Up until a few months ago, I dreaded the nightly “what’s for dinner,” question, whether that question be from my husband, or one of my two children. Either my husband would shoot me a text towards the end of the work day saying “I don’t know what you want for dinner” or, I would get home from work (usually around 6) and call out a friendly “hi, I’m home” only to be greeted by my eight year old or 11 year old asking “Mom, what’s for dinner?” Totally annoying, and not very welcoming, right?!?

Not only did my (and let’s face it, my husband’s) lack of planning cause hectic last minute stops to the store on the way home from work, it also caused me to spend more on groceries than I would have liked because I wasn’t ad shopping. Instead, I was grabbing whatever item I could find that could be (quickly) turned into a meal so my family could eat dinner before heading off to whatever game or practice occurred that evening.

I will admit, this practice lasted for a lot longer than I care to admit. But, one day a light bulb went off and I decided enough is enough. Not only did I need to plan my meals, I also needed to develop a weekly grocery budget, so I wasn’t overspending at the store, which, let’s face it, is easy to do. So, my husband and I established what I considered to be a fair grocery budget. I determined that it would take roughly $20 per day to feed a family of four, so my weekly grocery budget became $150 per week. And, to ensure I wasn’t receiving dirty looks when I announced that night’s meal selection, I decided to get my children involved. 

Once a week (my children and I) sit down and review the weekly Martin’s circular. From that circular, we plan out not only our dinners, but also lunches, since my kids prefer to take their lunch to school. The kids circle items that interest them and propose meals that we could have. For instance, if Spartan hash browns are on sale, so my daughter immediately wants me to make Potato Soup. Or, ground beef and Prego pasta sauce are on sale, so my son decides we should have stuffed peppers one night.

And I always, always, stock up on meat items when they’re on sale and stick them in the freezer. The point of the story is, ad shopping is not only smart and helped me stick to a budget, it also helped me get my kids involved in the meal planning process, which got them to understand and appreciate the value of a $1.