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Heatherw

Feeding a family of 5 on a budget...need suggestions!

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Hi there,

We are post-Whole30. My husband and I have three kids, ages 7 (this one eats like an adult), 5 and nearly 2. I stay at home with the kids and we are on a pretty strict budget. I would like to spend under $800/month (ideally about $700) total on food and am having a really hard time getting there. We are hovering around $900 (yipes) right now.

I do the 'big' shopping trip once a week and plan the shopping list entirely around what we have on hand and what is on sale for a good price...I have gotten pretty good at remembering prices and can identify good deals. I mainly shop at Sprouts Farmers Market, which has a pretty good selection of organic/natural items and the best prices around here. I buy some organic produce (again, what is on sale), mainly things like greens and the 'dirty dozen' and conventional avocadoes, bananas, etc. I buy mostly conventional, lean meats that are good prices (fish under $6/lb, chicken $2/lb or less, etc.)

I shop at wal-mart for paper products and such and at the natural foods store for select items on sale for good prices, so I am willing to shop around some.

I will occasionally buy or bake bread or tortillas for the kids for lunch, but I would prefer to avoid these things. I just am not seeing how we can cut back this much more without giving the kids sandwiches, pasta, etc to cut corners. I already make a lot of compliant snacks such as Larabars, kale chips and fruit w nuts or nut butter...other healthy, cheap snack ideas welcome too! Can you please share your money saving ideas? Thanks so much!!

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I wonder if an approach like this mom (calls herself 'Once a Month Mom') would be an option for you.

 

http://onceamonthmom.com/menus/paleo/

 

She cooks up a month's worth of Paleo meals ahead of time and freezes them.  I'm thinking there's a lot of bulk cooking going on, and perhaps (besides a time-savings) you also gain money savings?

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As far as lunch, I actually feel like I am spending less money right now than I was, other than back when I just gave them pb&j. I can get a package of chicken drumsticks for $4-5. This will feed my four (ages 9,7,4, and 2) for one meal. I used to buy bread ($2-3 a loaf) and lunch meat ($5/lb) - we would normally use a whole loaf and a package of lunch meat in one lunch! lol

 

We also use a lot of eggs, since those are cheap!

 

I'm spending between $200-250 for a family of 7 (one of those is a newborn, but I'm breastfeeding so I end up eating more). I would love to get better quality meats and organic produce, but right now I just can't afford those things and I believe that we will still be so much healthier eating this way.

 

I'll be following this thread to see if anyone else has good suggestions!

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"I'm spending between $200-250 for a family of 7 (one of those is a newborn, but I'm breastfeeding so I end up eating more). I would love to get better quality meats and organic produce, but right now I just can't afford those things and I believe that we will still be so much healthier eating this way."

 

You mean $200-250/week, right? I am almost positive but wanted to make sure. :) My total for the main grocery shopping is usually right around $150 BUT then we have these little trips to the conventional store/nat foods store that are killing us. This is where I am trying to hone in and find alternatives, mainly by planning better on the main trip. I tend to plan really well for dinners and snacks but not so well for breakfast and lunch. ;) I have also thought about just buying MORE of everything for dinners and relying on leftovers for lunch? It seems like we almost never have leftovers as I buy just enough - which is usually 1.25 pounds of meat per dinner! I think that's already a pretty healthy amount.

 

I buy 2 dozen eggs a week and use one dozen to make either an egg quiche for dinner, or the egg fritatta muffins (whatever they are called) to have on hand.

 

My husband and I have been doing crossfit and cardio workouts (this is something new for me) and have pretty healthy appetites! Plus my kids are all great eaters - I am happy they've never been picky eaters but it is challenging to fill their bellies for sure. I love the chicken for lunch idea and will run with that!

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Yes, per week, sorry :) We go through about 6 dozen eggs here per week! Everyone likes hard boiled eggs for snacks, and we do some form of eggs every morning for breakfast - mini frittatas in muffin tin, scrambled eggs with veggies mixed in, etc.

 

I feel you on the planning thing! It's hard to estimate how much they will go through of things. I have a really hard time knowing how much produce to buy. And some things it seems like no matter how many I buy, we will run out. If I buy a lot of sweet potatoes, I'm more likely to bake a bunch up at once, peel them and have them in the fridge for quick additions to meals or snacks. But that means my two year old may want to eat 3 in one day! lol Bananas, I can never keep in the house. My husband uses them for smoothies (he isn't Whole30 complaint), and the kids will eat 2 or 3 a day if I don't watch them like a hawk.

 

This morning I made pumpkin pancakes with 2 regular size cans of pumpkin, 12 eggs, and a fair amount of sunbutter (kids aren't Whole30, but trying to feed them paleo at home). I didn't count, but I know I was making pancakes for a looong time. They were all completely gone by lunch time! So mine are bottomless pits, too. I'm glad it's all healthy stuff now, but I really wish I could stretch our food out a bit.

