Staying at our in-laws’ place during weekdays, I leave the meal planning to the lady of the house, my MIL. She decides what food to prepare for the family, with occasional requests from her husband and three children (that includes yours truly).
Meal planning during weekends at our marital home in Bacoor is a different story. There, I get to practice being the smart wife who knows her way around the kitchen. In the three years that the hubby and I are married (going four in March!), I have not really sat down and written a meal plan. Or maybe I have, but it was only written in my head, not on paper. Haha.
But I do plan our meals on a budget! Php1,000 for two days for two people. Here are some practices that help me stick to that budget:
1. We usually eat the same food for lunch and dinner to save on gas and cooking time. (Pag weekends lang naman kami ganito, kaya sabi ko kay hubby wag na sya umangal, hahaha.)
2. We eat left-over food as soon as we can. This frees up space in the refrigerator as well.
3. We sometimes eat breakfast food for dinner to avoid wasting food ingredients.
4. As much as possible, we try not to dine out or buy takeout food when in Bacoor because it’s more expensive that way. Panira ng budget yan! Ibang usapan na lang pag may house guests kasi minsan may mga lakad/pasyal na kasama yon.
5. I regularly check the expiration dates of our canned goods so I could cook or serve them before they expire.
6. I never keep our pantry filled to the brim (even though we only have a tiny one), I just make sure we have “at least two pieces each of a few of our favorite food there.” Replenishing food supplies also follows this rule.
7. I get inspiration for affordable but healthy meals online, usually from recipes I read on blogs. I write them down so I don’t forget.
8. For new recipes that I’d like to try whipping up but have pricey or hard-to-find ingredients, I buy one ingredient at a time. I cook them once my ingredients are complete. Mindfulness is key here.
9. I asks the hubby what he wants to eat and cook it for him, but only when I’m in the mood to impress him with my cooking skills. Haha. It’s a good thing he’s not a picky eater and just eats whatever I serve him.
10. When I get to spend more than our budget, I use the “offset strategy.” 🙂
I also set a different budget for our tableware. While I certainly cannot afford to buy premier table linens cotton dinner napkins and other designer items used in table setting, I make sure to buy quality ones at an affordable price. Last Christmas, I bought some new plates, bowls, and mugs at the home section of Landmark Makati. I love that they have a wide selection of tableware there at reasonable prices. It’s really value for money, I tell you! But I digress.
Meal planning on a budget is doable. Sometimes, we just need to be open to new ideas on how we could limit food wastage and be more disciplined in sticking to our budget. Manageable pa sa ngayon pero sana ganito pa rin kapag araw-araw ko na sya ginagawa.
Do you also plan meals on a budget? Any tips you’d like to share with me? 🙂