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Menu planning and grocery shopping are two key pieces of getting a budget in order…and keep things from getting out of hand! 

There are three general categories to expenses: Fixed, Variable, and Periodic.  Fixed expenses are the things that have the same payment every month (rent, car payment).  Periodic expenses are the things that come up occasionally, but not every month (gifts, car maintenance, for some this includes car insurance).  Variable expenses…things we typically pay monthly but can vary in cost (electricity, water, GROCERIES).

 Variable expenses are, by in large, the easiest to change.  Note, I did not say that they ARE necessarily EASY to change, but easiest of the three categories.  At any rate, I have seen a couple of comments from friends on Facebook recently regarding menu planning and grocery shopping and what a chore it can be.  I agree.  Especially when I change my mind every couple of days. 🙂

I have found, though, that when I plan and shop WEEKLY, it tends to make it easier to shop, plan, and cook the things I’ve planned for that week. Truthfully, it’s also more affordable. After all, if I don’t want to cook what I have scheduled for Tuesday on Tuesday, at least I have the groceries and the ingredients for everything on the menu that week, and I can change things up a bit based on our schedules, work, and so on without having to hit the grocery store again.

I’ve attached two forms (as PDF, but if you want it in Excel so that you can type in your own rather than handwriting, please let me know!)–one blank so that you can use at your leisure and one with examples of what I needed for this weekend.  As you can see, I had plenty of shopping to do. 🙂

I find that it is MUCH easier to stay on track and continue utilizing a menu if I recycle menus every 2-4 or 6-8 weeks.  Sometimes, frankly, I want to use the same menu on back-to-back weeks, but my husband tends to protest. 😉  The handy thing about this form is that not only does it keep my meal descriptions, but also the groceries I needed the time before…so hopefully I’ll be able to do a quick check and add/delete as needed to get my shopping list ready for my weekly shopping night.