I want to talk about food.

Food food foodAJ: Kirby asked me if I could do a deep dive on my meal planning for the month of January, so here goes! In this post (and in future posts just like it), we’re going to link to some of our favorite recipes, so you can enjoy them in the comfort of your own home too!

First, I made January’s meal plan in November. December is always a month of heavier miscellaneous spending for us given all of the gift giving for family, friends and co-workers, and the charitable giving we do across November and December means that January is often a month where we try to catch up on increased savings contributions. Given that, January is always the month where I force myself to not buy proteins (I have a serious fear of going hungry that lends itself to having a 6 month supply of meat and seafood in our freezers at all time), to use the items I’ve already purchased and to be more diligent about not eating out. And not four days after I wrote this we modified the menu (as is so common for us)! I’ve tracked the changes below and have outlined the grocery list ramifications, too, so you can see what we often do to ourselves when we go off-plan. SO, here’s January:

1/1 Poached Eggs on Toast – a family favorite featuring my perfectly poached eggs on boiling, bubbly cheese.
1/2 Kirby’s company Christmas party.
1/3 We were supposed to have dinner with friends, but they had to reschedule, so we’re grilling steaks with creamed corn (even our back up meals are awesome).
1/4 Coconut Shrimp with broccoli – Kirby “wasn’t that hungry,” and I “didn’t feel like shrimp” after I already thawed them and we didn’t even have broccoli (add to my to-do list to come up with a better system for tracking foods I have in my freezers and pantry!), so we went to Taco Bell. I turned the thawed shrimp into shrimp tacos for lunch on 1/5. Don’t waste food just because you’re feeling flighty about what you planned!
1/5 Chicken pad thai with double sauce (because we like it saucy) – We weren’t hungry for dinner on Sunday, go figure. So we just moved the Pad Thai to Monday.
1/6 French toast with sausage links (we’re big breakfast for dinner people) – Chicken pad thai with double sauce
1/7 Pecan crusted chicken tenders with roasted brussels sprouts – We went out for Mexican and spent $29.31. Not earth shattering!
1/8 Chicken fried rice – I had a last minute work dinner pop up, so we got to indulge in a cost-free night out which is always a treat! Chicken fried rice will make an appearance later this month, though, it’s a crowd favorite!
1/9 Baked chicken parmesan
1/10 Grilled chicken with roasted sweet potatoes.
1/11 My parents’ anniversary dinner that we get to tag along for.
1/12 Crock pot chicken tortilla soup
1/13 Shrimp & veggie stir fry
1/14 Breakfast burritos with bacon
1/15 Taco turkey chili with cornbread
1/16 Broiled steak with corn and green beans
1/17 Shrimp & orzo with lemon beurre blanc sauce
1/18 Whole roasted chicken with roasted potatoes (that’s a lot of roasting)
1/19 Chicken and cheese enchiladas
1/20 Parmesan chicken with roasted broccoli (important to note that this is different than chicken parm from 1/9, as these are little chicken nuggets with parm on top, no marinara sauce)
1/21 Pierogi’s with beer cheese sauce
1/22 Chicken n dumplings
1/23 Thai red curry shrimp with brown rice
1/24 Chicken pot pie
1/25 I’m hosting a bridal shower for my soon-to-be sister-in-law so I’m banking on us being worn out. Papa John’s it is!
1/26 Cheesecake factory shrimp with angel hair
1/27 Chicken piccata with parmesan roasted potatoes
1/28 Cheese and avocado quesedillas
1/29 Hard shell tacos
1/30 Chicken “alfredo” (air quotes because it’s a cheese sauce I make that’s better than alfredo, but don’t tell him that)
1/31 Spaghetti with meat sauce

After I make my menu, I make my grocery list. This will seem ridiculously light, but given that I have already stocked up on the bulk of the items we need, here it is:

1/5 shopping list:

    – milk @ $2.29 (Tom Thumb Just for U sale, this would have been $0.70 more had I not pre-loaded the coupon to my card)
    – green onions @ $2 actual: $0.57
    cilantro @ $0.40 – I realized that I still had cilantro in the fridge from last week that’s good, so I didn’t need it after all!
    – sweet potatoes $5 actual: $1.96
    – tortillas @ $1.57 (Tom Thumb Just for U sale) actual: $6.38, which is why YOU SHOULDN’T BUY THINGS THAT DON’T HAVE PRICE LABELS UNDER THEM! Damn the luck.
    – canned biscuits @ $3 (with a coupon for $0.40 off if I buy 3 cans which might just happen) actual: $2.20 with an unadvertised sale on the 5 biscuit cans for $1 each. I bought 3, so I could still use my $0.40 off coupon which they doubled because it was Sunday. I won’t lie, I didn’t even know this was a thing until today!

Plus all of the items I forgot we’d need and had to add when we didn’t eat the coconut shrimp, and I had to turn the shrimp into shrimp tacos:

    – red onion @ $0.65
    – cabbage @ $1.99
    – avocados @ $1.90 (This would have been $1.10 more had I not pre-loaded coupons to my card)

Total estimated for 1/5 shopping trip: $14.26

Actual total for 1/5 shopping trip: $21.23 which isn’t bad considering I spent $6+ on tortillas which is ridiculous. So, I spent $6.97 more than I had planned. All in tortillas 🙂

1/28 through 1/31:

    – avocados @ $4
    – taco shells @ $4
    – sour cream @ $4

Total estimated for the last few items of the month: $12

So, if we stick with this, we’re all-in on groceries for all of our dinner meals with leftovers for lunches at $26.26 for the month of January. Plus the $29.31 we spent on Mexican food out comes to $55.57.

Full disclosure, I’m budgeting $350 for all the food and beverage supplies I need for the bridal shower this month, so we’re estimating that we’ll spend $376.26 on all food expenses this month. Pending RSVPs to the shower invites I sent last week the overall food cost estimate might go down, but this is a worst case scenario which is how I prefer to do my planning. If we stick to this plan, we’ll wind up saving an extra $273.74 from our food budget for January which will help me sleep a little better at night.

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7 thoughts on “I want to talk about food.

  1. Impressive! Can’t believe I just discovered “just for you” coupons recently, so great! I will have to try some of your recipes – chicken parmesan and enchiladas especially! Thanks for the tips, always looking for new good things to mix it up.

    • Thanks Julie! We hope you like the new recipes section of the site for perusing…plus you can share with other people! Hopefully it helps merge the finance and food discussions since food is often one of the more “discretionary” buckets for a budget. There are so many ways to chop it up and optimize your expenses to really make it your own for you and your family from dining out to eating healthy and/or eating cost-effectively. Hope you enjoy the Just For U program too. I know Angela has used it a lot!

    • Oh Broke and Beautiful, if only! We actually are really frugal when it comes to meat consumption and perhaps I should be more clear. When Kirby and I have chicken, we share ONE chicken breast. When we have steak, we share ONE steak. When we use an entire package of ground turkey (in a soup, for example), that will result in at least 6 meals, sometimes 8. We stretch the food as far as possible, but you’re right, meatless can be a vastly cheaper path, we’re just not quite there yet!

    • @theFIREstarter, we certainly don’t struggle to find good food in our house. It’s a true passion of mine to cook and eat well, and we live that to the fullest!

  2. Pingback: January budget challenge: mid-month update | The Simple Money Blog

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