Tag Archives: meal plans

Menu Plan: 7/11-7/17

We had a great time at the concert on Saturday, and we didn’t spend any money aside from a half tank of gas round trip. Now I’m up and ready for work, and it’s pouring down rain outside. I wish I could just go back to bed!

Our total at the grocery store was $58. We weren’t able to hang on to any cash this week, but I’m still counting it asĀ  victory because we stayed within budget.

Here’s our menu for the week:

Saturday: Bean burritos
Sunday: Broccoli cheddar soup
Monday: Oven roasted chicken breasts with corn on the cob & steamed veggies
Tuesday: Fajita chicken Mexican skillet
Wednesday: Chef’s salad
Thursday: Chicken quesadillas
Friday: Chicken Caesar wraps and edamame

For more menu plans, visit Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday! Hope it’s dry where you are.

Menu plan: 7/4 – 7/10

What a fabulous, relaxing holiday weekend! We used our entertainment budget to catch the new Johnny Depp movie, “Public Enemies” on Friday. Then we spent the rest of the weekend barbecuing and relaxing with friends.

It was also a great week at the grocery store. We kept it simple, and ended the week with money in our pockets for the first time in several weeks. $15 to be exact!

Here’s our $50 menu for the week:

Sunday: Tomato basil chicken with side salad
Monday: BBQ pork and corn on the cob
Tuesday: Leftovers
Wednesday: Pork tacos
Thursday: BLT salad
Friday: Bean burritos

For more menu plans visit Organization Junkie. Have a great Monday!

Menu Plan: 6/26-7/3

I’m ready for a short week after a fantastic, relaxing weekend!

It was a great weekend budget-wise. We only have $3 cash in our pockets today, but we’re getting better at appropriating our cash for the week. After finishing our grocery list and doing price estimates based on past costs, we determined that we were coming in about $10 over budget for groceries. We made some cuts to bring it down to our $60 budget.

I bought contact solution for $3 and a Nylabone for the dog for $10 (pricey, but it’ll last him a while and it keeps him occupied!) We also used our entertainment fund to splurge on a 6-pack of summer ale and some ice cream. :)

Chicken still hasn’t gone on sale! It’s been over a month since we stocked up! We bought just enough for the week at $2.99 a pound, but I’m waiting until it falls below $2 a pound to stock up. Buying meat every week is killing our budget!

This week was our last cash-only weekend for our first month of cash budgeting. Expect a round up of the month’s successes and failures on Wednesday. For now, I’ll definitely say it’s getting easier to stay within budget, but it’s getting harder to keep ourselves motivated.

Here’s our $60 healthy menu plan for the week:

Saturday: Roasted chicken and corn on the cob
Sunday: Mexican chicken skillet with refried beans
Monday: Chef’s salad
Tuesday: Leftovers
Wednesday: Chicken and broccoli stir fry
Thursday: Tomato-basil baked chicken with side salad
Friday: Chicken Caesar wraps

For more menu plans, visit Organizing Junkie.

Happy Monday! I hope you all enjoy the short week!

Menu Plan: 6/20-6/26

This week was really rough for us. Our chicken stockpile has finally run out, but we haven’t seen any good sales on chicken breasts for the past several weeks. We’re still waiting, but that means we’ve been spending a little extra money every week buying meats that are on sale.

We also ran out of several staples this week, so we had to stock up on some things. We ended up spending $75 on groceries (yikes!) and $14 on household items like toilet paper and a prescription.

We’d just barely purchased all of the items we needed this week — we even reduced our purchases to make sure we’d stay within our cash budget. Then we remembered we’d forgotten to pick up lettuce, a necessity for me because most days I bring salad to work for lunch. We ended up breaking down and charging the $4 package of 6 heads of romaine on our debit card. :(

We’ll try to reduce our spending next week by $4 to make up the difference, but if we don’t do it, I’m still not beating myself up over it. The whole point of this experiment was to reduce our spending as much as possible. Even if we make mistakes sometimes and overspend, we’re still better off than we would have been without living on a cash budget. So no biggie, right? :)

Here’s our menu plan for the week:

Saturday: Chicken kebabs with roasted corn on the cob
Sunday: French onion soup
Monday: Carne asada steak with pinto beans and rice
Tuesday: Taco salad
Wednesday: Broccoli cheddar soup
Thursday: BLT salad
Friday: Eggs and bacon

For more menu plans, visit Organizing Junkie.

Have a great week!

