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Meal planning – how’s it going?

Our family is into the second week of meal planning with a budget. Here is what I planned for our first week of meals.

I wanted to take the time to talk about how it went and if there was anything that I needed/wanted to change for the 2nd week.

Looking at two different ads and trying to figure out what meals, mostly dinner, I could make from the sale items wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be. It took much more time that I wanted it to and what I thought it would. That could also be because it was my first time doing it. Once we were all finished shopping at both stores & I added up how much was spent, I have to say that it was an adrenaline rush to find out if we were over or under. (Click the above link to find out!)

So did we stick the the plan!?
Yes, we did! There were a few days where what was on the menu was pushed back to the next day (a friend cooked us dinner one night. Such a blessing 🙂 ) I think there are 3 days that ended up flowing into this week. That made week 2 much easier! (More to come on the 2nd week later)

I posted the menu on the fridge so that I could see it. If I didn’t see it in plain sight daily, I knew that I wouldn’t stick to the plan at all. What I wasn’t expecting is that my kiddos would ask what we were having for {insert breakfast, lunch, or dinner} and I would say something like “Let me look at the menu”. They then began to look themselves & tell me what we were having for that meal. It was mostly my 8 year old only because he was the only kiddo that was home that could read the words. They actually started to look forward to looking at the menu and telling me what was next.

The one thing that I know that I need to change is when I take out the meat. I was taking it out in the morning and letting it thaw all day in the fridge & then when time was closer to dinner I would take it out to thaw in cold water. That didn’t work so well. The meat wouldn’t thaw all the way and would mess up my timing and some nights, it messed up dinner completely. What I started doing over the weekend was to take the meat out the night before & put it in the fridge. That seemed to help more. Hopefully that’ll work out better and not mess up anymore dinner meals!

Another thing that I would like to change is the paper that I am using. There is nothing wrong with just using a piece of notebook paper to display meals. I just want to use pretty paper! It makes it more exciting for me & makes something so boring, something that I will look forward to doing. Which in the end, will make me keep wanting to do this instead of making it a have to. I went on my Pinterest board (Pretty Paper) to see if I had pinned anything pretty that I wanted to use. I didn’t. So I spent some time looking for something that caught my eye. I found a few that I want to use and probably just rotate out so that I don’t get bored.
Picture 261 weekly Capture

I found tons but I think that I am going to stick to these 3 unless I find more that I want to add to the mix. I am going to put the paper in a sheet cover so that I can write & wipe each week. Plus I don’t want to keep printing paper off….just one less thing that I want to remember to do.

Overall, it worked much better than I thought & I will keep doing this as long as I have so many mouths to feed 😉

Oh! I also found this while looking for printables & think that I will try this too. Will just have to see how it would work for us & where to put it in our kitchen.
menu planner finished

Do you meal plan? How do you display it? What is your process for something that can become so boring?
See ya around for meal planning week 2 🙂

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Meal planning with a budget – how did I do?

Like I said previously I have meal planned before but never stuck to or made any sort of budget to go along with it.
Things had to change since we were running out of our allotted food budget before the month was over. Not every month but I would say close to.
This month I decided to change that. I didn’t know how the first time would go since we have 7 mouths to feed on a small food budget. I had posted on Facebook asking friends what they did & if they had any tips/tricks. Very helpful tips from friends! I also went to my Pinterest boards to use what I pinned.

Were we live, stores don’t double coupons nor do they have deal days, or anything else along those lines. We don’t have every many grocery stores to choose from either. I knew coupons wouldn’t help nor would really be an option. So I needed to find different ways of saving money while feeding my family the best that I could.

I found this pin when I started looking through my budget board. With a heading like that, there was no way that I could pass up clicking on it & seeing if this would be helpful for me!
food budget
Some of her tips that she gave I was already going to do. One tip she said that once you do your weekly (or bi-weekly) grocery shopping, do NOT go back into the grocery store for anything until your next meal planning shopping trip. How does one do that!? What if you run out of eggs or sugar or milk or……
We are going to try & do this. We will see how well that goes. Since this is our first time doing this, I won’t beat ourselves up too much if we do go back before our next weekly shopping trip.

My mission was to plan 3 meals a day for 7 people with $225 per week. This seemed overwhelming and not possible.
When the new weekly ads came out for the 2 stores that we would be shopping at (United & Aldi), I sat down at the computer with a notebook & pen and started to make meals around what was on sale. I went back & forth on my browser windows looking for what I could get from both stores to make meals. My attention span was starting to loose it! I finished writing down our meals and then needed to take a break.

