I decrease the amount of water called for because I like a thicker soup. Sometimes I just put some of the balsamic vinegar on my salad. Thanks for answering my questions! I would appreciate the spaghetti recipe you mentioned and is this black bean soup below close to your recipe? I read around your blog and it was great. My husband was home schooled on and off growing up and loved it! We plan on doing it in the future, but it helps to read of your struggles and successes with it.
I loved the Tevye battle…on the one hand…Blessings! The spaghetti recipe is super basic: You saute an onion and some minced garlic in a little olive oil. Then add a large can of crushed tomatoes, a large can of tomato sauce and a tiny can of tomato paste. I love this! This plan is from choosemyplate. As we went through the process I blogged about it and all the frustrations we had such as long, complicated meals after work, one use ingredients etc. I was so happy to find this blog and see how it really should be done!
This is what I wanted all along-simple, cheap and easy!! Thanks for proving that it is possible to eat healthy on a budget-and for the link to the cookbook there are some good recipes! I am so sorry the negative comments got under your skin. I am sure if I had a blog that someone saw and was inspired by I would focus on the stuff that hurt versus all the wonderful praise people had. My husband came across the article on Lifehacker and sent it to me hoping to inspire me to get our current food budget under control. I admit I was in fact inspired and then jealous and then angry.
I am glad your blog was highlighted in articles around the interwebs because it gave me the opportunity to read about your life and you seem to be pretty darn awesome! I can relate to you and your family in so many ways which is not always the case when talking to other parents with larger families. We have four kids in our family Many of the blogs that I come across from Pinterest make me feel like an utter failure as a mom.
You are real and beautiful. Thank you for sharing yourself with us. Mary, thank you SO much for this comment. I am truly touched at the time you put into responding to me. I know just what you mean about feeling belittled by Pinterest! It is shameful what we, as a culture, have decided is a fair wage for the people responsible for educating the adults of tomorrow. Good luck with your four, hang in there, and come back and see me- tell your friends to come too! Since Zoe enjoyed baking thoe cookies so much, maybe she wants to try my Lazy Bread?
Well done, Jen! This reminds me of my childhood in a household with five kids, two parents and a grandparent. I know that our mother would greatly admire your tenacity. Be well! This is the best news a family could hear bless you jen. You are extraordinary!
Such care you are taking to feed your family healthy food on a tight budget. I hope you kmow you are feeding your family more than food. You are feeding you family love and care. Thank you for sharing your menu. I believe you will help may, many families. The Oriental Stir Fry at Aldi is delicious for that leftover chicken at about 3. Thanks for the tips! You are my new hero! So I was skeptical when I saw a link to your story. But I was so excited when I read it! Good job!! I LOVE that you are doing this with real food!!
Oh — and I just poked around a little — I see you have twins! I like you even more now. I have two sets. Quite a big difference! Wow Lisa! Thanks for doing that. How old are your twins, BTW? Some of the items your family eats are on our allergy list such as peanut butter and sugar. Have you had to address these issues? There are some foods that some of my kids refuse to eat-of course they are not the same foods! If they refuse the meal, they just have to wait until the next one. I do try to make sure there is something everyone likes for lunch or dinner. Breakfast never seems to be a problem.
Natasha, we shop at Aldi which is a lesser known discount grocery store. Thank you for this post. I live about two hours down the road from you and am about to have a family of seven…my second little guy is due on July 5th. With this plan we could drastically cut our bill…so, thank you. My husband is a Pastor so probably a similar salary to your hubby and I work part time at my big kids school just to pay their tuition. All this to say that our budget needs a makeover and this might be the kick in the pants I need to actually make it happen.
So thank you for being open and honest. I look forward to your summer menu as well!! Seems more winter oriented. I truly appriciate this post. I love your meal ideas and please take heart despite any nay sayers you bring joy, happiness, and hope to others. I love this post but am having a hard time wrapping my head around it. Is there any advice you can give me? Thank you so much for generously sharing this. I hope I find equally frugal and practical tips for other necessities such as household supplies and kids items.
I am a SAHM with 3 teen boys and 2 toddler girls and a hubby. You have some good ideas and a great meal list. So many people shop unprepared. I too have a rotational list of meals and it is great. I always ask hubby and the older kids to select one meal they like. I have learned to make the items we eat that came from Cans.
