I have what I consider a large family. Between the two of us, Tim and I have 5 ever-growing kids. Among them, we have three teenagers, a ten-year-old, and a three-year-old. Four out of the 5 are boys. That says a lot! It seems the older they get, the bigger their appetites become. One of the most common things we hear in this house is, “I’m hungry.” I’m sure many of you can relate. It has become a struggle to keep enough food in the house to satisfy their appetites without breaking the bank. Here, I’ll be sharing 5 ways I feed my family for less than $120 a week.
Every Family is Different
Every family has different dietary needs, and every family has a different budget. It’s important to keep in mind while reading this, that this budget is what works for MY family. While I try myself to follow a low-carb, mostly gluten-free lifestyle (my poor body doesn’t agree with gluten. Be on the lookout for a post on low-carb/gluten-free eating on a budget!), my children have different needs and tastes, so I try to grocery shop accordingly.
I grocery shop once a week, more out of preference than necessity. I’ve found that if I do a larger grocery trip to try to cover a 2 week period, my kids think it’s a free-for-all and will try to see how quickly they can empty out the refrigerator and pantry. I like to have fresh vegetables and fruits on hand rather than buying frozen, so a weekly grocery trip suits my needs perfectly.
Over the years I’ve struggled with coming up with a shopping plan that allows me to stay within my weekly budget without having to run back to restock throughout the week. I’ve experimented with different foods to figure out which ones last the longest, which provide the best leftover, and which I have to end up throwing out because nobody ate it. Food waste is one of my biggest pet peeves, so I learned quickly not to stock my refrigerator with fresh vegetables unless I had a definite plan for them.
If you are interested in finding ways to feed your family without breaking the bank, keep reading and you’ll see 5 ways I feed my large family for $120 a week!
I learned quickly that my kids don’t know the difference between generic foods and name-brand food. Their little palates haven’t had time to develop enough yet to realize that all foods are not created equal. As they get older, I expect they’ll realize that real Fruity Pebbles taste better than Fruity Dyno-Bites, but hopefully when that day comes they’ll be buying their own groceries!
Don’t Just Shop at One Store.
Sure, it’s convenient to be able to do all of your grocery shopping in one place. But I’ve learned that there are different deals at different stores, and I hit each one on my weekly grocery trips. Aldi is my first choice for fresh produce. I am always able to load my shopping cart up with that week’s menu items without breaking my budget. I especially love that apples tend to cost at least $2 less for a 5-pound bag than at other stores like Walmart.
Walmart is where I will typically buy items such as meats, fish and cereal. I’ve found that Walmart has great deals on chicken and fish, which are usually the proteins I stock up on. And sometimes I get lucky and find a good discounted steak for dinner that night! Pork tenderloin is one of my favorite things to buy at Walmart because they have several different marinated varieties. I can feed my whole family with one tenderloin that usually costs about $6. Walmart is my go-to for cereal is because they have family size boxes, which I’ve found offer the best value for the money.
I have found that the best place to buy milk is the Dollar General by my house. It’s typically about $1 less than Walmart and Aldi. $1 doesn’t seem like much, but when you have kids that drink milk as much as mine do, it makes a huge difference in your wallet!
Don’t Cook Dinner Every Night.
As much as I would love to say that I am Susie Homemaker and have a large, elaborate dinner on the table for my family every night, that just doesn’t happen. I cook a large meal (meat, side, two veggies) maybe 4 nights a week. On the in-between nights my family feasts on leftovers (my favorite). We also have “fend for yourself” dinner nights where each person can make what they choose. On these nights, the kids tend to gravitate toward Ramen or frozen burritos. My three-year-old lives on PB&J Sandwiches, so that’s his go-to on these nights.
Save Going Out To Eat For Special Occasions.
This has been the hardest for me to get used to. Tim and I love to go out to eat. Unfortunately, dinner out is the one area in which I tend to splurge. So in order to stick to my budget, I’ve had to severely limit my culinary adventures. We have agreed to one family dinner out a month. We also let each of the kids gets to choose where they would like to eat their birthday dinner. Most of the time birthday dinners go in the way of Wendy’s, McDonald’s, or O’Charlie’s, so they don’t tend to break the bank much anyway.
Tim and I do try to squeeze a lunch or dinner date in now and again. When we do, that’s when I get to try the new seafood restaurant or most talked-about steakhouse of the moment. As important as it is to stay on a budget, it’s equally as important to enjoy yourself now and then!
Don’t Buy Filler Junk.
As much as my ravenous offspring would disagree, there really is no need for a pantry full of junk food. While junk food is pretty cheap, I don’t buy a ton of it just to fill the pantry. Not only does this save money, but it also forces the kids to snack on healthier options like fresh fruit and yogurt.
I like to have some fun snacks on hand for the kids so they’re not completely deprived of the “good things” in life. However, I make it a point to not spend more than $10 a week on sugar-filled goodness.
I hope you enjoyed learning the 5 ways I feed my family for less than $120 a week! Keep some of these tips in mind, on your next grocery haul, and hopefully, you will start to see a difference in your spending!
I look forward to reading some of your tips on saving money, so please feel free to comment below!
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