This is our week of meals:
Breakfast:
Monday- Oatmeal with chocolate chips/canned fruit/cinnamon & sugar/peanut butter/chocolate spread. Any of those they could use.
Tuesday- Cereal & toast/bagel
Wednesday- Pancakes & fruit (watermelon)
Thursday- Yogurt, fruit, & granola
Friday- Cereal & toast/bagel
Saturday- Biscuits & sausage gravy casserole
Sunday- Egg boats

Lunch:
Monday- Sandwiches (pb&j or lunch meat) & chips
Tuesday- Tuna & canned fruit
Wednesday- Mummy dogs & fries
Thursday- Grilled sandwiches & chips
Friday- Mac & cheese and peaches
Saturday- BLT
Sunday- Leftovers

Dinner:
Monday- Chicken drumsticks & fries
Tuesday- Ribs & fresh corn
Wednesday- Half pork loin & fresh asparagus
Thursday- Hamburgers & chips
Friday- Salmon, rice, & frozen veggies
Saturday- Leftovers
Sunday- There was no name for this meal, here is a picture
Dinner

As I was writing down the items from the ads, I also was writing down what the price was. Whether it was BOGO or 3/$5. Whatever the price was, I wanted to make sure to write it down so that when I got to the store, I knew exactly which sale price I was going off of. I also went to grab an ad at both stores but they were gone.

image

I then made a list of what was going to be purchased from each store with the price that was in the ad. I figured since this was my first time, I needed to be safe rather than sorry.
imageimageimage

 

Along with these lists (I am most definitely a list person!) I made a list that were staple items or items that we needed but weren’t for our meals. For example, our oldest son is going away to a camp for a week & he needed some food items to take with him. I didn’t want to include the price of that with out meal planning budget. I am hoping that we with this budget, that we will have money leftover for extras……ice cream, cupcakes for school, or making a meal if someone needs it….things like that. In order to keep track of of what was the total of meal planning & then the extras, I did 2 separate transactions at both stores. I figured that would be a lot easier than trying to go through the receipt & figuring out that myself. Less headache = happier Mommie 🙂

Our first stop was United. We stuck to the list pretty well. We let the kiddos know ahead of time that we were going by a list & we didn’t hear any “Can I haves?” They all agreed. But who wants to start taking bets on who actually listened!?
As the guy was ringing up our items, I started to get nervous. Were we actually going to be able to stay within budget? If we went over, how much? Would it affect the rest of the month or could I make it work? I should also mention that I had to swap out 2 meats that were on sale. It would have cost much more to buy the amount needed for these meats than it was worth the savings.
Instead of getting ribs for $2.49/pound, we ended up going with a brisket at $3.08/pound.
We couldn’t find the salmon that was in the ad. It was $12.99/pound and we ended up going with Swai fillets (frozen, in a bag) for $7.99.

When he told us our total, I was shocked!
$141.10
I thought I did so well! How could I not?! I thought, “Wow, we are really under budget! I did way better than I thought I would.” Once I got back home that night, I realized that we still had to go to Aldi the next day. So my high was temporary…..bummer.

The next evening we went to Aldi. I knew we would spend less here but I wasn’t sure how it would come out for our budget. I didn’t do any math going into Aldi. Meaning I didn’t figure out how much we had left over in our budget to spend here. I wanted to just do it and do the math when we got home. Our damage at Aldi was $78.41.

Here is the math:
$141.10 – United, 44 items
$78.41 – Aldi, 49 items
$219.51 – Total, 93 items (budget was $225 per week)
Divided this by 21 (number of meals)
$10.45 per meal
Divided by 7 (number of people)
$1.49 per person, per meal

For the first time, I think that I did pretty well!
Some weeks will be better and some won’t be as great. That’s ok, it’s all a learning process.
What do you think? Can you give me tips for a better savings next time? Can you beat my savings? Tell me! I would love to hear how you do this with your family!

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Meal planning with a budget

I have meal planned before. Mostly just dinners and with no budget. Just made a list of dinners that we would have for that week, make the shopping list, and then bought it. I used to meal plan breakfast & lunch but once my first two kiddos started school, I stopped.
Things have changed, I have 4 kiddos in school (with 2 year old & soon to be newborn at home). During the school year isn’t bad since 4/6 eat at school. Summer time & school vacations are a different story. Dinners aren’t effected but not planning breakfast & lunch just throw me a curve ball. And it’s not like I am surprised when they are home…I have the school schedule!

I have also never planned with a budget before. Like I said, just wrote out what we wanted and then bought it. Should it be no surprise when I tell you that we, usually, run out of our food budget each month before the month is over!? It shouldn’t!
We usually go to the store with a list. Rarely do we go without or hungry. (<—— bad idea by the way!)

This month I am changing that. This month I am going to be aware of our budget & use it.
We will sometimes have to sacrifice meals that want to have meals we can afford. I will have to take time out of my day each week to look up ads, look at what is on sale, and plan our meals around that.
Will it be a pain? Probably.
Will it be worth it? Definitely.

We have a small budget to work with & it needs to feed 7 people, 3 meals a day + some snacks & a few desserts.

I will be updating how things are going, what I am doing, and some recipes if anyone is interested. I’ll give as much detail as I can.
I was already to start meal planning today but the 2 stores that we are going to do our shopping at, their new weekly ads don’t come out until tomorrow. So I will sit down with my pen & paper tomorrow for dinners. I have made my weekly list for lunch & breakfast.

I will be posting things & hopefully I can share something useful to you & you can share the same with me. This is a first & I am sure that I will mess up. But at least I’m learning!

