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Budget & Meal Plan

  1. Our $40 Weekly Grocery Budget (For a Family Of Four)
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  3. Publisher Description
  4. Eat Well, Save More: feed 4 people for $80 a week by Cath Armstrong

You pay a premium for packaged items like meals in a bag, fruit snacks, pre-sliced produce, chips, or even steamed vegetables. Anything that has been processed and packaged comes with an additional markup. In my previous life, I would never have done this, even if someone paid me. With very little cooking background, I have made great soups and casseroles, two types of dinners that are heralded in frugal circles as some of the best bang for your buck at dinner time.

I used to buy salad products all the time, including toppings and nice salad dressings. Although it was healthy, I recently learned that salads are far more expensive than soups. Now, I make split pea soup and kale soup and lots of casseroles to help me keep within my budget. The eggs are usually the protein source in those egg heavy menus. So, I guess my first go to would be beans. Especially hummus for lunch and perhaps a huevos rancheros thing without the one egg for breakfasts… Next bet for breakfast would be Greek yogurt. The bananas are a bummer because they are always so cheap and loaded with potassium.

Apples are second cheapest. You can make your own yoghurt very cheaply and easily. UHT milk, milk powder, and a pinch of starter culture. Even a non-electric yoghurt maker basically an insulated container is very cheap. I am impressed with your menu. I grew up in the midwest and was raised to be frugal when shopping. I usually am cooking for seven as well unless step kids come over then it is cooking for nine. I make homemade hamburger helper or homemade spaghetti suace using number 10 cans of tomato sauce and diced tomatoes.

I buy alot of ground beef from Costco. We use the executive membership to get money back each year. That pays for the next year membership. We also buy the big bags of dried beans, rice, flour, and sugar. With our whole chickens I usually make chicken adobo. I am definitely gonna try sone of what you have posted. After reading your menu plan I wonder what do your teenagers eat for lunch?

I imagine there is no microwave at school. Actually, my older children are not teenagers, though I had a chuckle when I read that in Forbes. Thank God. Thanks for the question. I am trying to cut back and this comes in handy! Thanks to your hard work I will not have much of my own. Will you share your summer recipes with us when that gets closer? Thank you for posting this. I am very impressed at your skilled and disciplined plan.

I am so excited. Thanks again. My email is realityshowsrpot yahoo. Thanks in advance! Thanks, Laura. Though, if you read the rest of this blog, you may change your mind about that! I have a family of 6 and will be trying this. I also teach fiancial literacy abs budgeting classes and will be sharing how you do this! Let me know if you have more examples, I would take any that you have! I think my homeschool moms will love this too! Thanks for sharing!!!!! This is wonderful! Thank you for taking the time to give such great detail. I live in Alaska with my husband and 6 month old and I have been working on getting better with budgeting our food.

You have given me some great ideas. We are also on WIC so that helps with some of the costs. I had a few questions when you get a chance to answer them. Are there some things you make from scratch? Do you make them or do you have your kids help at all? Do you grow things to help supplement?

Our $40 Weekly Grocery Budget (For a Family Of Four)

Or how do you prepare them? Maybe I missed it. Buy or make it? Thank you again! God bless! Usually located in lower income neighborhoods. I have been considering doing an open house type thing for Thanksgiving where I provide turkey and all those who have no one to celebrate with come over with sides… 4 No. We do not have meat everyday. There are two spaghetti dishes my husband is addicted to pasta! We modified it from a recipe that included shrimp.

I just pop it in the microwave. It might still be internet findable. I decrease the amount of water called for because I like a thicker soup. Sometimes I just put some of the balsamic vinegar on my salad. Thanks for answering my questions! I would appreciate the spaghetti recipe you mentioned and is this black bean soup below close to your recipe? I read around your blog and it was great. My husband was home schooled on and off growing up and loved it! We plan on doing it in the future, but it helps to read of your struggles and successes with it. I loved the Tevye battle…on the one hand…Blessings!

The spaghetti recipe is super basic: You saute an onion and some minced garlic in a little olive oil. Then add a large can of crushed tomatoes, a large can of tomato sauce and a tiny can of tomato paste. I love this! This plan is from choosemyplate.

See a Problem?

As we went through the process I blogged about it and all the frustrations we had such as long, complicated meals after work, one use ingredients etc. I was so happy to find this blog and see how it really should be done! This is what I wanted all along-simple, cheap and easy!! Thanks for proving that it is possible to eat healthy on a budget-and for the link to the cookbook there are some good recipes! I am so sorry the negative comments got under your skin. I am sure if I had a blog that someone saw and was inspired by I would focus on the stuff that hurt versus all the wonderful praise people had.

My husband came across the article on Lifehacker and sent it to me hoping to inspire me to get our current food budget under control. I admit I was in fact inspired and then jealous and then angry. I am glad your blog was highlighted in articles around the interwebs because it gave me the opportunity to read about your life and you seem to be pretty darn awesome! I can relate to you and your family in so many ways which is not always the case when talking to other parents with larger families. We have four kids in our family Many of the blogs that I come across from Pinterest make me feel like an utter failure as a mom.

