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Keeping Food Budget Down for Large Family

I would like any info on getting my food bill down to $20.00 a day for 2 adults and 4 kids 13,10,5,3. Is it possible? We will be adopting 2 or 3 more kids (they will be placed with us within 4 months). I need help keeping my food budget down. My husband needs meat. He's in construction. I can get away with maybe 1 meal a week no meat. Thanks.


Tammy from Phelan, CA

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By (Guest Post)
September 23, 20080 found this helpful

I was wondering if you ad any luck finding anything because I am in the same boat we have 4 growing children.

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By Guest (Guest Post)
September 23, 20080 found this helpful

I try to make the meat stretch as far as possible. If I make something with meat, the meat is not the main part of the meal. For example, we try to make soups with meat (Minestrone, Tortellini Soup with chicken, etc.). If you serve bread on the side it can be quite filling.

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September 23, 20080 found this helpful

I was a stay to home mom when our 5 kids were small. 2 evening meals a week were hotdogs and french fries. 1 evening meal a week was breakfast ( lots of pancakes)

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September 23, 20080 found this helpful

Wow, there are so many ways to cut the food budget but I'm not sure it would come to $20.00/day.


You can have a garden even if it's only a few veggies. Kids also eat veggies better if they have a hand in growing them.

Shop the sales. You can buy in bulk and store it.

Cooking from scratch as opposed to packaged foods is a huge savings.

Buy less tender cuts of meat and use a pressure cooker.

Scan the internet for recipes that don't call for stuff you'll only use for that one recipe.

Don't use or buy cold cereal. Cooked oatmeal is much better for you and much, much cheaper. We don't use sugar in ours but do use raisins and this sweetens it.

Have "leftover night" and set it out like a buffet. My boys loved that cause they got to have what they wanted...even though it was what I had already served. No leftovers to go bad.

Save even a tablespoon of vegetables in a plastic bag in the freezer. When the bag gets full make soup.

Use coupons and try to combine with sales.


Another way to waste less is to give your children small plates instead of large dinner plates. They can eat as much as they want but don't feel compelled to fill up all that space with food they won't eat. Encourage them to take small amounts and come back for seconds if they really want it.

Saving money when buying food can take some time and planning but it's worth it and really fun when you sit down for a meal and realize how well you're feeding your family and for how little.

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September 23, 20080 found this helpful

Also, check out LivingOnADime. com and Both are full of great info.

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By millard_crystal (Guest Post)
September 23, 20080 found this helpful

You should see if Angel Food Ministries is in your area. They offer food packages that will feed a family of four for a week or a senior citizen for a month. There are no income guidelines ( or religious affiliation required)and you can buy as many boxes as you want. It is all good food-no off the wall generics-and is $30 a box. There are usualy other packages available that are all meat or veggies that you can buy in addition. They accept food stamps as well.


You can see the menu online at their website (or .org I can never remember..) it will also allow you to find a local contact and pick up location. You can only pick up your goods one Saturday a month and you have to pay a couple days before the pick up day. You can call the contact person listed for more details. I don't know where else you can buy more than 7 meals( or more depending on how you use the items) + a dessert item, and canned milk and eggs for $30!

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September 23, 20080 found this helpful

Go to Krogers and search for their discounted meat.
(I did a post on this on my blog:
Where's the Beef)
If you have an Aldi's near you check them out.
We just had breakfast tonight for dinner.


Make "big pot meals" spaghetti, soup, chili mac, etc. where it looks like there is more meat than there actually is.
Cheese quesadillas is a family favorite. (My blog post today actually)
We have soup night here.
Macaroni and cheese CAN be an entree.
Tell your kids to eat at their friends' houses - just kidding.
Pray - Not Kidding.
I wish you luck. I know you can do it!

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By TJ (Guest Post)
September 23, 20080 found this helpful

Hi, has a great program that lets you order a $30 box of healthy, balanced food - retail value of approx. $60. And there is meat : ) They offer additional food packages to supplement. The site says it feeds a family of 4 for a week however many creative people can stretch it a lot further. Hope it helps!

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September 23, 20080 found this helpful

All these ideas are great!

Whenever a recipe - especially for a one-pot meal - calls for meat, use half the amount shown. If it is appropriate substitute inexpensive beans for the missing meat. Still filling and more healthy!


When planning meals, sit down with your local grocery fliers or internet website and base your meals on whatever is on sale.

