Monday, 26 August 2013

Budgeting Strategy - Menu Planning

I've been menu planning for a number of years, and it's a great way of controlling the grocery budget.

Many blogs I read post menu plans for the week on Mondays, and it's a good source of tested recipes, rather than something someone's pinned thinking 'ooh that looks interesting' and not tried it.

Planning for me happens generally on a Thursday, to run Friday to Thursday.  This helps finalise my shopping list for the week.  I build my list during the week as items run out, add what I need for the menu and do my weekly shop on Fridays.

One thing I make use of is my big freezer.  It's one of the first things I bought when I moved in.  I grab meat in bulk or when on sale (or even better - both!) and freeze up into meal portions.  I also blanch and freeze excess veggies from the garden. 

This week's plan - 23 to 29 August:

Friday:  The plan was for a beef curry, however once made (from a packet spice mix) this was too hot for J, so that got passed on to the parents, while we added toppings to a frozen pizza kept for just these occasions.

Saturday:  Was going to be soup from the freezer, but I used the rice I'd cooked for the curry and made a fried rice with bits and pieces in the fridge/freezer.

Sunday:  A pasta with a rose chicken sauce with mushrooms and spinach from the garden.  The chicken used was left-over shredded chicken in the freezer.

Monday:  Tonight will be yiros using left-over roast lamb. 

Tuesday: This is family dinner night at the 'rents with my sister and her little boy. 

Wednesday:  Roast lamb rack with veggies.  I managed to pick up a few mini racks that were just enough for J and I on sale, and put them aside in the freezer.

Thursday:  Hunt the freezer night - I will often cook extra and put them aside for some nights.  I then need to schedule freezer nights.  If it gets too out of hand, it's freezer weeks to ensure turn-over.

I'll sometimes juggle when things don't go to plan - such as passing on the curry. The pasta and yiros were meant to be on opposite nights, but I swapped them over based on how the day panned out (Read: I forgot to get the meat out the freezer early enough...).  But the menu for the week basically is as planned.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Goodbye Murphy

I'm a big fan of the personal financial management practices, particularly the baby steps, advocated by Dave Ramsey.  It reminds me very much of how my grandmother managed her finances.

Before Mr Trifectagirl got sick, I was starting to get the baby steps moving.  Particularly the emergency fund.  Dave calls this 'Murphy Proofing'.  You know Murphy, the dude that makes anything that can go wrong, go wrong.

Having 3 close relatives die on me in 4 years, I have been able to clear all my debt.  Mr Trifectagirl would be pleased he's been able to put a secure roof over J and I's head.  My Mum and step-dad pleased they've paid off my education debt.  This is something I very much appreciate how lucky I am (ironic since it took my husband dying, which isn't exactly 'lucky').

I have also been able to set up a fully funded emergency fund of 6 months expenses with the residual.

Which means when my car got broken into and the window was smashed last Monday, I was able to access the funds to get it fixed with out batting an eyelid. 

Then when my computer went belly-up the next day (I kid you not), I was able to head out and get a new one to keep ticking with my current studies.

So maybe based on the last week or so, Murphy will still show up, but he doesn't cause the stress and anxiety that he used to.