Monday, August 29, 2016

Meal Planning

This summer I've been finding myself doing "fast and easy" eating. That means eating out a lot and buying a lot of convenience food (Doritos and Oreos are definite weaknesses). While quick, such choices are not healthy, nor cost effective. For example, a coffee and simple cup of oatmeal at Starbucks runs roughly $5!  A "healthy" lunch option such as Subway can run $8 to $10. Dinner can be $15. That's $30/day!  If I do that for a pay period, that's $300 during the work week! Throw weekend dating, etc. on top of that and that could be $500 JUST FOR FOOD!!!!!

Surprisingly it took me a while to come to the conclusion that this wasn't healthy or sustainable. I have since decided that a little meal planning was in order. This allowed me an opportunity to take a critical look at what I've been eating and how I've been spending my money. In reality there are just a few meals that I make on a regular basis. For example, my breakfasts are either oatmeal and fruit and coffee, or yogurt and fruit and coffee.

That said I drew up the simple meal plan shown in the spreadsheet. I tried to keep it simple. Salads or leftovers for lunch, things the kids will eat for days/evenings I have them, but opportunities to work in new things as well. This allowed for an easy grocery list. In fact I now have a list of staples that I can just pick from to replenish as I need to. This is only one week, but can be extended to two weeks, i.e. one pay period for me. I'll place this under the diet tab as well for easy access.

This may seem obvious, but it worked really well the first pay period. I cut my food spending by roughly $200 and ate much healthier to boot. I used Sunday as my staging day where I got my shopping and food preparation done. Tricky items are things like planning for proper fruit ripeness or getting fresh items through out the pay period.

Now that I have the template in place, I'll look to add to it and find some new things to try.

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