Serve healthy "snacketizers" like fresh fruit or an inexpensive salad as a first course so everyone fills up on those and you'll likely have leftovers. Also serve veggies, beans, and/or rice for inexpensive, filling side items.

Buy frozen bread loaves and bake those instead of buying bakery loaves.

Family size or bulk packages aren't always the best deal. Keep a calculator handy when you shop so you can figure the price per pound/unit/whatever as you consider what to buy.

Shop your local farmers markets for bargains. If you live near a larger college or university that has an animal science program, see if they have a store where they sell meat. I live near one and am on their e-mail list so I always know what's on sale.

Ground turkey is usually less expensive than ground beef and much healthier. If you just have to have red meat mix it half-and-half with the turkey.

Shop at ALDI for staples. In my experience sugar is sugar, butter is butter, etc.

It's a very small thing, but consider buying reusable grocery bags. You can pick them up for 99 cents at most stores and they give you a rebate of 5 cents per bag whenever you bring them back when you shop.

Buy hunks of cheese and shred your own. Use powdered milk instead of fresh milk, especially when cooking.

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By Michelle (Guest Post)
September 23, 20080 found this helpful

The website has recipes that correspond to the food in the Angel Food Ministries box. Both are great resources, you should check them out.

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September 23, 20080 found this helpful

I was just looking at the angelfood ministries site. That seems like a good bet for you since it has meat. Shopping for discount meat (I priced out the menu) and even with coupons it would be hard to beat what is in the $30 box.

You people are so savings smart! I feel right at home here!

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September 23, 20080 found this helpful

I'm not answering your question of how you can reduce your food bill. I just feel I have to vent, and tell it like it is.

I read an article on the internet which said that Americans are so obsessed with meat. A family can get as much protein from vegetable sources as they can from eating meat.

Excessive meat consumption can do more harm than good. No wonder why we have such an obesity problem, and children are now having serious medical problems at such a young age. Who ever heard of a child being diagnosed with high blood pressure or high cholesterol, etc. And I don't believe that the child's high blood pressure or high cholesterol are all inherited traits, I believe a lot of it originates from poor food choices.

It's a shame that many young mothers can't find the time to prepare healthy meals for her children. She finds it easier to drive them to a fast food restaurant such as McDonald's or Burger King and have them eat hamburgers, French fries and drink a large soda laden with sugar. Which will eventually lead to diabetes.

We have to all get a handle on this obesity problem, before it kills us.

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September 24, 20080 found this helpful

This is something that I have done which I did NOT think was cool but...we are big meat eaters and as you know it is expensive...although in my part of the nation being a vegetarian would be just as expensive if not more so...check out your local supermarket's clearance section(I know I felt that way too) however, I am a prissy eater, and I have found that if I pick through that section and find the freshest deals, some of which are not even past the sell by date, I save between 20 to 50 percent. If I cook it up that night or the next day it is fine and if I want to cook it up and freeze it it will last for months!! It is a lot healthier than TV dinners and I can say that I am not the only person who has picked up on this because I usually have a line of at least two people behind me trying to get a slice!! Good Luck!!

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September 24, 20080 found this helpful

Buying in bulk is always a great idea. As much as I hate to say shop at Wal-mart, I will let you know that they have a great deal on meat near expiration date. I was told that people come every morning just to get these deal at almost 50% off. They buy it up, freeze it and eat like kings on a small budget. I get them for my husband all the time and he never knows the difference from regular meat grocers.

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By shellbelle (Guest Post)
September 25, 20080 found this helpful

First of all God Bless You and your Family! That is so generous to be adopoting kids. Some day I want to adopt too.

My husband is a meat eater too b/c he works hard outdoors and needs it. A great book is ''Nourishing Traditions''. Some of the recipes are alittle too complicated but they have big,healthy recipes from scratch that you can freeze.

I add canned great northern and cannelli beans to taco meat to stretch 1 lb of hamburger into 2.

Toast stale bread and food prossessor it to make bread crumbs. Freeze the crumbs and use to coat chicken etc.. and add to hamburger patties.

Also if you can afford it buy and energy star freezer. We bought an old on at a garage sale and it cost more then we bought it for to run, so we wound up buying a new one anyway. Buy produce and meat on sale and in season to freeze. Grapes even freeze good. Get a book on home freezing from the library.

I hope this helps. I'm trying to feed 4 on 75$ a week and it just doesn't work sometimes with the prices jumping.