You are real and beautiful.

Publisher Description

Thank you for sharing yourself with us. Mary, thank you SO much for this comment. I am truly touched at the time you put into responding to me. I know just what you mean about feeling belittled by Pinterest! It is shameful what we, as a culture, have decided is a fair wage for the people responsible for educating the adults of tomorrow. Good luck with your four, hang in there, and come back and see me- tell your friends to come too!

Since Zoe enjoyed baking thoe cookies so much, maybe she wants to try my Lazy Bread? Well done, Jen! This reminds me of my childhood in a household with five kids, two parents and a grandparent. I know that our mother would greatly admire your tenacity. Be well! This is the best news a family could hear bless you jen. You are extraordinary! Such care you are taking to feed your family healthy food on a tight budget.

I hope you kmow you are feeding your family more than food. You are feeding you family love and care. Thank you for sharing your menu. I believe you will help may, many families. The Oriental Stir Fry at Aldi is delicious for that leftover chicken at about 3. Thanks for the tips! You are my new hero! So I was skeptical when I saw a link to your story.

Eat Well, Save More: feed 4 people for $80 a week by Cath Armstrong

But I was so excited when I read it! Good job!! I LOVE that you are doing this with real food!! Oh — and I just poked around a little — I see you have twins! I like you even more now. I have two sets. Quite a big difference! Wow Lisa! Thanks for doing that. How old are your twins, BTW? Some of the items your family eats are on our allergy list such as peanut butter and sugar. Have you had to address these issues? There are some foods that some of my kids refuse to eat-of course they are not the same foods! If they refuse the meal, they just have to wait until the next one.

I do try to make sure there is something everyone likes for lunch or dinner. Breakfast never seems to be a problem. Natasha, we shop at Aldi which is a lesser known discount grocery store. Thank you for this post. I live about two hours down the road from you and am about to have a family of seven…my second little guy is due on July 5th. With this plan we could drastically cut our bill…so, thank you. My husband is a Pastor so probably a similar salary to your hubby and I work part time at my big kids school just to pay their tuition.

All this to say that our budget needs a makeover and this might be the kick in the pants I need to actually make it happen. So thank you for being open and honest. I look forward to your summer menu as well!! Seems more winter oriented. I truly appriciate this post. I love your meal ideas and please take heart despite any nay sayers you bring joy, happiness, and hope to others. I love this post but am having a hard time wrapping my head around it. Is there any advice you can give me?

Thank you so much for generously sharing this. I hope I find equally frugal and practical tips for other necessities such as household supplies and kids items. I am a SAHM with 3 teen boys and 2 toddler girls and a hubby. You have some good ideas and a great meal list. So many people shop unprepared. I too have a rotational list of meals and it is great.

I always ask hubby and the older kids to select one meal they like. I have learned to make the items we eat that came from Cans. Baked beans, pasta sauce, Alfredo, etc… It is actually cheaper and healthier than the store items. I also make our own bread and cornbread not boxed when needed. On the weekends, I spend time getting items ready for the next week. Lunch is basically leftovers or a sandwich. A pound of ground turkey all ready cooked 2c frozen green beans, c mashed potatoes and a jar of spag sauce and cheese.

Mix the cooked meat, sauce and beans together, spread out in a casserole pan, top with mashed spuds and then cheese. Bake in oven for 20 minutes. Add a salad or fruit and some homemade dinner rolls. Allyson, I envy your preparedness. Great post! Great advice! And beautiful family! Loved your blog and your ideas! Wanted to share one back. We never buy Ranch dressing, mayo, or sour cream here — I use plain, fat free Greek yogurt for just about everything though.

Thin with milk or lemon juice for salad dressing — you can vary it widely by adding minced garlic, or bacon bits, or finely diced onion, or parmesan cheese — or blend it with pureed cucumber for tzatziki sauce. You get a lot of flavor variety for no added expense. Since you guys eat carbs — crackers, bread, potatoes, veggie sticks and pretzel sticks all are a goof fit with hummus. These are great! I love that stuff! Great article! Great info! One of my all time favorites! This all being said while taking into consideration a few things: 1.

Takes me about an hour to get to aldis! Very detailed! Loved it! Great in theory but where in the world are food prices that low? Sarah, these are the current prices at our local Aldi here in Nashville, TN. Aldi is a low price grocery store that began and is the major chain in Germany. The owner of Aldi is the brother of the owner of Trader Joes. Where do you live? We get WIC as well. So things are pretty tight right now. Thanks for sharing. We have a family of 7 and so meal planning is a challenge.

Also, looking for ways to reduce the monthly expense. Thanks so much for sharing this. I teared up reading this. Miss my Mom so much…she could stretch a dollar so very far, I learned a lot from her and when times were and are again tight retired teacher I was good but never quite as good as her. I enjoyed your winning essay today and will be following you as well. Very good blog! Do you have any recommendations for aspiring writers? Would you recommend starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option?

