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Feeding a Family Inexpensively

You can reduce your grocery bill by buying less prepared food, and being creative. This guide is about feeding a family inexpensively.


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6 found this helpful
July 1, 2010

When funds are low, I will buy a turkey or a couple of whole chickens. All I need are some veggies. I cook the chicken the first night and then take all of the meat I can off the bones and put in the fridge. Then I take all of the bones and put them in broth and start my base of onions, celery, and carrots. I put half of it in the freezer for later, the other half I make into soup. I can make dumplings, put in some noodles, or thicken it to make open faced sandwiches. Then I will take the leftovers from the first night and make a casserole or sandwiches, or take some taco seasoning and make tacos out of it. I will get 5 to 6 meals with leftovers. By the way, I have a family of 5 with one on the way and entertain often!


By Michele from IN

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July 2, 20100 found this helpful

Thanks for the tip. You are an amazing lady and a thrifty Mom. Best wishes.

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Read More Comments

November 20, 20160 found this helpful

A family unpacking groceries in the kitchen.

This is a guide about reducing the cost of feeding a family. Staying away from convenient packaged foods and choosing basic bulk foods can help you save money on family groceries.


November 20, 20160 found this helpful

A mother cooking dinner for her family.

This is a guide about feeding a family of four on $400 a month. Stay within your food budget and eat well by making delicious meals from scratch.


2 found this helpful
March 28, 2011

The portions we eat are too big most of the time, and our children's are also. We serve most things cut small, and say to come back for more, if you eat all the food from the first serving. We cut buns and keep them covered, so none of them go to waste. It's the polite way to show how to cut back, without making anyone feel bad.


By rain200 from Chilliwack BC, Canada

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

0 found this helpful
September 30, 2007

I am looking for a inexpensive way to feed my family of nine. Our ages range from my 69 year old mother to my 18 month old grand daughter. Any suggestions? Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Bekah from Millington, TN

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October 1, 20070 found this helpful
Best Answer

Are you looking for ideas, recipes, or both?

I'm sure you've realized that cooking from scratch is by far the cheapest solution. And that the good old standbys will be the frugalist of all: dishes containing pasta, rice, beans, etc. I especially like large recipes so we have left-overs for lunches the next day or so. Some of my favorites are:

1. Spaghetti--With plain tomato or meat sauce, or even with pesto. Another way I like to make it is with swiss chard or spinach sauteed in olive oil and garlic, and topped with parmesan cheese.

2. Beans--Pintos cooked and mashed into refried beans to be used in nachos, burritos, tostados, or a variety of mexican dishes. They can also be used cooked with ham and served with cornbread, in a vegetarian chili, to stretch meat chili, in several salads (some that can be served as main dishes), or the Internet has some great recipes for bean burgers that aren't too bad.

3. Rice is a great food stretcher. Stir frys work great, add to burritos for extra filling. I remember as a child eating sloppy joes that had rice in them in several places. Works great especially in casseroles, where you can double the recipe by adding more rice and not any more meat--think the rice-chicken-broccoli casserole here.

4. Think "dough." Chicken pot pie, chicken and dumplings (I also add veggies to make healthier), creamed tuna over biscuits, shepherd's pie, pizza, stromboli, etc. Let the kids or your mom help you knead dough for loaves of bread, rolls, buns, pizza shells, etc. My family will eat homemade bread rather than junk for snacks.

5. Do breakfast for dinner: Omlettes, fritatas, waffles, pancakes, biscuits and gravy, french taost, etc. Eggs have lots of protein and are cheap. One of my standbys is Texas hash --Scrambled eggs with a little diced ham, sauteed peppers and onions (add what ever else you have on hand, like zucchini or tomatoes) in a hogie roll, topped with cheese.

6. Potatoes make great meal extenders fried in olive oil, mashed with toppings over them, used in casseroles (ham and potato augratin to name one), or baked with several toppings for the main meal itself (cheese and broccoli, ham and cheddar, taco meat with cheese, lettuce, tomato and sour cream, chili, the possibilities are endless.