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By Ellie (Guest Post)
September 25, 20080 found this helpful

Here are a few suggestions from when my family was younger, and we were- owing to circumstances.. very, very poor.
Egg's in a nest/ Take large potatoes, as many as required for the number of people. Wash, but leave skins on.Bake in oven till soft.Remove, cool a little, scoop out inside of each potato, replace with a raw (shelled) egg, put back in overn till egg is set. Don't waste the scopped out potato.
Toad in the hole . Sausages, cook them through, then cut them up and place in pie dish, cover the top with a savoury batter.
This one is delicious, hearty and only 4 ingredients, potatoes, onione, bacon, white sauce. Cut up large potoates, onions, bacon, place in greased casserole dish, cover with a good amount of white sauce, Cook till ingredients are tender.
Good old meat loaf of course which you can extend with grated vegies, and an egg for extra protein.
My kids also loved what they called ;Fake Chinese Dinner' Some mince steak, as much or as little as you can afford, half a cabbage, shredded, grated carrot, a packet of chicken noodle soup, and rice. Combine all ingredients in a large pot, add water as needed, and cook away.
Hope these help.

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September 25, 20080 found this helpful

Social security doesn't go far, so I have found ways to stretch my budget. I'm still in the red, but at least we are fed! Add a salad or some type of veggie to any of these things I'm writing and you have nutrition at a lower grocery bill.
Hash is a great way to stretch any meat. I make hash with a little bit of bacon (if you look for the packages of 'end pieces' you can get as much as 4 pounds for about $2.00), lots of shredded potatoes, some onion, bell peppers if I have them and sometimes top with shredded cheese. Hot dogs, potatoes & onions--chopped hot dogs & onions with grated potatoes, salt & pepper. I also sometimes add carrots to it. Left-over beef, Spam, chicken or pork can become hash quite easily. Season hash with whatever you think will go best with the type of meat you are using.
SOS is also very versatile. I cream tuna, chicken, beef, sausage, bacon, just about anything and put it on toast, biscuits, baked potatoes or even noodles.
Stir fry is another meat stretcher. Use whatever meat you like and stir fry it with teriyaki or soy sauce and lots of stir fry veggies. Put it over rice and it really goes far. It doesn't take much meat for this because the flavor comes mostly from the teriyaki sauce.
If you do get the bacon ends, there are lots of soups they can be added to. Potato soup, split pea soup or beans are terrific with bacon added.
Noodles, rice, cous cous, potatoes or barley are all great meat stretchers. It may sound a little weird, but it really tastes good, try a refried bean sandwich. I put a little mayo on my bread, spread some refried beans on and add a tomato slice, onions and lettuce. It's not much different than a burrito, but we eat it cold. Another good sandwich is to toast 2 slices of bread, put some mayo (NOT SANDWICH SPREAD) on the toast and add sliced pineapple.
One more thing!! If you can find a cookbook written during the depression or WW2, grab it up and use it. I have one from the Berlin airlift written by ladies who were in Berlin. It gives a lot of great hints for saving money. Those ladies had to make do with whatever was available, so they were very creative. Good luck with your expanded family.

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September 25, 20080 found this helpful

I am the mother of seven and I spend a hundred dollars a week on groceries. We have meat five times a week. I am big into coupons. I went to the store today and my total was $98.12 after coupons, I paid $ 12.03.

I ask people I know for the coupons they arent going to use and I belong to several free coupon groups on yahoo. I also email companies about the products I use and they send me coupons. Yes, It takes time to sort and time to shop, but it is a game for me.

Milk and butcher meat are the two things I do not have coupons for, so I shop smart. I do not look at the price per pound on meat, but the price for the servings I need. I also talk to all the butchers at our three grocery stores and they have helped me alot. One store reduces their meat on Friday mornings on items that have not sold that week. I got 8 t-bone steaks for 8.00 a few weeks back. One store had spiral cut ham for .79 cent s a pound. Linit of two. I was buying two hams a day every day for a week. The most I paid was 3.74 a ham.

Yes, I buy all of the lost leaders each week and I have a huge pantry for it. Cereal here has been 88 cents a box for general mills and I have dollar off coupons, so they are free. My husband thinks I am crazy at times. He just shakes his head when one of the kids told him we had 63 boxes of cereal in the pantry.