New to frugality? What to do first

Frugality is overwhelming in the beginning. I remember reading blogs from frugal veterans who made it sound easy, but I was terrified. Cutting groceries down to $35 a week, zero-based budgeting, coupon clipping, drug storing? It may have been easy for them, but I didn’t know where to begin.

Take a deep breath. Remind yourself that frugality is a major life change. It’s not going to happen overnight. The best way to get started is to jump in, and don’t try to change your life too drastically in the beginning. Frugality is a gradual change, one that you’ll hopefully be able to maintain long term. It’s okay to start with baby steps.

Here’s how to get started:

Figure out where your money is going.

Before you can cut expenses or create a budget, you need to know what you’re spending and where. Link your bank accounts to Mint.com, and spend normally for a couple weeks. This step was incredibly eye-opening for us in the beginning, and we immediately saw some areas where we could easily cut back.

Create a budget.

Next it’s time to face the dreaded b-word. Don’t be scared, though. Budgeting is actually empowering, especially in the beginning. Don’t try to deprive yourself or make drastic changes at first. Just create a zero-based budget to ensure that you’re not spending more than your income. I use Mint.com to set limits on our spending, and then I track it in real time. Every dollar has a purpose, and anything left over goes to savings or debt. You can always reduce your expenses later. The most important thing in the beginning is getting used to tracking and following your budget.

Open a savings account.

Even if you’re deep in debt and struggling to make ends meet, find a way to start saving something. You can always increase the amount later. What’s important now is establishing the habit. Even if all you can spare is $25 or $50 a month, open an ING savings account separate from your checking and start putting a little money away.

Learn to entertain yourself without spending money.

The first step to having fun without spending money is learning to love your library. If you don’t have a library card yet, go get one right now and start borrowing books and movies for free. Check out a cookbook first. If you’re like my husband and me, eating out is probably one of your favorite date night activities. Learn to have fun cooking for yourselves, and you’ll drastically cut your food budget.

Create menu plans & grocery lists.

When you first start cooking at home, it’s tempting to go overboard at the grocery store. You don’t have to cut your grocery spending to $35 a week to make the most of your shopping trips, though. Find a menu planning strategy that works for you, plan your meals with the grocery ads in front of you, and start buying meats and staples in bulk. You’ll cut your grocery expenses without affecting the quality of food you eat.

It’s okay if you makes some frugal mistakes in the beginning. Learn at your own pace. As you master these basic frugal habits, you’ll gradually find yourself learning new ways to save even more money. It’s an ongoing process for everyone, even the frugal masters.

As long as you’re committed to saving money and reducing debt little by little, your life will continue to improve. Remember, frugality is about improving your quality of life, not just cutting your expenses.

Menu Plan: 6/13-6/19

This was a very expensive week at the grocery store. Our chicken stockpile ran out, and chicken breasts weren’t on sale at either of our grocery stores. So we opted to buy a whole chicken, which was on sale for $1 a pound. We’ll use the leftover chicken for two meals and make a nice chicken stock out of the leftovers. We freeze the chicken stock in 1 quart containers to use in soups.

Our total would have been $70 (whoops), but we used some loyalty points to take $5 off our order. So in the end, we were $5 over our grocery budget for the week. We spent about $10 on household expenses (toilet paper, shaving cream, etc.)

We decided to stay in and save our entertainment money to make up for our expensive grocery trip. Friday night we played Scrabble, and Saturday we watched a movie that we got through our Netflix account.

We ended the week with $27 in our pockets. Not too bad. :)

Here’s our menu plan:

Saturday: Grilled haddock with rice pilaf
Sunday: Roasted chicken with roasted corn
Monday: Chicken quesadillas and refried beans
Tuesday: Bean and cheese burritos
Wednesday: Leftovers
Thursday: Chef’s salad
Friday: Chicken kabobs with succotash

For more menu plans, visit Organizing Junkie.

Menu plan & no spend weekend recap 6/6 – 6/12

Another successful no spend weekend! We ended the weekend with $30 in cash. We went $5 over our grocery budget, but we decided to stay in Saturday instead of spending our entertainment money. We also made a few household purchases. We still haven’t used our debit cards! :)

Yesterday I cashed two rebate checks and used the money to get a much-needed haircut. The rebate money may have been been better used as extra savings, but I’m counting it as a victory that I was able to get a haircut without affecting our normal monthly budget.

