Food Budget's....for a Family of 7! - Cedar Springs,MI

Updated on May 03, 2012
T.K. asks from Cedar Springs, MI
24 answers

Hi Moms,
I am hoping some of you can shed some insight on what typse of food budgets work for you and what would be reasonable to spend for a family this size.
Food budgets are something I struggle with. One week I shop and get what I need and stay where I need to be, the next is like the flood gates open up and I am way off. I really try to shop by meals so I don't end up with a bunch of stuff and nothing for dinner. I have to double some items to feed my family for instance if I buy hamburger helper for a quick mid week meal I need two boxes and a veggie.
What about sales vs. no sales? Do you buy things on sale because it is a good deal or wait until you need it? I really don't want to join the coupon clipping sites that you pay for. I don't really have enough storage for 30 boxes of mac and cheese at any given time :)
Any help would be appreciated....

PS - kids ages are 17, 15, 12, 5, 10 months (and myself and hubby of course :)

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

Featured Answers



answers from Los Angeles on

We are 6 (29,29,11,5,3,1) and I usually spend about $220-250 per week. I plan 10 meals (i like to have a few extras) and write down excactly what I need to make each meal. I stick to my list almost 100%. This works out great for me :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kalamazoo on

Sales are great and if you could use coupons it would help. The best site for couponing is free it is, if there is a coupon out there it will tell you who or there will be a link to go there. I don't go with that stock pileing way either. Hopefully this may help you.



answers from Washington DC on

I am one of 5 kids growing up and my dad was in the Navy, so it was 90% of the time Commissary prices. I remember it being 2 full carts as we got older...and my brothers started eating more. Probably $6-700 for every 2 weeks?

We are a family of 5 and I budget $350 every two weeks. That would probably cost me closer to $500 is I had to shop "out in town." We also use the commissary because my husband is also retired military.

More Answers


answers from Lynchburg on

Hi T.-

The single most $$$ saving thing since forever for me has been a full size freezer.

I shop sales for meat/poultry/fish...and freeze it.

I will make HUGE batches of some dinner items that freeze well (ie...spaghetti sauce...lasagna...pulled pork...chilli...etc)

I shop every several days for milk...fresh fruit ...and produce.

I shop at sam's for paper items (TP, paper towels, napkins...foils and wraps...napkins) well as flour, sugar, (I use 5 gallon containers for paint to store these big things)...spices, oils, nuts...

Best Luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Money Saving Food tips-
1. reduce your meat consumption.
2. track your spending. make a list of every item you buy and the price you paid for it (that way you can spot a good deal when you see it).
3. stock up when things are on sale.
4. cook from scratch (those semi home made things cost more than scratch cooking). you can mix up your own taco seasoning, make your own hamburger helper, your own pancake batter, mac and cheese, etc.
5. be amenable to doing menu substitutions depending on what the market has to offer. i.e. Tuesday is stuffed pepper night, why not stuffed tomatoes or stuffed zuchini if they are cheaper.
6. don't buy individual sized things snacks or drinks, a 2 lb bag of pretzles put into ziplocs, yogurt and fruit in a tupperware, a flask of diluted juice is much better for your pocket and for the environment
7. look up recipes which address the bunch of stuff and nothing for dinner predicament, home made hot pockets, quiche, stew, chili, samosa etc are great ways of dealing with the odds and ends.

Good luck to you and yours,
F. B.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I do a lot of freezer cooking...which means I buy things when they are on sale and make them up in big batches to have extras on hand. It also helps save time in the kitchen! I even formed my own freezer meal exchange group where a group of 8 friends make meals to swap with each other once a month. Menu planning will definitely help you stay on track. I personally have found that store brands are often cheaper than national brands and then there's no coupons to keep up with. I do not have enough storage either to do stockpiling, plus a lot of that food is normally processed food which is believe it or not, often more expensive than cooking with fresh foods.

There is no one size fits all when it comes to meal planning, so you'll need to try a few things to see what works for you. I actually have a blog on just this thing... you can check it out at

Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Charleston on

There is no reason to pay full price for anything (other than milk, fresh fruits, veggies) as most items go on sale in 6-8 week cycles. Once your go to grocery items go on sale, buy enough to last you 6 weeks. You don't have to coupon to do this. For example, toilet paper is on sale for $6.99 for 12 rolls. How many rolls do you typically go through per week? Figure that, then you've got your answer on how many packages to buy. If you add a coupon to the mix, your savings are greater.

