Making a food chart helps

Mommy – what do you have for lunch? Anything special that I like? Typical dilemma faced by any mother who tries her best to balance between healthy meals and trying to accommodate tastes and likes of kids (extends to adults too).

For working mothers, especially during these days, cooking ahead of time and storing a few extra boxes of food – just in case anyone is extra hungry or ask for snacks has become a common practice. How do we keep our budgets low and try to accommodate all their needs and wants. Sharing some tips that have worked for me thus far!

Serves 4

Just following these meticulously saves about 50% of excessive shopping costs.

  • Planning ahead of schedule and making a food chart for the week helps me filter out ONLY the groceries that I need for the week
  • Whoever is the shopaholic at home does not go to buy groceries. Only the ones who can stick to the list provided get to go shopping 🙂 There have been times where we have spent 1 month’s budget in one shop!
  • Sharing the food chart with family and ensuring their requests are spelt out ahead of schedule – helps set their expectations and reduces last minute changes
  • If you are still getting last minute changes, have your family come up with the food chart. While it would be an interesting experience for them, you can give them the budget to work with and ensure you stay in the line of approval

While everyone’s focus is on this food chart for the week, stick it on the refrigerator and the key activities that you need to get done (with your family’s help) onto the list!

Now look at the items in the list. Cooking only one cuisine helps buy items in bulk, saving costs in the long run. Given that everyone’s creativity is coming out in the kitchen these days, ensuring you have a balanced meal and scope for quick improvements while you are working through the day helps. If you are looking to cook a variety of cuisines during the week (Chinese, Italian, Indian, Mexican etc), ensure you have a balanced meal and take appropriate remedies for heartburn (

Leave some amount of surprise in the meals when they get to eat it. Do not share what flavor of rice or meat that would be cooked that day. Include that in your grocery list. Keep your dinner light with a soup (Fall is approaching.. time to switch to soups). Switching one meal to soups means you need to have your spice rack refilled for fall/winter season. It would be worth it!

Without including the cost of the spices (use the ones in your pantry), the cost of groceries for a week with the above food chart comes to about $64. You can reduce it even more by choosing to make food of a single cuisine.

Why would one want to do this? To understand and teach the value of money to children. It is well worth the time and effort to teach and learn this at an early age!

When some of my friends asked me how I cook a variety of food accommodating everyone’s requests in the family, while keeping costs down and multi-tasking on the work front, thought I would write this and share.

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