I’ve had several people asking me how our monthly meal planning has gone, so I thought I’d post a little review and share what I’ve learned.
Let’s start with what worked and what I’ll be doing again this month:
- Making a menu for the entire month at one sitting saved me a lot of time and effort. I loved not having to think about what we were going to eat each week! There were some adjustments that had to be made because of plans changing last minute, but it was really easy to just swap recipes from one week to the next or move them around and know that I had all of the ingredients already.
- Writing out and organizing my shopping list for the whole month at once was also really helpful. I think it saved me time in the store as well as saved us money by putting it all on paper and looking at it objectively before going to the store. I will also be shopping again at ALDI, Wal-Mart and Trader Joe’s because that is what seemed to work best for us and for our budget. :)
- In tracking the freshness of the fresh fruits and vegetables I bought last month, it seemed like the berries (strawberries, blueberries, etc) and bananas were fresh for about a week and then needed to be frozen or used up; grape tomatoes also lasted about a week; iceberg lettuce, grapes and oranges lasted about two weeks; and apples and potatoes were good until the end of the month.
- Freezing the milk, bread, cheese, butter, and meats all worked well and we really didn’t notice a change in taste after thawing.
Now for what didn’t work and what I’m doing differently this month:
- It just didn’t work for our family to not have fresh fruits and vegetables all month. I mean, we learned that it is possible to freeze things so that you can use them later in the month if needed. But, my 2-year-old LOVES fresh tomatoes, oranges, grapes, and berries and so I broke down after the second week and made a quick trip to the store for more fresh food. I’m already planning this month to shop for just two weeks at a time for fresh products like fruits, veggies, milk, bread, and cheese.
- I tried to see how long I could keep a watermelon, so I kept it on the counter for 3-4 days and then put it in the refrigerator for another 3 days before cutting it…. Well that was obviously too long because it was a mushy mess when I cut into it! So I don’t recommend that method…. And I didn’t get any watermelon this month… I got a pumpkin for making pie instead! :)
- I overestimated on some basic things like oil, flour, sugar, and butter because I wanted to make sure I had enough. Thankfully those things will all last awhile and I don’t have to buy them again this month.
- I underestimated in the area of snack food. I guess it’s hard to know what your husband is going to get a craving for… and this month it was pretzels! So, I ended up buying more snacks at the mid-month shopping trip as well. I bought extra snacks this month because we are hosting a small group in our home now, but I also expect to have to restock mid-month.
- We ate out a few more times than I’d planned because it was my husband’s birthday, so four of the meals I’d had down for the last week of the month will actually carry over to this month. Which isn’t a bad thing, I just have to be sure to prioritize making the meals with fresh ingredients first.
So overall I think it was a great experiment and I’m still implementing a lot of what I learned for this month as well. I think shopping less often saves us money because I’m less tempted to buy things we don’t need and it saves time that frees me up to do other things that I enjoy much more!
Did you attempt a monthly or two-week shopping trip or meal plan? I’d love to hear about your experience!