We still haven't nailed down a specific plan for our spending, I just haven't been home long enough to sit down with Ry and get it figured out. But we've made good progress. We know what our basic monthly bills total up to. So now we just need to figure out the variable and "extra" expenses, gas for the car, groceries, Kung Fu, vet, etc.
I know for a fact we were spending more on groceries than we really needed to. It's so easy to go grocery shopping and pick up all those extra snacks and quick fixes. And while I like knowing we have something easy to fix for dinner on Kung Fu nights, especially on days that I'm at work until 6:30 or later, I also like to know I'm feeding my family nutritious meals.
Yesterday, after picking up a few hours of overtime, I sat down at the table, surrounded by several cookbooks. And I planned out the meals for the rest of January, three weeks worth of dinners. I used a menu planner I found online several years ago. I can't find the link anymore, but just do a Google search, and find one that works for you. One of the ways we are slashing our grocery bill is to stop wasting food. I plan for 1 night of leftovers each week, and I take left overs to work for lunch each day. Left over night is always on Wednesday, mostly because it is a Kung Fu night, and being in the middle of the week, I can rework the rest of the weeks dinners based on what is left after leftover night.
As I mentioned before, I like to have some quick and easy meal stuff on hand for those super busy nights, so I looked through a cook book I got from my Secret Santa a couple of years ago, Fix, Freeze, Feast ( http://www.amazon.com/Fix-Freeze-Feast-Delicious-Money-Saving/dp/1603427260/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1389569521&sr=1-1&keywords=fix+freeze+and+feast ) and I planned 1 meal a week out of there. As I wrote out the meal plans, I also wrote on the back everything I would need for each meal. Whether I knew I had it on hand or not. I then "shopped" my cupboards, and marked off everything I already had on hand for the next 2 weeks.
I went grocery shopping today. I live pretty close to several grocery stores here in town, Grocery Outlet, Walmart, Fred Meyer, and Albertson's. So before I left, I checked their ads online to get an idea of what was on sale where. I started at Grocery Outlet, generally, if they have what I'm looking for it's cheaper than Walmart by a few cents. They didn't have most of what was on my list, so I only spent $18. 04. I then went to Walmart, where I spent the most- $91.83. Fred Meyer was my last stop, and I spent $13 there. This totals to $122.87 for 2 weeks or $61.44 a week.This also includes my "extra" meals that I will be preparing for future weeks. So in reality, I probably got the weekly amount to close to $55 for a family of 4. I did pretty good at sticking to my list too. I bought some ALT bars at Grocery Outlet for $2.99 (to take to work for those extra long days where I didn't bring enough food) and 3 packages of canned fruit at Walmart for $1.88 each.
At this point in time, I'm still not 100% sure what our final grocery budget is going to be. I'm hoping as our family gets in the swing of eating what we have, I can also start cutting out all or most of the the pre processed snacks. I plan to make a new item each week to replace the snacks. This week, istead of buying the Oatmeal to Go bars that I took for breakfast, I am going to make my own portable oatmeal bars. I've made them in the past and really enjoyed them.