I emailed Hiland Diary here a few months back when milk hit the 3.25 a gallon mark. I explained that I loved their products, but was going to have to start buying a cheaper brand. They sent me coupons for 6 free gallons of milk and 4 free quarts of ice cream. I was thrilled.

I also belong to several freebie sites and I sign up for every free sample I can find on the internet. I have not had to buy shampoo, toothpaste, or razors in years.

I grow my own herbs and I buy produce at farmers markets here. Friends also give us their extra vegtables from their gardens. I in turn make them deleious desserts and bakery items as thank yous.

We are lucky. My husband makes a good living and I am retired now. But, I hate spending money on food. It is fun to see how much I can get for the least amount of money. It is cheap entertainment. It gives me pride when one of my kids tells their friends parents that THEIR mom once bought 113 items at the store and she paid $2.48 for all of it. I carry the receipt in my wallet, as proof.

You have to have space and a freezer to buy all the bargins when they are on sale. You also have to be aware of how much you will use before the expiration date. Remember when Peter Pan was trying to make a comeback from their recall? Peter Pan was on sale here for .69 a jar. I knew we went through 2 jars a week, so I bought 114 jars. If I bought Peter Pan now at 2.49 a jar, it would cost me $284.39. I paid $78.66. I saved $205.73!!! It is worth it.


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September 26, 20080 found this helpful

Thanks everyone for your help.I'm going to hit the websites you suggested. Have a great weekend. Tammy in Phelan,Ca

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September 27, 20080 found this helpful

My grandma used to make "eggy soup" for lunch for all the grandkids (8 kids) for under $1! It was 4 packages of chicken Ramon noodle soup and 4 eggs (whisked). Boil recommended amount of water, add noodles. Cook for 2 minutes, add eggs, cook for additional minute. Add package of spices. Done.

Super easy, fast, and CHEAP! I am 28 years old and still make this easy meal for myself.

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September 27, 20080 found this helpful

Take a walk through your local farmer's market and see how the prices compare to the grocery store- you might find that it's a lot cheaper! In my farmer's market (during this season) I've gotten broccoli, tomatoes, and peaches for 1.00 per pound- huge bunches of beets, carrots, and onions for 1.00 regardless of weight.

When fruits like apples are in season growers will sell the excess for very low prices, in bulk. Today I saw shopping bags stuffed with apples selling for around 3 to 4 dollars. You'll see more bruises and imperfections than at the grocery store, but those are easily sliced off if you're cooking with them. Plus, everything you're getting is much fresher than at the store, and you're supporting your local economy!

I agree with those who say you can replace some of your husband's meat with beans. I did this to my dad when he was diagnosed with high cholesterol, he's also a meat-and-potatoes person, and he had no idea! For example, when you make burgers take some of the meat out and replace it with mashed beans, or add beans to taco meat, stews, etc. Then you'll have meat left over to use in another meal.

I buy bags of dried beans and soak them overnight. One average-sized bag of beans usually costs 1-2 dollars, and when soaked will produce the same amount of beans as you'd get from multiple cans, so you've saving a few dollars per bag of dried beans.

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September 30, 20080 found this helpful

I know how it is, I was a stay at home mom with 3 kids and we survived on one paycheck. Here are a few of my hints.

Fry some potatoes add sausage (whatever you have) when they are browned then scramble eggs and add to it. Let it all cook until the eggs are done and add cheese (not required) serve this with toast. It it a good filling meal and you can use whatever you have on hand to make it.

Also, tater-tot casserole is good. Brown some hamburger, drain and add cream of mushroom soup (I use store brand), salt and pepper. Let simmer together. Meanwhile, place tater tots in the bottom of a baking dish, add hamburger mix to cover the tater tots and put into oven until tater-tots are done.

I also shop at a store that has buy one get one free sales. The good thing about them is that when the items ring up at the register they each ring up half price (instead of full price for one and free for the other). This way if I have multiple coupons for that item, I can use one coupon on each of the half priced one. The store is Food Lion (I'm located in VA). I am also a firm believer in Coupons and store cards. if I go to the store and don't save at least $20.00 then something is wrong.

Also a good snack is "Cinnamon Twists". I cut flour tortillas into strips and then deep fry them just until they are a light brown. Take them out of the deep fryer, let drain and when they are just a little warm I put them into a cinnamon/sugar mix. My kids love them and they make quite a bit.

Hope these hints helped. believe me I have loads more...just little things you learn when you try to make ends meet without doing without.


