For the past 40 days I have made dinner at home. I usually cook most of our meals at home, but we have been really tight on money this past month due to some large bills so I have only been cooking at home. I'm a big believer in home made food and I enjoy cooking. I enjoy cooking less, however, when I have a toddler and an infant. I also enjoy eating home made food. I was raised on home cooked food. It's cheaper to cook at home, a lot cheaper. And we can eat better food. I secretly love grocery shopping. We usually have a $200 budget a month for groceries for the 3 of us, since Beckett just has breast milk right now. When we first moved to Arizona we were broke. Like, not kidding, really broke, somebody offer me any job and I will probably take it broke. We didn't have a grocery budget then and it was a big problem. So we fixed the problem. And it's been fixed ever since then. This is my system.
At the end of each month I sit down with a calendar, I use an old frame with a white piece of paper in it that is divided into the days of the month and I use dry erase markers to fill it in. I fill in the whole month of dinners. Yes I know what I'm making for an entire month. And yes I love it. We have a couple of standards that we have each week. We instituted spaghetti madness on every tuesday, and my almost two year old toddler can make it (almost) completely on his own (can openers are hard though). Spaghetti is cheap to make and delicious, I make the whole meal for less than $1.00 per person. It doesn't always have meatballs with it, but we do different variations with veggies or leftover ground turkey in the sauce, home made bread, and sometimes we do have turkey meatballs (also home made). We make chicken and rice with a veggie every week. We love rice. Rice is cheap. We could probably eat rice for every meal if we had to because rice is so easy to make in a lot of different ways.
Once I get the whole month of meals laid out, I make a list of everything I need to make all of the meals and list specifically how many of each item I need. I do all of the grocery shopping in one day. Usually I have to make a few small trips for things like milk, fruit, and bread, but everything else I buy enough for the month and either freeze it or store it in air tight containers. My big trip usually costs about $120 (at either walmart or target and a local grocery store) and then from there I spend about $20 a week on milk (Owen drinks a lot of soy milk), eggs, bread, and fresh fruit and veggies. I usually get our fruits and veggies at our local farmers markets.
In a typical month, in addition to the meals mentioned above, we will have things like lasagna, shepherds pie, salads with chicken breasts, southwestern stew, pulled chicken BBQ, empanadas, stir fry, tacos, shrimp Alfredo, chicken pot pie, turkey burgers, salmon, and beans with rice and chicken apple sausage. As I said, we eat good food via this method and a decent variety.