Q: How can I start feeding my family more healthy meals while maintaining a budget of $130 a week? There are 5 of us. The boys are 6, 10 and 12 and do not like vegetables.
I do plan out a main dish for each night of the week based on my stock and sale flyers. I cut about $20 from my grocery budget by doing this.
During the summers, we eat whatever we have when we feel hungry. I do much better during the school year when my husband and I both teach and all three boys are in school. I make lunches 4 out of 5 days and they choose pizza on the 5th.
I am hoping your readers can offer me some tips to get me started and then maintain a plan. I seem to do well for a week or so and then fall off the wagon so to speak! (I would love tips on sneaking veggies in.) I need a jumpstart on a healthier life for us all!
What are your suggestions for this reader? Leave a comment.
Julie Quinn says
Nothing really to add, but thankful for all the tips. The freezer meals work for us, but I just get too lazy to keep at it. When my girls go back to school, I plan to get more diligent and get a pattern/system to stick to, because it is going to be a busy school year for us.
* We were fortunate enough to go in on buying a side of organic, grass-fed beef this summer. We put in $150 and said we’d take whatever they gave us. I’m amazed at how much meat we got! It worked out to about $2.50/lb — that included roasts, steaks, rib, ground beef, soup bones, etc. I can’t buy the worst grade beef for that. Because it’s grass-fed, it tastes better; it’s also leaner, so there is very little waste.
* For chicken, we do ZayconFoods. They are direct from the farmer; you pick them up at a specified time, right off the truck. Delicious and well-trimmed.
* Our favorite brand is “reduced for quick sale.” 😉 If we can’t get our fruits and veggies from the local co-op, we take and freeze stuff. Our local bulk foods store lets me have bananas at $1/box when they’re starting to blacken. They’re perfectly fine on the inside. You have to be willing to put aside your pride and ASK.
* We aren’t Mormon, but if you have friends who are, they can take you to the LDS cannery to stock up on staples at great prices.
* We trade. Got a great deal on pasta combining sale/coupon. dh didn’t like that brand *sigh*. Traded it for zucchini. Win-win.
I think being frugal takes planning. Time is money; you have to find the balance that works for you.
There have been some fantastic tips here for the OP! I will add a couple more suggestions from what I learned from feeding our four children, hubby and me on a budget through the years. (Our kids are now grown.) First and foremost, you are not a short order cook! When I hear moms say, “My kids won’t eat vegetables or this or that,” I feel that the kids are not adapting to the parents and the household meal plan. Parents do not need to custom tailor meals, except in the case of allergies, of course. I’m not saying that meal times have to be a battleground, but our children knew that those statements were simply not an option. Learning to like many foods is really an acquired taste, and they need to try them as others have mentioned here. That said, here are a couple things to do right out the gate. Eliminate all boxed cereal. It’s a huge waste. Cook your breakfasts. If you are a busy teacher (I’m a teacher also), make your own instant oatmeal packets the kids can pop in the microwave. On the weekends, make your own waffles and pancakes to freeze. Bake and freeze muffins, baked with fruits or veggies to make them nutritious. One thing I used to do to get my kids to eat veggies was to make a huge tray of different sliced veggies and serve it with a homemade Ranch type dressing. I used to serve it as a snack on movie night, and they ate every single thing, including sliced turnips! In a crockpot, cook three pounds of organic black beans at a time and then freeze these into one-cup bags. Do the same with organic brown rice. These are a great back-up for fast food nights when you have had a rough day in the classroom. 🙂 Saute onions and garlic in olive oil, add peppers and other veggies, toss in some rice and black beans, and you have a great meal to put on a warm tortilla with a little grated cheese. What I have learned through the years is that whole food eating is not as expensive as one would believe. It is just that so many of us have relied on the “quick fix” that processed and junk foods give.
My family HATES veggies, so on grocery day I come home clean, cut and puree veggies…(my secret), I add the pureed veggies to everything, and my family is none the wiser…pasta sauces, shepards pie, lasagana, soups, pizza sauce, adds great flavour and they have no clue they are eating veggies, hubby included…lol
I make alot of casserole type dishes , they are easy to hide them in, or anything with pasta sauce or gravy.
