Monday, February 09, 2009

One Week's Food Menu

Since I'm a certified Control Freak, one idea which has always appealed to me — and which we've never tried — is the idea of planning a week's meals in advance.

(By "planning" I mean "writing it down." And then shopping based on that.)

Having a week's menu set in advance is something I've heard of other bloggers' families doing. Usually they do this because it's a good way to establish some amount of control on one's grocery and food spending.

Always eating "at a moment's notice" tends to be expensive: Not knowing what you want until you want it — and then buying based on that whim — often means special trips to the store (where you'll inevitably buy extra goodies) or, even worse, the restaurant. Both places are only too happy to pilfer those "extra" impulsive dollars from your tingly little fingers.

So one way to overcome this is to plan some number of days' eating beforehand, and then to shop based on that plan. Let's face it: Grocery spending ain't getting any cheaper. Nor is dining out.

(It's not like the Dollar Menu stuff is healthy for you, either.)

Money Freaks, Take Notice

Another neat side-benefit of working from a weekly food menu is that the Curious Money Guy in me can place a tangible dollar figure at the end of the following question:

What might it cost a three-person household (like ours) to buy a week's worth of food if they started with empty cupboards?

I'm talking "middle of the road" meals here — not ribeye steaks and California wine three nights a week.

Anyhow, for curious souls, here's the menu we devised for last week:

IYM: Menu for a Week! (PDF)

Assuming zero foodstuffs in the pantry (save some common spices, seasonings, and condiments), the cost for ingredients for this week's meals would be roughly $142 (before sales tax). Add six bucks for the kid's lunches at school, and you'd be in the ballpark.

How do I know this? Because, of course, I have a spreadsheet of prices. And also because I was willing to write those prices down as I ambled down the aisles of Wal-Mart.

Obviously, that $142 would buy more than one week's worth of food: You'd not be using ALL those foodstuffs on that one week's meals. (If your kid can put away a box of Cocoa Pebbles in a week, well, you have my sympathies.)

BONUS: For those of you willing to read this far, and who are now wondering what the point of this little exercise really was (mostly to give me something to blog about) ... well, you get a recipe!

IYM: Lisa's Better Taco Bake (PDF)

We love this "improved" taco bake! It's extremely easy, and mucho tasty with a cloud of light sour cream on the top!

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— Posted by Michael @ 9:07 AM


The bettycrocker link in the recipe doesn't work. The apparent URL is fine, but the underlying URL has a 1 appended to the end, and that breaks it.

Lisa's version is going on my "try this" list.


what's "hoppin John"?


@ Denise:

When I try to use the link, my browser just hangs. When I try to visit it by copy 'n' pasting the URL, I get a Betty Crocker maintenance page. Weird. It was there this weekend, though!

@ John:

This is a "Hoppin' John" recipe:

Hoppin' John

We left the greens out of our version, though. Being a fan of black-eyed peas, I found this dish particularly yummy!


I am such a freak - I recently planned my menu 3-4 weeks in advance. We only buy meat and pantry staples when they are at rock bottom prices so I always have tons of food to make dinners. I usually just need fresh fruits and veggies at the produce stand; I have been getting milk, eggs and bread with my CVS extra bucks. We don't have any kids at home and our tastes don't change from week to week, so that helps!


Michael, the apparent link (the one that a reader would see if you handed that person a printout of the page) is

The underlying code (which I can see if I hover over the URL) shows that clicking the link will send the reader to

There is no recipe 363451, and that URL breaks. The visible address is fine, and if you manually key in the visible URL or copy and paste the visible URL, it should work.

When you have a chance, go back to the source file for the PDF and check the URL underneath the URL. (In Word, you can use alt-f9 to toggle the view.) I'm pretty sure you'll find that they don't match.


Well, phooey - talk about broken URLs...

Let's try again. The apparent URL ends in

The underlying URL ends in recipeID=363451

(And I'm lovin' my word verification word again. "phoducts" - that so needs to be a portmanteau of "phony" and "products". As in... "In certain areas of NYC, you can get knockoffs of Prada bags and Rolex watches, and other fine phoducts.")


@ Denise:

First off, you're still insane. Though I too find myself attracted to the term "phoducts." :)

I created that recipe in XL2007, and whenever I save it as PDF, for some reason, XL appends that "1" to the end of the URL. It's not there in the original.

Looks like a software oopsie to me. I've tried modifying it a couple of times, but MS's SAVE AS PDF process always appends the extra digit.


Huh. Interesting.

I'm still using Office 2000, so I can't test that.

Using Excel for recipes, though... If it were a pure ingredients list, I would do that, since it would make it trivially easy to upscale or downscale for multiple or partial batches. It would also make it easy if I wanted to calculate approximate nutrition information per serving. For the formatting that you did in that recipe, though...

I'm impressed.

You have mad Excel skillz.


This is Michael's wife . . .

For Michael and Denise: You're both weirdos.


Anonymous The Battleaxe
, at 10:18 AM, February 11, 2009  

@The Battleaxe,

Well, yeah, granted.

Your point is?

(I'm not even going to TELL you what my verification word is this time. And it's a good one. So there!)

** Comments Closed on this Post **

Thoughts on my personal finances, goals, experiences, motivations, and accomplishments (or lack thereof).

My financial life began turning around when I took responsibility for it.
— Dave Ramsey


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[About Our Debt Paydown]


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