...But boy oh BOY have we been cheating on our budget lately. Ever since it got real up in here ala PPD and an ill-timed international jaunt avec bebe, my go-to line has been 'where do you want to get dinner tonight?'
I rationalize our ridiculous dinning out expenditures by estimating that 'oh, it's only $25, that's probably maybe almost close to what we would spend on a home-cooked meal.' Of gold-crusted steak. Or I justify my quick lunchtime run to Chipotle as being 'for the boys' (one of whom is breastfeeding and the other who would eat an old boot dipped in ketchup).
The point is, I need to get back to planet reality where I a. menu plan with our weekly groceries and b. produce meals based roughly upon said menu not involving chips and salsa.
I am a straight up Dave Ramsey disciple, y'all, and yet, in the past 3 months (happy quarter year birthday, JP!) I think I've begged no fewer than 40 restaurant meals out of this post-partum period. Now, I'm willing to give myself a break because I have been legit psychotic more days than not, (by the way, the new meds are working splendidly well, if you can't tell by the tone of this ramble) but I'm ready to get back on track.
But I need your help mamas! What are your own menu-planning strategies for evening meals? As mentioned last week, I've got lunch covered with a Costco suitcase of refried beans, but dinner is my kryptonite. So I pose the following questions to you, oh wise and all-knowing internet:
1. Do you meal plan? What do you base it on? Family likes/dislikes? Ease of recipe? Sales on ingredients?
2. When do you prep/cook dinner? Do you use a (shudder) crock pot? Are your children more domesticated than mine?
3. How many times a week/month does your family eat out? I am prepared to be severely shamed by this answer, but I'm looking for a good baseline for our family, and I'm not sure 'every freaking chance mommy gets' is a reasonable answer.
Oh, and if you're not familiar with the sage Mr. Ramsey, please do yourself a massive favor and check out www.DaveRamsey.com where you can learn aaaaaaall about his Total Money Makeover, and you can also listen LIVE to his fabulous radio show from 2pm-5pm EST every day via the same magic website.
His plan is the real deal; Dave and I have paid off $47K of debt since our engagement 4 years ago, and we've got (vom) $66K to go (Hail, Steubenville). In other words, we won't be house shopping any time soon. But we will be completely out of debt while still in our early 30s, and we will be able to build a much brighter and shiny-er future for our little fam, unburdened by any kind of car payment, student loan payment, credit card balance or even, God-willing, a mortgage payment one day. Plus, it's been a huge blessing in our marriage and a great partner to NFP. There are some serious parallels between money and sex, I'm telling you.
So check it out. But first, please help me celebrate being 3 months post partum by getting my act together and learning how to meal plan.