Nicole Camacho says
I recently read a book called The Sneaky Chef by Missy Chase Lapine. The basic principle was about how to get your kids (and sometimes your spouse!) to eat more vegetables. One of the big things that stuck out at me was the suggestion of pureeing your vegetables and hiding them in whatever it is you’re cooking, such as putting pureed white beans and blueberries into a vanilla milkshake, or pureed fresh baby spinach into brownies. If you can find this book, I think it would be an awesome read for you. I happened across mine on our local e-library’s site. Best of luck!
We dont have a salvage store here anymore:(
Another tip I thought of is mushrooms…they are inexpensive and if you chop them up in little pieces or whirl them in your food processor to make them look more “meat” like (I like to saute mine until browned) and add them to ground meats or meatloaf they are a good filler and add great flavor…no one, even mushroom haters, know they are in there!
Very sneaky–I like it!
I feed a family of 5 on a budget of 100.00 a week. Most weeks I come in way below this amount. I buy everything on sale. The only exception would be milk and eggs. However I often buy milk on sale and freeze it for use later. Sunflower is my favorite store; I shop on Wednesday (double add day) every two weeks to get the best deals on produce.
I plan my meals one month out. I can move meals around based on sale items, time needed for a meal, and what we feel like eating. I have built a rather large pool of easy recipies to pull from for varity. At first this was hard. I started with meals and staples I already had in the house and knew my family loved. Easy to make stuff like spaghetti, tacos, veggie lasagna, and turkey meatloaf. I hide frozen prueed veggies in the sauces and meat. Later I built the menu on the previous sales. I added sale produce to each meal. Salad is your friend and can be different every night with different veggies. Cut up veggies and have them on hand for easy access to grag and add to salad. I blanch and freeze extra produce for later use. We have a rule: You must try everything at each meal. This rule has helped build the pallet of picky eaters. I stock up on items I use regularly when they are on sale. I also garden, canning and freezing my produce.
I’ve just read your 28,000 series this week, and I love it all! It’s refreshing to see other people with a similar budget to ours, when most of the people we know have more to spend.
We are vegetarian, so my kids do eat their veggies, but covering them in cheese sauce and chopping them small never hurts!
To help with anyone on a grocery budget, I would really recommend looking for a salvage grocery in your area. I am lucky enough to have one right around the corner from me, and since I found it I have abandoned the time-consuming coupons. As long as you don’t mind dented cans and boxes, and you remember to check that things aren’t expired beyond your comfort level, you’ll be good! My place is great for pantry staples, cereal, condiments, some organic and specialty treats, toiletries, diapers, paper goods, trash bags, and laundry detergent. They recently had a TON of taco kits and shells in dented boxes for only .25 each! Our big salvage “splurge” is the starbucks coffee for only $3 per pound! I can often get things (organic, specialty) there for about .50-.75 that I wouldn’t even look at in a regular grocery store because of the price. This place has totally saved my grocery spending. I still have to go elsewhere for produce and dairy, but I have started planning my meals around the discount items I can get there. Hope this helps!
Thanks Kate. I forgot about the salvage store. We had a couple when we lived in the Atlanta area, but haven’t found one since we moved. 🙁
We live in an area with a lot of Amish, and the salvage stores are almost all owned by them. If you can find one close enough for even a monthly visit, it would be worth it!
all of these tips are great! I will be trying many of these in my house and meal planning!
I made sneaky stovetop mac and cheese tonight: pintrest find!
It has butternut squash in in. All but one of my kids liked it!
The suggestions for smoothies are always good…just use enough fruit to help them taste sweet and not so veggie like.
I personally am a big fan of veggies but if they wont/cant/dont eat them you can make sure they get their fiber other ways like with flax seed…wither blend it in a fruit smoothie or you can grind them in a coffee grinder and roast them for 10 minutes at 250 degrees, then add whatever flavors you like! I like salt but hubby likes garlic and sometimes rosemary or chili powder for some kick. The benefits????? They taste like nuts with flavors in them, they fill you up and provide you with needed fiber 🙂
I also chop up onions tiny and saute them and then add them to finely grated carrots as a binder in meatballs and meatloaf…so there is no bread needed but if you feel you need something try half bread/cracker/whatever you use and some ground flax…again you get the fiber and full feeling.
