I stink at meal planning. Well, I'm actually pretty good at the planning part, but it's in the buying stuff and sticking to it stuff where I find myself dropping the ball.
Buying Stuff: I'll make glorious menu plans, not really knowing if the meat I've chosen is being sold for a good bargain at whatever market I find myself at. And I'm not a huge fan of the meat selection at my local Aldi or Walmart, which translates into several stops at several stores. To that I reply - in the words of Sweet Brown, "Ain't nobody got time for that!"
Sticking To It Stuff: Sometimes my planning has been so rigid that I end up with wasted food. I need a little wiggle room for mess ups and plain old 'life happened' moments.
So today I stopped by a local meat market near our church (Wheeler's Meat Market), and I picked up some nice cuts of meat, along with this handy flyer that explained their bulk meat purchase options.
For me this was a meal planning 'aha!'
Buying the bulk special means I have quality cuts of meat at a reasonable price. (Which also means I don't have to traipse around a bajillion stores finding what's on sale and what's decent quality.) And the cuts of meat gave me an instant framework for planning meals for an entire month.
My reservations off-hand are (1), the fat content of the ground beef. It may be high, but it's ground in-store and from quality sources of beef. I think even with the possible higher fat content it's better quality than some of the leaner discount beef we've been eating. (2), I don't have definite weights on the meat I'm paying for. This month will be a trial run to see if we can stretch this purchase over four weeks. Good news is that if I can't, we'll just end this plan a week earlier and 'beef up' the portion sizes of the other weeks.
With all that in mind...here she is!
A few things are built in to help with my wiggle room needs... (1), the two leftovers nights each week allow us to waste less, and also allow me grace for an 'oops' night (I forgot to defrost something or some other reason had us eating out instead). These leftovers nights can be used for those missed meals. (2), My kiddos aren't big breakfast eaters, so breakfast for dinner is a nice treat. That makes for an easy cheap extra meal on the weekends. (3), I planned with only 4lbs of ground beef in mind, leaving 4 lbs to make serving sizes larger and two extra meals 'waiting in the wing' - Meatloaf and Spicy Veggie Beef Soup. Those can be whipped up with pantry ingredients when we need a full meal on one or two of the leftovers nights.
I know that some of you may be saying, "where's the chicken and fish?!?" At some point my family will be eating out (despite all my highest hopes), and I guarantee you that chicken will be on that menu. (Quite possibly Chick Fil A's!) This may be part of the alterations in the future - maybe adding in some frozen fish and chicken and stretching this out to a five week plan.
My aim is to supplement my meat purchase with snacks, bread, dairy, veggies, etc. purchased mainly at Aldi each week. I'm hoping to keep that purchase at or below $50. If all of this comes together (fingers crossed!!), I will be able to keep our food budget around the $329 mark for four weeks. Don't know if that's a good goal for you, but it's a good goal for us!
And did I tell you that I'm super excited about supporting a local business in the community that I serve?
We give it a go in a week! I'll keep you posted on our progress!