It starts with a little story about self-reflection (one of my favorite things to do!). When my husband and I first started cooking dinner together every night we were in a "stop by the store every night" rut. We would email each other around 2 in the afternoon and say, "Hi! What do you want to do for dinner tonight?" and the conversing would lead to one of us volunteering to pick up the ingredients for tacos or a fish dinner. We seriously were at Publix EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Well, if you have ever lived in this rut, you know that you wallet was screaming at you to STOP!
So I went on to devise several different plans for us. I have used the fabulous website The Shrinking Kitchen that sends you a menu for the week with a grocery list. This was great for a while because we loved trying the new recipes. However, the ingredients were lengthy and it seemed like my pantry was filling up but I was never reusing many of the products. Again, my wallet screamed at me.
So then I went on my own and used what the Shrinking Kitchen sent me but only bought ingredients for a few of the recipes and found other recipes that would use up what I had on hand. Then dilemma number 2 came into play: flexibility. I am a planner, 110% but I also LOVE spontaniety! I found that although I had planned this great week's worth of healthy dinner recipes and bought all of the ingredients ahead of time, there were many nights out of the week that we were going to meet friends for dinner or decided to hit up trivia instead of eating at home. This left a lot of my groceries destined for the garbage disposal or trash can. Do you see a theme? Yes, the wallet again.
Finally after 5 years of cooking and planning with my husband, I have developed a system that works for me as the planner, us as a spontanious couple, and for our wallet. Its really a combination of everything I've tried before. Here's how it looks:
If you've read any of my posts before, you know that I use Sunday mornings to reflect and plan my week. That includes meal planning. I look at our schedule for the week to know what nights we would be eating out and what nights we will be eating in. I literally write down what Brian and I will be eating for each meal for those four days. I decide what we will be eating based on what we currently have in our pantry and freezer. For example, this week we had two frozen chicken breasts and two servings of fish left over from a fishing trip. Those were Tuesday and Wednesday nights' dinners.
Next to the meal I write down the ingredients that are needed. A lot of times we have many of them already in our house. The things that we do need to purchase I put parenthesis around. This cuts down on making a seperate grocery list and if Brian needs to go to the store for me, he knows what kind of "turkey" to get because he sees the meal it is going in.
I now go grocery shopping twice a week. I know, it sounds like that would be more time consuming, and technically it is, but it saves us SO much money! Instead of buying groceries for the entire week on Sunday afternoon, I now only buy for Sunday night through Wednesday night. This is because if something spontaneous comes up, I can now roll over a meal to the following day and not have groceries go to waste at the end of the week.
This method is what works for us because of the flexibility and the ability to only buy what we need. Later this week I'll be posting some great recipes of what we tried this week