A New Approach to Meal Planning

After realizing that I spend too much time, money and energy in the meals we have been eating I decided that a change was in order. I love to cook and I love to sit on Pinterest trying to find the next best meal. Oh, and I don’t have kids. That combination is kind of dangerous. I have been preparing some great meals but I really don’t need to spend that amount of time cooking each night and scouring the internet looking for new recipes. I think I did an okay job of trying to extend my ingredients as far as possible but my grocery bills were still too high for just two people.

Enter change: I have decided to do a monthly “stock up” at the start of each new month, then supplement that with fresh produce and dairy. That way I’ll start each month with a full fridge, freezer and pantry and be challenged to use only what I have, except for some fresh veggies and dairy products. It’s going to be hard but I think I can do it!

Here’s how it is going to work in March… I ordered my groceries to be delivered on March 1. The biggest thing I did was stock up on meat products. Meat is by far the most expensive part of my groceries. I buy organic, free-range, grass-fed meat so it does cost more. I have no idea if I’ll be able to do this but I am going to try to use only the meat I already have, as well as the meat I ordered for the entire month of March.

Here’s what I got in the meat department:

  • 4 chicken breasts = $22
  • 3.5 lbs pork roast = $10
  • 2 lbs of flank steak = $19
  • 4 boneless pork chops = $10
  • Vegetables & herbs (broccoli, potatoes, brussels sprouts, mushrooms, peppers, avocados, garlic, cilantro, thyme, acorn squash, onions, tomatoes, spinach) = $45
  • Fruits (bananas, apples, oranges, pears) = $15
  • Other ingredients (bread, cheese, lunch meat, eggs, etc.) = $30
  • Total grocery bill = $150.28

My pantry is fairly well-stocked right now, and I have ground beef, Italian sausage, breakfast sausage and bacon in the freezer already, so I am pretty well set as we start off the new month.

Here are some things I like to keep on hand in my pantry:

  • Quinoa
  • Couscous
  • White beans
  • Chickpeas
  • Tomato sauce
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Chicken stock
  • Asian noodles
  • Oats
  • Barley, lentils
  • Olive oil
  • Vinegar (red wine, apple cider, balsamic, etc.)
  • Cooking wine (sherry, Marsala)
  • Spices and dried herbs

Some things I have/plan to have on hand in my fridge/freezer are:

  • Butter
  • Milk
  • Sour cream
  • Eggs
  • Fresh pasta (I like linguine, tortellini/ravioli and gnocchi)
  • Tortillas
  • Ginger
  • Asian seasonings (soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, fish sauce, etc.)
  • Capers and olives
  • Lemons
  • Herbs (I try to grow these in the summer!)
  • Granola
  • Frozen fruits for smoothies/yogurt parfaits
  • Frozen veggies to add to fried rice or a stir fry (peas/carrots/corn medley)
  • Nuts

One thing I will still continue to do is plan our meals. I am too type-a and indecisive to fly by the seat of my pants in that regard. I will just plan each week based on the foods that we currently have and add additional fresh ingredients as needed.┬áHere is what’s on the menu for next week:


The challenge is on – I have no idea how I am going to fare but I have high hopes that this will be an exciting change in the way we eat.

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