The most genuis thing…make zucchini milk and replace milk in soups…the season for chep ones or family and frinds with extra is coming TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT…IT ALSO FREEZES WELL 🙂
Make some mock apple pie out of the zuchini…my clients at the weightloss clinic thought the secret ingredient in the apple pie was apples!!! The lemon makes them tart like apples and then you just add other regular ingredients…Cut back on cost by leaving out the crust. VEGGIES ARE EATEN!!!
Everyone who has posted has such great ideas. None of my tips are original (I’m sure I’ve seen them here or on other ‘frugal’ blogs), but they really do work for our family.
To stay on budget:
* Cut the amount of meat in half in recipes; add mushrooms, beans or other “meatier” textures depending on what you’re making. (I add mushrooms to spaghetti sauce and beans to taco meat, for example)
* Use eggs as your protein in at least one supper per week…they are cheap and filling! For summer or busy days, egg bake in the crockpot is great by itself or with pancakes/waffles/toast. (and a good place to try some of those veggies!)
To eat more veggies:
* Try some of the recipes from Jessica Seinfeld’s “Deceptively Delicious” cookbook. If you don’t know someone with a copy, check it out from the public library to try a few recipes. The quesadillas that sneak white beans in with sour cream are fantastic. There’s also mac and cheese that uses pureed squash and it’s honestly awesome. My kids like veggies but I always like to find ways to eat more.
* Experiment with different ways to serve veggies like someone mentioned above. My kids LOVE homemade sweet potatoe fries. I just cut a sweet potato into sticks like french frieds, toss with olive oil and salt/pepper, and bake. YUM!
Best of luck! It looks like everyone here has shared a ton of new ideas to try 🙂
Have you tried being sneaky?
Like squash spaghetti or hiding beans and spinach in places they’d never guess?
I put rinsed black beans in EVERYTHING (ground meat that is) so for tacos or hamburgers or even lasgana, to sneak some extra protein and fiber in. and they make the meat go way farther! (and at aldi on like 49 cents per can)
Lauren Holmes says
Make smoothies before meals – add spinach or any other veggies, and if you use strawberries, you can’t taste the veggies. 🙂 The smoothies will fill them up before meals. Lauren, lholmes79.wordpress.com
Like Celeste, we have cut out many of the snacks we buy too. I also found that my kids were eating them because they were there. I make my own granola bars, energy balls, muffins etc for snacks as well as fresh fruit and veggies, yogurt, crackers and cheese, applesauce in large jars (or homemade, but I am about out) and even a boiled egg. I will serve a dip with veggies they don’t care for. I feel like a little dip is better than not eating them at all.
I haven’t tried the green monster smoothies, but I have heard that the one Iowa Girl Eats has on her blog is really good. That’s the recipe we are going to try.
You have a lot of great suggestions here. I hope I can help too.
I don’t use coupons (too much work!) I don’t buy bulk (no storage.) I feed a family of four (kids 6 and 8) on $80-95 a week including cleaning/paper supplies.
I don’t plan a specific menu because it’s too rigid for me. I plan a type of food night. With this plan I can use whatever is on sale to make these things:
2. Pasta/Green Beans
4. Egg and Cheese night
5. Grill or Roast/Potato
6. Stir Fry/Rice
7. Mexican food/Beans
Sometimes leftovers. 🙂
I don’t buy very much processed food. It is expensive and generally not healthy.
Oatmeal with apples and brown sugar or oatmeal bake
French Toast with eggs
Cereal and Milk with hard boiled eggs (I usually buy corn flakes/plain cheerios and put a little honey on it.)
Popcorn/Kettle corn (I make it on the stovetop)
Apples or banana with peanut butter
Granola Bars (I make these sometimes)
Raisins and Peanut mix
Yogurt (I buy plain and mix in what the kids want)
Smoothies (use plain yogurt or banana as a base)
Pickles and cheese
Ice milk (we make it with a recipe that calls for gelatin-yum!)
cookies (rare- I’m too lazy!)
Vinegar $1.50 for a gallon.(in a spray bottle with 1/2 water.) My kids help me clean and I don’t like the harsh chemicals.
oatmeal is cheap there- my kids love baked oatmeal.
whole wheat bread
wild fish (frozen)
Paper goods- They have a 6 pack of TP for a $1. Napkins there too
This is long, hope it helps.
