Before I became a mum, meal planning and food budgeting were things that never really registered with me, and then I had Frey and I quickly realised how naive I had been. I can’t believe how relaxed I used to be about our food shops and what we were going to have for dinner. There was also alot more eating out and takeaways pre kids (god, I miss those days, sometimes)
Now I’m in no means a gourmet chef, but I do ok. It’s something I’m constantly working and improving on and I’m quite pleased to say that about 75% of the meals I cook are completely from scratch (humble brag there) and this definitely plays into how much we spend and also what I plan to cook for the week. Lunch tends to quick and easy dishes, sandwiches, salads and pastas work best with a hyperactive toddler and baby who is becoming mobile. While with dinner I have about 10-15 dishes for dinner on rotation, with the occasional new dish thrown in and sometimes added to the list, if it goes well (normally takes a few attempts, before I get the hang of it).
Now budgeting wise, before kids, I would do a big shop once a month for all our staple items and non-perishables and then do small shops in-between to top up. I’ll be honest I did this after I had Frey for the first six months or so, and then we started weaning Frey, and I quickly realised that my system was no longer working, which meant a return to the drawing board. I also started to calculate how much we were actually spending this way (and then felt a bit sick afterwards). We were spending way too much, so I quickly found doing a big weekly shop, would work better for us in the long run, both financially and hunger wise.
With all this in mind, meal planning started to look really useful. Now I’m not the best meal planner in the world, I don’t set days for meals (except meat free Monday). What I tend to do, is write out a list of all the lunches and dinners I plan on doing that week and then check the cupboards to see what I’ve already got and what I need to buy more of. Currently our budget is between £60-£70 a week. This includes Sigi’s formula and baby food and snacks, as well as the kids nappies. I’m hoping I can get it down to £50-£60 again once Sigi is off formula, although if she’s anything like her father and brother (who are bottomless pits) this sadly won’t be the case.
To me meal planning and budgeting for the food shop is one of those changes that I never thought about happening after I became a parent, but I’m really glad it did. It’s one those changes that makes my life a hell of alot easier and I can’t imagine it changing even after the kids are grown and left the nest.