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Well you've already given me some great ideas, thank you so much! We do our weekly shopping on Monday mornings and I purchased some extra chicken thighs (on sale for 1.49/lb) to bake up and have on hand for snacks. I stuck with my 2 dozen eggs but you're right, hard boiled eggs are a great snack. My kids don't like them but my husband and I do. Our grocery bill was typical at $160 and I am going to be really careful about going to any other stores this week. I wish it didn't mean spending more time in the kitchen when it's over 90 degrees outside, but oh, well. ;)  I wish my kids liked sweet potatoes but none of them do! Isn't that nuts?! I know I said they weren't picky but those are two of a small number things they just don't care for. We are more paleo too and so we eat things like bits of maple syrup and honey, raw cheese, organic grass fed butter and whole milk plain yogurt, in very small quantities.

 

One thing that I thought of that I think will help is to stick to very regular snack times. Our meals are regular but especially in the summer, they tend to want to snack all afternoon. If I fill them up once at 3pm they should be able to make it til dinner, right?! Ha.

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What I have found to really make our meals stretch is to make sure everyone eats a whole serving of veggies at each meal.  The fiber really fills up tummies.  Also, it may seem expensive, but to make sure everyone has a full serving of fat (avocado, nuts, coconut, ect).  It helps to satiate and keep the full feeling around longer.  What I am struggling with right now, though is my hubby not wanting to stay on board with what I am doing.  He is constantly bringing home fast food.  It is very discouraging.  He is really the one I am doing this for, too because he had heart surgery two years ago.  I keep telling him I want to keep him alive, but he says, "I don't eat THAT bad."   Um, yeah, fried chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, and cole slaw... a double cheeseburger with large fries from Sonic... a whopper from Burger King...none of that is THAT bad... :/  Grr... he is in total denial!

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I'm pretty new to this and will follow to see if there are any more suggestions. We are on Day 20 and I can't seem to keep my 7, 4 and 15 month olds fed! I suspect some of it is that they are used to feeling full as in stuffed, carb-laden full, and full on produce/fat/protein feels different. 

A couple things I have found lately:

-Fresh baby spinach is $2-3 for a 10 oz pkg. but a frozen brick of spinach (also 10 oz.) is waayyyy less. Thaw the night before and this makes a great add-in for eggs/breakfast casserole. 

-Canned olives make a great meal/school lunch addition. 

-A couple times I've mixed canned pumpkin, ghee or coconut oil, shredded unsweetened coconut, and cinnamon for "hot pumpkin cereal". They bought it!

-My kids love baked acorn squash with coconut oil or ghee, a few chopped nuts, apples, etc. baked in the "holes".

-Spaghetti squash with homemade meatballs and Classico sauce is a big hit around here! (Classico Tomato & Basil & the garlic kind don't have sugar). 

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StickWithIt - 

 

The best thing to do is to make sure they get a good fill of protein and fat in the morning (affordably done with eggs). I find that fills my littles up nicely and keeps their appetites appropriate throughout the day. I also include a generous amount of starchy veg at dinner every night (also really affordable).  That seems to keep them full and happy :)

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StickWithIt -

"The best thing to do is to make sure they get a good fill of protein and fat in the morning (affordably done with eggs). I find that fills my littles up nicely and keeps their appetites appropriate throughout the day. I also include a generous amount of starchy veg at dinner every night (also really affordable). That seems to keep them full and happy :) "

Can I just say that you calling your kids "my littles" is THE cutest thing ever. :D

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I'm not sure exactly where you're located, but you should look into bountiful baskets (bountifulbaskets.org), they are a food co-op where you order once a week and get baskets full of fresh fruits and veggies. I've found its my savior when it comes to affordability, and you also never know what you're going to get which just makes it fun.

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Ditto on the delivered stuff, I've been surprised at saving money getting organics delivered, but I am! Part of it I think is better planning for me, as there are limited delivery days so I can't "wing it" if I run out of stuff.

 

Frozen vs fresh can give big savings and more and more frozen items are going organic too (berries).

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I just wanted to revive this topic to see if there are more suggestions out there, as it feels like we are eating more than ever and I am back to trying to fight back the grocery expenditures. Seems we are hungrier than ever. We hardly buy any alcohol, we rarely do take out and almost never eat out, so I suppose overall we are doing okay. But the grocery bill just seems like it could really be whittled.

 

I found a great local store to shop at, that has great prices (lowest prices anywhere around) and a lot of good quality foods from which to choose. So I am not shopping at Whole Foods or anything, not even close. Our main weekly shopping trip is usually around $175, and then I end up doing supplementary shopping for staples like coffee and paper products, and things that are on sale cheaper at other stores. This is around another $50 per week.

