This post is written by contributing writer, Sarah.
We’ve all done it, right? Open up the vegetable bin in the refrigerator only to be met with produce bags of mushy brown things that may have once been food. Sometimes you might not even be sure what the item was. You just know that it was money wasted, since your trash can does not gain health benefits from eating vegetables.
About a year or two into our marriage, I got really fed-up with constantly throwing out food, that we spent hard earned money on, and didn’t appear to even have a nibble out of it. Especially when I knew money was tight and there are people in the world starving.
Solomon wisely and bluntly tells us in Proverbs 21:5 that “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty” (NLT).
Clearly I was being hasty with my grocery shopping. Of course, my throwing away of produce wasn’t going to throw us into poverty, but it was still being a poor steward of my money and time. Did I make a plan of what I would eat for the week? No. Did I make a list of things to buy? Sometimes. Did I stray from the “sometime list” and buy what looked good at the moment? Most definitely! Often I would even put the item in my cart, write it on my list and then cross it off! I’m not sure who I thought I was fooling.
I decided that the best way to solve my “grocery shopping and throwing away of money” woes was to create a meal-plan for the week. I planned what we would eat for breakfast, snacks, lunch and dinner. I looked at what ingredients each of those meals would require and then listed only those ingredients needed down to the exact measurements.
You’re probably thinking that creating a meal plan isn’t so bad. It was torture…at first. My artist right-brain was screaming at my librarian left-brain, but after awhile I got into the swing of it and actually enjoyed it! I was able to see how much money I was saving because of my budgeting and I was throwing very little unused food and leftovers away. Also, we were eating out less because I knew what supper would be and what meat needed to be thawed ahead of time.
Because I planned ahead, I knew that if we were having pasta and meat sauce one night then later in the week, the left-overs would become a pasta bake. Also, I noticed more how many servings different recipes would make and then cut them down to serve two people.
Now I cannot make myself go to the grocery without a list, and when it comes to making supper. I don’t have to waste time by staring at my refrigerator wondering what I should make. Here is an example of what a planned week looks like for my hubby and me.
Once I got into a rhythm of what we liked to eat for breakfast and lunch and snacks, I kept them fairly similar week to week and now I intensively plan only supper. It doesn’t always come out perfectly. Sometimes our plans change and we have to eat out. When this happens, I usually just move all the meals ahead by one day. But now, armed with my meal plan, we save money and waste far less food!