The importance of meal planning if you need to survive on a single income

We are living on less than one income

Our little family of four have gone through a few hard changes the last couple of months. To make a very long story short, both Husband and I have decided to undergo drastic career changes. Me because I was missing out on too much with the kids, and not spending enough time with him. Him because he was wholly unhappy and unsatisfied with his work, plus he only has 2 months left to finish his MBA which he is not currently getting enough time to do. We decided that we will buckle down and get our own thing going, working side-by-side to build a business that can sustain us and also allow us to thrive personally.

This was a calculated decision, but that being said does not make it any easier. We are currently busy packing up our house, after which we will be moving to a more affordable option for a few months, giving us time to establish the business and get all our ducks in a row. 

So, we are now in the beautiful position of having to make do with only a little fraction of the income we used to have. To make do, we have come up with a few rules, ideas and systems, the biggest one being meal planning. We have placed an absolute moratorium on any unnecessary spending, and that includes food. 

Read my post on how meal planning can simplify your life here

The rules

To get us through this patch, and to also establish better spending habits, we have made a few rules:
1. If we can make it, we won't buy it
2. No shopping during the week unless it is a life necessity. All shopping will be done on Mondays and we make do with what we have
3. If we cannot freeze or keep the leftovers, we cook less food - then only enough for dinner and one lunch
4. Buy on special only what we can use for the week. No pilling up in the pantry, that is money on the shelf. Specials do come around again
5. Limited treats, especially for the kids

The system

Our system then works as follows: 
I work out the menu for the following week on Sunday (you will get it on Friday). To plan this menu I take into consideration what is left in our fridge, then our freezer, then our pantry. I also consider the batch recipes I have made and frozen, i.e. stock, sauces, cooked veg, etc. Then I take a look at what is on special for the week and plan the meals around these factors. I like to use 2 or 3 tried and tested recipes with 2 or 3 brand new recipes. If they work then great, if not, we throw them out. Based on the menu for the week I plan my shopping list, which will be bought Monday morning (you can do your shopping on Saturday). If there is anything that must be batch cooked or prepped, I will do that on Monday (you can do it on Sunday). And that is it! As easy as that.

We have been running this system for 2 months now, and we are at the point where we had weeks that the only thing I had to buy was fresh milk and cream, the rest were all already cooked in previous weeks or we had leftovers from batch cooking. We have cut our grocery bill almost in half.

If that is something you would like to try, then sign up for my meal planning weekly email. I will send you the suggested menu for the following week on Friday, complete with recipes, ideas, shopping lists, prep lists and any other info you might need to make it successful.

Hope to welcome you all!

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