Baked beans, pasta sauce, Alfredo, etc… It is actually cheaper and healthier than the store items. I also make our own bread and cornbread not boxed when needed. On the weekends, I spend time getting items ready for the next week. Lunch is basically leftovers or a sandwich. A pound of ground turkey all ready cooked 2c frozen green beans, c mashed potatoes and a jar of spag sauce and cheese.
Mix the cooked meat, sauce and beans together, spread out in a casserole pan, top with mashed spuds and then cheese. Bake in oven for 20 minutes. Add a salad or fruit and some homemade dinner rolls. Allyson, I envy your preparedness. Great post! Great advice! And beautiful family! Loved your blog and your ideas! Wanted to share one back. We never buy Ranch dressing, mayo, or sour cream here — I use plain, fat free Greek yogurt for just about everything though.
Thin with milk or lemon juice for salad dressing — you can vary it widely by adding minced garlic, or bacon bits, or finely diced onion, or parmesan cheese — or blend it with pureed cucumber for tzatziki sauce. You get a lot of flavor variety for no added expense. Since you guys eat carbs — crackers, bread, potatoes, veggie sticks and pretzel sticks all are a goof fit with hummus. These are great! I love that stuff! Great article!
Great info! One of my all time favorites! This all being said while taking into consideration a few things: 1. Takes me about an hour to get to aldis! Very detailed! Loved it! Great in theory but where in the world are food prices that low? Sarah, these are the current prices at our local Aldi here in Nashville, TN. Aldi is a low price grocery store that began and is the major chain in Germany.
The owner of Aldi is the brother of the owner of Trader Joes. Where do you live? We get WIC as well. So things are pretty tight right now. Thanks for sharing. We have a family of 7 and so meal planning is a challenge. Also, looking for ways to reduce the monthly expense. Thanks so much for sharing this. I teared up reading this.
Miss my Mom so much…she could stretch a dollar so very far, I learned a lot from her and when times were and are again tight retired teacher I was good but never quite as good as her. I enjoyed your winning essay today and will be following you as well. Very good blog!
Do you have any recommendations for aspiring writers? Would you recommend starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? Any ideas? Many thanks! I think it depends on what you want to get out of your blog. If you are writing primarily as a live journal, or expressly for self-expression, a free platform is great. Personally, I use the self-hosted read: not free WordPress. The learning curve for setting up a blog is very high, especially if, like me, you have zero computer programming background. However, I found many free resources including Amy Andrews just Google her to be extremely helpful.
Good Luck! We are loving what you have posted. This has really helped us out.
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You said this is your winter one and summer would look much different. I am curious what that looks like. Please and Thank you! Some good thoughts, especially on the front of organic only being more expensive. I do think there is a bit of embellishment here and fudging like seriously 1 slice of pizza for dinner? We have no extra. Is that the case for you too or do you have a separate line for non-food essentials? If so, what do you budget for that? For a while we struggled to stay in our food budget when we did shopping by the month.
Do you buy everything you need at the beginning of the month? Obviously you have to go back for some things like bananas etc. She has since she began solids. Do you ever add sausage to your lentil soup to give it even more protein or do you just stick with the beans? Yeah, yikes. All those little non-food items really add up. We also eliminated as many of the non-food things as possible.
We also used cloth diapers, but had to switch to pull-ups when trying to simultaneously potty-train 3 toddlers. We use the cheap white washcloths instead of paper-towels. We use plain white vinegar for cleaning almost everything except potties. We even made our own reusable baby-wipes. I shop at the Asian for things like rice flour and Asian seasonings and the Mexican markets where I find better buys on fruits and veggies and some pastries. I shop the Amish markets for cheese and lunch,eats and the coop for my spices.
Friends laugh at me but I have a pantry and freezer that we could eat out of for at least six months if my husband loses his job. Way back nearly 20 years ago, when my son was in elementary school and it went peanut-free, I used to make homemade sunbutter. All it takes is a bag of shelled, roasted sunflower seeds Aldi has them, but they may actually be cheaper at some place like Big Lots , vegetable oil and some honey.
Store in a jar in the fridge. You can rinse the sunflower seeds first if they seem too salty. Be sure to pat them dry-ish on some paper towels. Unsalted ones are kind of hard to find, but a mix of salted and unsalted is pretty much perfect for this. This is fantastic. We have three kids in college, one in high school and one starting middle school. The next oldest is in college and playing volleyball. She has the same situation but her room and board are not fully covered so that is added to the same expenses as the oldest, but she is also, not allowed to work.
