plan.

 

I go through the supermarket catalogues (usually online) and write down any specials that interest me or are things we use often.

 

Then, working from what I already have at home and what's on special, I write down 14 meals that I'm going to make that fortnight. I try to include a few fish meals, some chicken meals, some mince meals, a sausage meal, a veggie meal and a 'snack' meal.

 

Then using my meal plan, I write my shopping list, including everything I need to make my meals. I don't usually buy ALL the veggies I need, because if I don't make a meal until the end of the fortnight the veggies will probably be quite wilted. I add in any cleaning products I need, yoghurts, snack foods, fruit, cereal etc and my list is done!

 

I make the decision to do my grocery shop at the supermarket that has the most specials that interest me and the one with the biggest range so I can get the best prices. Then I just pop into the other supermarket at some stage to pick up the other specials I wanted.

 

So, for an example, this is my meal plan for this fortnight:

 

Fish pie

Bean bolognaise

BBQ steak/kebabs with corn cobs, cherry tomatoes, cucumber and pineapple

BBQ lamb chops with chopped salad

BBQ pork cutlets/sausages with potato salad and cherry tomatoes

Lasagna

Fish and chips

Roast chicken, buttered potatoes and beans

Chicken parmigiana, chips and salad

Butter chicken and rice

Braised beef, mash and veg

Homemade hamburgers

Snack tea (eggs, baked beans and toast)

Tuna mornay pasta bake

 

I used to allocate a meal per day and stick to it, but lately we've been just looking at the list and deciding what to eat that day. I do try to at least plan two days in advance though so I'm not picking up last minute veg every day at the supermarket.

 

It sounds complicated, but once you get the hang of it it's really quick - it takes me 30 minutes max from start to finish and it saves time (not having to go to the supermarket every day or staring blankly into the fridge or pantry) and it saves us money because I know exactly what I'm buying and I know I will use what I do buy.

 

We are a family of 7 and it costs about $600 a fortnight including going back for extra milk, bread, fruit and yoghurts.

 

Hope that helps you!

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steppy

Yes always - the five weeknights and sometimes one day of the weekend as well. Lunches and breakfasts too. If I didn't I would spend too much money making trips to the shops.

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~spirited~

I find planning 4 or 5 meals for the week works best for us as we tend to get last minute invitations to family dinners, or our neighbours bring over food for us. When I was planning 7 nights a week I'd never get through everything and some of the veggies would go bad.

 

The meals are planned in order, but not assigned to a particular day. It just depends what happens during the week. We take have overs for lunch but sometimes we'll save them for the next nights dinner. And I always have ingredients to cook a few staple meals in the pantry and freezer in case I haven't planned enough meals for the week.

 

We waste a lot less food meal planning, and save money for sure.

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froglett

We do. Every weekend, DH and I sit together, and plan out Sunday to Thursday meals - we get to CBF stage by Friday night ;) and tend to go out.

 

We look at the calendar and take into account school things, work things, gym/sporting commitments and work around those (easier/quicker meals on the nights we're running around).

 

It works too. We waste less, spend less and plan for leftovers from most meals (this makes lunchtimes very easy - just pull leftovers out of the fridge).

 

And, DH and I actually have a discussion over who will cook, so a side benefit is that we tend to share the load a bit more evenly.

 

Typically a weekly food shop for us is $120-140 (at harris farm - so fruit & veg, dairy, canned stuff etc). We also do meat once a month ($80), woolies once a month (for essentials loo roll etc - around $200).

 

Hope this helps!

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gemgirl

I sort of meal plan.

 

I have six wire baskets that stack on top of each other, in two sets of three. I put the base ingredients for each meal into a basket, so I'll put two carrots, an onion, two tins of tomatoes, some garlic and the italian herb blend of spices into one of them, as well as a ziplock bag of pasta. That's a spaghetti dinner - and I'll stick a post-it note on the front of the basket that has what other things I'd need to add - mushrooms, zucchini and the beef mince.

 

As I empty each basket I go through my cupboard and add a few other key things to the now-empty one. I find that I have a lot less 'extra' on the shelves, and only purchase what I need to make up what's in the baskets.