Try taking a look at the free site: to see if they create shopping lists based on weekly sales for any of your local grocery stores. I swear by this site.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

I have always been a bargain hunter. My mom taught me many things, but her teaching me to shop wisely is one of the things that has helped me all my adult life and I fondly remember my mom taking me shopping and talking to me about lots of things, but mostly why to buy this over that.

I can spend $25 per person per week very easily. If I'm very careful, I can spend only $12 to $15 per week per person. This includes non-edibles, but essentials like toilet paper, bath soap, and dog food.

The best way to save is to shop for what you need when it is on sale. The bigger the sale (discount) the more of it I buy. Example: I like to use alfredo sauce. I use it for all kinds of things. In my area it normally sells for $2.99 to $3.49 per 16 oz jar. It will go on sale for $1.99 about every 6 weeks. It will go on sale for $0.99 every 4 months or so. I know I will use about three jars per month. I don't buy any for $2.99. I seldom buy any for $1.99. BUT, when it goes on sale for $.99 I will buy a dozen jars. That way I always pay $.99 per jar even when I see my neighbors paying $2.99.

I do the same thing for almost everything I buy. That's why I can spend $15 per week for groceries and sundries while others are spending three or 4 times that or even more. I know one lady that brags when she is able to only spend $250 per week for her family of four, while I would spend $50 for the same size family.

How can you cut 25% to 40% off your food budget immediately? Shop the sales. Look at all of your sales ads. Take a black pen and circle the items you find on sale that you like to eat. Do this for all the sales ads you get. If it is a good price circle it once or twice. The better the price, the more you circle it. Then look at all of your circled prices and make out your weekly menu. Then go shopping. I usually shop at three of the 6 stores I get ads for. I look to see if going to another store will save me more than the gas it takes to get there. Example: One store had chicken breasts for $.99 lb. Another store has chicken breasts for $.97 lb. I won't drive the six miles round trip to save the 2 cents per pound. However, I would drive the 6 miles if the difference was $.25 per pound.

I would spend $105 to $175 per week for your family of seven. I've written on this topic several times and given lots of suggestions, but I don't know how to tell you to read those old questions.

FYI: I almost NEVER buy meat and vegetables at COSTCO or SAM'S. They are ALWAYS more expensive than my local grocery stores when the item is on sale.

Good luck to you and yours.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

The best way to do this is to make a menu plan for a month and an extra week. You could have spaghetti, chili, lasagna, and soup twice a month if you made a larger batch and froze half. The extra week is for the leftovrer and what you can make from them or if you want to change up something and have that food on hand.

But then break it down by spices, veggies, bread, milk, butter, eggs and such that you would use in the menus (include the homemade cookies as a treat). Do check out what you have on hand and incorporate that into the menus. Now make up what you need to have for the month and if you have to break it down to 2 times a month or 4 times a month. Shop without the family so that the odd "extras" do not come home (raises the grocery budget) and go that way. If it is not on the list it does not get bought. Period.

I did this for four years when we lived out of the country (Quebec, Canada) and our budget for food was about $250 for a month (military) for a family of four. All the leftovers were tomorrrow's lunch and a new meal was made each night. Saturday was leftovers from the week that got eaten up. homemade break was made twice a week. The only way you knew we were close to the end of the month is when we had grilled cheese sandwiches and vegetable soup for dinner.

We (other military members) purchased by case lots and divided the food items up among ourselves. I knew a case of paper towel would last a year and would not split. A case of toilet paper (96 rolls) would be divided in half. The same with spaghetti paste (96 of those little suckers) and would be divided into 4ths. Once you get your basic stock of food (frozen veggies, juices and meat by the case) you are good to go. I picked up my smaller items locally at the butcher shop or grocery stores and learned what days they brought in their fresh produce for the weekend as well as other meats. Since we were so far from larger metropolitan cities and in an area that had large snowfalls, all products were packaged in 10 pound sizes or better which is a blessing if you get snowed in and can't get out. My baking powder and yeast were in 32 ounce size containers and I would use them up over the period of the winter.

