I mentioned in a previous post this week that one of my goals for the year is to stick to a meal plan and meal budget. Surprisingly, I have been doing this planning and spending for months already. My main goal is to stick to it while also reincorporating the keto diet.
For several months now, I have been utilizing a dry erase calendar hung up in my kitchen to plan meals as well as other schedules. On it you can find the date (lol duh), the meal planned for the day, designated chores, holidays (and birthdays), and any activities for little C. Now, some of these are new to my calendar this month, like the chores and holidays, but the rest have been there since I started this style of menu planning.
Meal Plan and Meal Budget
I plan my menus out for the entire month at once. Seems daunting, and sometimes it is. But I really get a sense of fulfillment and achievement once it’s completed. Seriously, it’s a big relief off my shoulders. If you’ve never done a meal plan before, I highly recommend it. Especially if you’re a super busy person, it takes the pressure off trying to figure out what to make for dinner.
One of my biggest problems with the keto diet is that it’s way too easy to fall into a rut. Chicken and veg, steak and veg, pork and veg, repeat, etc. etc. It’s my goal to keep things mixed up and fresh with keto. I’ve scoured and scoured and come up with a plan that I think will keep my taste buds happy, at least for the month of January.
I have even incorporated some fun themes throughout the week to make things interesting. Some of them will change month to month and a few them will always stay. My lasting ones include Leftover Wednesdays and Leftover Saturdays as well as Crock Pot Thursdays and Fishy Fridays. My new themes this month are Soup(er) Sundays, Chicken Wing Mondays, and “Taco” Tuesdays (or at the least, Tex-Mex Tuesday.)
Wednesdays are a great day for leftovers. For whatever reason, I dislike having to do serious cooking on the day I go grocery shopping. And Saturdays also work great for using up any other leftovers (especially after Crock Pot Thursdays.)
I truly enjoy my meal plans and they get me excited about the food I’m going to eat that week. Plus, they also lead me to this.
Mr. H and I have set a fairly strict meal budget for each week. Before going keto, I worked really hard to stick to $50 a week for groceries for our family of three. It was surprisingly easy, especially with the new Aldi five minutes down the road from us. Mr. H decided that we should increase our budget while on keto because the cost of meat can be pretty hefty with the amount of protein we need to eat. We have upped our weekly allowance to $75.
I just made my first shopping trip of the year. Unfortunately, I did not stick under $75, but I’m not stressing about it. I spent a grand total of $82. Seven dollars is not a huge deal and I can try to sneak in a week at $68 to make up for it.
The only reason I can even remotely stick to my budget is because of the meal plan. Without it, I would wander aimlessly through the store and impulse buy too many things. I am totally guilty of looking at the shelves and thinking, “oh, that would be delicious with this over here,” and then grabbing the items off the shelf. Of course, a few days later I totally forget all about it and never make the clever thing I thought of in the store and something goes to waste or it sits in my pantry for far too long. Now, everything I buy has a purpose and something to be used in within seven days.
It’s great. We keep our expenses down and everything we buy gets used. I don’t have wiggle room to buy those tasty cakes or donuts that my sweet tooth really craves. And I don’t buy my son too many snacks either (especially not stuff I like to sneak and snack on) because I truly want him to eat and enjoy better foods.
The meal plan and meal budget seriously make me happy, like this happy dancing chicken. Cooking becomes as stress free as possible,
my Mr. H’s bank account is happy without the extra spending, and I look forward to staying on track with my health goals for the year.
How do you like to meal plan and meal budget? Share with me! I would love to learn more secrets and tricks behind meal planning and budgeting.