Any tricks/tips or recipes that you have would be awesome!

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Wanted:

As many of you know, we have a lot of sister sites! Many aren’t active (no one to blog for those sites) and\or life is happening to the ones that are blogging! I completely understand & I am not here to talk about those people and their reasons.

I am here in search of women who are wanting to join our sister sites! There are some topics already in place but we welcome any & all topics! I have changed a few things behind the scenes, so it is more in your hands to design & name the blog! You write for\about it….you should be in charge of it!

Here are the topics that are already in place:
Lawmen
Multiple
Natural
Savings
Single
TTC
Weightloss
Special Needs
Linewive
Military
Teen
Truckdriver

We are always looking to add to these topics & always looking to add topics! We know that there are so many mothers out there that are going through something…..good, bad, ugly, and indifferent! Come to us to talk & share about it. We are a very welcoming group of mothers! If you would like to become apart of the sister sites, please feel free to email me at mommieventures@gmail.com! I look forward to hearing from you very soon!

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So here is your chance…..

For some free & discounted advertising with me! Here is my idea…hopefully it will make sense 😉

I will give out discounts off of what is a $20 value….starting at free & ending at $15.

This is going to be as fair as I can make this! I will make an album with pictures that will represent the business\company that wants to participate in this contest.

You will have to spread the word about your business\company being in this contest & get as many ‘like’s on your picture as you possibly can. The winners will be chosen by the number of votes you have.

If would you like to be apart of this contest, please email me at mommieventures@gmail.com. Only enter this contest if you are honestly willing to pay (no more) than $15 for your business\company to be advertised on my blog. This contest will start when I get at least 4 businesses\companies…but even more than that can enter.

Here is how the prizes will be given out:
First Prize- Free ad for 1 month
Second Prize- $5 ad for 1 month
Third Prize- $10 ad for 1 month
Fourth Prize- $15 ad for 1 month.

Again, if you would like to enter this contest, want more details, or have questions please email me at mommieventures@gmail.com! This contest will end on 09\30\11…so you better hurry!

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The Lucky Butterfly

The Lucky butterfly is our first ad!!!!

She has also offered all you MommieVentures readers out there a 20% discount through the entire month of September! How awesome is that?! {Use coupon code MOMMIEVENTURES}

Check out her website & fan page! Her ad will run until 09\30\11 & will be located in the upper right hand side of the blog!

The Lucky Butterfly offers reuseable snack & sandwich bags for both boys & girls!

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Feedback please!!!

How would you all like a contest\giveaway for a free month of advertising & discounted advertising?!

I have some ideas in my head but wanted to see if people were even interested in this. So please comment on this blog & let me know if you would be interested in something like this!

PS- I had previously commented on a question from a fan about the advertising. I had replied saying that as long as it’s business, I can advertise it….but I am changing that! Whatever you want to advertise (as long as it’s yours) then I would love to display it on my blog!

{Insert feedback down below, please & thank you :)}

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Would you shop here?

Some people cringe at the thought of even going into certain stores much less won’t spend their money there. The reasons very of why people won’t step foot in certain stores….but hey, we can do that here in America.

With some changes that are going around my household, we will be shopping primarily at a dollar store. The two that are near us now have quite a bit of things in the store that we wouldn’t mind spending less money on. Of course, there are things that you cannot get at a dollar general store, and we know that, but they do have things that are useable and if they break…oh well. Some items at any dollar store are junky but we aren’t looking to buy any of those. So anyway, I made a poll on my fan page and friend page & asked people if they would shop at a dollar store. I have to be honest and say that from the people that answered this poll….it kind of surprised me.

10 people responded. 10 people all had the same answer. Yes! I would have thought more people would have said no or only when their budget was tight.

I have to say that if you are looking to buy things for around your house (bowls, plates, napkins..things like that) then you can definitely get more for your money at a dollar store. Not only are things cheap there but some of their stuff have cute designs & colors.

So, in my opinion, next time you aren’t looking to spend a lot of money on basic things for around your home check out a dollar store. Check out any and all in your city because they all carry different styles, colors, and designs. And don’t worry about what people might think of you. The only way they will know you bought it at a dollar store is if you tell them or they shop there themselves. 😉

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Pear Tree Greetings

This company was giving away kids stationary for free about a week ago. A few days ago I received an email from them saying that they ran out but wanted to make it up by giving me a discount on my next order, which is completely awesome, but I will not be using it anytime soon.

So I figured I would pass the savings onto my readers. This isn’t a code that everyone can use….it’s a one time code for one person. If it were I would just post the discount code here. But, sadly, it isn’t. So if you are interested in having this code to use on a future order, please send me an email. I will do this on a ‘first come – first serve’ basis. I will include a link to their website so you can check it out and see if you like their products.

Here is the discount information:
50% off any order of at least $29 and free ground shipping! Expires on 101\11.

To check out their website, click here!

If you would like this discount code, please email me at mommieventures@gmail.com & put ‘Discount Code’ in the subject line. Thank you and I hope to give this to someone soon!!!