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By Louise (Guest Post)
October 5, 20080 found this helpful

This alone isn't going to bring down the food budget much, but it's a little thing that, together with everything else, adds up over time:

I dish up my husband's plate and bring it to him. He thinks I'm treating him like a king and I'm doing for portion control! This way I really load the plate up with the filling side of beans, rice, veggies, etc and put a small portion of meat on. We don't have kids (though if we did, I would do this for them too) so as soon as my plate and his are served, I put aside enough for my lunch the next day and then bundle up the rest for leftovers. Doing this before we even eats gives us the mindset that what we have will fill us up and there's no going back for seconds.

When I started doing this, I went from having an odd size amount of leftovers (like too much for my lunch next day, but not enough for a 2nd night of the meal for both of us) to getting 2 nights and my lunch in between out of one package of meat.

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October 5, 20080 found this helpful

make a huge pot of fresh vegetable soup with potatoes, green beans, tomatoes, cabbage,lima beans, onions, celery, squash, add piece of beef chuck if you like meat in it then freeze in small containers. Pull out when you want a healthy side dish. This will last a long while and is very filling. You can do the same thing with goulash of ground chuck, onions, green peppers, chili powder, paprika, bay leaf, kidney beans. Brown meat with onions and green peppers first, then simmer until done.

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By diane (Guest Post)
October 6, 20080 found this helpful

Magic is all it takes and a creative thought. When beef roasts are on sale I buy them (bigger than enough for one meal) and freeze them; when I cook them in the dutch oven - slow and low heat. Also add a couple beef bouillion cubes, they are tender and delicious. The first meal is roast, potatoes, carrots and onions; using left-overs I add celery, more carrots, potatoes, etc. and then the third meal is soup -- to which I add lots of vegetables, leftovers frozen in a bag, and a can of tomato soup, tomatoes, etc. The soup makes it have more "body", etc.

Also, a favorite "saver" of mine is powdered milk. I keep it on the shelf. It is wonderful for baking, pudding, casseroles, etc. I even use it making fudge for Christmas. It is better for drinking after it is chilled. However, I use it primarily for everything but drinking. My mother always mixed the milk half-powdered, half-not powdered. Have you compared the calories on powdered milk? You will be surprised. It gives me permission to have more pudding, tapioca, etc.

You can do it. Have fun and enjoy your family. May God bless you and the children. Diane

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October 10, 20080 found this helpful

We tend to eat more meat than we really need to stay healthy. The average male needs no more than 3-4 oz of lean meat everyday to have a healthy balanced diet.

There are many inexpensive ways to achieve this. You can buy a whole turkey and serve it over 2-3 days, and use the carcas to make a Turkey noodle soup. A $15 Turkey may well feed a family of 4 for 3 days if the servings are small and the rest of the meal is supplement with veggies and potatoes.

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By Mama2one (Guest Post)
November 20, 20080 found this helpful

When I go to the meat locker, I ask them to package ground meat in smaller portions. Thawing only what I need is easier that having to rework the recipe. I get 1/2lb and 1lb packages and it is much easier to get the right proportions for a meal. If you have the extra cash, buying meat in bulk can save money, too. We buy a full beef and split it between two families.

I have lots of surplus from gardens around town. Once people know you are interested in whatever little leftovers they might have, you will be inundated with fresh produce. I freeze what I can't use and barter for pickling.

I have excess of dead bananas. We make bread, smoothies, pancakes, etc. Great sweetener for your oatmeal.

We make pizza at home, but my daughter likes the pizzaria dough. I made a deal to buy the dough for our pizzas and still make them at home with our toppings. She gets great yeasty dough and it is still inexpensive to make.

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January 14, 20100 found this helpful

Hi, I have really enjoyed the responses so much. I have 4 small children. I work on the weekends and my DH works m-f. We live in a rural area and need to take a ferry to town to buy groceries. It is time consuming to do so. I home school my kids so I have them with me when I shop, so I don't have time to check for great prices. I can only manage one store. I usually shop at Extra foods.

I will use everyone's ideas on how to make our grocery budget stretch. The thing I am stuck on is the coupons. I am having a hard time finding them online that are relevant to our area . (Canada, Vancouver BC). I think coupons would be awesome. The ones I have found so far are not really great and don't save much. Any suggestions as to where I can find them.

Thanks for all the great ideas. Heather

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