Ultra Simple Meal Planning

If I didn’t have this simple meal plan, I might just skip eating altogether.

I don’t know about you but sometimes I wish we didn’t have to eat. Oh, I do enjoy good food and from time to time I enjoy preparing meals but all in all I would rather do without fixing and eating food. But the rest of my family would quickly get up in arms, right? So, over the years I have developed a simple meal plan that keeps my family well fed and happy and is right on the pocketbook.

The first thing I realized is that we like certain kinds of foods and certain meals more than others. It stands to reason that we should stick with what everyone likes as long as it is nutritious and fits the budget. With that in mind here is a list of the dinner meals that I have ingredients on hand and most of them take less than half an hour to prepare:

  • Spaghetti or similar casserole
  • Tacos (all-time favorite we have most Sundays)
  • Pizza (homemade)
  • Beef stew or soup (either a traditional stew or a more tomatoey veggie base)
  • chicken and rice (several variations from Mexican to Chinese style)
  • Baked potato bar (topped with steamed veggie, beef or chicken gravy or sour cream)
  • Salads in the summertime with some kind of meat tossed in

Notice, that there is a lot of ground beef, chicken breasts or thighs.  Not a lot of other cuts. Once in a while, usually on someone’s birthday, we will buy steaks but that is rare (no pun intended). We have learned to look forward to steaks and roasts as special and festive so we don’t need to have them more often.

Now, the thing that you may wonder is, do I shop the sales to keep this budget (we spend less than $900 a month for food for 9 (6 adults). I only shop sales if it is an ingredient for the above-mentioned meals. Sure chicken wings might be on sale but we don’t like them. Same with pork meat cuts.

No, I just buy meats, veggies, fruit that are on my menu.  When there is a good sale on chicken breasts or chuck roasts (from which I make stew meat), I stock up. Otherwise, I buy most of my meat at Costco. Many of the experts say that Costco prices aren’t as low as you can get in a local grocery store. But one thing Costco (or Sams club) does is always have a low price whereas you have to wait for sales in the local stores. That and I know that Costco ground beef is 9% fat for $2.75 (as of 10/10) whereas you just don’t find it that low in the stores for that fat %.

Could I cut my monthly grocery bill even further by buying the meat that is on sale and fit my menu around that? Possibly.  But not by much. It is a convenience for me to shop at Costco, and I have disciplined myself to avoid all the tempting expensive ready-made foods (although, we do buy their oven-ready pizza once a month).

So, yes, perhaps I could pare down the food budget and I may in the future. But for me simplicity is far more valuable than the few dollars saved otherwise.

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