I am a teacher and my husband is medically retired. We try to make sure that the kids can participate in normal adolescent functions, sports, band, etc. I have not only spent the last hour reading the post and developing it to meet our nutritional restrictions, I have sent it to each one of my children in college to find a way to make it work for them!!! One needs to gain weight, so that will have to be adjusted but this may save us this year.
I appreciate your effort, time and detail in creating this and it may be life changing for my family! Good luck, mama! Thank you for this. We have been struggling financially this year. I will be using this in a lot of my meal planning. We are a new family of seven — we just had our fifth child five weeks ago. Thanks for being so open. I guess we do what we have to do. I was wondering: do you ever think about hormones, antibiotics and pesticides? I know what they tell me is best but then I run across blogs like yours when seeking to lower my grocery bill.
I hope to hear back from you. Thanks for your comment and your question. I bet a lot of people are wondering similar things. The truth is I DO think about hormones, anti-biotics, pesticides, as well as general processing and the ratio of carbohydrates to protein. I think about it and I get angry that the safest, most healthful food choices are reserved for those with money.
After all, a dollar a pound per chicken costs just a fraction of what future medical bills may cost.
Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
However, and this is huge, not all of us have money elsewhere that can be allocated towards organic, free-range, happy food. So, as you said, we do what we have to do. After all, starvation and malnutrition will kill you a hell of a lot faster than pesticides. This looks like an amazing plan, however we have tons of food allergies. Any suggestions for replacing items containing peanuts, treenuts, dairy and eggs? I am so glad I found this! I am going to ask my family to commit to your plan and see if we can shave our budget down. Thank you! So, I live in Newnan , Ga.
Prices here are moderate. I did not check a single sales paper nor use a single coupon. I split the amounts she listed because I wanted to just buy for two weeks rather than a month and my total came out to just That drops us down from spending almost To the author: Thank you!!!!! You have helped me understand food budgeting much better and look forward to the rest of your blog. Question: Do you shop only 1 time per month?
If not, how often? Thanks for posting a reply! That is great to know, I might try to do it every two weeks, as our closest Aldi is about 35 min drive away. Thank you for posting this! We live on a tight budget, and finding other moms meal plan ideas is always SO helpful!!! I love your budget! I have been trying several different scenarios on a food budget, all of which are driving me nuts! We cook fresh and pack lunches for school and love to eat breakfast! I must start going back to Aldi. Anyway couple things I do. I make homemade sandwich bread, cornbread, and pizza dough!
All off which can be frozen and stored until needed. I try to buy up whole turkeys during the winter as much as possible when they are. Yes, please!! Meals, casseroles, lunch meat, soup…mmm. I read on a different site that you avoid processed foods but yet noticed that you buy an Aldi take and bake pizza, which in reality is a processed food. Did I misunderstand that? Hi Lisa, I try to avoid most processed foods, but, as I say in this post, I do make exceptions.
I have neither the budget, nor the time with 5 small kids to eat all whole foods. We do eat Aldi pizza, also the occasional box of mac and cheese, graham crackers, saltines, etc. Good luck! How annoying is a comment like that? But, you handle it like a pro!
Hey there!! I just read through this and it will help my family very much. I have 7 children, 3 teens, 2 elementry boys one eats like his oldest teen brother , a kindergartner, and a 2 yr old. Then there is my hubby and myself. We also homeschool so we are home for all our meals. But I am going to use your menu and see how prices pan out when you add more people to the crew. I love hillbilly housewife. I also looked at your summer menu! Hoping I can make it work!! How refreshing to stumble across this well written article! Thank you for sharing! At the local grocery store, its possible if u buy the sales and bulk up— and generic of everything.
Hi there! I love this post! Thank you so much for being a blessing to many and helping others out! I surprisingly have found the food prices almost exactly the same in all 3 cities! Your family is a delight. Ok just gotta say, you are so cool. Not only am I not a great cook, but I love that second bit. For people dropping by, or facebook friends or blog readers or anything. With a four year old, a two year old and a baby on the way…bless their souls.