Good luck to you.

The other S.

PS Our milk and eggs were delivered to us by the local milkman to our door twice a week.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Hey T.!

First and foremost, we start by making a menu. I take inventory of the fridge & pantry first to utilize what I already have. We shop every two weeks, so I number out 14 spaces on my paper, and fill each space with a main dish, and at least two vegetables or one veggie & one starch. I also make a list of lunches that hubby & I want to bring to work, & lunches that Cheyenne wants to bring to school, and a list of snacks we want to eat that week.

Then, I start my list. We eat healthy, whole unprocessed foods, so our food budget tends to be pretty close to $350 every two weeks for our family of four.

I make sure to include everything we need on the list, even making allowances for things that we shouldn't have but we know we will buy, like ice cream, to cut down on impulse spending.

Don't forget to add misc. items like toilet paper & toiletries to the list.

Then, I go through the store ads & coupon listings. If & only if there is something that is already on my list, I use the coupons & sales. I don't shop based on sales or coupons, I end up wasting money on things I don't really need that way.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I find I do a lot better (savings wise) when I use the sales to plan my menu for the next week. (Dinners)
I took a little notebook and wrote O. dinner on each page and EVERYTHING needed for that dinner (even "buns" for hamburgers, etc.)
I pick out 4 or 5 dinners and shop from that list from the notebook.
Then I add a few things for breakfasts, and lunches.
For HBA and household stuff--I but when we need something. (TP, paper towels, shampoo, etc.)
Coupons are only clipped for things I frequently buy.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

Hubby and I sit down every two weeks (payday weeks) and make up a list of not only the basics, but anything we may be running low on, along with meal ideas and what would be needed for them. We have our 7th family member on the way, and our ages range from 16 to 5, so we are in about the same boat! And honestly, we stopped doing the box dinners, because like you said, it takes two to feed everybody, and we realized we could make about the same thing with dry noodles (cheaper) and we get jars of things like alfredo sauce and spaghetti sauce. If your family likes a cheesy mac for supper, use easy melt cheese (like Velveeta, although we use the Great Value brand from Wal-Mart), brown the hamburger, cut the cheese into cubes and toss them in with the meat, and add a splash of milk. Add in the cooked pasta, and voila! supper's done, and it took the same amount of time as the box would have, with a lower sodium count! I'd say we usually spend about $250 on groceries every two weeks, with additional store runs for things like milk and bread in between paydays.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Your kids are similar in ages to mine, I have a 20, 17, 16, 12, 8, 6 & 4 (the 16 & 12 year olds are nephews and are only here 3 nights a week) but we spend about $200-$250 a week at the grocery store.

I shop weekly and do a meal plan. The budget usually only fluctuates when we need soap or paper products and dog food.

Sometimes I shop the sales and stock up IF it is something I know the kids will eat, like cereal!

~Whole chickens have become my best friend! I can bake 2-3 at a time and then have baked chicken, rice & a veggie one night, then save the leftovers and have fajitas the next on and so forth!


answers from St. Louis on

We are six but two have places of their own now. One thing we do with meat products is buy bulk at Costco. Better quality and cheaper. We also have one of those bag sealer thingys. Ya know they suck the air out and seal it. So we portion it for when it is just Troy and I, the four of us, and if we have the older two over. Then write on the outside what the portion is and freeze. Then we defrost what we need for our needs. Really cuts down on leftovers. :)

We are lucky that we have tons of storage space. You may want to do the math as to whether it is cheaper in the long run to increase storage by adding shelves in the basement or another freezer unit. My older two refer to the storage section of the basement as the food pantry. :p At times they use it as such. What I mean is shopping but not paying. :)

So far as the actual budget goes we spend 500 a month on groceries. I go by month because like you some weeks are more than others. :)


answers from Jacksonville on

What I do is:

I do watch the sales/sales flyers, and try to plan meals that incorporate items that are on sale (the meat portion especially---and side veggies, since those things don't "keep" as well or as long) so we can eat them fresh.

I also do buy things on sale, but I try to only buy on sale items that we will eat "today or tomorrow" or are something that I keep a stock of (like papertowels, toilet tissue, dishwashing soap, feminine products, etc). No sense paying full price WHEN we run out, when I can buy it on sale and stick in the closet for a few weeks until needed. I almost NEVER pay full price for such items. It isn't necessary to do so... so why do it?