 

I only buy organic produce for the dirty dozen, and then only when on sale. I buy frozen organic berries and spinach when they are on sale. If things aren't on sale we go without. We eat a lot of apples, avocadoes, bananas, broccoli, squash and sweet potatoes.

 

I mainly buy hormone and antibiotic-free 'natural' meat and grass fed beef when it is on sale (4.99/lb). I only buy meats that are on sale and 4.99/lb is the most expensive meat I will buy.

 

I hate eating frozen/reheated food. The mushy texture simply makes me gag and the flavors aren't as good. It does work for a few things like pureed soup but that is about all I can handle. So doing the massive cook/freeze isn't really feasible for me.

 

Other ideas, please? And what do you typically feed your kids for breakfast and lunch? We seem to get into ruts there where I run out of fresh ideas. THANK YOU!!!

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Costco is the cheapest place I've found for paper products. 

 

I find that one-pot dishes are usually loads cheaper than meat/veg/starch separately so some ideas would be:

 

  • chili
  • curries
  • stews
  • roast (with root veggies) 
  • frittatas (they're good for more than just the morning) 
  • casseroles (spaghetti squash and other squashes are good for casseroles--they seem to extend the meat a bit which is often the most expensive part) 

 

Snacks can get pricey (especially doing something like kale chips so I'd skip those). Here are some ideas:

 

  • sweet potato fries 
  • buying prunes or dried plums instead of dates (much cheaper--costco sells a large bag for about $5) 
  • fresh fruit--apples and bananas are more affordable than berries or tropical fruits
  • almonds in bulk (again costco...they have them for maybe $5-6 a pound so the 3 pound bag should last about a week) 
  • make your own nut butter instead of buying it (almond would be heaps cheaper than say cashew or pecan or some other nut) 
  • coconut flour is lots cheaper than almond flour if you're baking--so try to focus exclusively on recipes calling for coconut flour
  • roasted veggies instead of veggie chips--more water retained = more filling = less veggies required for an equal amount of servings
  • applesauce is pretty cheap (for the kids)
  • larabars are certainly cheaper homemade

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Hi everyone,

We are on day 15 of whole30. A family of five, kids are 7, 5, 2.5. My kids are constantly hungry, despite my adding clarified butter and coconut oil to whatever I can, plus cashews and almond butter on the side at meals. I'm not hungry eating this way, but they are. Any suggestions?

As for our grocery bill, I'm estimating we will be at $1000 for. This month's groceries. Our non-whole30 Budget for groceries each ,onth is $750. We live in northern Colorado, so our cost of living may be a bit higher here than some places. Would love more ideas about how to lower the grocery bill. We love Sprouts for produce but still spend so much.

Also, they are WAY over eggs. They groan when they see them, and I've tried the "pumpkin porridge" or spaghetti squash it cereal ideas....and serving them egg muffins, frittatas, and non-breakfasty things for breakfast. Any suggestions for good breakfast meal ideas?

Thanks!!

I

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Jojala--although paleo - fying is not permitted for a whole 30 maybe you can make an exception for your kids. Making them paleo pancakes/waffles or muffins might help them to adopt the overall lifestyle change more easily.

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Thanks runninglawyer88! I have started giving them paleo-ified pancakes and muffins, because I was losing them. I will try using larger amounts of cooking oil in foods...they are doing better. Less whining today (day 16!) and more acceptance. It's hard with kids!! I can handle this, but cooking for them and watching them pick at their plates is tough. I want them to eat!

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I also have a family of 5 (kids ages 11, 9 and 7). I am a homeschooling mom and my husband is a full time college student, so we too are on a tight budget. Last week, buying all organic (dirty dozen) veggies, 100% grass fed beef ($3.80/lb), conventional chicken and ground turkey I spent just over $300. That's WAY more than I wanted too. 

 

Now, that $300 makes enough meals (105) for 7 days. Everyone is full and I don't have leftovers. So, last week each meal (breakfast, lunch and dinner cost $2.88 each per person. $43.20 a day).

 

I'll share with you what I've been doing, I'm not sure that it will save you money, but it might give you some ideas that you might be able to adapt to save money. 

 

First off, our whole family is on Whole 30. This is something that I NEVER would have imagine could be possible a month and a half ago! My oldest son is autistic, my second son is a picky eater and all of my kids are BIG into routine and not changing. My kids would NEVER have eaten what they eat now and I think it's because we took out all other possibilities, no pb & j, no mac and cheese, no cereal. My middle son lived off PB&J. Yes, this did affect our grocery bill, but it's SO worth it. The first 4 days were a bit rough, but on day 4 there was joy and harmony at the dinner table. We were buying foods from a big Asian market where we could get all kinds of fruits and veggies they'd never tried, we were cooking with spices, and we were feeling good. By week 3 we were, however, very tired of root veggies and chicken breast. Now, at at that time I was spending $250 a week on groceries. My husband was leaning more and more towards Taco Bell as the days passed. I had to fix the problem and that I did. 

