I get a lot of questions on how we manage to feed all 7 mouths in our family. Although my husband is in the Navy and we are taken care of, the program he is in doesn’t pay very well so we have had to get creative with our food budget.
With my family of 7, and one on the way, we had to draw the line at picky eating. We make a meal and that is what the family has ~ or nothing. I have learned over the years that kids will not starve themselves ~ one night on an empty stomach will not kill them but will teach them appreciation for the food on the table. I don’t make Joe(8) eat tomatoes or Kait(11) eat olives but if we are serving up Cabbage Patch Soup they all eat it even though 3 of them don’t care for it much. They prefer it to hunger, lol. All in all we try to stick to foods that the whole family enjoys. Spaghetti, Burrito’s, Chili, Grilled chicken, burgers and dogs, meatloaf.
Crock pots are worth their weight in gold!!!
Sometimes if you have a day of the week with a couple of hours to kill (I know, not likely) have the older children (maybe age 8 and up) help you cook up 3 or 4 meals for the week then freeze them. All you have to do is stick them in a crock pot in the morning and dinner is ready on time!
Here are some quick and easy ideas for feeding the larger family.
Two meals out of one roast!
Buy a big roast cut it in half and put each half in a ziploc with some chopped veggies, a couple bullion cubes and your favorite seasonings. Stick them in the fridge, or freeze them if it will be more than a few days until you use them. Then just whip one bag out in the morning, dump the contents into your crock pot, and add some water. Add a salad, pasta, or some bread and you have two dinners out of one roast with almost zero effort! This can also be done in the afternoon with an aluminum foil pocket on a cookie sheet.
Quick Chili – low fat, 11 g per serving!
In a ziploc (we love ziplocs) mix 1 1/2 lbs browned ground beef (adjust amount to your family size) 1 can tomato sauce, chopped peppers and onions (or onion powder), garlic powder, a can of corn, canned tomatoes, kidney beans, Chili powder, basil, and pepper. Fridge or freeze until ready to use. Dump it in your crock pot on low sometime in the morning. You can even have a corn bread mix ready to throw in the oven for the perfect chili mate!
Hamburger Stew – low fat, 10 g per serving!
One of our families favorites!
In a ziploc mix 1 1/2 lbs browned ground beef, chopped onion and peppers, 4 beef bullion cubes, a can of corn, one chopped tomato, a few cut up potatoes, chopped carrots, basil, tablespoon worcestershire sauce, and a bay leaf. Fridge or freeze until ready to use. Dump into a crock pot sometime in the morning, add at least 5 cups water and heat on low until dinner. Remove the bay leaf and add a salad or rice and dinner is served!
Chicken can be used instead of hamburger too! Crock pots are good for pork chops too!
Now, to make it cheap
Try not to buy brand name unless it is necessary (like mayo – cheap mayo is gross!). Often, however, if you can match a coupon with a sale you can get the pricey stuff for very cheap or free!
- Nobody needs bacon, eggs, sausage, and pancakes every morning for breakfast.
- Keep pancakes made and frozen and biscuits ready for baking in the freezer too.
- Cereal can be found for cheap if you look around at different grocery stores. We have a grocery store about 35 minutes from us that sells cereal for $1.60 a box – and the good for you stuff too! We just had to look around for the best deals!
- Our area doesn’t have a food coop but many areas do. Ask around and see if you can join one.
- Although canned veggies aren’t quite as good as fresh, they are cheaper much of the year and are easier to cook with making your family more likely to eat them.
- Make a weekly food budget and stick with it! My daughter(11) has printed out a months worth of dinners and made a grocery list from that (5 dinners a week, the other two days are leftovers or sandwiches) . This way we only purchase what we need and everything gets used. We never waste money on food that doesn’t get eaten!
- Eat dinner together as a family. I don’t know why this works but we seem to save money on food when we all sit down together to eat. Maybe it keeps us from snacking or picking, I don’t know. All I know is that eating together as a family has saved us money.
- Stay away from the cookie and chips and soda isle!
- Limit snacks to fresh fruit, flavored yogurt with grape nuts in it (my fav!) or crackers. Crackers can be separated into baggies ahead of time for the week so snacking doesn’t cost more than thought it would.
- Learn how to say the word “NO”. It is not good for kids to get everything they want. Number one, they learn selfishness; Number two, they usually aren’t wise in the decision making area and will choose all foods bad for them. Have them pick one bad for them snack a month. That can be a tub of ice cream OR a box of snack cakes OR a bag of chips OR a 2 liter of soda. When it is gone, it is gone.
- Food should not be free for all in your family. Permission to eat something should be necessary. If you kids are hungry they can have something but you choose what and you choose the portions. Let them have their say, give them a couple choices if you feel you must, but ultimately put yourself in charge of food (and ultimately money) consumption.
- Rice and pasta are filling ~ add one of them to your meals as fillers.
Lastly, try to limit your meal planning and grocery shopping to only one day a week. This will keep you from getting burned out on what to do for meals. Set aside money just for groceries and do not exceed that budget. You will find creative ways to save. Make it a game – see how well your family can eat for $xx every week.
This may seem hard to do at first but you will be surprised at how your efforts will bless your family – a less stressful mama, an appreciative dad, and healthier kids! After a few weeks you will love your this way of feeding your family and you will feel so good about what you are doing for them.