And now on to our menu plan for the week:

Saturday: Roasted chicken breast with salad
Sunday: Minestrone soup
Monday: BLT salad
Tuesday: Leftovers
Wednesday: Chicken Greek salad
Thursday: Vegetarian chili
Friday: Chicken Caesar wraps

For more menu plans, visit OrgJunkie.

Hope your week is off to a fabulous start!

Menu Plan: 5/30-6/5

Our first cash grocery trip was a success! We put together a list, and then based on previous shopping trips and current sales I estimated the cost to be sure we were in the right range. I kept track of my individual price estimates for each item on the grocery list, and as we filled our cart I replaced my estimate with the correct price. I was only off for a couple of items, so my estimate was pretty close.

We ended up spending $9 under our $60 budget for a total cost of $51.63. That money will be put aside in our envelope to cover us in future weeks if we have to go over budget or hopefully it will make it to the end of the summer so we can use it for something fun!

I was definitely more mindful of our spending during this shopping trip than I usually am, but I don’t know if that’s because I was using cash or because I’m making an effort to spend less. I had an extra $30 in my pocket for entertainment and household expenses, so I can’t attribute our mindful spending to fear of spending more than we had. But I think knowing that we can’t just swipe our debit cards is making it easier for us to avoid overspending, since we know that this $90 is it for the week.

Kacie brought up a good point when I asked for advice on cash budgeting last week. She said cash budgeting made tracking expenses more difficult for her. Since I use Mint.com to automatically track my spending and budget, this is also an issue for me. My solution is simple: Mint.com allows you to split transactions and categorize them separately. Each week, I’ll save my receipts until our ATM transaction shows up on Mint, then I’ll split that cash withdrawal and categorize it according to our receipts. Whatever doesn’t get spent will remain “Uncategorized,” which means it won’t go into our normal budget. The only problem will be accounting for that extra cash when I spend it later. I’ll let you know if I come up with a solution to add that into our budget. It will only be a problem if I don’t spend it in the same month I withdraw it.

Here’s my $50 lower-carb menu plan for the week:

Saturday: BLT Salad
Sunday: Pork chops and green beans
Monday: Greek chicken salad
Tuesday: Chicken fajita tortilla soup (minus the chicken and tortillas to limit carbs and conserve chicken)
Wednesday: Mexican chicken skillet (Like a Mexican stirfry with peppers, corn, tomatoes, and chicken)
Thursday: Scrambled eggs and bacon (I’m not a big fan of breakfast for dinner, but it sure does save money!)
Friday: Barbecued chicken with corn on the cob

For more menu plans, visit OrgJunkie.

Menu plan: 5/23-5/29

We had an incredible but utterly exhausting weekend. We were only gone for two days, but it feels like we’ve been gone a week! I’ll write more about our weekend — and our change of plans that saved us a ton of money — tomorrow. For now, all I can manage is a menu plan for the week.

I’m trying out the low(er) carb thing by cutting breads, pastas, and potatoes from our diet. These are three of our main staples, so menu planning without them is a challenge.

I’ve been struggling to lose a pesky 10 pounds gained over the past year with no luck, and several people have suggested that cutting carbs might be the answer, especially since so much of our diet revolves around unhealthy carbs like bread and pasta. Last week I limited carbs and lost 2 pounds after months of working out and dieting with no results, so I have a feeling it might be working.

I don’t want to do anything too drastic, though. This has to be a lifestyle I can live with, so we’re working on planning our meals around low-fat protein and lots of veggies so we can maintain this new diet long term. And of course, our meals have to be frugal.

Here’s what we came up with this week. I’m pretty proud of how delicious it all looks!

Monday: Mini cheeseburger salad with honey mustard dressing
Tuesday: Fajita grilled chickenĀ  with sauteed onions, peppers, and corn
Wednesday: Chicken kabobs with peanut sauce & steamed vegetables
Thursday: Taco salad
Friday: Tomato-basil baked chicken with spinach salad

Tomato-basil baked chicken

Thin cut boneless, skinless chicken breast
Mozzarella cheese
Can of diced tomatoes
Fresh basil, chopped
Extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sear chicken in hot pan with olive oil on both sides. Finish cooking in oven (about 20-30 minutes). Top with mozzarella in last five minutes and allow to melt. Heat diced tomatoes on stove top. Add salt, pepper, and a little olive oil. Top chicken with diced tomatoes and chopped fresh basil.

We just came up with this recipe, and we haven’t tried it yet. I’ll let you know how it turns out! For more menu plans, check out OrgJunkie.

Have a great Memorial Day everyone!