Having a large family means that when it comes to food, I have to be a good planner or we are not going to eat. I have found that the best way to purchase food inexpensively for our large family was to do our shopping once a month. That ensures that I don’t overspend too much on the food budget.
How do I go about figuring what to do with all of the meals that I have to make each month? It starts with this………
What I do is I sit down with my Dinner ideas master list.
I created this list out of sheer survival mode as a new mom. There were times that I would call my friend and say , “Hey, do you have any dinner ideas because I am so exhausted I can’t even think about what to make for this week.” Being a mom of many little ones and having all of the household duties on my shoulders, it was a tough time to get through. My husband was busy making a living to support all of us, it was my job to figure out how to run “this ship” and do it as efficiently and frugally as possible. I know I could of said, “Honey, would you pick up some $5 pizzas,” multiple times during the week.” But I knew that as a help meet to my husband, my job was not to ruin us financially because I was feeling overwhelmed. I just needed to get my head on straight and do it.
I have revamped this list many times over the past years of our marriage. As we went towards a more homemade, less packaged foods approach, I realized some of our “old” foods weren’t going to be able to be part of our list. Plus some of our older meals were costly when we were a small family and I knew it wouldn’t be right to keep spending when I could make other meals for a cheaper price.
When times were lean—well especially lean, during layoffs, I tried to write down all of the meals that required a prepared store bought food and learn how to make it homemade. We have successful made our own ranch powder, taco seasoning, yogurt, steak sauce, cheese crackers, tomato soup, hummus and pita chips, and snack mix.
Each month, I usually take about an hour on my “office day” and browse the internet for new meal ideas. I keep this list handy when making my new monthly menu. If we make the meal and it is a successful one with the bunch, then I add it to our Dinner ideas master list for future rotation.
Any meals that my husband or children don’t particularly care for and I can improve upon, I make a note on my copy. I save a printed copy and put it in my household binder inside a plastic sleeve.
Okay, now that I have planned out enough of our families favorite meals, next up is how to organize them.