Now that my household only includes one adult and two children, meal planning has changed quite a bit.
For one, I don’t need nearly the same quantity of food around. I’d estimate the girls, combined, eat about the same as one adult portion. So anytime I make something that should serve 4, I still have at least 1-1.5 portions leftover for lunch or another nightly dinner. That helps me as I’m planning for lunches throughout the week and reduces food prep time.
I’ve also made big dishes that can serve us for a few days: big pots of spaghetti, large casseroles, and other dishes meant to stretch. This allows us to have at least 1-2 nights per week where I do “Leftover Night” and everyone gets to pick what they want to eat and I just heat things up rather than cooking another full meal.
I’ve also found I’ve turned more to one-pot or one-pan dishes: chili, tamale pie, soup/stew, casserole. It means fewer dishes to clean and just feels like good comfort food. Plus, I often like leftovers better since the flavors have more time to really develop.
I’ve been diligently meal planning with a list posted on the side of the refrigerator. It helps give me direction, keeps me from running out to pick up take-out, and simplifies since I can plan in advance.
So far, the changes have combined to help with my impulse food purchases (mainly eating out). I’m happy to say that for the month of September, my entire food spending (including groceries, eating out with kids and coffee or happy hour with friends) was $428. That reflects a MARKED improvement over previous months, where our spending was easily double that amount (even triple that amount in some months!!!)
I know it’s new still, but so far I’ve been pretty proud of how the food budget is going. And I plan to keep up the meal planning and food prep to help ensure the spending stays in-check!
How has your spending been for the month of September? Any big goals for places to save in the month of October?