Even short term goals need a plan. Every week, we make a meal plan to map out our dinners for the week. Lunches are then put together with leftovers from previous evening meals. With a plan, we’re successful. We eat at home. We eat high quality, nourishing meals made of quality ingredients. And our grocery bill is rarely more than $150 for the food that makes up our meals.

How do we do this?

I’ll start with what we don’t do. We don’t buy packaged food. We don’t buy tons of detergents or other household goods. Drinks are seen as either things we can’t make or things we want one of on the way home (i.e. beer/wine and a refreshing fizzy drink). And we don’t use coupons.

What do we buy? Organic, locally sourced ingredients. Portland is lucky in that we’re even able to get our flour local, thanks to grain giant Bob’s Red Mill just a little ways south. Vegetables and fruits from the Pacific Northwest, and sometimes the exotic banana or mango to satisfy the small child. Pasture raised meats from farms an hour away or closer, from farmers that welcome their customers to the farm. Dairy and eggs from the same people.

Let me repeat myself. All the above and our grocery bills are $150 or less each week. No coupons. Very little, if anything, processed. And minimally so if it is. (Think pepperoni or ham, cheese, tortillas, and sometimes a jar of pickles)

And what is it that we do?

We make 90% or more of what we eat. And we start the process by makingĀ a plan of our meals for the whole week. Look up above, at our banner. That’s our plan for this week. It’s almost always centered around dinner. Right or wrong, it’s our big meal of the day. Lunches are leftovers from dinners. Sometimes they’re changed a bit by using chicken into a soup or by adding beans. Breakfast is regular and simple. Lately, we’ve been loving this baked oatmeal recipe from Nourished Kitchen. From our menu, we write a shopping list, hit the grocery store, and don’t come back for a week.

This whole process has improved significantly since Sam started writing the Meal Planning Board. This is a piece of software that does all of this, and more. Check out the Dev Log for progress, updates, and planned and implemented features.

For us, the plan is crucial. Stick to it, and we succeed. We eat high quality, homemade food based on things we find, things we know we like, and the odd bit of nostalgia. And even during tax season, when I work 50 – 60 hour weeks and have 20 hours or so of studying for school, and try to keep up with our young son, we still stick to the plan. Our budget, and our diet, stays under control, and we’re happier and healthier for it.

Do you plan your meals for the week? Are you as obsessive as we are? Less? More?