7. TVP (Texturized vegeteble protein) is often used as a meat extender. My family does not like plain TVP mixed in with meat dishes (everyone says you can't tell since it takes on the flavor of what it's mixed with, but that's simply not true). I can get away using the flavored TVP. I regularly use beef flavored (it's not really beef since it's used by vegetarians, but it's flavored especially well) . I reconstitute it and put some in soppy joes, chili, tacos, meatloaf, and other dishes to extend the meat that I'm using. It's cheap and works well.

8. Forget cold cereal for breakfast. Fix oatmeal, kasha, cream of rice, farina, or any other cooked cereal, cornbread, amke whol grain pancakes or waffles, or biscuits. They're healthier, will not leave them feeling hungry an hour later, and lots cheaper. I make a huge batch of waffles and freeze the for quick meals. You can do the same with pancakes, biscuits, cornbread, or breakfast burritos.

9. Waste nothing. I have a container in my freezer for leftovers, which makes the best pot of soup. All those tiny portions of leftover veggies, gravies, and meats go into it, along with the flavored water from veggies. Cook all bones for stock, and freeze if you are not going to use immediately. Juices from fruits, yogurt, jam, etc can be used for smoothies, popsicles, or in jello.

10. Never buy anything ready-made. Check the Internet for recipes for homemade Bisquick baking mixes, taco mixes, chili mixes, salad dressings, pumpkin pie spices, cleaning stuff, cream-of-whatever soup mixes, laundry detergent (soap really), puddings, etc.

11. Do NOT waste money on carbonated drinks. Get the family used to drinking water, iced tea, koolade (where you can control the amount of sugar), or small glasses of juice.

12. Shop at Aldis or Save-a-lot if you have them, if not, buy store brands, use coupons only if it's really the best buy on something you'll use or your stores double or triple them. Check out the marked downs, outlets and warehouses. Stockpile loss leaders. Use the Angel Food if it's available where you live.

I've found that having a garden is the biggest money saver one can have. Even if you live in an apartmant, grow in buckets on the baclony or patio. Kids love to help, and it's basically free food. If you have room, can and/or freeze to save even more. I've interplanted veggies in my flower beds. Looks neat and tastes great. Good luck. Understand that this is an on-going battle that changes, so be determined never to give up and flexible enough to change.

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October 2, 20070 found this helpful
Best Answer

Soups are wonderful winter fare. Make a big potful with a pan of cornbread. Wonderful.

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October 3, 20070 found this helpful
Best Answer

Do you have a food bank? Most states do. I go to a food pantry where I pay 35 cents for a lb of food. They don't limit it to people that are poor either. They encourage people who are not poor to pay 50 cents a lb and that helps with the people that can't afford it.

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October 2, 20070 found this helpful

How about hamburger and gravy, or with milk gravy on top of toast or bisquits.

No meat spanish rice, small amount of oil and add rice, heat and stir till rice changes colors some. add peppers (I use green or red and green), onions, all in large one inch pieces, when cooked some add water, stir, add some water then tomato products to keep from going dry. Cook till done. Don't let burn. Add salt and pepper.

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October 3, 20070 found this helpful

There is a site called hillbilly housewife. She has some really great ideas and recipes. I've used this site many times since I found it 2 yrs. ago.

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October 3, 20070 found this helpful

Look up Hillbillyhouse This is an awesome site that even has recipes and ideas for a healthy diet. The site covers everything you need to know about eating cheaply in the kitchen there is even an emergency food plan listed (you have to dig for it) in case you have less than a normal amount of money to spend on groceries. A simple way to get started in buying ahead is buy your normal amount plus one or two things. That will not break the budget too much then after awhile you can have a lot of food set aside. Try angel food ministries or share if they are in you area. They each have there own website. We use angel food ministries and have been very happy. They sell you food in units about 25.00 will give you food for 4 people for a week. We have 6 in our family and we buy 4 units a month and some of the meat packs. Good luck it can be done. Fall in love with cooking from scratch, bulk cooking, and most importantly, divide the labor. cooking cheap does take time, but it is so worth it


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November 2, 20070 found this helpful

If you haven't yet, check out the trial for the grocery game (you can google it, it should pop right up). Our grocery bill for a family of 5 (7, 8, 9, 28 and 29yo) went from $600 a month to just under $300, and we have WAY more food in the house. No more running out at the end of the month.

