So, a few months ago I set out on a mission, a frugal mission. As many of you know we are a military family, which means moving around…A LOT! With this moving comes a lot of unknowns. In this case it was “Where will we grocery shop? Will they have what we eat?”
When we got here, to the island that is Fort Irwin (not really an island, just feels like one because we are in the middle, literally, of the desert in California) we are very limited on our easily accessible resources, such as grocery stores. In fact, all we have is the commissary. Luckily they do have many of the items we usually buy at the grocery store. In fact, we don’t have to drive out of town to shop. There are some things we miss, like the Whole Foods, but that was a luxury, not a necessity.
Anywhoo. In my last post I explained that because of the isolation here we were essentially forced to live on post (closest home off post are over an hour away). This means that we pay a rather large portion of our income (the primary and larger provider) to the military for our home. With this in mind I had to sit down and reconfigure the budget; bills, grocery, debt, recreation, etc.
As I explained previously I was spending about $400.00 on chicken a month. That was my entire grocery budget (for the math please see my previous post on this topic). With our new budget I cannot afford to spend that way so I set out to devise a meal plan that had variety and still provided what my husband needed (for his macros) and for my children.
So, I wrote out my meal plan while doing the math of what I would need for that grocery list.
On the right is the grocery list with estimated prices (when you buy pretty much the same thing over and over you have a pretty good idea of cost). Well, I was off about $20. I forgot to take a picture of the receipt, but my total came to $120 and some change. Not bad, if I do say so myself. (Sorry the picture is so bad, didn’t realize it was that horrible when I took it. I will update with a better one, but you can get the gist).
The wonderful thing about my family is that when I buy a bottle of say BBQ sauce or a pack of spaghetti it lasts, sometime through three grocery trips (1.5 months). Same with things like spaghetti sauce and oatmeal. Those few processed things that I do buy only impact my budget every other month, which leaves carry over for the next trip or wiggle room if for some reason I need extra, like for produce.
How do the nonperishables last me so long? I only make enough for that meal. I do not cook the entire bag of pasta, or use the entire jar of sauce. I use enough to flavor the pasta and have plenty left for the next meal.
The key was adding variety to each meal. Not making chicken for everyone. I don’t believe you need meat with every meal anyway. So this works really well for my family. My husband gets his macros and my kids still get to eat the food they enjoy while continuing to be healthy.
There are somethings on this menu that lasted the entire two weeks for us, like the yogurt. The total I had budgeted for the yogurt actually covered enough for both weeks (we get paid every two weeks). Bread lasts us a while too because we don’t eat sandwiches every day. Something to know about me is that while yes I make a meal plan, I don’t always follow it to -T-. I tend to get bored or don’t want what I planned so I tweak it as I go, but always using what I planned with. (If that makes sense.)
I hope this helps you figure out how to fit a healthy, clean meal plan into your budget!! (Note that everything bought was organic, with the exception of the pizzas and pancake mix. Also, the nuggets on the menu are homemade, from turkey breast, not prepackaged.)