Grocery Bill Was 'Out of Control,' but Year-Long Meal Plan Saves Texas Woman Time and Money

FRIENDSWOOD, Texas (KTRK) -- Do you know what you're cooking for dinner tonight? Planning ahead can be a great way to save time and money but one woman is taking it to a whole new level.

It may be hard to believe, but a Friendswood mom not only knows what she is feeding her family every single night of the week, she has it all planned out for the entire year! She says having a plan has cut her grocery bill by more than half and she's sharing her strategy with us.

VIDEO: Superorganized approach to meals saves time, money.
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Leslie Chisolm admits keeping up with a family of six that includes four boys is not easy.

"It's kind of like a circus," she told KTRK's Patricia Lopez. "There is something going on all the time."

That's why dinner time has to be organized.

"They know exactly what they are having," Chisolm explained. "It's easier on me because I know what we are having. I don't stress out and say what am I going to cook tonight, what am I going to cook tonight?"

Chisolm and her husband came up with the idea to plan every single dinner for the entire year after trips to the grocery store were getting expensive.

She recalled, "It was two years ago and my husband looked at me and said, 'Our grocery bill is out of control.'"

Click here to see Leslie Chisolm's meal calendar for 2009.

Yearly Meal Plan 'Makes My Life Easier'

Chisolm says she was doing a lot of compulsive shopping or wasting food she wasn't using. The family was also eating out a lot. That's when she decided to make her plan. Chisolm's plan works like this. First she asked her family what they like to eat and what they don't like.

She said, "We try and pick a different meat, with different vegetables and different sides that way we get a full balanced meal."

Then she made a list of entrees and sides. From that list, Chisolm made up her meal plan on a calendar. Every single day of every month there is something different to eat, with one or two days a month built in for leftovers.

When it comes to shopping for groceries, Chisolm always takes her menu to the store. She also builds up a stockpile when items go on sale.

"You can wait for the meats to go on sale and the vegetables to go on sale," she said.

Finally, Chisolm buys in bulk to save money. When she gets home she separates her servings.

"Put it on my baggies, I label it and it's stacked in my freezer," she said.

Then when Chisolm is ready to cook each night, it's on her calendar and she's fully stocked at home.

She explained, "It makes my life easier because its one less thing that I have to worry about because it's already written down."

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