Great idea to assign specific kinds of foods to a night of the week. Another great thing about your plan is that you have chosen items that are fairly cheap to make as well. Thanks for sharing!
You’re welcome. I do one “meaty” grill night for my hubby because that seems to make him happy. All the other nights meat is more like a side dish. 😉
There are a lot of great tips here, my biggest tip is to avoid buying fresh or canned produce if frozen will work, frozen produce is MUCH CHEAPER & HEALTHIER than fresh and esp. canned, and if you can grow it then do.
If you’d like you can also read the posts I wrote two years ago on the subject, it really goes in depth on all the ways that you can save money on your grocery bill and none of them take up a lot of time.
We are in the same boat you guys are. I have a family of 7 that has $170.00 a week for not only food but any extras like gas, misc, beauty care, birthdays etc….Everyone I know doesn’t believe me when I tell them I can do this for our big family every week, most week I can do it for about $100.00 using the leftover money for fresh fruits or any deals that come up during the week that I want to get. I try to help as many people as I know, but some what overnight savings, which doesn’t happen very often. For us, it was a steady savings each week then we really started cutting back about a month into my budget
We live in a small town which has a grocery store but its soooo expensive, I hardly go there. Which means we gotta travel a half an hour so I gotta make sure the deals are good enough to go since gas is in the total budget.
Here is how I do it:
* scope out all the meat deals first and whatever store has the best deals I go there to shop
* get my produce at farmer’s markets (whatever I dont grow myself)
* in winter for produce I get whatever produce is on sale and buy a ton. Use it in every dessert that week, plus I can whatever I dont use in desserts
* I started canning which has helped with cost as well as bringing money in
* started selling my baked goods and canned at farmers markets
* get free produce from farmers at the end of markets (usually if you shop around close, they will throw in whatever is left cause they couldnt sell it again)
* if there arent any meat deals, I go to the local expensive store and they set up a meat deal for the week or month depending on what I want.
* if you dont already have, get another freezer (which has really helped us)
* If you can, make snacks homemade (well there are times we do, cause you need to cheat every now and then or else the budget can get to much to much at times especially during holidays)
* shop at organic stores for spices since they do theirs in bulk. I never need much and save a ton of money this way.
* plan a monthly pot luck dinner with friends (which I would love to do bi-weekly
* I only NEVER use coupons on snacky items (learned the hard way and was spending a fortune on stuff we normally dont buy)
* When using coupons I use them at stores that double sometimes triple the amount of them.
* When a great deal comes along of an item that you use weekly, stock up as much as you can. It will save you money in the long run
* sign up for a few website that shows you deals at different stores weekly such as moneysaving mom or frugalmom.com
* do freezer meals or at least freeze all the prep work so its super simple to make dinner
* use meat as a condiment rather than the main course. Stock up on high proteins meals (like a meal that has a little meat or no meat with beans for example. Still healthy but a lot of the times a lot cheaper)
* be creatve with veggies ( I have a super picky son so I started adding veggies in desserts such as cupcakes and they love it. Or try fruit smoothies and throw in a few veggies. Most of the time they wont be able to tell.)
* beware of dollar stores (some items you really arent saving, just know how much things sell for and do your homework.)
* beware when buying bulk ( I actually never buy bulk, which is hard to believe. I end up wasting a lot and it didnt save us any money. Sometimes it was actually costing us money.)
* Write down menus for the week or month (I do week cause I change my meals often at the last min)
The biggest advice I can give you is this: What works for one family, might not work for yours. I have tried copying what others do and failed. Only by trial and error will you know what will work for your family.
*Dont give up. And don’t beat yourself up if you fail one week. There is always another week to start new.
Hope some of these ideas can help you. It took me about 6 months to find my groove years ago, but ever since then, its super easy for me to follow our budget. But there are times, when things pop up and I am so grateful that I did stock up because I cant go shopping that week. Keep at it and I am sure you’ll find you groove too 🙂
So I rambled on, I dont get out much LOL.
