Is there a way to feed a family of Four on $30 / week?

Discussion in 'Food and Cooking' started by Mrsmissy, Feb 6, 2003.

  1. Mrsmissy

    Mrsmissy *~Ladybug Lover~*

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    We are in a bind right now. And, I'm looking to cut costs in any way that I can.

    We usually eat a lot of casseroles, but I'm just clueless how to get enough food for my bottomless pit son, my snacking daughter, my MAJOR meat eating husband, and myself on only $30 a week.

    What do you do? What do you eat? Menus? Recipes?
  2. *~Disney_Jen~*

    *~Disney_Jen~* wishing on a star..

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    Do you have an Aldi's around your area? We were tight a few weeks ago and went grocery shopping there. We spent $45 there and it lasted us a week.

    Our family snacks alot so the major expense was some of the snacks for the kids and dh to take to work. Crackers, granola bars, yougurt, pudding, canned fruit cheese strings stuff like that.

    We ate alot of pasta, mac n cheese, sandwiches for lunch or breakfast at dinner time. and some tuna casserole.
  3. Rainedazze

    Rainedazze Tar Heels Lovin Mama!!

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    I second Aldi's!!

    It is basically generic brands but still very good and VERY affordable! Their produce is CHEAP and fresh!! I have never bought their frozen product though because it is 55 miles away and I am always worried things will be thawed out before I get home.

    If you have a bread machine you could make all your breads with it, do you have a local farmers market? How about a butcher shop?? I find that the meat is a lot cheaper and better tasting!!

    We eat alot of chicken and hamburger based meals which saves a bit on our meat bill, and most snacks, breads etc are made from scratch instead of store bought.

    I know there are a few mamas here that do EXTREMLEY well with the grocery budgets, maybe they will post too!
  4. amelia

    amelia Breeder

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    Do you have a bakery thrift store nearby? I buy whole chickens when they're on sale (the cheapest here I can get is .59 to .69 a pound) as many as they'll let me lol. I roast one upright on a can in the oven or on the grill we eat on that for a day or 2 then make soup in the crock pot w/the carcass and serve over noodles w/biscuits. there's 3 nights right there, have scramlette one night, tuna casserole another make a pot of chili and the next night put the leftovers in a pot w/ a can of tomato sauce and 2 cans of water to make chili soup.

    I cook dried beans in the crockpot often and freeze what i'm not going to use that day

    frozen fries are one of my familys favorite things but i make them from scratch now in the oven, as long as we can afford ketchup noones complaining lol.

    when peanut butter goes on sale I buy 24 jars, same for tuna and other easy to store in the garage staples. I find interesting things at Big Lots like cheap pasta and canned stuff in brands I've never heard of.

    It's a bit of an obsession for me right now so I'm writing a novel, sorry! hope this helps someone
  5. 3Gs4Me

    3Gs4Me Blessed Beyond Belief!

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    You can do it but...

    It is hard to do and eat healthfully fo that amount. Many of the cheap foods are high in refined carbs. Make sure if you are cutting your food bill that you leave room for plenty of fruits, veggies, and whole foods. Good luck!
  6. MamaWolf

    MamaWolf Pagan Mama

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    this is what we do:

    Chicken quarters go on sale here a lot during the summer, so we stock up good. I have a deep freeze. They usually go for .19 a pound. So, that's 1.90 for a 10 lb bag. My monthly budget is $100 (5 people, me, dh, and 2 toddlers, 1 bf baby) Sooo... I would use about 20 to buy chicken quarters. Then I seperate then into legs and thighs at home. Throw some in a crockpot (4 quarters) makes 2 servings of chicken and noodles, some for chicken soup, some for casseroles, chicken salad, barbeque, etc.

    Breads, the local store here I can get bread for .59 or on sale for .25 sometimes. They aren't the healthiest bread, it's just cheap white. But sometimes that's all I can afford at the time.

    So far milk and cheese etc I get on wic

    Hamburger I stock up on when it hits .89 a lb. I usually buy about 10 lbs which last me a while. For a good snack, check into making cheeseburger rolls. They're like hotpockets. You can freeze individually and it takes 2 minutes in the microwave to thaw. 1 lb of burger makes about 12 rolls. www.notjustbeans.com under sample recipes.

    Pork chops, steaks, roasts, ,etc, I stock up when on sale. I always spend around $15 on produce and fruits. My family doesn't like fresh veggies, so I stock up on the frozen when it goes on sale.

