Someone asked me today to please please please write about my meal planning and food budgeting on here. Why? Cause I’m awesome at being poor. Poverty is a skill and damn it after years of rocking it I have got the skill. The skills to pay the bills when you can barely pay the bills… sorry that was cheesy. Even for me.
I digress… for a while when David was in school our food budget was $100 a month for a family of 3… that’s about $1 a day per person in case you suck at math. I don’t mean to toot my own horn but I can stretch the daylight out of a packet of ramen. Now, for the record, I don’t recommend doing that level of budgeting unless you absolutely have to. Why? Because there’s a time and a place for that much ramen… and it’s called college.
We are definitely not on the $1 per day budget anymore (thank god) but I’m pretty good at keeping on top of it so I will share with you my wisdom… or whatever the mediocre version of “wisdom” is.
Here’s my weekly menu board, it’s a clipboard from the dollar store covered with some pretty paper I had laying around and then glued tiny clothes pins to. It does not need to be as amazingly cute as mine is… I just also have a skill for using unnecessary art projects as an excuse for not doing the grown up kind of things I really should be doing.
“But Jen!” I hear you say, “I don’t want to meal plan! It’s boring and I don’t have the time!” Bullshit I say! Bull. Shit. It literally takes me 1 minute to flip through my stack of tiny cards and pick a couple to put on the week. 1 minute… and involves an incredibly low amount of mental energy and saves a lot of money.
The meals we make all the time I write on pieces of pretty paper, also from the massive stack of pretty paper sitting in my basement waiting for me to need an excuse to procrastinate. (Days that I’m doing something new I just leave it empty.) And here’s the best part…
On the back of the cards I have the maximum amount it will cost me to buy stuff to make the meal (I don’t count the stuff we always have around like butter, oil, rice, spices… etc). It usually ends up being less than that because I have a couple of the ingredients already (which is often why I decided to make it in the first place) or I can find stuff on sale but that’s worst case scenario what I’ll need. Almost all of our regular dinners will feed 5-6 people because I like to be prepared in case someone shows up.
So that’s that. In the next week or two I’ll show you a couple of my cheapy cheap dinners… or when you’re not quite at “ramen forever and ever amen” level poor but squeezing all the pennies.
Edit: In theory I go to the store twice a week… in reality I get food for the first 3-4 days and then one of those days someone invites us over so we’re not home, and one of those days the kids beg on bended knee to go get sushi so we go out, and one day we’re all lazy and just eat cheese for dinner (don’t you judge me) so that 3-4 days of food lasts all week. Then usually I just do the rest of the week the next week.