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Saturday, February 6, 2010

How much is my time worth?

Mike got his last paycheck from his former employer yesterday. I won't get paid again until February 25th. So I'm trying to be very mindful about stretching that money over the next two and a half weeks.

To that end, I sat down to make a 3-week dinner menu, trying a new format some cyber friends suggested.

Sundays - Crockpot meal
Mondays - Chicken/beef meal
Tuesdays - Meatless meal
Wednesdays - Mexican (which may or may not be meatless)
Thursdays - Leftovers
Fridays - Pizza/sandwiches (until Lent begins, at which point this category will switch with Saturday's meatless option)
Saturdays - Meatless meal

Once I had my menu made out (only 1 repeat in 21 days, pretty good if I do say so myself), I sat down to make the shopping list. I spent 10 minutes debating whether or not I should bake my own bread and make my own hot chocolate mix. Seriously, I could not decide for the life of me.

I ended up deciding I'd make my own dinner breads, but would buy the sandwich breads and the hot chocolate. All right, already! Back to the list. I have some meat already purchased and in the freezer, so that's good. The rest of the list looks pretty manageable.

Then it was time to gather up the coupons to match what was on my list. Ideally, I would have made my menu with the grocery ad in front of me, then matched coupons to that. But I figured I was good to get the menu made in the first place. So first I went to coupons.com and clicked then printed all the coupons that appealed to me. Then I went to Meijer.com, clicked through the Meal Box and printed those coupons.

As if I wasn't couponed enough by then, I dug through last Sunday's paper for the coupon inserts to see if there were any coupons I need there. (Still haven't gotten that coupon system down I put on my 2010 to do list).

At that point, I needed to lay down for a nap because I'd been working on this freaking menu and shopping list for something like 3 hours! Feeling too guilty to nap, I stayed with it, marking the list as to what I'd buy at Meijer and what I'll buy at Aldi. Of course, neither store is very close to us -- that would be Marsh and Target. But their prices are higher - unless I have my 10% off shopping certificate for filling 10 prescriptions at the Target pharmacy.

Ordinarily, I do my big shopping at Meijer, but my sister swears by the produce at Aldi. I stopped in there the other day and some of the things were pretty cheap. However, shopping there requires a to-do list all its own. Have cash -- and a quarter for the cart -- ready. Bring your own shopping bags. Leave the coupons at home.

So now I have my 3-week menu, my Meijer list, my Aldi list, my printed coupons, my newspaper coupons and my obsessive mind wondering if I should get any of this stuff at Costco.

What don't I have?

Groceries.

Think I might have to go get those tomorrow because all this work getting ready to go shopping has quite frankly worn me out and left me thinking, "just how much is my time worth anyway?"

(And you know as soon as I get home, I'll be pulling out the Sharpie marker and putting half of the groceries into hiding. Otherwise all my budgeting and planning will be eaten right before my eyes!)

9 comments:

Sharon said...

I first have to say that I'm a tad freaking out, because I didn't know about the Meijer Meal Box printables! CRAP! I love my coupons, too. Will do from now on. Thanks.

I know so many people who are into Aldi, but from my experience, it's mostly processed foods! We try not to eat too much of that. Most of the time our Meijer compares in price to their produce (77 cents/avocado, 39 cents/lb for bananas, etc). I just can't get into Aldi. And always having my 2yo w/ me, needing to do the quarter-for-a-cart thing is hectic. And grocery shopping already feels hectic enough.
Besides, w/ Meijer's sales, it's hard to beat. You never really have to pay over $1 for a loaf of bread (Aunt Millies, buy one get TWO free!). Meijer brand is often on sale for 79 cents/loaf.
I know I'm rambling. Sorry. I just can't see the appeal to Aldi w/ it being so processed.

BUT, I AM impressed w/ the 3 week menu plan & not many repeats. That's good.

Amy said...

Sharon, I did buy a few processed things at Aldi - graham crackers, vanilla wafers and pretzels for Robbie's turn at snacks at school next week. But mostly I stuck to the produce. Not sure if it will become a habit or not. It's one extra trip, plus the trip to the bank for cash. But I'll give it a go once or twice more.

Cat said...

Good luck! I just started meal planning for my diet (but I have to stick to cheap stuff for my budget too).

Eternal Lizdom said...

Garret (who comments regularly on my blog) posted about his own menu planning recently- after shopping, he bags up the dry/non-perishables for each recipe so that he can just grab that bag when it's time to cook. I thought that was a great idea!!

Sharon- good point on Aldi. Although I do know some people who really like their produce. the selection is just really limited.

Lurve said...

So did you get the food?

Jason, Angie, Ava and Nathan said...

Did you know that Aldi is owned by Trader Joe's? I think that's why so much of their produce is nice and fresh.

I have always been impressed by their fruits and veggies - was pretty surprised when I found a head of cabbage there for my WW zero-pint soup recipe. For me they have my staples - baby carrots, celery, onions, potatoes, cherry tomatoes, avacados and fruit. (Many times in the summer their strawberries are just $0.99 - and much better and last longer than those I get at Walmart.)

Also their milk (anywhere from $1.49/gal-$1.99/gal) doesn't have any hormones added - huge bonus, considering I was paying nearly $7/gal for organic b/c I didn't want the added hormones.

While Aldi may not have a lot of selection when it comes to several types of products to choose from - I find a lot of their stuff is great.

Oh - and you don't need cash - just can't use credit cards, but debit is fine.

Shelley said...

I am a major fan of ALDI. I think they have a lot of processed foods, but they also have a lot of not-processed foods.

They have awesome prices on frozen vegetables and I love their rice, coffee, tea, beans, cheeses, butter and any number of other things. You can't beat ALDI for stuff like baking powder, baking soda, flour, sugar, canola oil, raisins, craisins, nuts and sooo much other stuff. Like frozen fish filets! Red snapper, tilapia, salmon and something else....maybe flounder? Anyway, with Lent coming around, we buy a lot of fish at ALDI.

They've recently added a complete line of whole-wheat pastas, which we love. And their albacore tuna is just as good as the expensive brands like Chicken of the Sea.

Plus ALDI is smaller than the super-stores. I like knowing that I won't have to walk five miles to get to the milk. Our local Wal-Mart grocery is bad for that.

But it can be a hassle with small kids in tow, I will agree. Your kids, Amy, would probably be a huge help. When my girls were your kids' ages, they really liked to help bagging the groceries. :>)

Old Woman said...

Courisity -- How much did you save?

Nate's Mom said...

I do this weekly. We shop on Sundays after church. It's the only day. O have not mastered the couponing yet. It's on my to do list.

Will you share some ofyour meatless recipes? I have been wanting to do some meatless nights, but my cooking is limited, lol. I do use seasoned tofu about once a week. It makes a great casserole with cheese and cornbread on top. A family fave!

Sheri in CA