For December, I challenged myself only to use my slow cooker for the entire month. Why? It was taking up space in my storage unit, and it sat there for three years without being used. That said, I also knew that it could possibly save me time and make my life a little bit easier.
I do my shopping on Sundays for the entire week, and I was able to spend less than $100 every time.
There are a lot of things I learned from completing this challenge, but here are some things that really surprised me.
- Shopping from what you have at home REALLY does save you money. I have been shopping my freezer and pantry FIRST before creating my Crockpot meal plan. I then decide what recipes I want to make based on what I have at home. I focus on meats, as that's one of the most expensive ingredients in any recipe.
- Slow cooker meals save time. Oh, yes! I can't tell you how good it feels to have dinner done in the morning. This frees up my evenings to spend more time with my son or to find a little time to relax for myself. The gift of time is absolutely priceless.
- Slow cooker meals don't all taste the same. I went into this journey, thinking that I would get bored with the food selection. I was wrong. I was able to find such a huge selection of recipes from all types of sources, like Pinterest, Magazines, and cookbooks.
- Each recipe made a lot of food, which provided me with a lot of leftovers. This was great because I didn't have to spend a lot of money on lunch supplies, and it gave us plenty of food for extra dinners on the nights I didn't feel like cooking. If you are going to do a monthly meal plan of slow cooker meals and you have a smaller family, I highly recommend that you plan for leftover days, so food doesn't go to waste.
- Have a planned grocery shopping list! Use this list to see if any of the ingredients you are going to buy are on sale or can be substituted for ones that are on sale. The apps I currently LOVE using are Checkout 51, Ibotta, Walmart Savings Catcher, Ebates / Rakuten, Fetch Rewards, and the Krazy Coupon Lady.
I spent a total of $294.25 on groceries and $125.38 on eating out in December. That brings my total food spending to $419.63. Every month, I allocate $400 to my food budget, and I use the cash in my food envelope for eating out and grocery trips. I have a small family, just my son, my boyfriend, and myself. Though I was over my food budget by $19, I ate out more than usual due to dinner with friends for the holidays. When it came to my grocery hauls, I actually saved money.
Here is a breakdown of my entire month's worth of meal plans and the slow cooker recipes that I decided to try.
If you would like a free copy of the Weekly Meal Plan printables you see in this post, make sure to check out my Free Resource Library!
DECEMBER (WEEK 1st – 7th)
- 12/1: Non-Crockpot meal: I made ham that I had in the fridge.
- 12/2: LEFTOVERS
- 12/3: Sugar Garlic Chicken & White Rice
- 12/4: Beef Stew
- 12/5: LEFTOVERS
- 12/6: Whole Chicken with Gravy & Corn
- 12/7: LEFTOVERS
DECEMBER (WEEK 8th – 14th)
- 12/8: LEFTOVERS
- 12/9: Meatloaf with Veggies
- 12/10: Lemon Garlic Chicken
- 12/11: Kung Pao Chicken with White Rice
- 12/12: Steak Fajitas
- 12/13: EAT OUT
- 12/14: Non-Crockot Recipe – I made frozen pot stickers.
DECEMBER (WEEK 15th – 21st)
- 12/15: Steak Fajita Leftovers
- 12/16: Chicken Marsala
- 12/17: LEFTOVERS
- 12/18: General Tso's Chicken
- 12/19: Ranch Pork Chops
- 12/20: Teriyaki Chicken with White Rice
- 12/21: LEFTOVERS
DECEMBER (WEEK 22nd – 28th)
- 12/22: Pork Chop Leftovers
- 12/23: Orange Chicken and White Rice
- 12/24: Cranberry Turkey Breast
- 12/25: CHRISTMAS (at parent's house)
- 12/26: Meatball Subs
- 12/27: EAT OUT
- 12/28: LEFTOVERS