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How Can We Stretch Our Food Budget?

Hello, I am the mother of three teenagers, well one of them is only twelve, but my oldest, at only 16 is 6'5 and 230 lbs, and his dad is just as big. My problem is, although we both work, we have a very tight food budget, and I just can't seem to make it to the next payday with our food supplies. I want to cook healthy, I do frozen burritos from time to time, but that just doesn't do it. Any ideas how I can better stretch our food budget while not feeding them junk?

Thank You,

Tina

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January 16, 20050 found this helpful

Tina, do you have an Aldi store nearby? You have to bag your food there and it is unfancy, but you can get so much there for your money. They have a new health food line also. I have two teenage boys and just shopping there has cut my food bill tremendously. Good luck to you!

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January 16, 20050 found this helpful

I shop at Costco for bread, meat, milk, eggs and cheese. Super Walmart for most other things. I think one of my biggest money savers is serving smaller portions of meat. I am able to use less by cooking casseroles, rollups, etc. I also shop alot of the BOGOs and try to use coupons for those items. I am a stay at home mom with 4 children and my 14 year old is 6feet and 180 and does not seem to have finished his growth spurt yet so I have to really get alot of food for as little money as possible. Also, water or milk is all we have to drink at meals. I've heard that Aldi's is a great place to shop too.

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January 16, 20050 found this helpful

Cook from scratch! Buy whole chickens on sale, bags of potatoes, fresh fruit on sale and in season. Avoid buying soda and junk food-empty calories devoid of nutrition. If your kids want them, let them spend their own money on them. Serve oatmeal or eggs for breakfast, rather than expensive cold cereal. Mix regular milk with powdered milk, diluted. If you serve it cold and don't tell them, they'll never know! Find bakery and grocery outlets in your area. Avoid frozen entrees and vegies in sauces. Buy frozen vegies plain and season as you like. Fruit is a fine dessert. Make baked apples. Make soup from scratch in a huge batch and freeze some of it. Serve with fresh bread, rolls or homemade muffins and that's a meal. Think ahead, be flexible enough when you shop to buy any bargain/sale things you see IF and only IF you can use it. It isn't a bargain if you can't use it or it will spoil!

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January 16, 20050 found this helpful

Look for a scratch and dent store. Lots of bargins there, for instance bottled liter water for 39¢, veggies 5/$1. A dented can doesn't matter unless there is rust. Also, the dollar stores and flea markets are other sources.

I make lots of healthy casseroles with recipies I get online. Try Weight Watchers, and any of the magazine sites.

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January 16, 20050 found this helpful

one of my all time fav's is beef and noodles or chicken and noodles. i usually cut a roast in half for beef and noodles add a couple of pakages of frozen noodles and make homemade mashed potatoes with chicken and noodles it only take 2 or 3 pieces of chicken . my son could match his dad in eating as a teenager so i learned to make cheap meals that would go far and were filling. also porcupine meatballs are good too just take some hamburger and add instant rice(uncooked)roll into meatballs place in pan add 1 can tomatoe juice and cook till brown once again we usually had homemade mashed potatoes to the meal because they are cheap to make and filling

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January 16, 20050 found this helpful

There is a website and email group called Frozen Assets that's about cooking more than you need for a meal and putting the extra in the freezer. Then you can buy in bulk and save a lot of money. Many on the list cook just once or twice a month. I don't do that, but the ideas are really good and they list meals that freeze really well. It works even if you have just the freezer on the top of your fridge.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/frozen-assets/

coolchinchilla

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January 16, 20050 found this helpful

The biggest money saver in my opinion is planning ahead. Make a menu of healthy meals made with fresh unprocessed inexpensive foods before you go to the store. The once a month cooking ideas are great. Make homemade meatballs, use 2-3 lbs of hamburger +/or sausage and freeze what you don't use. Find spaghetti sauce on sale. This is a quick inexpensive meal.

