Thursday, January 5, 2012

Debt (& weight) weapon #2

After the budget, having a meal plan was key to us keeping on track financially (and helped me finally lose the baby weight).

One "resolution" I made early in our marriage was to make a weekly menu plan. Early on we have very, very limited cash flow as Andrew was a full time student. To be able to eat within our limited budget and avoid going out to eat we HAD to have a plan for meals, most of which were canned soup, mac and cheese, and cheap frozen pizza. My early meal plans were written on the back of old envelopes with corresponding shopping list on the back. It was crude, but it was effective. It kept us within our budget and never left us wondering "what will we have for supper."

With the exception of my severe morning sickness with my pregnancies causing me to be very food averse and not setting a plan, we've always functioned in some way, shape or form with a food plan. I've tried several methods. I won't bore you with them all, a simple google search would give you a lot more good advice by people that have mastered the process. I will tell you that currently we use a 4 column weekly calendar (purchased at Promises, for you local folks). In the 4th column I write our events for that day and from that info I can plan the other 3 meals in the columns (which are always subject to being changed around if needed). Then I can make an accurate shopping list. I keep a printed shopping list on the fridge so I can just put a check mark by an item if I realize we are almost out of toilet paper (minimizing the need to make a late night Walmart run).

All this has huge benefits: 1) I never wonder "what's for dinner", 2) we always have the food we need on hand (and recently that food's been pretty healthy), 3) and we stay in our budget.

Sound like too much work?? For a while I used E-mealz. E-mealz is a service that sends you a weekly menu schedule (you can chose from several different plans) along with a shopping list. The work is done for you. It was fabulous!!! They had supper yummy and easy recipes, and I didn't have to spend time doing the menu planning and shopping list. Since becoming a mostly-at-home mom I actually enjoy the time I spend making menus and trying new recipes. I'll probably use e-mealz again at some point when I get tired of all the planning.

Just call me the woman with a plan.

Exciting news...on Feb 3 at about 3-4 pm CST we'll be standing in the Financial Peace plaza lobby talking to Dave doing our debt free scream. You can listen live to the show on his website, listen to the podcast later, or find the local station if Dave is carried in your area. We also get to meet him.

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