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0 found this helpful
June 10, 2010

I am looking for cheap recipes that will feed a family of 5. Thanks.

By Angie from Searcy, AR

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June 13, 20100 found this helpful
Best Answer

I that think one of the most important things to save money is to make sure that all (or at least most!) of your family enjoy the recipes you are using. This will cut down so much on waste food which is after all wasted money.

So, sit your gang down and find out what they like, don't mind or absolutely hate then use this as your guide to look on thriftyfun which has a load of recipes for most things. The copycat recipes are especially great when on a budget.

If I had to choose one thing though it would be basic spaghetti sauce/chilli made with ground beef so it doesn't have any hard bits in it!

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June 10, 20100 found this helpful

I don't have recipes for these meals but they are economical. Chili, I use as many cans of beans as needed to make a large enough batch for the number of people I will be serving. Beef stew is economical. Goulash any way that is what we call it. I use hamburger(ground beef) in all of these foods. I never use a pound, usually limiting it to 1/2 to 3/4 lb. Then for the stew I add onion, celery, carrots, and potatoes and whatever seasonings you desire. The goulash is the same, I use hamburger, pasta of your choice and you can use as much as needed to stretch the meal. I always add a can of corn and a can of diced tomatos and tomato soup. Some people subsitute cream of celery or cream of mushroom soup, but we prefer the tomato soup. Basically for these recipes, which I learned from my Mother and it is toss some of this and some of that in the pan.

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June 13, 20100 found this helpful

One large skillet Dinner

Brown hamburger (About 1 to 1-1/2 lbs)

add one chopped onion & let brown with hamburger.

Drain any excess grease.

Add 1 can stewed cut tomatoes

1 can Rotel

1 can nacho or chedder cheese soup (or Cheese whiz)

blend together.

Add 1 small head chopped cabbage. simmer until cabbage is tender.

Serve with hot cornbread.

Orange Salad

2 pkgs. sugar free orange Jello (small boxes)

1 small can Mandarin oranges, cut in halves

1 can crushed pinapple - drained (15-20 oz.)

1 container cottage cheese (16 oz.)

1 container Cool Whip (8 oz.)

Mix and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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June 13, 20100 found this helpful

How about meat loaf

l lb. each ground beef and ground turkey

l cup oatmeal (use more to "stretch" it further)

l finely chopped onion

l egg

l small can tomato sauce

salt and pepper to taste

Mix all together and form into a loaf. Bake on top of broiler pan so that the fat drips into pan below. Or you can use a loaf pan. Bake at 350 for one hour. If there is any left over, it can be used for sandwiches the next day. Serve with potatoes or rice, salad or green vegetable. Enjoy!

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June 14, 20100 found this helpful

This website has an entire "under $10" section in the sidebar. found some great ones here: http://feastont just listed recipes for under $1 per serving

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January 17, 20110 found this helpful

This version of "spaetzels" (dumplings or homemade noodles) is easy and very cheap and filling, although it isn't really that nutritious. I use white/wheat flour to make it a little more nutritious. Put a few spoonfuls of flour (1/4 cupish) in a dish, and make a well in the middle of the flour. Add water slowly and mix from the inside out, so that you gradually form a flour/water dough. Roll into a cigar shape, and cut small pieces into a pot full of boiling chicken stock, soup, or water. When they float to the top they're done. They're good in soup, or with some salt and pepper. For a variation, add some onion powder to the flour. As I said, they're cheap, but tasty and filling. I think they end up costing 5 cents a serving, and that's if you use expensive flour.

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