Last but certainly not least, the bi-weekly plan. Now, I call this a bi-weekly plan, however, there are a couple ways to approach this meal planning technique: one is simply planning for two weeks at a time, one is planning for a week- plus extras, and working off of the extra items you have left in the fridge to get you through the second week. This ends up being one of the most cost-efficient ways of meal planning. Want to learn more?
By planning for two weeks, much like planning monthly, you have to have an idea of your budget for the month, and divide that amount among shopping trips. You may want to do a larger first trip and a smaller second trip, this is up to you. Either way, you’ll need to determine how much you can spend, and account for how much you have each shopping trip. For instance, if you have that $400 per month you had in the 1-week meal plan, and you’d like to go on two shopping trips per month, you have 400 / 2 = $200 per trip.
If you want to do a larger stock-up trip in the beginning of the month, say, 3/4 of your monthly groceries, you would have 400 x .75 = $300 for trip #1, meaning you only have $100 for the rest of the month. This can work out well, again, as long as you utilize the staples you buy.
I find the best way to do this is to sit down with your favourite recipes binder, staples list, calendar (remember to mark off any days with friends or eating out!) and map out those two weeks. Then, if you have time, maybe decide on a few recipes for weeks following and see if there is anything you can buy extra of and freeze, or in bulk. Buy these items at the store, and meal planning in a couple weeks becomes MUCH easier, as long as you use the extra items you purchased.
If you do plan for two weeks at a time, write out your plan and make a grocery list. Add up a quick-estimate of how much you think these groceries will cost (always over-estimate) and if you’re over, cut back. You don’t want to be stuck with not enough money to last you the end of the month.
The second option is a lot more creative, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of plan. If you are the experimental type, one who loves creating recipes and only plans for the sake of budgeting, this will work for you. If this description has your stomach in knots, stick with the above idea.
The second option in bi-weekly planning, is heading to the store with a week’s plan in mind (don’t forget to buy breakfast and lunch staples, too)- remember to budget this week plus staples before hand, so you know how much you have left to spend—and spend the rest of the budget picking up whatever is on sale, in season, or looks good- and using these items to create a menu for week 2. This may sound scary to some- to me, this is thrilling! However, remember to not get caught in the trap of heading back the store on week two. The whole point is to utilize what you have- staples/bulk items, bits-and-pieces from week 1 and those extra items you bought. If you can do this and remain on budget, you’ve got an interesting, fun plan on your hands! I love sources like Pinterest to help me come up with ideas when I have a bunch of ingredients, but am completely stumped as to how I’m going to use them.
So there you have it- the bi-weekly plan, similar in some ways to both monthly, and weekly, but just another option in helping you find the optimal way to budget in your healthy lifestyle. This concludes my 6-week series on meal planning 101. What else do you want to see from Budget Friendly Fridays? Do you have any burning Meal Planning questions you’d like to ask? I’d love to answer them!