    I guess that's all I have to say, except rice and noodles. Use those and breads as fillers. They will fill you up more than everything else.

    Most of all, good luck to you!
  7. mommy2maya

    mommy2maya Amity's Focus Member

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    Scratch cooking! That will save you lots!! Do you have a produce store near you? We have quite a few- and let me tell you it is great! We still eat tons of fresh veggies & fruits, and it is less than half the price of the supermarket. For example, yesterday I spent about $14 for the week, for the three of us, well four if you count me eating alot cause I am pregnant, lol.

    Anyway, I got- several heads of broccoli, 10 bananas, lots of baby carrots, 3 lbs, potatoes, 2 lbs onions, 2 bunchs of asparagus, 8 tomatoes, 4 plums, strawberries, lettuce, cucumbers, and more stuff I can't think of right now. Anyway, this was about twice what I spend in the summer- for the same amount of food.

    Add to that some pasta, breads, and some meats, and you are good to go!

    Do you get wic? That would help a ton as far as milk eggs, cereal & such go.
  8. Tremor Christ

    Tremor Christ Amity's Focus Member

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    Don't forget about spaghetti. It is really cheap. I buy the cans of sauce,Hunts I think, it is .97 a can, spaghetti noodles are 2/1.00. I onlu usually need one box of noodles. so it is only $1.50 for a meal for 9 people! Of course I always buy premade frozen garlic bread and it costs more than all the other stuff. But you could make your own too. I don't always put hamburger or meatballs in my sauce, I prefer it plain.
    Mindi
  9. Mrsmissy

    Mrsmissy *~Ladybug Lover~*

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    There is an ALdi's here in town, but it's about 30 minutes on the other side. Probably not worth it in gas money.

    I always forget to buy canned fruit. That would be better than no fruit, right? The kids eat apples and bananas right now. We've got canned green beans and peas, frozen broccoli, fresh carrots and celery and peppers.

    It's gonna be lean here for awhile (which is OK...I need to lose weight anyway! If we dont' have ice cream, I can't eat it, right??)

    No, we're not on WIC. We are above the income restrictions for it. We are just screwed right now. Medical bills that we weren't anticipating (darn HMO insurance! I'm still trying to fight them on this!) and no work for me during the month of December really drained us. I turned down the temperature in the house and everyone got sick, so I put it back up to 70 now.

    Thanks for all the advice. I have that "Not just beans" cookbook, but it's usually so full of processed stuff that I don't use it. My family won't fall apart if we eat like that for a couple months, right?
  10. ~Denise~

    ~Denise~ Living life...

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    Missy, don't you HATE being above the income for many things, yet below to make it easily? Sigh...........
  11. mommy2maya

    mommy2maya Amity's Focus Member

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    Well, to relate this to the Income tax thread- maybe you could take the maximum exemptions for DH's check? That could get you some extra spendable money. And if you like getting a big refund back, you could always change it back once you are comfortable again.
  12. AttachedToFour

    AttachedToFour New Member

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    Pasta, potatoes, eggs, bread and beans are fairly inexpensive things that you can do a lot with. I also buy shredded cheese in bulk and freeze it so I always have it on hand...we use lot's of cheese.
    The key is to make your own food and not buy convenience foods. I always make home-made cookies or pudding for my little snackers.
    Also, Dollar General has great prices on their food. They don't have a huge selection, but what they have is CHEAP. We go there for canned items since the nearest Aldi's is 30 minutes away.
    Good luck!
  13. jacNal'smom

    jacNal'smom used to be alliesmom

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    I make a lot of muffins...

    for breakfasts. Usually, pumpkin/raisin. I make a dozen and we snack on them during the day. 1 can of pumpkin will last for 4 batches.

    Polenta...basically cornmeal mush. I like to flavor it with herbs and boullion and a little cheese. Sometimes, we eat it hot and creamy..think grits. Sometimes, I put it in a baking pan and in the fridge...when it is solid, I cut it into triangles, put on a cookie sheet and bake. The kids love it that way. Very cheap and goes great with soup, beans, etc... A whole food.

    Beans and rice...buy dry beans, throw in the crockpot with some spices and water. Cook all day. Really cheap and really good for you.

    Y'know...frozen veggies are more nutritious for you usually. Most fresh got picked before it was ripe and the nutrients didn't get to form properly. Frozen was picked when it was ripe and tended to right away. Cheaper and no waste. Course...I like to eat fresh myself. Go through the ads and buy what's on sale.