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January 16, 20050 found this helpful

I check the local store flyers and make a list as to what are the best deals where, and I buy all of my staples at the Aldi's store nearby. They are very cheap (ex: canned soups are like 39 cents, their ground beef is @ $1.89/lb). Go to aldis.com to see if there is a store in your area.

I also try to make a weekly menu before I go shopping, as this cuts out on having to make a store run for missing ingredients, or ordering out.

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January 17, 20050 found this helpful

All the above Ideas are terrific. Here is My check list.

1. Make Pantry and Freezer Inventory

2. Make Fridge Inventory

3 Put magnetic Shopping list on fridge so when we are out of Item I can see to replenish

4. Stock up your pantries when stuff is on sale. My Local Shaws has 10 for $10.00 Items in every Flier.. I use this combined with the $5.00 and $10.00 Cupons they send me for each week of the month(Got this by going on their website and signing up for the rewards card) and Other coupns. I managed to stock up on at least 10 of each of my pantry staples in the last month alone while the entire grocery list was at least half the regular register price.

5. Clip Cupons

6. Get a good Recipe software program. Mine stores my recipes, Has a grocery list with prices that I update once a month, and makes a meal plan.

7. DO NOT BRING KIDS TO THE GROCERY STORE.(Grin I have found ways to get a stitter on grocery day, Even if you have to pay the sitter its usually cheaper than the guilt of saying no to the lil ones gimmes)

I hope this helps!

Honeydoya

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January 17, 20050 found this helpful

Acquiring meat is the main sore in my budget. I have a cow sitting outside that is waiting to go to the abatoir's and in the meantime, my freezer is quite low and boring. The fact that I have to now buy meat, literally doubles my grocery bill. Ugh! I find that scavenging the flyers after the holidays will net you some good deals. I just found a whole shank of pork for $1/lb. I bought a 22lb. chunk and cooked it up and divided it into meal portions and froze it, then went back to the store and got another one! I've been thinking of buying a whole pig from the butcher, but he charges $2.10/lb. This certainly was a better deal and if the budget could have stood it, I would have bought 4 of them and had a whole pig practically for $1/lb.!

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January 17, 20050 found this helpful

Noodles, and rice! Potatoes are always cheap!...my kids are happy with a bologna sandwich and soup...I usually have one night a week where I prepare a really nice dinner and one or two nights I take the easy route with soup and sandwiches or spaghetti. I shop the stores for the loss leaders on the front page and my girls have an understanding that if we stick to shopping just from the list, on the way home we can stop by the dollar store and they can each pick out one thing. There are also coupon sites online where you can print your own coupons.

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January 17, 20050 found this helpful

Try speaking with some older women who survived the rationings during WWII. They had to feed their large families on what they had alone and grew their own vegetables, as well as stretched meals by putting chili over rice/pasta, etc.

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January 17, 20050 found this helpful

Learn to make your own soups,pancakes,mashed potatoes, hamburger helpers from scratch,delute dishwashing soaps,shampoo, and try not to use too many already prepared foods. Stock up on vegetables and fruits. Make casseroles using less meat than giving a portioned piece to each person. Drink a glass of water before meals and leave the table when the meal is over. Eat only when you are hungry.

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January 18, 20050 found this helpful

If you have a yard, try planting a vegetable garden during the growing season. I grow tomatoes, peas, beans, corn, and cucumbers in a pretty small garden space. The tomatoes are canned into spagetti sauce, chili seasoning, salsa, etc, the cucumbers are made into pickles, and all the rest are frozen. Never have to buy vegetables at the store, unless it is something that I need that I didn't grow that year. If you have only a little space, tomatoes and cucumbers can be grown successfully in pots, and still produce a large crop, if you water and fertilze them regularly. Gardening can be done frugally, without having to spend a lot on supplies. Do a Google search on "frugal vegetable gardening" for tips.

