Monthly Meal Planning Update: Hoisted on My Own Petard

Original Taco House

The Original Taco House: keeping Portland weird since the 1950s. I assume.

On Monday I started Week 3 of my Monthly Meal Planning experiment, and things were going pretty smooth. For once, we weren’t running out of fruit (estimating how many servings we typically eat resulted in a surplus), and while we had run out of dinner veggies on Monday, our Monday “easy” meal was grilled cheese and tomato soup. No sweat! I can grocery shop tomorrow!

Until I started opening cans of tomato soup and realized . . . DUN DUN DUNNNNN! We were out of milk. In fact, both of my Monday “easy meals” rely on milk. So I ran out to the corner store and picked up half a gallon (the full gallons there would expire too soon), the exact thing my whole plan was supposed to prevent. Humbling times, folks.

But here’s the update!

Screen Shot 2016-01-12 at 4.06.54 PM

Menu

Week 2 meals we did eat: spaghetti carbonara with veggies, braised coconut spinach with chickpeas and lemon (over sweet potatoes), liverwurst sandwiches, ham and cheese sandwiches, bran muffins with fruit and bacon, kale smoothie with pineapple and banana (actually borrowed from Week 3), waffles with bacon and fruit, yogurt with honey and granola, vanilla ice cream. Holdovers from Week 1: roast chicken with potatoes and veggies, hummus with carrots and pita.

Week 2 meals we didn’t eat: Sid’s soup with cornbread (since I didn’t make it in Week 1), shrimp tacos with black beans, chicken soup with rice and veggies (since I hadn’t made the roast chicken in Week 1), banana-spinach smoothie (switching to this week).

As you can see, changes in Week 1 made a big difference in Week 2. The other major curve ball is we had the opportunity to bring a friend and his family dinner on Tuesday in Weeks 2 and 3, so I ended up making chili and had some left over for us.

Week 3 shopping: I ended up adding some things to Week 3–partly because we ran out of things (like onions), but mostly because we brought dinner to our friend again this week, so I added on herb roasted pork tenderloin (I didn’t do the preserves) and kale pasta salad, which were both solid choices: portable crowd pleasers that hold up well as leftovers.

Pros: Even though I’m not sticking strictly to the menu, I’m never at a loss for what to make for any meal or snack, which is great. This has been especially helpful for breakfast, AKA my weak spot. Plus, the fridge is not stuffed crazy-full: everything has a purpose and is getting eaten!

Cons: My freezer is really at its limit, since I’ve been freezing leftovers for later in the month, plus I have a bunch of shrimp, salmon, and chicken in there. Well, and I’ll be honest: my freezer wasn’t pristine to begin with.

Money

This was the thing that shocked me the most: I checked our grocery expenses, and if next week proceeds as planned, we’ll have saved about 37% in groceries this month. This kind of blows my mind. Plus, I have freezer backup, as in meals that will be shifted to next month, so our savings might be increased in February.

I’m kind of happy and kind of sickened at the same time. We’re not really eating any differently–I haven’t put us on beans and rice (yet). I’m just more organized and wasting less food. I don’t want to think about how much food I’ve been throwing in the compost bin instead of ingesting.

However: I do think this is in part because we’ve been going out to dinner a little more often than usual. We had friends visit last weekend (I finally got to experience The Original Taco House), and I’m being taken out again tonight for my birthday. It’s birthday month.

Going Forward: I’m going to make some chicken broth and strip the carcass I have in the fridge (yummy), so next week will be all about making use of that deliciousness. And then I’m going to have to plan next month!

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