Meal Planning. Or, not eating beyond our means.

On Friday, we made a last minute decision to order in Chinese. Last minute as in, we had bee watching Better Call Saul for the better part of 5 hours when we suddenly hit a hangry crisis. After vaguely assessing what food we had in the kitchen, and realizing most things would need defrosting or other components of food we didn’t have, we landed on Chinese. Again. For the second Friday in a row.

After we placed our order, we realized that we did have provisions for emergency meals–like 3 different meals. And then we came to the stark realization of just how much money we have spent on eating out in the last two weeks. And then I thought of how much I’ve spent on eating out in the last two weeks.

And suddenly I wasn’t hangry or hungry or anything. I felt a bit like an addict who has been pulled into an intervention.

“Hello, my name is Audrey, and I’m addicted to restaurant meals and convenience foods.”

Now, we’ve made various pledges to ourselves in the last few months about eating better and saving money.

“This is the last time we are ordering pizza.”

“No, these are our last hoorah cookies. No more after this!”

“We need to make a meal plan. No more Oporto.”
“Right. No more Oporto.”

“Should we get Oporto?”
“Totally.”

All the pledges have left us with are empty pizza boxes on our fridge, empty sweet containers in the rubbish, and elevated cholesterol levels. And decidedly less money in our savings account. Like, a shocking amount. But Friday night was the first time we felt legitimately shitty about it. Not just the regular shitty you feel after eating take out food, but the emotional kind of shitty. After all, you never get the money back that you waste on cheap food. Unless you’re investing in extra body weight. In which case, my investments are solid. And maybe a little wobbly.

So now that we’ve hit out Fast Food Rock Bottom, things are going to be different. We are introducing some initial changes to the way we approach food:

1) we have set a weekly food budget. And I stuck to it when I grocery shopped on Saturday, while buying essentials for 3 meals + left overs.

2) we are going to start making and pre-packing lunches at the beginning of the week. I used our left over chili from Saturday’s dinner to make my mom’s chili spaghetti for lunches all this week.

3) we are allowed 3 emergency meals a month. Because I know there are just some shitty (PMS) days when cooking or effort in the kitchen seems useless.

4) we put up a calendar to write down meal ideas and emergency meal ideas for when we are hangry. We aren’t very good at planning ahead, so we’re going to try to plan 3 days at a time, and buy our vegetables as we need them. 9/10 vegetables come to our house to die. In our fridge. While we eat pizza.

5) we will keep a pantry stocked with basics and staples– we are already pretty good at this, but we’ll get better. And I’ll hopefully soon realize that ice cream and ginger ale aren’t “staples.” As much as I want them to be.

img_3566This sounds like another of my “DIET STARTS TOMORROW!” pledges. And I’m not unaware that agonizing on spending too much money on fast food is quite a first world problem. But, we really want this to work. And so far, we are two days into our plan, and we are 2-0. The first two days are the hardest, right? Right? 

Check back in two weeks. Maybe we’ll be growing our own vegetables by then! Just hopefully we’re not collecting more pizza boxes.

Any tips on overcoming meal planning difficulties? Or any tips in general? I’d love to hear stories of Fast Food Survivors or Meal Planning Converts.