I am not a chef.
I survived in college off Mac n cheese and cereal. It's true. So when all I cooked our first year of marriage was pasta and made turkey sandwiches, my husband, who comes from Hispanic culture, was quite dismayed. He thought all wives magically knew how to cook elaborate meals the second they said "I do".
It took me a year, some heavy nesting instincts, getting my work hours cut by over half, and finally having a dishwasher, to get my wife act together and start meal planning and cooking for my poor husband.
At the time, i became a professional meal planner. We were budgeting $60/week for groceries from Trader Joes, and hardly eating out at all.
All the way up until i gave birth. Then it all went downhill. The other day I cooked myself eggs for breakfast and I realized that was the first time in the almost 3 months since Ever was born. I don't know how we've survived the past 3 months, honestly. I don't even know what we've been eating. But we're alive. And we made it through the hardest part of having a new baby. And I finally feel like things are turning into a new normal, and I can get back into the swing of being a wife and not just a mom.
$60/week will stay the budget, and I'm going to share a couple tips on how we make that work.
First of all, I owe my meal planning "expertise" (not at all expertise, really) to my sister. She is literally the meal planning expert. She taught me how to meal plan and from there I adapted it into what works best for us. She loves cooking and experimenting with recipes and making them healthier, so naturally she's the one I turned to when I was starting my venture.
She's started her own meal planning business, and I'm telling you, it's gonna be worth every penny. Most people, like me, don't know where to start or have the time to meal plan. A service like this will save money in the long run, cut down on food waste, help those who want to eat healthier, and save lots of time. Also it's different than a meal planning service you can find on the Internet. It's personalized to your specific goals and needs and you will have direct support and contact with her. Along with access to her knowledge, experience, and personal favorite recipes, unlike online meal planners. I encourage you to check out her blog here and show her lots of love. I look up to her so much for her self motivation and dedication to health, and not only because she's my big sister.
All that to say... Here's how we survived on a $60/week grocery budget:
- What's still in the fridge? Before planning anything, I checked the fridge and pantry to see what we still had and what needed to be thrown away. The things that were still good, and could last another week, I made a list. Then I planned meal around those things. If I had leftover pesto, I made sure to plan a meal that included pesto so it didn't go to waste.
- Two birds with one stone. Use the same ingredients for multiple meals. Meat is one of the most expensive items. So if I was using chicken for one meal, I would try to plan a few meals with all with chicken. Because it's gonna be reeeeal expensive if you want a different type of meat for every meal.
- Calculate. While walking through Trader Joes, I would have the calculator on my phone open so that I could punch in the price for everything I put in my cart. This way I wasn't adding so many unnecessary items and just guessing what the total would be. Then, if I had money left over in the budget after I got everything I needed for meals, I would go back and grab that cookie butter I passed by.
And that's my how I did it! Starting to get back into the routine and hopefully back to saving lots of money, which is never a bad thing. I may not be a chef, but I definitely know how to save money.
Also, I made these meal planning menus for the ladies in my family last Christmas. So I'm going to attach them here for all of you to download for free!