Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Importance of Planning

After a few months of spending $50 a week on groceries, I really felt like I had a good rhythm. I could plan a menu based on what was on sale, and we'd have nutritious, delicious meals just about every day of the week.

All of this changed when I got sick....morning sickness to be exact, but I think it applies to any time you get sick. I didn't plan, at all. Thinking about food just made me sick, and when I did think of something that sounded good to me, I would usually just send my husband to the closest store to pick it up. The days I did go grocery shopping consisted of me walking down each aisle and pulling easy meals off the shelves, and filling the cart full of lots of good sounding snack foods. No menu, no ads, and no list.

The result of this lack of planning? I spent a little over twice the amount of money on groceries as I usually do! And that wasn't even counting the nights we went out to eat, which also more than doubled! I didn't realize how much the 'quick trips' and impulse buying were costing me, but I honestly didn't care because I didn't feel least until I saw the total for the month. I then resolved to be a little better!

So the past month was much better! I didn't stay in my budget, but I was much closer than I was the previous month. But, I still had a lot of cravings, which rarely matched up with what was on sale. For example, one week I couldn't live without a spiral ham, and it was before they started going on their holiday sale. It was delicious, and normally I could plan it into my budget by using it for a couple of meals, but I had neither the energy or the time!

So this month, I'm really trying to plan AND stay in my budget! We'll see how it goes, but I think it will be much easier since I've been feeling a lot better. And I've resolved to keep 4-5 freezer meals on hand so I can use them in case of a emergency.

Do you have any other suggestions for how to stay in your budget when you're sick or just really, really busy? I'd love to hear them!


  1. I have a few go-to recipes that use ingredients that are always cheap--sale or no. When I don't have a lot of time or know I won't be able to plan, I stick with a lot of cabbage, carrots, celery, onions, and salad fixings (using orange instead of tomato this time of year) for vegetables. Fruits are limited to apples, bananas, and oranges (guess what snacks are!). Potatoes and pasta make up the bulk of the starches. Chicken is the standard meat, supplemented with sausage or tuna, depending on what's cheaper. You'd be surprised at what simple, fast meals you can throw together with so few ingredients. If I feel adventurous, I'll throw a block of cheese or a tub of yoghurt in my shopping cart as well.

    In other words, I revert to "safe" foods. Foods that are always cheap, easy to prepare, and not too difficult to like.

  2. Rachel, I enjoyed your comment. Great idea to have some versatile things on hand to make up several dishes. There are three of us who contribute to Spendwisemoms. Marianne is the one who regularly does the $50 per week Grocery Challenge. Michelle did it for a while, but was very sick with her pregnancy and was just trying to make it through the day. She wrote this post. Nicole contributes to the Name Brand vs. Store Brand, and also tries to stick to the $50 per week. Since Nicole is a full time graduate student, she doesn't post her shopping trips each week as of now. We appreciate your comment. When people are busy or sick, it is good to have very simple meals. I have a friend who has cereal for dinner for her family whenever her husband is out of town. Too many times we feel like we need spend a lot of time in the kitchen to make a good meal, but there are healthy alternatives that are easy. Thank you for sharing!