I’m well into my second full week of January, so it is definitely time to account for the first full week of my simple food project!
I don’t have the menu plans for the first two days of January, but thanks to my Mindful Budgeting 2016 Planner, I do have all the financials. I will share with you the menu from the 3rd through the 9th, including what I changed (as well as I can remember).
I’ll start off with the financial aspect: my first goal for this month was to bring my food spending in line with our set monthly budget of $1200, which works out, in January, to around $300 for every 8 days. For January 1st through the 8th, I spent $291.65 on food, which is just slightly under budget. Hooray!
A couple of noteworthy things that I noticed about my food spending habits:
- Even though I plan one major grocery trip per week by making a weekly meal plan and writing out shopping lists, either my husband or I went to the grocery store 6 out of 8 of those first days of the month!
- Two of those trips were because I was feeling snacky and wanted something that I didn’t plan for on the menu. Those two trips added up to $35.94. (It’s difficult, but part of this process for me is trying not to judge, but rather notice so that I can make more intentional decisions.)
The following is the menu plan that I made for the week of January 3rd through the 9th. For this particular week, I chose some fun-looking new recipes from cookbooks I own, set a basic format for my improvised meals, and bought based on what I saw on sale at the grocery store for those two meals:
|Breakfast||Pancakes and Eggs||Eggs and Baked herbed potatoes||Eggs and asparagus/brussels sprouts sauté|
|Lunch||Green salad with cooked beans||Almond butter and Jelly Sandwich with carrots and oranges||Kale, Cauliflower and Sweet Potato Salad and oranges|
|Dinner||Winter Veggie Soup||Grilled chicken thighs and broccoli and baked sweet potatoes with caramelized onions||Caponata au gratin over millet|
|Eggs and Toast||Eggs and Buckwheat hot cereal||Zippy Herb Omelet(added toast this morning)|
|Kale Tahini Salad||Kale, Swimmingly||Sandwich and carrots and orange|
|Improv. soup with bread||Leftover soup and bread||Sautéed veggies with cheese over pasta|
A few things to note:
- I didn’t actually plan the 9th at all, and because I didn’t think to make notes, I’m unsure of exactly what we ate that day.
- The lunches that I planned were all prepared and eaten during the week, but I ended up switching them around quite a bit, and not all of us ate the same thing on any given day because of leftovers from previous days.
- What I never explicitly outline on my menu are the fruit that I buy and the green smoothies that I try to have as a mid-morning snack with my toddler. I buy greens specifically for that and use whatever fruit I bought for the week.
- I also want to note that I didn’t plan any snacks – sweet or salty, and in retrospect, I think that contributed to my two big impulse snack-food buys. Of course those types of unplanned grocery trips tend to be expensive and not based on any kind of good planning, either nutritionally or financially (at least for me this tends to be the case).
All in all – I was satisfied that I stayed under budget, identified a place where I can potentially plan better to save money, and decided that my method for planning the meals could be more organized than just showing up and seeing what’s on sale at the store for my improvised meals.
Keeping those thoughts in mind, I set out to plan this week. Things I did differently as I planned the weekly menu:
- I looked at the flyers for the grocery stores I shop at every week and made a list of what was on sale among the items that I typically buy. I did this about halfway through the week so that I could mull over meal ideas for a few days before planning.
- I planned to make snacks instead of leaving it to chance this week – chocolate chip cookies and a recipe that I adapted from my growing up years for cheese crackers.
So here is the plan that I made for this week (Jan. 10th – 16th):
|Breakfast||Waffles with maple syrup and berries||Eggs and buckwheat hot cereal||Eggs and Toast and Fruit|
|Lunch||Kale, Swimmingly||Julienned Beet, Carrot and Broccoli stem salad||Hummus, pita and tomatoes|
|Dinner||Improvised Eggplant and beef “lasagna” with bread||Leftover lasagna||Leftover lasagna|
|Mushroom herbed omelets and fruit||Eggs and Oatmeal||Eggs and Toast||Eggs and Herbed Potatoes|
|Hummus and Pita and Raw Veggies||Grilled Cheese sandwich and Greek Salad||Pita and Greek Salad|
|Temple Rice Bowl||Roasted Sweet Potato and Broccoli Winter Bowls||Millet Bowl||Improvised Stuffed Squash|
Where possible, I’ve included links to the cookbooks from which I pulled recipes. I will share my own improvised recipes in a separate post every week (but only if they are worth sharing!) I will then come back and link the recipe titles in the menu plans here to the appropriate post.
I’m already well into this week, and things are going very well; I will be reporting on how things went and providing the follow week’s menu this coming Sunday. If you have any thoughts or suggestions, please feel free to comment below. I am currently working on a more readable version of my menu plans; so hopefully I will have something much better figured out by next week!