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January 18, 20050 found this helpful

Lately I've been walking through the past when it comes to feeding my family. I remember there were NO cookies and chips in our house most of the time. If you wanted a snack, you ate bread and butter, or an apple, or a carrot. If you wanted more food at the table, you could have a reasonable sized secong helping, but then, if you wanted more meat, you also had to take more vegetables, too, so we didn't end up with a bunch of vegetables to throw out and everyone arguing over who gets the last piece of meatloaf.

I can't afford store-bought cookies now so I bake once or twice a week. I make brownie-bites in mini-muffin papers. When I made them without papers, 5 dozen would disappear in hours. My family sticks to two or three when they have to work to eat them. Then they are a snack, not a meal! I also bake 5 dozen cookies at a time using a cake mix on sale (usually for $1 or so.

We're also a family that doesn't really care to use food as entertainment. By that, I mean, since I don't like to cook and we all like different things, I don't try to make "new and exciting" meals. I rotate pretty much the same meals throughout the month. Burgers one night, spaghetti another, shepherd's pie another, etc. Next week it begins again. I change the menu more due to season than desire because what's on sale changes with the seasons.

We should remember that people in other countries live on a couple of cups of rice and mostly fruit and veggies with a little meat or dairy. The USDA daily requirements are bloated and untrue (I used to work for them...) and no one needs as much food as they say.

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January 19, 20050 found this helpful

Tina: Use more beans and eggs. Since protein in the form of meat is the most expensive part of most food budgets, you can do yourself a huge favor by adding one or two no-meat or less-meat meals per week. Some ideas would be "breakfast for dinner" which is what we have when the pantry is bare. I make omelets with leftover ham and cheese, serve with whole-grain toast and fruit salad or fruit cocktail. You can add a good helping of beans to casseroles or chili or taco meat. Or even serve "rice & beans" by itself (use google to find a good recipe) or make soup using pasta and beans. Canned beans are cheap and good, and if you have the time, using dried beans is even cheaper! (Peanut butter is also a good source of cheap protein.)

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January 20, 20050 found this helpful

Everyone has great ideas! Another thing is that for meat, try to buy the Jenny-O ground turkey and chicken. You can get 1 pound tubes of it in the freezer section of the store, and depending on the store, it's only $1.29 - 1.59. I stock up on these for chili, pasta, burgers, casseroles, you name it. If you really like the texture of beef, you can try to buy it in bulk when it goes on a good sale, split it into several small packs, and then mix a pack of that with the ground turkey. We've also found in my house that whole wheat pasta, while a little more expensive, goes much farther than regular pasta. It makes you feel fuller with a smaller helping, and is quite a bit healthier than plain pasta since it is 'good carbs' that don't burn off as quickly.

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January 21, 20050 found this helpful

I think that the best ideas are to make a menu. I have a template that I print out and write in the meals then on a separate paper, I write what I'll need to get for those meals. I divide the list of items into categories such as "meat", "dairy", "canned goods", "vegetables", etc.. This really helps when I navigate the stores. Also, someone mentioned going to a "dent" store. DO. Go there FIRST. Pick up everything you can get there (they don't always have everything) and I find they're the perfect place to buy not only canned goods but cereal, snacks and cheese. Then go to your grocery store and buy the remainder of your items. Also, when I buy meat, such as a roast, I always buy a large one, cut it in half and put one half in the freezer. If you make a regular flavored roast, use the leftovers to make BBQ beef sandwiches. I put the leftover meat in my crockpot, some "dent store" BBQ sauce and let it simmer on all day. Or do the same thing and make shredded beef tacos - except add some beef broth, onions, cumin, garlic, oregano and maybe some chili powder. Try buying boneless pork and put that in the crockpot with a can of green salsa, onion and a cup of chicken broth. Serve it over rice with some tortillas on the side. YUM! A couple of times a month I make a quiche. This enables me to use odds and ends of fresh veggies, ends of cheese, small bits of meat and use them up. On homemade pizzas I use my homemade meat sauce and then pile the pizza high with cheese and veggies instead of costly meat. Hope this helps! Good luck. This is pretty easy stuff. And I found that putting it into practice was easier than I imagined.