 

I found that the best thing for me, to keep the shopping down, was to organise the pantry. Put like things with like and make a conscious effort to look properly at what I have in there before I go to the supermarket.

 

Online shopping also helps, even if I don't actually order online I make my lists up online, print them off and stick to the list.

 

Love this idea! I might start doing it.

 

I do menu plan. DP and I share the cooking. She's a SAHM, but I prefer cooking. If I had time, I'd do the lot (and she'd let me!) but sometimes I'm not home early enough. We usually work out who's cooking and what we'll cook. I have a Thermomix, that DP never uses, so I plan out recipes or foods I want to try and plan that across the nights I cook. DP has a 'rough' idea of her regulars (spag bol, schnitzels, roasts etc) and then mostly decides on the night what she feels like cooking.

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Beanette

I started meal planning about two years ago, definitely saves us time and money because less things get wasted.

I only plan for six days of the week and leave one night as "leftovers" so that we use up anything left before the next shop.

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Cimbom

We meal plan but I generally don't stick to the days and just choose what I feel like that day that's on the list. One way I've found of saving money is to make a batch that's bigger than normal and freeze the portions that won't be used for another day. I've found we can get good economy of scale by doing this. We spend about $100-110 for 2 people for a week, including lunches for work (usually leftovers).

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ms flib

I don't meal plan but we spend under $200 a week for a family of 5. We are vegetarians and are past the nappy stage. I cook from scratch, including pre-cooking chickpeas etc and freezing them. We grow our own vegies but never enough to live on - just enough for fresh greens and herbs and tomatoes, beans etc when in season.

 

I have a series of meals in my head that we eat and I usually experiment with something new each week or so - there's both consistency and change. I could sit done and plan this but it's hard to find the time!!

 

I shop at Aldi for basics, asian grocery for tofu etc, nut shop for dried goods and they have vegies too.

 

Good luck!

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Pearson

I meal plan to a point - in summer everything is with salad, very rarely hot sides unless it is rice or pasta because our kitchen is on the western side of the house, so super hot without adding the oven to it.

 

If there is something extremely well priced in specials, I buy up and we eat things based on that for a few days (eg pork roast cooked in slow cooker, sliced up for dinner, then into fridge for sandwiches etc. (Made pork tacos with that - yummo) Same with lamb roast - roast dinner, with leftovers for lunches, warm lamb salads, kebabs etc.

 

We too do leftover nights during our meal plan - I always buy enough for 7 meals, and if there are leftovers we eat those, or alternatively, the 7th meal. In winter with stews, casseroles etc, I make as much as I can (double or triple) and put the rest in the freezer for a busy night.

 

I think your shop amount is pretty good for your family. Perhaps look at having a vegie garden or two? good for the kids, (snacks in the backyard :)) and also you can pull some things from the garden (ours produces enough salad for 3 nights a week at the moment) and there is no wastage.

 

Can you get Harris Farm or something similar that will deliver your fruit & veg? you can look at getting the imperfect veg which is way cheaper, and generally just ugly, not bad.

 

Oh, and have you the opportunity to join Costco? I ask as their fruit and veg does come in large servings, like spinach and other leaves, beans etc, and generally can be cheaper and better quality. Might help a bit too.

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~katiez~

I started meal planning when my DD was about 6 months old - I just was finding it too hard to do the constant pop to the shops with a crotchety baby and we were wasting too much money on constant little shops. So for the last two years I have meal planned dinners for every week. Nights are flexible however the meals are usually organised so the easiest ones with minimal prep are on my work days so that DH doesn't have to get home late and do lots and I often schedule us takeaway nights - probably once a fortnight. I find meal planning great and absolutely essential for our family :)

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Prime

Yes I do. It saves me time and my sanity especially because I don't have to walk in the door at 530 with the kids and then decide what to eat. We eat meat free twice per week and I also factor in one night of take away or get your own night, eg. Toasted sandwiches, scrambled eggs etc.