 

I put the kids on the computer to help me find some good recipes. I chose 7 recipes, mostly from Well Fed and Well Fed 2. We did a run through of them one week and all but one we decided to cook regularly. I took notes on how much we ate so that I could adjust the recipes accordingly. 

 

The next week I had a plan to cook the 7 recipes and make enough for dinner one night and lunch the next day. I also alternated the meats so that we were getting chicken and beef each day except one which was beef at both meals. Breakfast I kept the same each day. 

 

I bought groceries on a Monday and had the kids in the kitchen with me on Tuesday cooking. Now, this is the first time that my kids have helped like this and they LOVED IT! We did a one and a half day cookup, that's making breakfast, lunches and dinners. I bought containers 2 of each of whatever size that I needed so that I could put dinner in one and lunch in the other. We made turkey sausage and portioned it and froze it, same with kale and blueberries (although if I had the fridge space I could skip freezing it). I baked enough sweet potatoes for breakfast and put them in a container in the fridge. So in the morning all I have to do it grab a bag of meat, kale, blueberries, add a sweet potato and I cook the eggs fresh (except for boiled eggs). I made notes on how much we ate and how things worked out so that if I need to change portions, etc I could. 

 

The next week I took it up a notch. The kids had such a good time I decided to let them do just a bit of school work and we would change a day of the week to home economics. I wrote up all my recipes on cards with the doubling, tripling, etc already done so that the kids could easily help. I made cards for simple jobs like boiling eggs or baking potatoes that way they could read it without me having to explain it. Then I made columns on paper of all the appliances that would be in use with all the recipes, as well as ingredients that were the same. Then I logically laid out a plan for cook day so that the oven, food processor and stove top would be continuously in use and I could have the kids doing jobs without having to think about it too much. 

 

I worked 9 hours and the kids helped 3 of those, but in the end we had all our meals for 7 days completed! These are good recipes too, like Chocolate Chili and plantain chips (yum!), so it's much tastier than the cook ups of veggies and chicken that we used to do. Someone recently asked me if it was worth it, after I told them it took 9 hours and I said, "Yes!" I was in the kitchen 2-3 hours a day before, this has been a lifesaver and I actually have time to do things like share my cooking adventure with you all. Also, my grocery list is the same each week and that saves a lot of time shopping and my kids are learning a wealth of information - math, fractions, organizational skills and cooking skills among many. 

 

The beef is what made my bill increase, even buying a whole cow I will still spend around $4 a pound. I'm not sure what conventional beef would cost a pound, I could probably shop around and find something under $2/lb I would think. I buy all my organic veggies at Trader Joe's, but could probably save a bit there if I skipped organic and just got fruits and veggies from the Asian market. I'm planning on checking out Costco or Sam's and seeing if I could save any by shopping there. I really like/need consistency for my recipes. I guess that's the downfall of meal planning like I'm doing. I spent several hours the other day hunting down green plantains and ended up spending 0.80 each for them! 

 

 

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I am on day 13 and had to shake things up as well.  I bought Well-Fed and pick a couple things out of it to make for the week.  I just finished making them and put them in the freezer for later.  We are a family of 5 and I spent about $215 this week.  I usually spent around that.  Our diet was pretty healthy before, but we relied on pasta and other easy dinner items.  I am excited about this week.  

I plan to look into buy a half cow from a farm. I think that will be the best option.  We did it in the past and it turned out really well.  We also will look into joining a CSA or at least heading to the farmers market on a regular basis.  

My children are not completely Whole30, but pretty close.  

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We have a family of 5 as well. Our Costco stock a BUNCH of good and organic veggies. Being in the Seattle metro area we benefit from a a number of stores that are geared towards meeting the palate of our immigrant population. Along with an assortment of imported foods these stores are packed with veggies at VERY good prices, and surprising selection of organic veggies. Now, you have to get over your idea of what a grocery store should be: it's not well lit, the aisles are crowded and help is friendly, but sparse. It's a trade off.

 

Now, we also are in the process of buying meat in bulk. We are buying a butchered cow from a local farmer who does it right. We have had success with chicken in the past, but we are on the hunt for a new provider; pigs are tougher. The down side, it's a lot of money to pay all at once. The upside, we get a wide variety of cuts, trimmed to our specifications, for what we pay for commodity hamburger in the grocery store.

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