Planning and budgeting…

It’s often said that planning is key to keeping on-plan, and I have to agree. If I know what I’m eating at every meal through the day ahead of time, I’m far less likely to fall off the wagon. It does still occasionally happen, but not nearly as often as it would if I didn’t plan ahead.

There are other positive knock-on effects to be had, though, and they come in the form of reduced grocery bills and fewer mealtime arguments.

I confess, I do love to be hyper-organised. I do have room for spontaneity and changes in plan, but in general, I like to have everything planned out ahead of time to keep me on-track.

We usually do our grocery shopping on a Friday afternoon. This means that I do all my planning on a Thursday night. Here’s what I do:

  1. I go through my fridge, freezer and store cupboards and make a list of everything I have in there (this usually doesn’t take very long, because I just cross things off and add things to my list that I keep handy).
  2. I quickly run through in my head what meals I can make with those ingredients I have available. (Sometimes I’ll have a look through some recipe books or magazine clippings too.)
  3. I make a list of the things I’ll need that I don’t already have.
  4. I make a menu plan for the whole week, starting from Friday.
  5. I put my shopping list in my bag, ready to go.
This is my fridge door – you can’t actually see the door for all the stuff stuck on it!

My menu plan goes up on my fridge door where everyone can see what we’ll be having each day. Since I started doing this, I have had so few arguments about what to have for dinner that it’s barely worth mentioning! Before I did a menu plan, I used to just ask, “What does everyone want for dinner?” which usually meant I had two kids, a Hubby, and myself all deciding they really wanted different meals. I would then refuse to cook four different meals, which meant at least one person would be upset, and there would be a fall-out.

Now, we usually all eat the same meal, unless it’s something one person really doesn’t like, in which case that one person will have something different, but it’s all right there on the menu, and everyone knows what to expect. I do occasionally switch days around, but more often than not, we stick to the plan. (Note I only menu-plan our evening meal – lunch is generally accepted to be soup and/or sandwiches, yoghurt, and fruit.)

And because we’re only buying things we need for those meals, and re-stocking store cupboard essentials, our grocery bills are drastically reduced. We stick to our shopping list around 99%, only occasionally picking up a little something I really did forget to put on the list, or an extra treat here and there. Sticking to the list also means we spend less time trailing round the supermarket, because we know what we need and we go straight to those aisles, resisting the temptation to pick up loads of extra items that might find their way into our trolley if we were to wander up and down every aisle.

So, I’m saving time, money and arguments just from being a little more organised, and I’m also helping my weight-loss efforts. It’s a win all round!

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