Great ideas–thanks for rambling. 🙂
Sticking to a meal plan can be difficult but helps with the budget and eating healthier. We usually sit down on Saturday or Sunday and write out a plan for the next week, including breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. I let the kids have input on the plan. Then we go to the grocery store late Sunday night or early Monday morning. We are flexible and sometimes things move around but at least we know we have ingredients at home for all of our meals.
I use a notepad with the days of the week on one side, grocery list on the other and budget tracker on the bottom. You can find lots of templates on the internet.
Having set meal times and only one snack time per day is helping us. My kids were also big snackers but I have cut all snacking out except for one afternoon snack. They eat more at meals and I spend less on snack foods.
While you are getting breakfast ready, set out some fruit on the table. While you are getting dinner ready, set out some veggies with different dips. It’s not a vegetable, but my kids love guacamole and at least it has good fats. The other thing that even my pickiest eater will eat is edamame. They may be more likely to try them if there is nothing else out and they are hungry. I also set out some pistachios or other nuts as part of the snack. They are expensive but filling.
I tell my kids, “You don’t have to like it, but you have to try it.” I gave one extremely picky eater so I know it’s difficult!
Good Luck! (several of these ideas are from the book “Bringing Up BeBe” which I really enjoyed)
Awesome post! Thank You!
My husband and I just set up a grocery budget, and we too were having a very hard time sticking to it, even though I thought it was pretty generous for just the two of us. This month is the first month that we will come in under budget (yay!) and there are two things that I attribute that to, first is being very picky about what produce I’m buying. Whether it is fresh or frozen, I won’t pay more than $1.50/lb, preferably $1/lb or less. This is a bit difficult in the northeast, even in the summer, but we make it work. I’ve been getting fresh apples, kale and tomatoes and frozen spinach and broccoli. The other thing I’ve done is to pay for all grocery and household items in cash. At the beginning of the month I took out our grocery and household money and put it in an envelope. Seeing exactly how much money was left in the budget and knowing once it was gone, it was gone helped me plan better and made me think harder about what I was buying, especially snacks! Hope this was helpful!
I have two very picky eaters……one is my 5 year old an the other is my husband. Neither is big on fruit….sad to say we have only apples and carrots in the fridge sometimes corn on the cob and canned green beans and corn and whole potatoes…..it’s te only way I can get them to eat better. I do however cook better main dishes but only a small amount. For instance my husband could put away two large chicken breast if not more, now we are down to 3 breast one for each, a can of veggies, raw carrots, apples, potatoes or toast. But the sides are larger portions. It helps fill them up and they are ok with those few items. I spend about 70-80 every 2 weeks on groceries for a family of 3. It may be more than some or less than some I’m not sure but it works and my daughter sleeps better at night and isn’t asking for snacks because her body needs the veggies/fruit. Make small changes an remember you are human….sometimes it’s ok to chose your battles as long as you try the next day. Eventually you’ll make the switch….working on 5 years of this and we’ve made a small change but it’s better than no change.
I learned so much! THANKS! Very helpful info… :o)
We buy virtually nothing that is premade. All bread, cereal and main dishes. That will save a lot. No pop, junk food. They will either get hungry or eat what is available. It is not mean, when budgets are tight that is life.
Here are a couple of ways we try to do this:
– I usually hit Sunflower market for fresh veggies on Wednesdays-they have double adds so all of the fruits and veggies are on sale from this week and next week. The kids get to “pick” a couple for the “featured” fruit/veggie of the week and then they help me cook them.
-Stockpile healthy items when they are on a great sale. I usually stock pile broths, tomato products, beans, etc. since they are the base for so many healthy options.
-Find several healthy items your kids will eat. I use sparkrecipes.com since they have a searchable database with lots of variety and normal ingredients–not lots of “fancieness” (Seriously, I am never going to by kale or arugala!)
-Make 4 or 5 plans during that month you are into it and save them (and the corresponding grocery list) on excel. That way, when you tire of it, you can print off lists/recipes you already have put together.
I started making green smoothies- just type that in a google search and you will get tons of recipes. I love it that I can can get all my kids to drink their greens.
Janelle – we have a ‘one bite’ rule in our house. Try it. If you hate it – you do not need to eat any more. I got the kids involved in picking fruits – and sweeteners (agave, maple syrup – whatever) – and then adding either spinach or kale…. i am shocked that the smoothies are a hit.