But I do enjoy getting inspired from other people online, who seem to have living frugally down pat! You have given me inspiration. I am alone now and on a very strict budget and if you can do it for 7 I can really tackle this for one! I am very happy to have found this post! Very excited. We have always been broke, and lived robbing peter to pay paul, but now starting in January, it will be far worse, as I have lost my job. So I am just all excited about this post! I am writing because I wanted to ask you if you have recipes for the salmon croquettes, and the lentil drop soup.
They sound good to me, but I have no idea how to make them. Hi again!
How This Mom Feeds A Family Of 7 On $300 A Month
Found your earlier comment about where to find the soup recipe! What recipe do you use for the banana muffin? You have inspired me to try to save money so we can help our daughter with college tuition. I drove an hour away today to ship at aldi so I could replicate your plan. I do have a few questions though. We did this as a 2 week plan to test it out so halved all the grocery items. For 2 weeks you have 3 dozen eggs.
Same question for the fruit. There should be bananas used for just plain eating for about 6 meals, plus bananas for muffins. How do you divvy these up? Oh my goodness, Heather! You are right! I totally botched the eggs! I just forgot to double the amount for the month. Not such a nice round number. I just bought 12 bananas yesterday and my receipt says 1.
How to Feed a Family of 4 or More for Less than $ a Month by Melissa "Liss" Burnell
Hmmm… I do tend to choose smaller bananas because I have small children. The potatoes: I use 2 cut up for roast chicken and 7 for baked potatoes. Does that come out right? Haha that makes much more sense! I came home and printed out a menu. I thought it was best to go straight to the source for my questions. The potatoes sound about right. Even with the numbers being slightly less round this meal plan has literally saved us! So, it get that the menu gets repeated for a whole 30 days worth. But do I double the grocery list?
Just the one list for the whole month. Although, it was pointed out to me recently that I forgot to double the amount of eggs needed. So you need double the eggs and that will increase your price a little. I rarely comment on these, but I have to say I am impressed. My first thought was that you probably bought a lot of processed food, and clearly you do not. I feed our family of 6 7 on weekends.
I thought I was doing pretty well there with my couponing. Try feeding people on a social worker salary, about twenty grand a year less than a teacher salary. I am so sick and tired of hearing about how poorly paid teachers are when there are whole categories of people with college degrees who make a LOT less money. Even adjunct faculty at the local state college barely make minimum wage while local elementary teachers are around 50K a year.
Probation officers are another group who are way more poorly paid than teachers and just as educated. And what about people who never got around to going to college or went to college but can only find steady work in fast food or poorly paid service industry jobs? Teacher salaries and benefits sound really good to them! I think the only people who get teary eyed over that are teachers and people who make six figures and feel guilty over it. We have two sets of twins; 3 and 5 who eat a lot??
I love your menu. I love Aldi. Everyone has great suggestions. We also keep chickens for eggs and I make much of our bread. I love your blog and thank you, the menu plan is terrific! It sounds great, but I have no idea how to make it. Do you use fresh or canned Salmon? I have to say this blog post and the related sites mentioned are a God send.
We like many hard working one income families with small children rely on SNAP benefits, and I know there is a lot of self shame in this, compounded by the small budget we have to work with. Thanks for sharing and giving me hope. We have a large family as well and many people ask us how we feed them all.
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I just say that oatmeal, brown rice, frozen veggies, and actual serving size portions of meat are not expensive. Even with that, our bill was ranging anywhere between , so this is a great savings! I truly appreciate this! You are totally helping me prove my point! Thanks for the ideas!! I always feel a bit crushed when I read posts like this and realize just how far out of our reach they are.
A 12 oz. We finally found GF tortellini the other day. I do my best to keep it as cheap as possible, but there is only so much you can do with food intolerances. The trick to cheap eating with food intolerances is………. Eat completely differently. Eat more cheap tolerated foods like beans, lentils, veggies for snacks, water, tea, etc. So I have been trying to find some good healthy foods and these sound amazing.
I love this. I have been all over the internet looking for sample meal plans, but most of them are things that sound great, but my children just will not eat. All of this is the types of foods we eat and things I actually can make! Thank you for such a wonderful post! I absolutely love this post. I am always looking for ways to cut back on food. Now i have three little girls not yet in school and i am a sahm. So we only have my husbands income. Now he works really hard and at the end of the day we dont always have enough to buy a lot of food.
