As Summer was fast approaching I realized that I was very unprepared for the upcoming months ahead.
We are a blended family of 9. Yes, we have 7 children all under the age of 12! So when something is convenient you can bet I will consider buying it!
During the school year my kids eat breakfast and lunch at school through the free hot lunch program. We are a low income family so finding ways to be more frugal has become a daily venture in my life.
We also get food assistance in the amount of $428 a month. Or you could look at it as $47.60 per person per month. That is for all their food... Most people set their food budget way above this just for 4 people. My youngest son(2 years old) is on the WIC program, which helps with milk and bread and other essentials.
I've been doing a lot of research on homesteading and growing your own food. Also when and how to stock up on certain items when they are on sale(without coupons). I generally do my grocery shopping sometime either on the 7th or shortly after each month because this is when our food benefits renew.
This month I decided to actually look at the food ads that come out on Wednesdays and find sales that might be helpful. In the past I've just simply made a grocery list from my meal plan and gone to Walmart.
Well, a few months ago I blew my entire food budget of $428 plus an extra $158 on ONE shopping trip! Yep... that was a 3 cart load venture with my 2 year old and one of my 11 year old daughters. Not my finest budgeting moment at all. And that was $158 we didn't really have to spend at that time. 😖
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1. My first suggestion to you is meal planning. I know you see or hear it all the time. But as a mother of 7 kiddos, I am here to tell you that it saves you more than just money. It also saves time and your sanity!
There is just something fantastic about looking at a calendar that tells you exactly what you are supposed to make for dinner that night. No extra thinking necessary! Bonus! 😉 I know you are busy and your time is very valuable. So why not take just one day a month to plan a months worth of meals and save yourself some stress!
Related Article: How I Meal Plan for My Family of 9 on a Tight Budget
As moms, I think we are all a little happy when we find something that makes our life easier. ► For example, I love buying the 1 pound chubs of ground beef and ready made hamburger patties because I can just throw them in the freezer.
2. But something I finally figured out... If you're willing to do a little extra work once or twice a month then you'll save a significant amount of money. Don't buy prepackaged food that you can create yourself!
I bought two 2 pound packages of ground beef this month and was able to break it down into 3 meals. I first made 12 hamburger patties and then broke the rest in half for taco meat for nachos and burritos one night. I happened to go to a Fresh Friday sale at Yokes and found a great deal on their ground beef. And I was able to prepare the meat while my 2 year old son watched his favorite show on PBS, Daniel Tiger. 👍
3. This leads me to my next suggestion, buy in bulk whenever you find a killer sale and freeze it! And of course be mindful of how much room you have to store the food. I don't want you buying a bunch of meat you don't have room for in your freezer! That wouldn't save any money at all! We happen to have a small chest freezer that we store the majority of our bulk buys in.
► For example, I found a great buy on a 3 pound block of cheese. Did you know you can freeze cheese?? Yep! But you must either slice it or shred it first! Otherwise it'll be very crumbly when you thaw it out and try to cut it up. I usually take the blocks and shred them with my handy dandy salad shooter! Makes quick work of the process!
You can easily portion the cheese out this way too. Say you need so many cups for that casserole you have planned or a certain number of slices for the months planned lunches. I usually just store my shredded cheese in gallon size Ziploc bags.
If you think about it, most times when you use shredded cheese you are going to be cooking with it, so it doesn't matter if it's frozen or not. Plus this helps with softer cheeses like mozzarella that tend to go bad faster if not used up right away after being opened.
4. Be creative when it comes to meal planning and how you'll use the food you purchased. Think outside your normal box... Is that bag of baby carrots just for snacking? Or can you buy the bigger bag at a better price and divide it for snacking and a meal or two?
Often times buying more means saving more. Be sure to do some caparisons so you know just which is the cheaper route. I know that Walmart's & Winco's price tags include a price per unit/item cost, which is super helpful!!
5. Don't go to the store hungry!! I know that when I am hungry or my toddler is hungry the shopping trip just doesn't go as smoothly. It's always best to make a list and stick to it!!
I have found that using Walmart's grocery pickup (If you sign up through this link you'll get $10 off your first order!) helps me avoid impulse buying! Which is huge if you are a big family on a low budget.
► And super exciting news for all you EBT users out there... They are finally taking EBT for Grocery Pickup!! Yes!
There are lots of great options for EBT users these days! Even Amazon Prime is cheaper! Click to see if you qualify for prime at only $5.99!!!
6. This ties right in with always making a list! If you are anything like me, then you've been there done that. I know that when I go without a list I tend to forget items I needed or buy something that we didn't need at all.
When you're on a tight budget these types of shopping mishaps really put a hole in your food money for the month. Just like it did for me a few months back... (see above). 🤔
7. Plan ahead and shop your cupboards first! This might sound just like making a list, but in order to make a list you have to have a plan right? As I've stated before, I only plan dinners for the month.
I print out a simple blank calendar and just start to fill it in with the meals our family likes the best, plus I usually throw in a couple new ones that I found on pinterest or that was recommended to me.
I then ask the hubby what he wants/needs for lunches. One thing that is always always good to have around is bread. I usually buy 4 - 6 loaves at the beginning of the month and then pick a few more up towards the end of the month.
After my meal plan is in place, then I shop my cupboards. I hate buying something if I don't need it. That's money that could go to something else! Always take note of what you already have that you can use.
8. And last but not any less important; don't buy name brand. I have found many of the "store" brands taste just as good or even better sometimes! When you continue to do this, overtime you'll start to see how the savings can really add up!
Now, there are a few name brand products that I always buy so I'm not saying give them all up. One, Darigold Cottage Cheese. If I try to serve my kids any other brand they just know... 🙄 and refuse to eat it. The other that comes to mind right away is salsa. I grew up eating Pace and have just grown to like it. So I buy it.
I hope I have helped or inspired you somehow to save your family money!
I would love to know how you budget food for the month and how many mouths you are feeding! Please leave me a comment below or find me on one of my social media platforms! ❤