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The reason why I monthly meal plan and how it can pay off for your family too.
In How To Start A Monthly Meal Plan, I shared that my family and I use a monthly meal plan system to feed our family healthy, delicious meals each month. However, I didn’t really get into the reasons why we chose to go this route.
I used to be a full-time working single mom who completed online classes and managed my household all on my own. This meant I was familiar with living on a budget and barely making ends meet. Being the only adult in the house also meant I was very comfortable making all the decisions without consideration for anyone but my son and me.
Things change, as they often do, and now I am a stay at home mom with a breadwinner partner and I must make considerations for the entire family. The new role was difficult for me to adjust to at first. I couldn’t help but feel controlled and I hated the idea of being “taken care of”.
The Job of Being a SAHM
So I approached being a stay at home mom like a job. The title of Home Manager was now my new position. I created a household binder and developed a family budget and monthly meal plan. My duties included taking over keeping track of schedules and bills and knowing the ins and outs of our household. Making what I do a job was the only way I could get my mind wrapped around my new role and really embrace it.
Captain Cupcakeasaurus was used to living the bachelor life and spending what he wanted when he wanted. Must be nice, right? Well, he now had a partner and child to think about and we were more expensive than I think he realized. We have some debt we want to pay off and a wedding to plan so we developed a budget that would allow us to do just that. Our monthly grocery/food budget is $400. I will warn you, the first month this will be hard to match. There will be things you don’t currently have in your pantry or your primary store won’t have all the ingredients you thought they would. It is inevitable so don’t beat yourself up too bad if you go over. The next month will be easier, I promise.
Month of Meals Math
I was developing our plan over the summer so I was figuring three meals a day for three people. Now, that my son is in school and eating breakfast and lunch at school, I don’t have to account for nearly as much. As mentioned in How To Start A Monthly Meal Plan, we accounted for dinners six nights a week and the ability to eat out at least two times per month. The way I separate the budget for groceries is $325.00 for groceries and $75.00 for eating out. Of the grocery portion, $300 is used at the beginning of the month and $25 is saved for the mid-month milk and bread run.
Are these numbers exact? No. Will the cost of eating out and groceries be the same for your area? Probably not. Can you manipulate the budget to fit your family’s needs and the prices for your area? Absolutely. If you need help doing so, please just ask. It isn’t easy managing a home or staying on budget or trying a new system out without helpful resources. I read a ton of information online and then tweaked their suggestions to meet my own needs and still had some adjusting to do once put into practice.
Calculations Are In
Now we can all whip out our handy-dandy calculators to really show the benefits of monthly meal planning. $325 divided by 3 people equals $108.33 per person for the month. To estimate on the larger months, we will say a month has 31 days and that would leave $3.49 per person per day. Three meals a day would then give each person $1.16.
What? No way! I can’t feed someone a delicious and nutritious meal for $1.16! The vending machine costs more than that! Yes, you can feed your family for that amount and I’m going to show you how. But, just for giggles even if your monthly grocery budget was $500 straight for groceries, you’d still only be spending $1.79 per meal per person for a family of three. It can be done and once you start, you won’t ever want to eat out again.
Where can you feed a family of three for $3.50? That trip to McDonald’s will seem ridiculous because you’ll be buying junkie food that doesn’t even really taste good and paying nearly ten times as much for it.
But, just for giggles even if your monthly grocery budget was $500 straight for groceries, you’d still only be spending $1.79 per meal per person for a family of three. It can be done and once you start, you won’t ever want to eat out again. Where can you feed a family of three for $3.50? That trip to McDonald’s will seem ridiculous because you’ll be buying junkie food that doesn’t even really taste good and paying nearly ten times as much for it.
What To Exclude
I do feel like I should add a disclaimer. My family, in an effort to live healthier, decided to primarily drink water. So we do not spend money on soft drinks. Some juices are purchased but not many. We also do not include alcoholic beverages in our grocery budget. A decent rule of thumb is if food stamps don’t cover it, our grocery budget probably doesn’t cover it. Groceries also do not include any paper products, cleaning products, or our cats’ food.
Why I Monthly Meal Plan
So the real reason why I monthly meal plan is all in the numbers. I take pride in knowing I can feed my family for less than $5 a meal for everyone to have a tasty and nutritious dinner at home. Family is created at the dinner table. Take a look at the history of holidays and cultures around the world. People celebrate the people they love with food.
Every night I can bring my family around the dinner table and listen to their day, I know I am blessed. I know that I am doing my job as home manager and making the system work. We are saving our money to provide for our future, I am feeding them meals that will nourish them and comfort them. Hopefully, my son will one day tell his children about these dinners and think of me. That is why I monthly meal plan.