    Make your meat go a long way...just use a little in spaghetti, soups, etc... We eat frittata sometimes for dinner. Kind of like a baked omelet. No meat and dh usually doesn't complain. Serve it with those cheap muffins..lol.

    homemade pizza. Again...really cheap! Homemade bread. You can use whole grain flours and get something fairly nutritious for not that much money.

    Yeah...you can eat for $30 a week. For a long time, when I had the energy and time to plan for it...I tried to only spend $20. We live in Wash. DC/Balt. area and food is kind of expensive..
  14. herc

    herc Amity's Focus Member

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    Missy, if you will go through and list exactly what is in your cabinet and freezer, I can help you make a menu plan. The ideas you are getting are great, but they aren't very balanced as far as veggies go. If you would rather email it, thats fine, but listing it here might help get some menu ideas going :) That's usually how i start the month, with cabinet inventory. Muffins with veggies added (carrots or zucchini are easy ones) make great snacks and help deviate from the raw carrots with dip as a snack. You can also do pumpkin muffins. Liam wants attention, so I will type more later :)
    heather
  15. ElDucko

    ElDucko Amity's Focus Member

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    first off ((missy)) this has got to be hard.....:(

    Now, I'm going to give you a lot of advice here, so if any of it doesn't apply or offends, please realize that I'm just throwing a lot of ...noodles at the wall to see what sticks yk? ;) So I'm not trying to be mean at all.

    First off, I second the cheaper stores/cupons thing, but you probably knew that one.

    Then, I'd look around in my cupboards and see what we had, like us, we have tons of rice. So we don't need to buy any for one, and for another, it's cheaper to get stuff to go with the rice than to make a whole other meal.

    Then I looked around to see what I could cut out, and what I had to have for sanity. I know coffee's spendy, but I have to have it. Meat (which we do eat here) can go, or we get the most meat for the least amount of money. Plus I realized that I had a lot of stuff in there that I didn't realize would go together to 'make' anything yk? I've made bread and pretzles etc because I had a lot of yeast and flour.

    Then I recalled as much as I could from my nutriton class and knowledge my mom had from raising me very poor.....like, you can live w/o meat, but you do need a protein, so beans+ rice = protein kinda stuff helps. You're not going to be able to eat fresh produce probably, so get frozen. It's second best, usually has all it's nurtients and there's not usually all that salt (like canned).

    We get the cheapest stuff, like giant peanut butter, which can last more than a week and is cheaper per pound even though it's more spendy at first.

    Stuff that's filling and cheap, potatoes etc. You can also cook some things a lot of ways to break up the boredom (like rice and potatoes etc) Do you have any really old cookbooks? They'll have tons of recipies for potatoes and rice and such.

    I'm sure you're thinking about wic, foodstamps and the like, Humiliating I know but you gotta eat. I have to apply for a special thing for our foodstamps because I can't get there, some states have the app online (washington does!)

    I really hope everything works out mama!
    jessica
  16. ~Denise~

    ~Denise~ Living life...

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    Wellll, I vote you post those ideas and recipes HERE Heather....cause I need help too!!!!!! (o:
  17. J3

    J3 Deadhead mama of girls

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    Vegetarians cover your eyes:


    Does your dh hunt?
    mine does though he hasn't in years. We did get a whole bunch of venison from his co workers who he helped them build a deer stand.
  18. Mamax4

    Mamax4 Amity's Focus Member

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    You can, and you can do it healthfully.

    I don't know if you like to cook, but, that's part of it. Buy nothing processed. I shop organic foods almost exclusively from a food coop, or at sales at regular markets. I have also found that many discount stores sell tons of organic food, esp pasta & tomato sauce & paste.

    Cheap organic foods that are quality:

    Dry beans & legumes of all kinds
    Dry brown rice (you add spices)
    Whole Wheat flour & other flours
    Oats
    Pasta
    Pop Corn to air pop
    Peanut butter

    With some of this, you can make anything- cassaroles, pizza, soups, stir frys- anything. Brown rice or noodles with make a very hearty meal add you only need to add a small amount of meat.

    You can also make cookies, muffins, granola bars etc from these ingredients. Kids don't need processd snacks. They aren't really good for them, yk?

