Monday, February 6, 2012

Menu Planning & FPU

Last week I tried menu planning for the week. A friend actually has an entire blog for her menu planning, and she always has the best meals planned for her family. I've pondered: I'm I just too picky, I'm I not that great a cook, might good meals bust our budget? I've decided to work backwards from a budget.

Rewind. Five years ago Matt and I attended Financial Peace University, the Dave Ramsey class. We were still newly weds with two incomes, trying to figure out how to have one joint account and live within our means. The class was great, it has some very useful information for everyone regardless of your specific financial situation. In some areas we were very stubborn but we were successful. Then in a blink of an eye, Matt was handed his pink slip from the company he was working for in Birmingham. We got wrapped up in all aspects of life and stopped using our FPU tools. And before we revisited anything FPU related while living in Nashville we up and moved to Marietta. Moving is not cheap - and selling two houses in a crappy housing market is not recommended! It's been over 3yrs we've been living off one income, but still never revisited.

In January our church started teaching the FPU curriculum and Matt thought we should jump back in. I was reluctant (kinda still am) but am going to the weekly classes...because Matt's "too busy" to attend once every other week (we planned on switching out since there's no childcare).

I painstakingly reviewed our December & January expenses to best plan a budget for February (this was FPU homework from 2wks ago). We only use our Debit Cards for purchases, and with Christmas and traveling there was A LOT of expenses to review! I decided I was going to devise TWO budgets each month since Matt gets paid twice a month and the bills to be paid per paycheck aren't consistent. I think this will also allow me to re-examine and tweak as I'm figuring out everything.

In order to be more accurate with a grocery budget, I thought it'd be smart to plan our weekly menus. There are a lot of positives for menu planning. 1. Ingredients can be checked for all recipes and then I only make ONE Publix trip a week. 2. If I plan ahead, I can prep ahead. I hate doing lots of dishes nightly so if I'm able to use/re-use cutting boards and pans, etc all in one night then there's less clean up later. The downside is I'm not always sure of our weekly plans. What if a meal allows for more leftovers or we decide to eat out last minute instead? It'll be a work in progress, so I'm allowing wiggle room. I've also wrote in plenty of lunch ideas for Matt since he works from home.

Here's our dinner menu for this week...
  • Sunday - Interstate Meal (Fazoli's)
  • Monday - Aussie Chicken with Baked Potato
  • Tuesday - St. Angelo's Pizza (dinner with Matt's parents)
  • Wednesday - Carrabba's Spiced Chicken served with Pasta
  • Thursday - Left-Over Aussie Chicken
  • Friday - Tacos/Fajita's
  • Saturday - OPEN

I went to Publix yesterday and was pleasantly surprised to find chicken breasts on sale for $2.99/lb. I fileted four breasts for the Aussie Chicken - two for Monday and two for Thursday. Two breasts went into the chicken noodle soup I took to a sick friend. Another two were diced and marinated for the Carrabba's Spiced Chicken for Wednesday. Then the last two were prepped for Fajita Friday. I also found ground beef on sale so I browned the mean and pre-seasoned it for Matt's Friday tacos.

Hotdogs were also on sale so Matt has an extra lunch option. I even cooked an entire package of bacon yesterday: most for the Aussie Chicken and then Matt can put slices on turkey sandwiches (since turkey was also on sale!). The hotdog and turkey sandwich options will sure to be on next week's menu too since there's no way he'll go through 10 dogs and a pound of turkey in a week.

As I also mentioned in a January post, I'm loving Pinterest for new ideas and recipes. The Aussie Chicken turned out very tasty, a good second place substitute. I am addicted to the Carrabba's Bread Dipping Spices and tested them out last week on chicken and it was so good! I made the recipe x3 yesterday, threw it all in my food processor and it made about 1/2c. If I make it in bulk then I only have to clean the food processor once.

Maybe the menu planning and budget will work hand in hand to make me more efficient...time will tell!