Frugal August Challenge: Learning to Plan Ahead

Frugal August Challenge: Learning to Plan Ahead

We are almost done with our Frugal August Challenge! Hard to believe the month is almost over. We learned some great lessons through this experience – the biggest one being the magic of meal planning. It’s so simple, but it saved our butts throughout the month. Who knew planning ahead could make such a difference?

As we mentioned before, our biggest monthly expense is food. We love good food and we enjoy cooking, but sometimes our stomachs are bigger than our wallets. Our goal was to reduce our grocery spending and make all our meals at home instead of eating out. But we didn’t have a game plan outside of shopping at our local grocery store. We had no idea how much our go-to recipes cost. We were afraid that we would run out of ideas and get bored with our usual repertoire. A person can only eat so many homemade pizzas!

Tandoori chicken pizza brought to by odds and ends in our refridgerator
Tandoori chicken pizza brought to you by odds and ends in our refrigerator

We discovered that making a list of the recipes we wanted to make each week made our worries disappear. Instead of buying groceries and planning meals afterward – wasting half of it in the process – we bought only what we needed for each meal. We picked recipes that gave us leftovers we could take for lunch, and we tried to keep the cost per meal under $10. Every Sunday we chopped up some veggies and defrosted some meat. All the ingredients we needed for the week were ready to go. Why didn’t anyone tell us it was this easy?!

Of course, it wasn’t always that easy. We hit some snafus along the way, such as buying ground pork that ended up being rancid. Luckily, we had a package of salmon filets. Our ground pork stir-fry turned into the most delicious salmon stir-fry ever. We also did repeat recipes that we knew were cost effective. There was a fair share of ham and turkey sandwiches for lunch. Through it all, we managed to discover recipes that became new favorites. We spread ingredients across many meals for even bigger savings. We learned how to improvise.

But really, this salmon stir-fry was out of control
But for real, this salmon stir-fry was out of control

In the end, none of this felt hard. In fact, it felt easy. We thought our eating out ban would leave us feeling deprived. Instead we looked forward to coming home and cooking together. We were able to cook for our friends rather than going to restaurants. Meal planning became part of our routine, not a burden. We all need to eat, but it’s possible to cook at home without that much extra work. This challenge showed us how easy it is to shift our expectations and find value in an important part of our everyday life.

~ Ms. RW

2 thoughts on “Frugal August Challenge: Learning to Plan Ahead

  1. For me, the hardest part about meal planning is figuring out what to eat each week. Finding healthy meals that two picky eaters (my husband AND me) will eat is difficult for me. However, the savings of planning the meals ahead far outweighs the task.

    1. We had trouble with that too, but we just stick to recipes we know that we like. There’s five or so recipes we make consistently, but we switch up ingredients when we want to feel fancy. We had tacos literally three times this week!

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