Meal Planning

Jordo and I have been budgeting the Dave Ramsey way since August of 2011. Aside from loving Jesus, it has been the single greatest thing we have done for our marriage. We’ve kept a semi-tight reign on our grocery budget and people often ask me how we cook and eat the way we do with a limited budget. Now, don’t get me wrong, we aren’t scraping by with rice and beans. We have more than enough but want to be good stewards of what God has given us through the support of so many generous people.

In the past I’ve tried meal planning but fell on my face time and again. I’d write things down, get to the store and not know what ingredients to get. Which led to picking up many random things, maxing out our budget and still not having what I needed to make meals. Sound familiar?

I’d dread the moment of coming home from work, both of us starving and exhausted and then have to think of something for dinner. Ugh. My hubs is so gracious and always offers to cook when I’m not in the mood. He’s. A. Dream. He could eat the same thing every day, while I prefer trying new meals. Often.

When we moved to Slovenia, it was like all of a sudden our brains froze and we couldn’t for the life of us remember what the heck we used to eat. Pasta became a staple, lazy, go-to meal. And then I decided it was time to step back up to the plate and take another swing at meal planning.

Meal Planning
Meal Planning

My informal process goes as follows:

  • Sit down with a hot cup of coffee, my laptop and meal planning sheets (I made my own version in Slovene to help me practice the language).
    • Blank Meal Plan Sheet (Slovene)
    • Blank Meal Plan Sheet (English)
    • At the bottom I have two columns: one for meal ideas and another for ingredients to buy.
    • I write in any days I know we’ll be traveling or are going out to eat/having date night.
    • I browse through my Pinterest board and other blogs to come up with ideas.
    • Pink index cards = entrée ideas. Blue index cards = breakfast ideas. I add new ideas to a card and then pick one when I’m feeling indecisive.
    • Once I have the meals I plan to make, I typically write in the dinners first. Depending on how much a recipe makes, I can then write in “leftovers” for the next day's lunch.
    • OYO = On Your Own. I’ve had to implement this, as I’d totally stress myself out in the mornings when we were rushed or on nights we had something going on. This means we find something in the fridge or cupboards to make on our own.

There are staple items like eggs, bread, milk, flour, sugar, yogurt, muesli, and these delicious granola cookies we love, which are readily available. I have a demanding sweet-tooth so I always have ingredients on hand to whip up a baked good of some sort.

My dream is to have a chalkboard wall in my personally designed kitchen where I’d write the meals of the week in a fancy font. But until we’re not moving 3x a year and switching continents, the worksheet will do for now.

chalkboard wall
chalkboard wall

It’s made my grocery shopping easier, more efficient and cheaper. We budget 66 euros per week, roughly 84 dollars. And typically spend less. It takes some time and getting used to, but it's SO worth it! I schedule an hour on Saturdays to come up with my meal plan. Who doesn't love browsing around Pinterest and thinking about food for an hour?

How do you meal plan? Any ideas for how I can creatively write down my meals for the week in lieu of the chalkboard?