12 changes: February review


So, if you recall, my goal for February was meal planning.

I thought that this was going to be really tough for me, because alas, I am not a meal planner and I was saying how like to eat what I feel like eating when I feel like eating it

Well, screw that. Meal planning was actually a lot of fun. And one rationale really hit me and I posted it on our community blog earlier this month,

There is a fundamental difference between things you “should” be changing and things you “want” to change.

Clearly, my first goal in January – to make drinking more water part of my routine – was a should and my results were mediocre, at best. Meal planning is actually something I wanted to try and I can confirm  how much more effort and energy I put into the achievement of this goal. I’d even go there and say my Feburary goal was a full success!

J and I sat down every Saturday morning to plan the meals for the following week. (Saturday mornings, because we usually do most of our weekly shopping on Saturdays.) It worked out pretty well and we mostly stuck to our plans. Sometimes we moved the dishes around during the week (which I think is fine, because it doesn’t change anything about the grocery list) depending on what we felt like eating or what J was able to prepare without my help, ha!

One thing I found to be helpful in more than one way was the fact that we tried to plan for 1-2 meals that we could easily whip up from our pantry staples or dismiss for that matter. Once or twice we had so many leftovers that we decided to skip the planned meal and eat up what we had. Other times, we weren’t really hungry and had sandwiches instead.
Putting a little flexibility into your meal plan without the risk of ending up wasting food seems to be a good idea when meal planning.

In regards to the questions that I had asked if a) we wasted less food, and if b) we saw a change in my monthly grocery bill, I can say that a) we didn’t waste any more or less food than before and b) we spent about $50 less this month, although I am not sure that this was because of our meal planning. Our grocery bill fluctuates a bit each month.

Which leads me to one more question (or two): How much do you guys spend on groceries per month and how often do you eat out?

I posted this question on Twitter yesterday and was shocked to hear how much – or better, how LITTLE – other people seem to spend on groceries. I know we live in California and everything is a tad more expensive here, but come on. Tell me your secrets, people.
WHAT do you eat? WHERE do you buy?
I think it isn’t possible to live on $200 worth of groceries (for two) a month, or is it?
How do you do it? Do you eat ramen every other night?
I admit, I don’t really budget budget my grocery shopping, but I also don’t think that we buy outrageous amounts of expensive, unnecessary foods.

Mmh, maybe budgeting should be one of my future monthly goals this year. I’d like to add though that I hardly ever eat out for lunch (only when we do a group lunch maybe once a month) and that we only eat out for dinner once a week (if that). That should count for something.

Some of our meals this month:

Salad • pasta-veggie-casserole • flank steak with baby potatoes and wax been salad
chicken burritos • burgers • Jägerschnitzel with oven fries and cucumber salad
tomato salad • potato-veggie-casserole • tomato-cheese-sandwich


How did this month go for you?
Did you succeed or have a hard time with the goals you set for yourself?



Come join us over at 12 changes in 2012.

  1. A wise someone (forgot who) said, “I don’t worry about over spending at the grocery store because it will still be less than eating out.”

    We spend about $100 a week for the two of us.

    We eat out maybe twice a month.

    Oh, did you read my grocery shopping experience? :P https://timalohoney.blogspot.com/2011/10/thanksgiving-in-october-or-why-i-enjoy.html

  2. i meal-plan too, switch around if needed aswell. i think we spend around $100/$120 a week for the three of us, i think i could save a bit if i would want to, but i don’t…heehee. we used to eat out a lot more, but the waiting to get into a restaurant over here has gotten incredibly ridiculous (the majority of the troops are back in town and they seem to want to eat out about every weekend) so most of the time we decide to stay in and i try my luck on recreating some of our favorite restaurant meals – which is a lot of fun. pair that with a good movie or tv show and i’d call that a pretty good deal. not to mention the money you saved by not going out.

  3. Sounds like you had a really successful February- good job! I’ve never actually meal planned, but the few weeks in January that I cooked in advance for my whole week were just AMAZING. I’d love to find more time to do that again. I cooked for like 3-4 hours and I had enough food for the week! It was great, and allowed me to eat delicious, wholesome vegetarian meals quickly without worrying about cooking all the time. That would be my ideal regular meal planning.

    I didn’t do so well in February, which you’ll see on my blog today, but like you said we all have the goals that will be more successful than others. I’m hoping I do much better next month, and I want to get back into the habits that I’d been planning to do better on with 12 Changes!

  4. Good job with the meal planning! We do the same thing where we move dishes around during the week. We like it because it almost seems like we’re picking from a restaurant menu, so it kind of makes it more fun!

