The only place I find displeasure in my budget is in the food section. Sixteen percent of our monthly expenses goes to food ($300), and that’s just what I budget. I know that when I get tired and we eat out it gets, ahem, adjusted. So I’m trying something different starting in April, Monthly Meal Shopping.

In preparation for the start of the month I made a meal plan that covered every night of the week, went to Costco ($96) and ordered groceries online through Vons ($103). I figured the $7 delivery fee is well worth it considering all of the last minute items I “need” when I’m at the store. Several of the items I bought were pantry necessities such as flour, that aren’t monthly purchases. At the two week point we have it budgeted to return for a produce run, because to me, frozen fruit is definitely a second choice.

“Cheaping out” is not going to interfere with our palette. Tonight we had beef stroganoff, with leftover beef, homemade cream of mushroom soup, the last of the sour cream, and egg noodles. Total Cost: About $5 for a family of four.

My 26 day (28 minus two nights away) dinner menu is:

  1. Beef Stroganoff
  2. Burritos
  3. Grilled Cheese & Homemade Tomato Soup
  4. Enchilada Casserole
  5. Grilled Chicken Salad
  6. Chicken & Sauteed Mushrooms with Rice Pilaf
  7. Flatbread Pizza
  8. Shrimp Scampi
  9. Antipasto Salad
  10. Scallops & Pasta
  11. Crepes
  12. Nachos (Homemade Tortilla Chips)
  13. Turkey Chili
  14. Chili Dogs
  15. Sushi
  16. Celery Soup
  17. Steak Fajitas
  18. Fiesta Salad
  19. Linguine with Clams
  20. Chicken Soup With Dumplings
  21. BBQ Chicken With Fruit Salad
  22. Sandwiches
  23. Alfredo Pasta
  24. Beef “Beer” Roast
  25. Tacos
  26. Tuna Casserole

Breakfasts are cereal, oatmeal/cream of wheat, granola with yogurt, or fruit & protein shakes.
Lunch is sandwiches and leftovers.

My goal is to get our food bill down to $200 for groceries and one night out during the month. That is NOT going to happen this month, as we will be visiting friends for two days, thereby eating out at least twice, but I think it’s a distinct possibility. I’m sure there will be several evolutions over the next few months, but I’m excited. This might be an extra $100 to throw against debt or towards savings. It also means good home-cooked food for my family and less time spent in the grocery store. Win-win for everyone.