Any ideas? Many thanks! I think it depends on what you want to get out of your blog. If you are writing primarily as a live journal, or expressly for self-expression, a free platform is great. Personally, I use the self-hosted read: not free WordPress. The learning curve for setting up a blog is very high, especially if, like me, you have zero computer programming background.

However, I found many free resources including Amy Andrews just Google her to be extremely helpful. Good Luck! We are loving what you have posted. This has really helped us out. You said this is your winter one and summer would look much different. I am curious what that looks like. Please and Thank you! Some good thoughts, especially on the front of organic only being more expensive.

I do think there is a bit of embellishment here and fudging like seriously 1 slice of pizza for dinner? We have no extra. Is that the case for you too or do you have a separate line for non-food essentials? If so, what do you budget for that? For a while we struggled to stay in our food budget when we did shopping by the month.

Do you buy everything you need at the beginning of the month? Obviously you have to go back for some things like bananas etc. She has since she began solids. Do you ever add sausage to your lentil soup to give it even more protein or do you just stick with the beans? Yeah, yikes. All those little non-food items really add up. We also eliminated as many of the non-food things as possible. We also used cloth diapers, but had to switch to pull-ups when trying to simultaneously potty-train 3 toddlers.

We use the cheap white washcloths instead of paper-towels. We use plain white vinegar for cleaning almost everything except potties. We even made our own reusable baby-wipes. I shop at the Asian for things like rice flour and Asian seasonings and the Mexican markets where I find better buys on fruits and veggies and some pastries.

I shop the Amish markets for cheese and lunch,eats and the coop for my spices. Friends laugh at me but I have a pantry and freezer that we could eat out of for at least six months if my husband loses his job. Way back nearly 20 years ago, when my son was in elementary school and it went peanut-free, I used to make homemade sunbutter. All it takes is a bag of shelled, roasted sunflower seeds Aldi has them, but they may actually be cheaper at some place like Big Lots , vegetable oil and some honey.

Store in a jar in the fridge. You can rinse the sunflower seeds first if they seem too salty. Be sure to pat them dry-ish on some paper towels. Unsalted ones are kind of hard to find, but a mix of salted and unsalted is pretty much perfect for this. This is fantastic. We have three kids in college, one in high school and one starting middle school. The next oldest is in college and playing volleyball.

She has the same situation but her room and board are not fully covered so that is added to the same expenses as the oldest, but she is also, not allowed to work. I am a teacher and my husband is medically retired.

We try to make sure that the kids can participate in normal adolescent functions, sports, band, etc. I have not only spent the last hour reading the post and developing it to meet our nutritional restrictions, I have sent it to each one of my children in college to find a way to make it work for them!!! One needs to gain weight, so that will have to be adjusted but this may save us this year.

I appreciate your effort, time and detail in creating this and it may be life changing for my family! Good luck, mama! Thank you for this. We have been struggling financially this year. I will be using this in a lot of my meal planning. We are a new family of seven — we just had our fifth child five weeks ago. Thanks for being so open. I guess we do what we have to do.

I was wondering: do you ever think about hormones, antibiotics and pesticides? I know what they tell me is best but then I run across blogs like yours when seeking to lower my grocery bill. I hope to hear back from you. Thanks for your comment and your question. I bet a lot of people are wondering similar things. The truth is I DO think about hormones, anti-biotics, pesticides, as well as general processing and the ratio of carbohydrates to protein.

I think about it and I get angry that the safest, most healthful food choices are reserved for those with money. After all, a dollar a pound per chicken costs just a fraction of what future medical bills may cost. However, and this is huge, not all of us have money elsewhere that can be allocated towards organic, free-range, happy food. So, as you said, we do what we have to do. After all, starvation and malnutrition will kill you a hell of a lot faster than pesticides.

This looks like an amazing plan, however we have tons of food allergies. Any suggestions for replacing items containing peanuts, treenuts, dairy and eggs? I am so glad I found this! I am going to ask my family to commit to your plan and see if we can shave our budget down. Thank you! So, I live in Newnan , Ga. Prices here are moderate.

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I did not check a single sales paper nor use a single coupon. So guys. Our second biggest expense will be food. For instance, I recently went shopping and walked out of the store with 40 pounds of ground turkey, and 8 pounds of frozen broccoli. For instance, we ate a LOT of asparagus this spring! But you get the idea, things like the chicken, turkey, eggs, beans, cheese, salsa yes, salsa , oatmeal, rice, and potatoes, are staples for us, so we do our best to get stocked up on them when they go on sale.

Chicken and rice with broccoli or another veggie in the instant pot is an easy, and super cheap dinner we often have.

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So maybe on those weeks we buy pasta and sauce, or baking flour to make casseroles with. During July, I bought a lot of peaches. Because Texas peaches straight off the trees are Ahmaaaazing! Sign up to get it WITH a complete shopping list, and meal prep instructions! Your email address will not be published. This is how we shop as well. Sometimes things go on sale seasonally as well. Baking supplies and cheap turkeys around Thanksgiving, so a good time to stock up on those things.