    I know we chatted on Twitter about grocery spending already, but I was thinking about how/why we spend what we do, expecially since we shop 70% at Whole Foods. We definitely do not eat ramen, ever (but we do have the occasional box of mac and cheese). As I mentioned, a big part of that is probably that we rarely buy meat/fish (maybe only 1-2 times a month), but I thought of a few other things. I make homemade soup/stew/chili at least once per week, and that always provides leftovers for a few meals. I save my vegetable scraps through the week to make my own vegetable stock that I use in soups, and that saves a ton of $. I buy lots in bulk (grains, beans, oats). In general, we eat a lot of bean dishes, which are cheap, filling and protein-filled.

    I’m of course not suggesting you should cut your grocery bill (especially if it works for you) but these are some of the things I do to cut costs a little :)

  5. You should probably keep in mind that people who spend $200 a month on groceries for a family of two are NOT including all of the money they spend eating out, which is likely a lot to make up for how few groceries they have!

  6. Nathan and I struggle to stay under $600/month on groceries – and that doesn’t include eating out or things like diapers and wipes, dog food, etc. We buy a lot of meat and are always going back to the grocery store for fresh produce – and since we’re there so often, we throw in other things we don’t necessarily NEED as well. I think that’s our problem – we live too close to the grocery store! There are cheaper stores we could go to for food (Superstore, Costco) – but those stores are such a pain to get to and the shopping experience is so horrible that we only make it to Costco once every other month or so and we flat out refuse to shop Superstore even though it’s by far the cheapest place to go!

    I did okay on my February goals – we got our condo cleaned, got things purged – Nathan still has to do his fixing, though :)

  7. $200 a month for 2? I wanna know how they do it, too! I meal plan as well, having a family it’s the best way to go. We eat out a lot less since we moved back to Germany, because, well the choices of eating out are so different and limited here!
    Your meals all look delicious and I do see the German influences here and there! xxx

  8. I usually shop every 3 weeks except fresh stuff, and plan meals that are easy to do. Since I’ve been cooking over 35 years it’s not so bad!

  9. I love meal planning, and usually you have enough leftovers and snacks to supplement the meals that you don’t plan. I usually spend about 150 dollars a month on groceries. I don’t eat out and I use things like chicken breast (which I buy in bulk) in several meals per week. I also eat a lot of salads as lunches, and eat whatever veggies are in season, which are usually the cheapest. I also don’t buy very much booze. Once you factor that in, things start to become more expensive!

  10. man your meals look delicious! seriously matt and i are such last minute planners, i really hope to change that one day but for now our schedules are a bit unpredictable it’s so hard to plan too far in advance. also. i still eat ramen. not because it’s cheap but because i think it’s so dang delicious, haha.

  11. My “change” for March is to be intentional about my meal planning, so this was perfectly timed :) I spend about $100/mo for just me. I sometimes include eating out in that, but not always. I only eat out 1 or 2 times a month so it doesn’t much change things. I think it’s cheap because I don’t eat 3 full meals a day (haven’t since I was a kid, just can’t do it) so I do more small things. I almost NEVER buy meat. I’m curious to get a better picture of my spending AND eating habits this month!

    My change for Feb was to exercise. Big fat fail, ha!

  12. A lot of the things you learned while meal planning have worked for me as well. We tend to outline the meals we’d like to eat, but are never too strict about when we eat them. We know that if we buy items for a produce or meat heavy meal, we’ll need to eat that sooner, rather than later, but for the most part we eat whatever meal we feel like eating or that we have time to prepare on any given night. Our schedule is very fluid and almost never the same day to day, so keeping flexibility in our meal plan is mandatory.

    Our grocery bill is about $400 for the month. Sometimes more. I’d love to be someone who can get it down to $200-300. That’d be ideal. I’m just not sure how to do that.

  13. I know a lot of people use coupons and that helps save money. I know my mom will go to two different stores if it means saving money! A good number of grocery stores around here do “10 for 10” each month too. Sometimes it’s tuna fish, pasta, drinks…it can be anything really. I think that can help save too, IF it’s something you’d normally buy!

  14. Oh man, I suck in this department. We spend way too much money in this category, seriously. It doesn’t help that I eat lunch everyday with 2 girls at work and almost everyday we always want to go eat out and get “out” of the office because it’s been a stressful time at work.

    Thanks for posting this and I’m glad I just read it now at the beginning of the new month, haha. So now I can try the meal planning thing for this upcoming week.

  15. I live alone and spend around $180-200 a month on groceries. I think that is about average? But I don’t eat dairy products, so that cuts down on the expense, and I rarely buy meat. Also, some of my meals are extremely cheap, like 1-2 nights a week, I will have a salad and a baked potato. So I can get by pretty cheaply!

  16. Your meals look amazing and you make it sound really fun too! I think I want to try it one of these days!

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