I feed a family of 5 (4 adults and one 10 year old) for 325$ a month. I only buy on sale or with a coupon, I go to the farmers market every other week, the vegetables are fresher and they last longer that the grocers produce. Know how much things are so you know how to spot a good sale and stock up when you find one. I shop at the discount bakery once a month and freeze bread and snacks till the day before it is needed. As far as the kids eating no vegetables that is very unhealthy. Y ou could sneak them in breads and cakes like carrot cake or zucchini or cover broccoli in cheese. French fried sweet potatoes or breaded squash mlght be just the thing. Maybe if they help you cook they would take pride in their work and try it in a whole new light. Hope this helps.
1. The first thing is to cut out ALL the junk food that they were snacking on. Offer fresh fruit and a lightly sweetened cream cheese glaze, or vegetables and ranch or honey mustard dressing. Celery with peanut butter and raisins, or apples with peanut butter and honey. Put some cheddar cheese on the side.
2. Whip up delicious homemade desserts, with the caveat that there is any complaining, or someone doesn’t finish their dinner, no dessert! Remember, no already processed junk food in the grocery store!
3. Melted cheese is your friend! You could serve broccoli with cheese sauce. Zucchini and tomatoes baked in the oven with gooey mozzarella cheese on top. You don’t need tons of cheese, just enough to get those veggies down!
If they like spaghetti with meatballs or meatloaf, very finely process carrots, zucchini and onions to mix in with the ground beef. With the exception of the onions, the veggies won’t have a strong flavor and can easily be “hidden”. My husband is not a fan of veggies but there are a few that he will eat and I try to make sure that I have them on hand. Emily is spot on about adding them into sauces because you can puree them or perhaps even juice them so they are not noticeable.
During the summer I make large, cold dishes that keep for days:
chicken or tuna salad
Plus, I keep veggie trays and fruit trays with salsas, hummus or dip.
This way I can just take everything out of the fridge, put it on the table and lunch or dinner is ready.
Steph (The Cheapskate Cook) says
We’ve also tried to focus on eating whole, real foods – even when our budget was $25/week. I know it’s hard with picky kids, so way to go rolling up your sleeves and trying to make it work!
Beans & Rice-type taco meals instead of full taco beef is a frugal alternative, soups and crackers/bread, pasta with diced veggies in the sauce. Aldi is a FANTASTIC store for buying staples at 30%-50% below average stores – you can look one up near you. Also, you can look into freezer cooking – prepping a lot of meals ahead of time in 1-2 days for the rest of the month so it’s a little easier to stay on track for dinners.
Also, I don’t want to sound all “look at my blog”, but I just found an E-Book that I thought was THE BEST frugal and healthy eating resource I have ever read – and I’ve read a lot of them. It’s called Your Grocery Budget Toolbox, and you can find it on my blog.
Hope you get lots of great inspiration from the rest of the comments!
Thanks to this page – I did start a menu. We are mostly vegan – so I doubt I have recipes that will help you 🙂 BUT – one area that can cut costs is meat free meals. Pasta and salad – ‘breakfast’ for dinner (pancakes – for non vegans, eggs, etc). We have a rotating breakfast menu now. I make hash browns, muffins, oatmeal, breakfast ‘cookies’ – and cut down on buying cereal. I got a bread machine so I can make bread during the warmer months. As ‘J’ said – cutting out pre made foods is a huge savings. It DOES involve more planning – but CAN be done. For example – tortillas are SO easy and cheap to make!! Bagels are time consuming (lots of waiting) – but SO cheap! Use your slow cooker!! Warm weather or working all day – SLOW COOKER! Also, plan meals with leftovers. Get a great deal on a piece of meat – cook in the slow cooker – plan a meal with leftovers! We also (thanks to the Incredibles) have a ‘leftover night’. I do it the day before trash day…. because I hate moldy food in the fridge. I also buying bulk…. look into ‘green clean’ to save household funds. Cleaners can be made with vinegar, baking soda, washing soda, castile soap and some oils….. I also make my own laundry detergent. I find that cleaners are an area I am REALLy saving!
We also have a family of 5 and I try to keep our grocery budget between $120 and $150. I don’t separate my non-grocery items so they’re all included in that figure.
