If you answer yes, you will definitely want to check this out.
No matter if you have one or 10 kids, this is something that WILL effect you. That’s because all kids grow up and as they grow they will eat more. This can really wreak havoc on your food budget. I can definitely tell you we personally go through a lot more food now with my growing family of 7, including an 18 year old that it 6’8″, then we did 7 years ago when I first started this blog.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to break the bank.
Why I Don’t Menu Plan
Many frugal blogs suggest Menu Planning to save money. Two words explain why I don’t menu plan. They are LIFE HAPPENS. In other words, how I think the week is going to go on Sunday, might end up (and usually does) going completely different. Can you relate to that at all?
After all, what happens if you planned on Wednesday night to have time to spend 45 minutes cooking dinner because you didn’t have anything in the evening and then your child comes home with a bunch of homework they need help with? What do you do then. Talk about being totally stressed out and being an excuse to grab take out.
Here are 10 ways I’ve managed not to break the bank and you can use to save too.
Rarely Shop at Warehouse Clubs – This one is going to surprise most of you. I know it did the Costco worker trying to sign up premier members. I was shopping with all the kids and she came up and said, you must spend a lot here, this membership would really help you save. I had to tell her no, actually I only shop here (or other wholesale stores) about every two months and then it’s only to pick up about 4 to 8 items. There is no way I do all my shopping there.
Don’t Buy Expensive Meat Cuts – Out of my nearly 20 years of marriage I can honestly say I think I’ve only bought an expensive meat cut once and that was when we bought part of a whole cow. Instead, I routinely buy the loss leaders at the store – often London Broil or Top Round. In addition to being a money saver, I’ve always had the fear that I would cook that expensive cut of meat wrong. With the London Broil or Top Round, I know that they will turn out great in the crock pot.
Eat What Is in Season – We are fruit lovers and my kids love eating it for a snack. That makes mom happy too since it is healthier then cookies or chips. However, my kids know they only get what is in season. They might be craving blueberries, but if it’s not summer, they won’t be getting the fresh variety.
Water Down the Juice – I got this helpful tip for my mother-in-;aw who had 10 children to feed. I only have half the number, but it has definitely come in handy through the years.
While the most frugal drink for kids to drink is water, I have some kids that simply refuse. This is one of those pick your battles situation. That doesn’t mean they get to drink straight juice though. If I did, that would cost me a small fortune. Instead, I fill put under 1/4 of the cup with juice and the rest with water.
Stretch the Ground Round – Only one of my children know about this little trick and fortunately she is the one who will eat anything. I put oatmeal in with the hamburger when I brown it. The only reason child number 3 knows about this little trick is she was watching me cook one day. Other then that, there really is no difference in the texture or taste of the browned hamburger and it definitely makes that ground round go further.
Don’t Let the Kids (or your husband) Pick the Food – I mean when you are going grocery shopping. Definitely stick to the list. In my case that is what is on sale and includes coupons. If a deal is really good, it is time to stock up. On the rare cases where I ask my husband to stop at the grocery store, I can guarantee that the grocery bill will be higher and we will have things that I probably wouldn’t have bought. The one exception to this rule is snack crackers that I will pick up at Aldi. Their prices are so good, I let the kids pick between corn chips or pretzels or Club versus Cheez It crackers.
No Short Order Cooking – This mama doesn’t cook multiple meals. We all eat the same thing, and that is even with 5 kids whose food taste vary. To avoid complete melt downs at dinner time, meals usually include items that can be broken out. For instance, keep the rice separate from the meat or the vegetable separate from the carbs. That way, even if they only eat a couple bites of one thing, they still have something to eat.
Go Meatless Once a Week – My husband is definitely a meat and potatoes kind of guy, but when I told him the price of ground round he agreed to a meatless night once a week. Most of the time this includes beans and let me tell you, that’s much cheaper than beef. You can find some our favorite meatless meals here.
Make Most Meals From Scratch – Let’s face it, buying pre-made food is very costly. Not only that, but you don’t know exactly what is in it. While I do take advantage of pre-made frozen meatballs and Aldi store made pizzas, the majority of our meals are made from scratch using items in the stockpile and freezer.
Check What is in My Produce Drawer – While I don’t menu plan, I do keep track of the items in my refrigerator, especially that produce. When something is nearing the end of it’s life, I will come up with a recipe that uses that item. After all, having food go bad on you and having to toss it is just like throwing money into the garbage can
With that said, Here’s a couple produce based recipes for you:
- Simple Stuffed Peppers in the Crockpot
- Kidney Bean Broccoli Salad
- Asparagus Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
- Stuffed Squash with Ham and Salsa
So that’s it, 10 Ways I Feed my Growing Family Frugally WITHOUT Menu Planning. Hope they help you save money too.