Monthly Challenge ~ Meals On A Budget

Over on my personal blog, Cherry Blossom Love, I host a monthly challenge link up. This months challenge is meal planning on a budget. Since it involves organizing and creating fun documents, I wanted to share it here. I hope you enjoy!

Rob and I are still trying to adjust our spending on a single income. I have to admit, it’s a little harder than I  originally thought it would be. One of the areas that can really put a dent in our checkbook is grocery shopping and eating out. Our goal is to get away from eating out and making more meals at home. We also want to get into a routine of only buying what we need for the week at the store to ensure we are not wasting food.

Goals of this challenge:

1. Stay on a budget with grocery shopping.
2. Plan our weekly meals and do the grocery shopping on Sunday’s to start the week out right.
2. Plan well balanced meals that include all of my WW requirements. 

As with any of my challenges/projects, I first started making a list of everything I needed to organize to set myself up for success. This was what I came up with:

Create a…
Monthly Calendar (9/1/12)
Weekly Menu (9/1/12)
Shopping List (9/1/12)
Food Inventory Checklist (9/1/12)

Organize a…
Binder compiled of our favorite recipes from cookbooks and magazines
Envelope for all of our coupons (9/1/12)

Purchase a… 
White Board (9/1/12)
iPhone App that is a shared grocery list so I can upload items and Rob can get them on his way home (9/1/12)

Decorate a… 
Clipboard to keep everything together in one place (9/1/12)

Here is what I have come up with so far! 

I created a food inventory document so we could see what we already had in the house to use for meals and snacks. I will do an inventory at the beginning of each month and take special note to expiration dates. There is nothing I hate more than throwing away food because it is past expiration.  


At the beginning of every month I want to go through the calendar and see what we have going on. When will we be away, when company will be staying over, outings planned etc…  

At the beginning of each week, I want to take a look at our inventory in addition to what we have going on that week and plan out our meals for the week. Once we know what our tentative plans are, we can take a look at our recipe binder and choose our meals. Once P get’s older, I want to incorporate theme nights to add some excitement! 

I find that having a specific list helps keep the cost down at the store. I know what items I need for the meals we plan to make that week. I decided to include a favorites section for things we are constantly eating such as granola bars, crackers and string cheese. 

I love our white board area in our kitchen! That’s right, call me a nerd 🙂 Even though we share a Google Calendar, it is nice to have everything written out for the month. The white board below the calendar has three columns; notes, to do and the week broken up by day. This is where we jot down pantry items we need, Rob’s “honey do list”, and a break down of the week (appointments, meetings, outings, etc…). The third white board is our recent purchase to help achieve this monthly challenge.  What I love about this white board is not only can I jot down our meal plan by day, but I can pin any recipes we plan to use for easy access! 

While I am no where close to holding the title of extreme couponer, I do like a good bargain. We get the Sunday paper for the weekly coupons and monthly P&G. I have also found a few websites, such as Grocery Coupon Network where I can go online to find printable coupons. Between the two, we save quite a bit during our shopping trips.

This month however, I want to challenge myself a little more. For example, last week we had a coupon for $1 off two boxes of Jimmy Deans breakfast sandwiches. While having a coupon was great, and prepacked sandwiches are convenient, the total cost was more expensive than if we had purchased the ingredients to make our own sandwiches. This month I want to try and find the most cost effective way to get some of the same items we love to eat.

While I made a handy dandy grocery shopping list, I know there will be times when Rob will need to pick something up from the store. Fortunately, I found an app for the iPhone that I love! It is called, Buy Me A Pie. My favorite feature and the reason I chose this app is because I can add items and Rob can see them on his phone. This will eliminate the need to text him a list or for him to try and remember everything from a voice mail I leave.

This is probably my biggest project for this month. As you can see, we have quite a collection of cookbooks, magazines and printouts of online recipes. My goal is to take these three shelves and combine it down to one shelf with a few of our favorite cookbooks and a binder that has all of our favorite recipes organized into categories.

That’s all I have for now! I look forward to reading all of your ideas, best practices and goals for the month! 

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