We do make our own powdered laundry detergent and liquid fabric softener – that was my first money saving experiment and I’ve been doing that now for a year and really LOVE it.
My husband and I eat very low carb (Atkins induction almost) so we eat a ton of meat and veggies. We eat absolutely NOTHING boxed, processed or pre-mixed/pre-made. When we cut all that out I was scared of an increase in the food bill but it didn’t happen.
I plan every meal every week. I’ve made a list of meal ideas for Brkfst, Lunch, Supper and keep those to quickly pick from each week so the planning process goes a bit swifter. I also have an estimated cost of what each meal’s ingredients will cost listed next to the meal so I know how much I’m adding to the grocery bill when I choose that meal.
Get to know your prices – make a list – keep track for a while of the items at different stores. I used to do a lot of Aldi shopping thinking everything was just cheaper there and really only a few of the things we normally buy are cheaper than what I can get at Kroger or Walmart – especially with sales. We usually shop at 2 stores at a minimum – sometimes three – each week. (Don’t forget…Walmart price matches too)
For the kids…we don’t buy any snacks or treats. We never have. I have a daughter that is autistic and gluten free and has been picky with trying new foods. My other two weren’t big on many veggies two years ago and I think that’s just because we didn’t offer them much. Once we started making veggies a staple at every meal things changed. I read that if you have a child that doesn’t like something, try to introduce it and encourage at least two bites at least 9 different times and almost always they’ll pick it up by the 9th time and start to eat it. Now, my kids (all three of them) LOVE veggies. In fact we just went to Ruby Tuesday’s (as a splurge) on Saturday and they all three ate from the salad bar alone. (they’re not pasta kids since we don’t eat it at home so they fill their plates with lettuce and all the veggies!) For my autistic daughter I started with just one veggie at a time. For her I started with cucumbers and cut them up as coins. I just put them in her lunch each day and asked her to just try one if she thought she didn’t want them. In about a week she started coming home with an empty bag. We then moved on to carrots and celery (I peel it so there’s no strings) I offer peanut butter as dip (she dips EVERYTHING) . We also offer Ranch for dip too. They LOVE peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, cukes – all dipped in ranch and sometimes just plain too. Right now for her I’m working on avocado and zucchini. She spit the avocado out the first time she tried it and now after about 4 attempts she’s eating almost all of what I give her. The zucchini we cut into coins and sauted them and she just tried the two bites the first time but a few nights ago I cut it thin and lengthwise and we had it as faux spaghetti. With the sauce on top she scarfed it all down.
Keeping veggies cleaned and cut into kid side bites and within easy reach in the fridge is also helpful. My kids will open the fridge and just reach in and grab a handful of veggies to snack on all the time. (They’re 10, 6 and 5 by the way).
Hope that helps!!
great tips. I have started keeping fresh fruit on the counter and my middle son grabs nectatrines on his way by.
Jessica N says
I my self have been placed in a similar postion, I have four children, myself and my husband. I must feed all of us for $70 a week $350 a month, we have very poor soil and the garden does not grow well. We do have a new flock of chickens which help with fresh eggs. We only have a safeway which is still 30 miles one way.
We freeze a lot, eat a lot of potatoes, broth, and try to shop once a month.
Jessica P says
Emily seemed to give you great advice. My husband is pretty picky about eating vegetables and fruit. I try to often cook the vegetables or fruit he does like. I also try to encourage my husband to eat new things by buying it and eating myself. Then I offer him a bite and he usually will try whatever it is I am eating. I was able to get him to like pineapple this way!
I am a big believer in Emeals just like “The Peaceful Mom.” I did a three month subscription (they have all kinds of choice for meal plans such as low carb, weight watchers or clean eating) and that really helped me get started with doing a healthy weekly meal plan. I also use pinterest to help me plan my meals. I go on pinterest and pin recipes that look/sound good. Then I plan my meals from what I have pinned. That way I have recipes I am actually excited to try! I hope this helps.
I buy veggies on sale or at Aldi, then chop and freeze them. I’m much more likely to cook with veggies on a weeknight when they are already prepped! I sneak finely chopped peppers, zucchini, carrots, etc. into everything! Taco meat, pasta sauces, burgers, etc. I can stay on budget by buying produce on sale and stay healthy by using pre-prepped veggies!