January 2020 Meal Plan — Month in Review

January 2020 Meal Plan — Month in Review - Butch on a Budget

Housing, transportation, and food are the big three categories that make up the bulk of anyone’s budget. Getting a handle on these three costs will have the biggest impact on your ability to ramp up that savings rate.

Our food costs can sometimes sneak up on us. We spend what feels like smaller amounts regularly throughout the month, but when you add it all up at the end, the total dollar amount can sometimes be surprising — and not in a good way.

One of the things that has been the most helpful to me in cutting down my food costs (though it’s still a work in progress) has been meal planning.

By having a plan for what we are going to make and shopping for the week all at once, we cut down on those last-minute trips to the store (where you’re losing time and just buying stuff for one night’s dinner…and probably some snacks). It also provides clarity about what exactly we need to buy when we do make that weekly shop and can drastically cut back the nights we end up ordering in.

We used to meal plan week by week, but recently, we’ve started meal planning for the whole month at once. We started doing that before a particularly busy month because we knew once that work sprint hit, we just wouldn’t have the energy to plan our week’s meals.

We don’t necessarily stick to the plan perfectly and we end up moving things around a good bit depending on how many leftovers we end up having (and other things that come up). But creating a calendar of meal ideas and recipes that can last a month makes doing that weekly meal plan and grocery list a whole lot simpler. Plus, it shows us which days we already plan to go out to eat, which has helped us make better decisions about impulse take-out halfway through the week.

Here I’ve broken down what we ate in January and I’ve linked out to the recipes we used, where available.

Dashes represent meals that we skipped (not a great practice, but sometimes the day just gets away). Meals that say “work” are free meals included in some kind of work event.

Week 1:

LunchDinner
Sunday 12/29Out of townPenne w/ sauce
Monday 12/30Penne w/ sauceMushroom ramen
Tuesday 12/31SaladMYO pizza
Wednesday 1/1MYO Pizza
Thursday 1/2SaladChicken tinga tacos
Friday 1/3Veggie omeletChicken tinga tacos
Saturday 1/4Chicken tikka masalaSweet potato burritos

Week one went great! We hosted some friends over for dinner on Tuesday and Thursday and made a bulk batch of sweet potato burritos on Saturday to freeze and use as easy meals throughout the month.

Check out these photos of the burrito making process:

Check out that technique!

Week 2:

LunchDinner
Sunday 1/5Chicken tikka masala
Monday 1/6Sweet potato burritosCoconut curry lentils
Tuesday 1/7Coconut curry lentilsGrilled cheese
Wednesday 1/8Catering at workGrilled cheese
Thursday 1/9Coconut curry lentilsSpinach artichoke chicken with pasta
Friday 1/10Spinach artichoke chicken with pastaGrilled cheese w/ artichoke chicken
Saturday 1/11Out of townOut of town

Our meal plan held strong on week two. We spent the weekend visiting my parents, so our meals then were covered.

Week 3:

LunchDinner
Sunday 1/12Out of townGrilled cheese
Monday 1/13Orzo Salad with mozzarella and a hard boiled eggSweet potato burrito
Tuesday 1/14Orzo salad with mozzarella and a hard boiled eggSweet potato burrito
Wednesday 1/15Orzo salad with mozzarella and a hard boiled eggBurgers from Burger Cinco’s food truck
Thursday 1/16Random stuff I packed (apple sauce, chips, etc.)Buffalo chicken sandwiches
Friday 1/17Buffalo chicken wrapPasta with breadsticks
Saturday 1/18Family friend took us out for lunchPasta with breadsticks

Week three saw us eating out for the first time; one of our favorite food trucks was at our favorite brewery, so we decided to indulge.

Week 4:

LunchDinner
Sunday 1/19MYO pizza
Monday 1/20MYO pizzaWork dinner
Tuesday 1/21Work lunchTortellini with pesto
Wednesday 1/22Work lunchCelebration dinner out
Thursday 1/23Leftovers from celebration dinner outPesto & sharp cheddar grilled cheese
Friday 1/24Work dinner
Saturday 1/25Work lunchAte dinner out before an event in St. Pete

Week four was a busy week for work, and I ended up getting a lot of free meals from work this week. We also went out for a celebration dinner because Cassie landed a new contract, and we ate out on Saturday since we were up in St. Pete for an event. Otherwise, grilled cheese was the star of the show this week.

Week 5:

LunchDinner
Sunday 1/26Ordered food inSalad
Monday 1/27Leftovers from ordering inLoaded sweet potatoes
Tuesday 1/28Loaded sweet potatoesWild rice, chicken, & mushroom soup
Wednesday 1/29Wild rice, chicken & mushroom soup
Thursday 1/30Wild rice chicken & mushroom soupWild rice, chicken & mushroom soup
Friday 1/31Work lunchOrdered pizza
Saturday 2/1UnplannedUnplanned

During week five I got sick, so we ordered in two days and ate a lot of soup.

Meal planning is a great way to get control of your food spending, so if you’re not already doing it, you should give it a shot. It helps to have a couple of websites that you like. We use Budget Bytes pretty often because all of their meals are lower cost and usually pretty simple to make. We do modify almost every recipe we use, but that’s just to our taste. We don’t intensely meal prep — we just try to map out what we want to eat on which days, and follow it as closely as we can.

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