Grocery budgeting to feed your big family, how to master this so your fridge is never empty

grocery shopping on a budget, how to stretch your grocery list to last longer

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It’s a no brainer that the more kids you have the more you’re going to have to spend at the grocery store. But that doesn’t mean you can only afford rice and beans. You just have to get a little creative with your shopping list and meals.

We have a relatively larger sized family, there are 6 of us. Granted our girls are young, elementary aged and younger so they don’t eat like teenage boys, but don’t underestimate these girls. They can put back some food. Especially our toddler. I honestly don’t know where she puts all that food.

As our family has grown over the years we’ve learned to get a little creative with our meals to really stretch the groceries every week. Some weeks are harder than others, especially in the winter months when everyone is working on packing on that thick winter coat and it seems like everyone is constantly hungry. But that’s a whole other post all together.

How do I feed our family of 6 for $400 a month? I don’t use coupons and I certainly don’t hop from store to store to chase down what’s on sale that week. BUDGETING and meal planning. I’ll admit before my creative business took off I absolutely was one of those coupon queens. I was really good at it, even teaching others how to do the same. But those days are long past me while I’m working on building my own crafty empire for our girls to carry on if they wish.

So back to business, if you’re disciplined you too can feed your family every month without going over budget.

Almost every single meal our family eats we get it from home. We don’t eat fast food a whole lot, we don’t dine at fancy restaurants {that’s not really our thing anyway}, and our girls don’t eat school lunches. We can pack a lunch for less than $1/day per person.

Our family spends $400 a month on groceries but it’s not the same amount every single week. Some weeks we might spend $140 while others we might only spend $50. Things like meat and cheese we buy in bulk so we don’t run out of those more expensive items as quickly.

Here are the same tips and strategies I use every month when I grocery shop.

  • The first thing I do each week is meal plan. You can create your own or use the same meal planner I use, it’s totally FREE. The way I plan my meals is I ask each family member something they would like to have for dinner. Most of the time it gets added to the menu but occasionally mom and dad X a suggested meal if it’s way out of budget, like steak, or if it’s something most everyone else is tired of having.

  • Buy selectively in bulk. We have a membership to our local SAMs Club but we are very selective about what we do and do not buy from there. Things we buy are some meats, lunch meat, sliced and shredded cheese and that’s pretty much it for food. Everything else is a little more expensive to buy at the bulk store.

  • Find a great discount store to shop at. The one we shop at weekly is Aldi. It has come a LONG way since the days when I was a kid. Most of them in our area have been given a big makeover so they are set up like a regular grocery store vs the old style layout they used to have.

  • Use cash when you go to the store. We are fans of the Dave Ramsey method of using cash and it truly works. We personally do not have any credit cards but even using a debit card we ALWAYS spend more than budgeted, so use cash and you will be forced to only spend what you have in your wallet.

  • Buy ingredients that you can use for more than one meal. Things like rice and potatoes can be used for lots and lots of different meals and they cost next to nothing. You can make anything from taco rice to rice pudding with a $2 bag of white rice. And with potatoes you can use them in several different dishes, shepherds pie, perogies, garlic potato wedges…mmmmmm!!! Just get creative with it.

  • Pack lunches. This is HUGE! Eating out adds up very quickly. That $5-$10 at lunch every single day can add up to $25-$50 a work week for just one person.

  • Try making your sweet treats. Most of the time buying them premade costs way more than if you made them yourself. Take muffins for example. Our family loves them so I will make several batches of different kinds at a time and it costs approx. $3 for several dozen muffins. If I were to buy 1 dozen muffins even at the discount store we shop at, their cost would be $4. CRAZY! Granted it’s more work but saving at least $8 to make them myself and they are probably one of the easiest baking things to make, sign me up! The same goes for brownies, cakes, cookies, and granola bars. These are all things you can make at home and costs significantly less to make vs to buy.

  • One thing that we bought a long time ago that truly helps us stay on budget is using a Food Saver . We use this every single month. From left over foods that would have gone had in the fridge to freezing the meats in bulk. This is an investment worth your hard earned money.

  • Last but not least buy in season. Produce prices change from season to season so those foods are typically next to nothing during the summer months. That’s when our family eats an abundance of the fresh stuff. Not that we don’t eat any in winter, but our dollar doesn’t go as far in the winter so we are extra selective about the produce we buy during the cold season.

I hope these tips help when you’re grocery shopping for your large family. I know without these tips our family would be WAY over budget every single month.

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