Earlier today I spoke on a panel with three other people at my church's MOPS group. The subjects presented included juicing and smoothies, couponing, organizing your recipes, and meal planning. I feel that I was a little scattered in my presentation and am certain I didn't touch on everything I wanted to say. Since I mentioned that my monthly meal plans could be seen as an example here and some of you lovely ladies I met today might be visiting (Hi!) to get a better idea of what I was talking about, I thought that I would try again. Hopefully more clearly. First, a little back story:
I am an accomplished list maker. I like writing them, (it helps stall for time so I don’t actually have to cross things off the list). I also like to cook, especially for an appreciative (or sometimes captive) audience. When I was in college and cooking for myself I wasn’t so enthusiastic about cooking because there wasn’t anyone to share it with and I didn’t like the huge mess it made just for myself. After we got married I was the one who was home and available to do the dinner planning and prep so Hey, Babe and I made an agreement that whoever made dinner, the other of us would clean up. Both of my issues with cooking vanished. I started planning out our meals, usually for a week at a time, and doing the shopping once every week or so. I hate shopping (of all the kinds of shopping I’m actually most fond of going for groceries) and so I planned for a week at a time so that I wouldn’t have to go more often than that.
It worked well for a few years, then I got pregnant and two things changed. My sense of smell was such that I could smell our grocery store’s olive bar from the parking lot which made me quite ill and I developed a slew of constantly changing aversions. I didn’t know what I could eat even hours before dinner, let alone days. Hey, Babe started stopping at the store on his way home every night and calling me as he walked up and down the aisles suggesting things. We ate a lot of convenience foods and junk (the opposite of what you really should do when pregnant) and spent at least twice as much (if not more) on our groceries.
It got a little better after I had Little Man. I started planning weekly menus again, selecting meals that were easy to make with only one hand since I had to prep dinner with a baby on my hip. I probably would have stuck with doing the planning and shopping weekly if it weren’t for a few things. One of which had to do with the way I planned our meals. Since Hey, Babe, contrary to his mother’s belief, is not a picky eater and will eat pretty much anything I make, I only had my own tastes to apply to. I would sit with some cookbooks, magazines or websites, and browse for what was appealing. As I browsed through all my recipe sources, I would come up with numerous possibilities which I then had to whittle down to only seven. It wasn’t at all stressful, but it took up a lot of time and as a mother time wasn’t really something I could call my own anymore.
Still, if that were the only factor we would probably still be planning and shopping weekly, and be quite content doing so. The major cause in our change to monthly planning was the simple fact that we moved. The grocery store we liked to frequent was now a half hour ride away. We started shopping at a new and closer store, however, we quickly discovered that we easily spent over $20 more at the new, closer store, than we did at the old one. Now, $20 a week may not be a huge amount of money, but it will quickly add up. On top of that, we could no longer buy certain store-brand items that we preferred if we shopped at the closer store.
After considering the circumstances, we wanted to see if we could go less frequently. Hey, Babe passes a farmer’s market on his way home from work so fresh produce is picked up weekly rather than in the monthly trip. Even without getting any produce, we use two carts. Hey, Babe works Monday through Saturday so we decided to go really early the first Sunday of every month. I knew from experience that we needed to go early enough that we would beat the weekend crowd. At around 7am on that first Sunday morning back in September we headed out, learning that going early meant we wouldn’t just avoid traffic in the store, it also meant that we would have a much shorter ride getting there.