    Produce
    from a coop or buy the in season veggies & fruits. Carrots & potatoes are usually cheap. If you live in a warm climate, you can prob get high quailty protein from avocados faily cheaply. Some parts of the country also sell eggs fairly cheaply and they are a bang-up source of things kids need to grow (if you are not a veggie).

    What I can't buy if I am cutting back on food spending:

    String Cheese
    Any sort of processed food-- like Annie's shells or Amy's canned soups
    Granola bars
    Packaged cookies
    Frozen organic meals like

    If you have any strage, you can buy things like flour very cheaply in 25 lb bags. Just freeze it for 24 hours (if you live in a cold climate, the back porch will do) and then place in a cool safe place away from critters.

    If you are open to buying non organic itmes, I have found that BJ's sells bulk cheese very cheaply. I have had great luck freezing shredded cheese.

    Find a place to buy whole chickens and ask the butcher to cut it up for you. WHole chickens are cheaper than pieces. I buy organic chicken from Whole Foods and they cut it up, if I want. But cooking a whole chicken for soup or to freeze is simple. If you are a vegetarian, or only buy organic foods, it's a lot harder, of course.

    But if you buy whole foods, even if not organic, you can feed a family healthfully, if not organically, on what you have suggested.

    I agree with looking for a day old bakery source. If your family eats a lot of bread, day old bakeries are good bargains (sometimes cheaper than baking it yourself). In the past I have been able to buy whole wheat bread, although not organic.

    Some books that I found really helpful are : The Complete Tightwad Gazette & Cooking_More_With Less Mennonite Cookbook by Doris Longacre.

    Scratch Cooking, and bargain hunting, and cutting out most processed foods are part of the answer. Good luck! You can do it!


    Laurie
  19. Lizscloth

    Lizscloth Boys-r-us

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    growing up my parents seporated when I was 12 (they got back togeter when I was 13)

    we lived on Mac and cheese we got hot dogs (YUCK) on Sundays.

    Mom got WICK at the time so it got the milk, eggs, cheese and stuff.

    We had Peanut butter and jelly for lunch EVERYDAY!!!

    IT was the same thing day in and day out.

    But, I was talking with a friend who is in the same place you are right now. she gets the roman noodles (they are 5/$1.00)


    Good Luck!!!
    I can't wait to start my garden in the spring (we moved here in the fall we had no garden here and we left the garden at our old house :(
  20. pmjmomma

    pmjmomma New Member

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    Couple of ideas from my poor student days. . .

    buy a few different varieties of frozen veggies ( there's usually a generic available), and use them in things. A lot of the things that are cheap are not veggie rich, yk? We did:

    Mac & cheese with brocolli and peas

    Ramen noodle soup with peas, corn and spinach

    Beans and mexican spices with a spoonful of tomato paste, spinach and corn

    Pizza (crust from scratch, but lost my recipe) with brocoli (we found that you can make a tasty sauce with 2 tbsp tomato paste with enough water to make it the right consistancy. I would buy a BIG can and freeze it on a cookie sheet in tbsp chunks. when froaen hard, put in a ziploc.) MUCH cheaper than a can of sauce. and some of the sauces are barely more than this. . .you pay for the water.

    You could add meat to any of these if you feel you need it. . . try adding a little, because these dishes go a long way.

    then, at the end of the week, throw 1/4 lb of chix or ground beef in a big pot with the leftover veggies and a can of broth, and whatever rice or pasta you have, and you have soup.

    Now, I try to use 1/2 beans in a lot of meat dishes to stretch them and make them a little healthier. I do a huge pot of beans in a crockpot overnight, and freeze them in 1 cup portions. I mash them and add to:

    Meatloaf - surprisingly good

    any ground beef mexican type dishes - if you like beans, you can get away with using the meat as a garnish here

    Kidney beans are good in tomato sauce over pasta - with or without meat.

    For snacks? We do apples, bananas and pears in the am, cut carrots, celery, and cucumber in the pm. this can be a good place to make up for the shortage of fresh veggies at dinner. I know that frozen are just as healthy or healthier, but they're limp, yk?

    Dessert - smoothies! I buy whatever frozen fruit is on sale, and plain yogurt in the big container - puree it all! if the fruit is still frozen, it will be frosty, like a shake. This is where I try to get berries into out diet in the winter, 'cause they are sooo healthy. You can add sugar at the begining, b/c you probably won't be used to the flavor, but try adding a tiny bit less each time. The kids munch graham crackers with these, but they are pretty filling on their own. . .

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