We usually have pasta one night, schnitzel another night, and then the other nights are based around what I find cheap and in season at the market. My kids aren't overly fussy eaters and are happy to have vegies as a side dish almost every night. I grab whatever protein we are having out of the freezer the night before and defrost in the fridge. Slow cooker also gets a workout in the cooler months, and I usually have some bolognese sauce in the freezer that I can defrost quickly for the crazy nights when we are all busy and tired and I'm close to losing it :-)

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Mooples

We meal plan for 5 meals a week (6 if dh is working on the weekend) and leave the other 1 or 2 nights for take away, going out or if something pops up. My mum goes to the shops every day and when I moved out I couldn't think of anything worse so now I shop twice a week. Once on Sunday to get most of what we need for the week and a little top up of fruit, veggies and meat on Wednesday. If something changes during the week we just move the meals around to suit. Works well for us and I hope to continue when we have children.

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*Caro*

Meal planning is a sanity saver! DH and I both work fulltime in very demanding jobs. We walk in the door at 6pm and need dinner on the table at 6.30 - there is no time for last minute shopping! I plan out the meals, make a shopping list that matches the layout at the supermarket and we pretty much stick to that. I also do bulk cooking at the weekend to save time.

 

One day when I'm retired there will be time to decide what to have for dinner at 11am over a coffee, pop to the shops at 4pm, and then prepare wonderful, spicy, exotic, non-toddler food for dinner - but that day is not today! :)

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DZP

Yes I do. I have a fortnightly meal plan with 13 main meals, because we eat out once a fortnight. Our shopping bill for 9 people and 2 dogs is what you pay a week for our fortnight! The good thing about meal planning is that all those odd ingredients get used up and aren't an expense each week. Breakfast and lunch are whatever takes our fancy. We also often make more than we need for a meal, and freeze the leftovers, which often are used for breakfast or lunch.

 

Every few months I switch it around, keep what the kids are still loving, change those they are sick of. We don't do specific nights of the week.

 

An example, this is our current list:

 

Chicken Noodle Soup

Chicken Souvlaki Salad

Creamy Italian Pasta Salad

Penne Rocket Pesto

Spaghetti Carbonara

Turkey Reuben

Shepherds Pie

Chili baked wedges

Tandoori Chicken

Prawn Arrabiata

Spinach Frittata

Nachos

Chicken bean Casserole

 

On shopping day, we clean out the fridge and make what we call "left over soup" pretty much make a soup out of the veggies that need to be used up (with in reason of course, something you just don't put in a soup lol). Yesterday was Cauliflower soup with a few other veggies hidden in there too. Kids loved it, we freeze it in portions and it makes a healthy lunch for them. Much better than that stuff you get from a packet.

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DZP

DP

Edited by 7LittleAustralians

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dancermum12

I meal plan, I don't know how I'd know what to buy otherwise? I feel like I'd either get too much or too little. What the plan looks like depends on how I'm feeling over the weekend when I'm planning and shopping. If I'm feeling particularly motivated I might pull out a cookbook for inspiration, I might have seen a recipe online, etc. I do like to try different things, maybe once a week. The plan takes me 5 minutes on a lazy week, more if I'm putting a bit more effort in. We have some days that don't change which makes it easier - Tuesday is meat & 3 veg day, Friday is pizza. Like a PP said I make the freshest stuff Sunday & Monday after shopping, then other days it depends on work/other commitments.

 

Sure, some days I don't feel like what I've planned but if that happens it's not too hard to change it and seriously that hardly ever happens unless the weather is completely different or someone is sick. Otherwise I don't really think about it, I just cook what I've planned.

 

I'm sorry I can't help with the budgeting, we're a family of 3 and I can easily spend $200 in a weekly shop (and we're mostly vegetarian!) and that's not including a monthly Costco shop (which would probably be great for a family your size if you've got one nearby).

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ComradeBob

I meal plan because I truly hate going grocery shopping, plus, if I didn't we'd all be eating pasta every night of the week as the easy default. I ask everyone what they want to eat and check the weather as well - no use BBQing if it's going to rain and nothing in the oven if it's unexpectedly hot.

 

I generally have a few dishes on rotation, so this last weeks meal plan included

 

home made gozleme

bbq roast lamb and salad

tortellini with a creamy tomato sauce

chicken burgers

 

I can get things like burger buns from the bakery on my way home on the day we do burgers, but will have everything else. It makes cooking dinner a lot less stressful.

Edited by RedBob

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