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January 24, 20050 found this helpful

Tina,

Go to http://www.angelfoodministries.com. Perhaps you can find a host church close by. This organization sells boxes of food for $25 each month. The Feb. menu looks great. Hope this helps

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February 16, 20050 found this helpful

My dad went to a discount restaurant supply store- they have the bases for making sauces that come in a small tub *think like butter pot sized* and the mix was very inexpensive. They last forever and have multi uses.

The french onion mix, beef base and chicken base are good starters.

We use them for sauces and serve them with pasta. It never gets boring because you are constantly changing the spices and veggies.

If you find these bases, they are anywhere from $5-8.00 and last 6 mos. or more, depending how often you use them.

I'll come up with our general recipe list if you find the bases and would like to try them.

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September 26, 20060 found this helpful

@ Put sliced bread, butter/margerine and jam/peanut butter/syrup/whatever spreads on the table in addition to anything else. A minister who spent years doing missionary work, once told me that, at the stage when the five - I think! - sons in the family were teenagers, they had a loaf of bread on the table for each son at the beginning of every meal, in addition to the cooked menu!

@ In my family, we have done away with having treats in the kitchen all the time. Not only for financial reasons, but also for reasons of TEMPTATION! Now we have "Saturday Sweets", something bought to be shared on a Saturday night.

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April 26, 20080 found this helpful

Most good ideas already given--teach the boys to cook and be responsible, OAMC cooking and get another freezer, BUY IN BULK, cook from scratch, one or more people in the family should work for a rest. or food warehouse so you can get freebies or reduced cost, PLANT A GARDEN, ANGEL FOOD MINISTRIES, share bulk food with another family and also share cooking responsibilities, PLAN ALL MEALS, stretch with homemade bread and biscuits.

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May 28, 20080 found this helpful

Plant a vegetable garden! This will make fresh healthy greens cheap and readily available when ever you want. Grab some peas for a snack! Add fresh tomatoes to a hamburger.

Produce prices are out of this world, grow your own!

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November 15, 20080 found this helpful

You know, healthy bread is so expensive, like 4 or 5 dollars a loaf. Outrageous! so, I did some research on yeast and breadmaking. I then bought a 25 pound bag of white flour and large size yeast from costco, costed around 12 bucks. for a lighter texture, I mix white flour with the good King Arthur brand whole wheat flour. You can also add wheat germ, wheat berries, oatmeal, or sunflowerseeds, whatever you like. It has taken a few tries to learn how to make a good loaf but it is well worth the effort. If the kids are available let them knead the dough, that's the hard part! Once you master the ways of yeast you will want to make cinnamon rolls every weekend! Now I am trying to master handmade tortillas! give it a try It will save alot of money and it is so much better for you! homemade artisian breads also make great gifts!

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November 15, 20080 found this helpful

Try this website thegrocerygame.com It is a website that you sign up for and pay a monthly fee. It tells you what coupons to use for the week and you save a lot of money. I save at least 30 to 50 percent every week on my grocery bill. The trick is to stock up on the things that go on sale. It is worth the fee and I think you can try it out for free for a month.

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May 3, 20130 found this helpful

We don't have a 'scratch-and-dent' store, but many stores here do have clearance racks. Items that aren't selling well get marked down and sent there. Try checking those out.

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November 12, 20130 found this helpful

As one of the other readers suggested, serve water(or decaf tea/coffee) to drink with meals instead of milk or soda. Despite what the dairy industry is pushing, humans over the age of 2 or so do not need to drink milk. It is not actually a very healthy choice; it is mostly carbohydrates & contains cholesterol. I buy milk only when I know that I will need it as an ingredient for cooking. Plan your weekly menus before going grocery shopping. Some people find it helpful to set aside an entire day (such as Saturday or Sunday) for cooking a week's worth of food, then freezing/refrigerating it.

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