Let me start by giving a little background on me that few you would know. I went away to college after High School, choosing a school about 100 miles away – far enough to justify living there but close enough I could go home regularly enough. I graduated in 4 years and moved from campus to an apartment with Boyfriend and a mutual friend of ours for a year and a half. Things got a bit wibbly wobbly for about 10 months which included moving into a room found on craigslist just me and then into a friend’s basement with Boyfriend. Then finally in July things calmed down again when Boyfriend and I moved into an apartment again – this time just us. In thinking about it, I think of moving to our current apartment was the marker of adulthood. Yeah I’d lived away from home for 6 years by this point including college but there’s something different about a room with a friend or a (I’ll admit it – sketchy) situation for some months. And along with the realization that this is adulthood came another realization:
I’m a pretty awful adult. When I went food shopping, I’d pick things haphazardly with little to no thought about how long it would last for, cost, or what I’d do with the ingredients. When I paid bills or got paid, I’d have to check the bank for my balance first without much awareness of what was happening in the account. Sure I was able to buy those groceries to feed myself and I’ve rarely been unable to pay my bills (sometimes a little late but haven’t fallen behind yet *knocks on wood*), but I wasn’t really thinking or planning or saving or doing any of that stuff you think of grown ups as doing. And along with this realization came another:
If I want to have the kind of future I hope for myself, I have got to find a way to be better organized.
So very long story short, that’s where I’m at now. Trying to find ways to meal plan and keep an eye on my budget better so that I’m able to start saving money and work towards the (much more) long term goals that I’ve got. And once I decided that, what did I do – headed to Pinterest of course and here’s what I’ve got so far:
First thing I started doing was trying to meal plan for dinner. For breakfast, I usually just grab some bagels/cereal and lunch is typically sandwiches/leftovers/frozen meals so I don’t get too concerned with any other meal but dinner. I started this a couple of months ago and have been 1) really proud that I’ve kept with it and 2) pretty happy with the results.
I started by determining to meal plan for 2 weeks. Why 2? Because shopping weekly requires me to see the inside of the supermarket more than I’d like to and much more than every other week seems like it would require a second trip out for perishables anyway. So I took a look at my and Boyfriend’s calendars and figured out when we’re busy and when we’d eat together for dinner over the 2 weeks following food shopping. On days where one of us was working over time or had plans with friends (separate or alone), I wouldn’t count towards planning and we’d each just grab something quick or cook something simple like pasta for 1 since neither of us would consider a more in depth meal worth the effort. Also, I’ve noticed that even though I take schedules into consideration, it seems like the past couple times, I’ll meal plan for 2 weeks and it will last for nearly 3 instead.
So once I have the number of meals in that 2 week period, I pick out meals choosing from simple classics like burgers or hot dogs and favorites from the numerous recipes I’ve tried (most of which can be found on here). I also try to pick at least 2 new recipes to try out – pulling from recipe books occasionally but mostly from my “Noms” board on Pinterest. I really hate making “the same ol’ thing” week in and week out so it’s been really important to me to try and keep up finding new recipes so keep it fresh and different. I don’t set anything by day because so much of the time it really just depends on my mood on a given day. Even without this, I’ve found it really helpful to have a variety of recipes/ingredients ready to go so that I know within 2 weeks, everything I’ll need is right in my kitchen.
I typically just would write these meals out on a piece of paper with their ingredients. Then I would grab another piece of paper and reorder the ingredients only by department based on how my local food store is laid out, adding in any of the breakfast, lunch, or personal/cleaning items we need. I love having a list at the super market. I feel like it makes everything sooo much easier and gives me a better estimate of what it’s going to cost.
Well in trying to organize it all out, I decided to make a budget binder to include all money and meal plan things in one easy to locate place. I’ve been (as you may have noticed) epically slacking on the writing posts point so I’ll save further discussions on all that and hopefully update this at another time but briefly first:
In part of making the binder, I decided to type up forms. For the money related ones you’ll see there, I’ll mention where my inspiration came from when I type out what I plan on using them for. For the meal plan ones, I just wanted a form that I could print to basically look like the scribbled mess I regularly put on a notebook sheet.
All these forms can be viewed at this Google Drive link. From there, you can view or download the Microsoft Office .docx and Microsoft Excel .xlsx items and edit to your liking or to suit your needs. I would point out that some of the items in preview look off- the layout seems to be not right- but once downloaded and opened, they look as I had intended. I don’t know if a single person other than me would find any use in these but I figured something anyone can edit to their liking would be better than the pdf I originally used as inspiration (and will discuss later I hope) and had to recreate and then adjust.