I am learning a lot this summer. I am learning to simplify my meal plan, my shopping list, and my budget in order to save time, energy, and a whole lot of money that will be used for other things.
My meals are usually pretty elaborate affairs. I would always have a long menu plan filled with delicious looking recipes from magazines and cookbooks. Great if I happen to have all of those ingredients (not usually), and if I happen to want that particular meal on the night allotted. No? Then we were out at a restaurant.
When do you think restaurants skyrocketed in price? It seems like overnight but yet, a few years later, I am still shocked that $40-$60 is the average ticket for two of us! We noticed how we feel, the extra weight gain, the heartburn and pinned it down to when we go out. I generally serve much smaller portions and the food is fresh and additive free at home. We also took a look at the average we were spending on restaurants in a month. Lord, have mercy. That is money that could certainly be used elsewhere.
I have found a few ways to make meals super easy. First, choose a side or a main. What do I have in the freezer? Do I feel like wild rice? What is growing in the garden? Basically, what do I have? Chicken, rice, frozen peas, carrots….I can make a homemade cream of celery sauce (milk, flour, salt, celery…you don’t need to buy those cans of cream soup), and fresh salad from the garden. I plan that the day before so I can defrost as needed. Things don’t get wasted, nothing languishes in the back of the fridge, and we eat clean and simply. If I am short one ingredient, I go get it.
I plan Doug’s lunch the day before as well. Leftovers? Sandwiches? Do I need to make bread?
Hot cereal or homemade yogurt and granola start the day.
By taking out elaborate and processed foods, I have saved time, money, and a lot of stress.
Now for simplifying the budget; this is important! I needed to glean through and find lots of money. Wedding, down payments….I have my reasons. We usually do the envelope system. I have $200 allotted for groceries for the week. I would take two weeks worth of money and go to the store with my elaborate lists and spend the amount. Until I noticed that I have tons of staples, frozen foods, and vegetables growing in the garden. I was spending the money just to spend the money! So instead I only get what I need. A short list at the end of the weeks of things like flour, yeast, coffee, etc. We are saving $400 a month on groceries.
So then I’m on a roll, ’cause Mama wants a bigger farm. Where else am I spending just to spend? Well, let’s just say I am busy spending only what I absolutely need to. No dwindling “extra” money in envelopes and using the dreaded budget buster- the debit card. I am saving an average of $800 a month!
Try it! Don’t use credit cards. Rarely use the debit card. Pull out a hundred bucks and make it last as looooong as possible. Use what you have. Cook simply with what you have. Try to sell some things and earn a little more and see how quickly things add up.
Simple=Peace of Mind