We do have a large stock of beans and rice and canned veggies and fruit that we buy at the begining of the year that we dip into when times are even tighter than usual. So we make do and eat very simply and my girls dont know the difference. But thank you for some other ideas i hadnt even thought about. And I love it. I am literally going to copy what you did exactly! Thank you so much for this! I shop at aldi as well, and have never had this much luck!
Do you make your banana muffins from scratch? If so, how do you have time and what is your recipe? Do you buy the banana muffins already made or are the ingredients to make them from scratch in the list? Interesting Gail. Did you not read that my husband was recently unemployed? Have we met? I wrote a blog post about an affordable monthly menu for a large family. You know, they say whatever you judge is the thing you are most insecure about yourself. Best of wishes. This is great! We eat a lot of the same things around here. Unlike a meal plan, I usually try and buy only sale items and price match competitors at Wal-Mart.
Some of the things you listed I find cheaper as sale items It also adds variety to purchase whatever is on sale. Thank you for all of the tips! We are trying to get our grocery bill under control. I am excited to try your plan. This was a very interesting article. My one concern with your menu is the low protein content. I added up the protein in all the moderate to high protein foods I did not calculate the protein in, say, celery. Anyway, it amounts to just Of course this is assuming the food is divided equally seven ways.
If the younger kids are getting smaller portions they might not be getting enough protein. An adult woman needs around 46g and an adult man 56g. We use very inexpensive meats like chicken drumsticks and pork shoulders to up our protein without spending much. On a calorie a day diet an adult needs at least 44g of fat per day and can have a little over 70g if they would like. On a calorie diet at least 36g of fat are needed. Omg so awesome and such a blessing. Family of 6 here with a set of twins in the middle. Thanks so much for your time and dedication in sharing!
These are great suggestions. My biggest issue is we have a lot of food allergies. But definitely talking to my husband about a 14 day meal rotation. We are a single income family, 2 adults and 2 littles so I am always trying to cut back on things. My only question is, how do you keep everything fresh? I want so badly to not have to shop every single week. Thank you im advance!! I do shop every week. Rachael — I put my bread in the freezer or refrigerator to make it last longer! Hey there! Love what you have done. I know this was a while ago now that you posted this. But could I see or get your summer recipe to feed such a large family.
I currently am a family of 7 and could really benefit from your example. Thank you so much in ascance and good luck in the future with your beautiful family. How often do you go grocery shopping? Weekly or every two weeks? Produce is something we need to shop for on a bi-weekly basis. This post has been a big help to me. I used it last winter and came back to revisit it today while looking ahead to the fall menu change. I have 15 children, 10 still at home yrs and a neighbor lady who moved in with us last year who lost her job and apartment after an injury.
While everyone plans their meals differently, I do what is most feasible for me — a busy mom who also works full-time. As far as shopping around sales goes, that strategy works well for us. If strawberries are on sale, we eat strawberries. If our favorite meat substitutes are on sale, we stock up.
If pantry staples are on sale, we generally plan our meals around them.
Another way I simplify our meals is by cooking food with simple ingredients. As you browse this list, keep in mind that we have two kids, ages five and seven. However, my husband and I work out of our home, so we both eat lunch at home, too. Simmer it all together for an hour on medium heat, adding spices and more water as needed. I use a vegetable lasagna recipe similar to this one , except I wind up using whatever vegetables I have on hand. This time, I had eggplant, so I added it.
In the meantime, you can saute all your vegetables in a large pan with some olive oil. Once your ingredients are prepared, you can layer them however you want. I start with noodles on the bottom and then layer soy crumbles with sauce, vegetables, ricotta cheese, noodles, and so on. I also add salt and pepper within the lasagna and shredded mozzarella cheese between layers and on top.
Bake for an hour partially covered at degrees Fahrenheit. I create mini omelets, set them on buttered toast, and melt cheese on top. I serve whatever fruit we have on the side. When done, plop them on buttered toast and serve with fruit. When cooked, spaghetti squash shreds into long, thin strands that resemble — you guessed it — spaghetti. Directions : Take a spaghetti squash and cut it in half. Clean out the insides, then lay each piece of the squash face down on a flat pan. While the squash is cooking, make your own spaghetti sauce or use any kind from a jar.
Once your squash is done cooking, use paper towels or regular towels to suck up all the extra moisture.