Meal Planning and Grocery Shopping

Recently, Doug and I set out on a mission to become debt free. When I retired early (had the years of teaching in, but long story short…not years in retirement system), we obviously went from two salaries to one. Can I just say that I never realized how spoiled I was until we decided to take this journey?! Anyway, we’re on a mission and it’s for sure a challenging journey!

Anyone around this blog also knows that we are working on being more health-conscious, using Trim Healthy Mama principles to guide our eating plan. You definitely can do THM on a budget. Many people do. You can definitely do THM without special ingredients. Many people do. That’s just not how I was used to doing it. I like convenient, and for us that means having some special ingredients and getting the exact foods I want to cook.

(Before I go on, I should tell you that our household is not your traditional one. Currently, we have four other adults and two children living with us. Then, every Sunday is family lunch and we have on average seven adults and five children here.)

When we began our budgeting plans, I purposed to cut our grocery budget by a lot. I shopped at Aldi, a great little salvage grocery store, and Walmart. I planned cheap meals. It seemed to work.

Then, I started noticing some changes around our family. My husband didn’t rave about our suppers. My grown-up kids starting asking…”Is this real _____?” My family didn’t seem excited about what I was cooking. Maybe biggest of all…I dreaded cooking! Like I completely felt more than unmotivated.

That’s a big deal to me! I don’t have to have their compliments about everything I fix for them. BUT…I want them to enjoy what I cook! I don’t have to be excited every second I’m in the kitchen. BUT…I want to enjoy the art of cooking! I tease and say that food is Doug’s love language! It’s probably mine, too! After what I considered a failed chicken, artichoke, spinach casserole earlier this week, I had had all I could take!

I told Doug that I just couldn’t keep scrimping and scrounging for our meals. I really love to cook! I really love it when my family raves about what I cook! We agreed that I can watch what we spend on groceries without sacrificing those elements.

So today, I’ve spent all morning meal planning and creating my Walmart pick-up order for the next two and a half weeks. My plan has a good combination of Satisfying and Energizing meals, with a few crossovers (combines fats and carbs) and even a couple meals that have off-plan dishes. I also left a few days blank to account for using leftovers or for our occasional decision to eat out. And unbelievably in the big scheme of grocery shopping, the totals for two and half weeks of meals aren’t crazy!

I’m still learning how this blog format works. I can’t figure out how to include a blank copy of this planning sheet. Its very basic. If you’d like one, comment below with your email. I’ll gladly send it to you.

*Insert big sigh of relief*

Funny how something as simple as meal planning and shifting my focus from scrimping to save a few bucks to serving my family can have such a drastic impact on my contentment.

How do you budget for groceries? What about meal planning? I’d love to know!

Simply~Cindy

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