If you don't have the storage space, that might create issues with doing it that way, but we have plenty of storage for shampoo, soap, paper products, etc.
Really, anything that is not a perishable item gets bought almost exclusively on sale, and stored until needed. Perishable items are trickier, because you have to be more careful about buying DURING the sale, yet in a timely enough manner that they can/will be used before expiration, and yet that you still have them when you need them. So, sometimes our meat isn't on sale. Particularly deli meat. My husband takes a sandwich to work every day. If we are out, I HAVE to buy it, even if it isn't on sale. If the sale runs through Wednesday, I need to consider how much I need to purchase so that it lasts thru his work week, but not purchase so much that it is "old" and not good to eat before it is all consumed...

ETA: One really good thing that helps a lot is to buy extra meats and have a grilled dinner on the weekend. Throw extra on the grill, cook it, and refrigerate it. Use grilled chicken or steak cut up on salads with meat on top, tacos, wraps, fajitas or any number of things later in the week.
Also, eggs for dinner can be wonderful! Make a sausage and veggie egg casserole. Or omelets. or breakfast sandwiches (scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage, cheese on toast).


answers from Dallas on

I build meals around what's on managers specials. I shop the day old produce, and dairy, and bread. I draw the line at meat! It sometimes means an extra trip around the store. Half way in I'll find something on sale that would be great, but I need to go back and get brocoli or something to go with it. No coupons, but I do plan my attack based on store ads. If possible, I take all the ads and get price matching at Walmart.

When I am feeding alot of people and want to stretch - I add staples. Rice, potatoes, beans, or pasta. You can buy all in bulk and really bulk up your meals. Gramma never made a meal that wasn't 2/3 potatoes or beans.

Rethink the meals that you make and look for ways to make them from bulk items, rather than convenience items. For instance, your hamburger helper - Just brown the meat, cook a 97c bag of egg noodles and add your own seasonings and a corn starch slurry. It will be infinately healthier and less than half the cost. Add brown gravy and sour cream to make stroganoff. Add real cheese and spaghetti sauce to make lasagna. Add taco seasoning and shredded cheddar to make the taco variety.



answers from New York on

I don't think it really makes a difference if your a family of 3, a family of 10, or somewhere inbetween, it seems the average is around $30 per person over age 2. Actually, I think it would be easier and cheaper for a larger family as you can buy in bulk and take advantage of more coupons, since so many of the ones in the Sunday paper are $1 off 3.

Yes, it's important to shop by meal, but it's also important to shop sales. Shopping sales can be difficult, because although the flyer is a good indicator, there are always things on sale in the store. For example, we went shopping on Sunday and spilt chicken breasts were on sale for $.99/lb, guess what we're having this week? Tortilla wraps were also 1/2 price and don't expire until June, so I bought 5 packages. No, you don't need 30 boxes of mac and cheese, but 5 boxes isn't so bad.

I also think it's important to have a lot of stand bys and pantry type items on hand that you can use for sides... rice, potatoes, bread, frozen veggies, pasta. These are the things that you stock up on when on sale.

Check some of the previous posts, there have been a lot of inexpensive meals and ways to cut your grocery bills

Here's a few tips...

If you're not already a member of BJ's or Costco, I highly suggest you look into joining.

Know your prices. Sometimes stores make it sound like a good deal. Buying in bulk is not always cheeper.

A oven stuffer roaster is 2 cheap meals. Bake the chicken for one meal. Make a soup from the leftovers.

Stir fry is easy and inexpensive. Use what you have on hand.

Pasta is inexpensive. Make your own sauces.

Eggs - egg salad sandwiches for lunch, deviled eggs as a side dish, omelettes for dinner



answers from Detroit on

I'm in a family of 8. We started started shopping at sav-a-lot and aldi's. Saves us alot some foods we still buy from meijer's and kroger's. But this helps us strech our food dollar. I am military and the commissary is so far that any savings would be cancelled out by the cost of gas and time. Another thing portion control for the kids and like many other posters making food from scratch. If you have relatives that live near by pop in from time to time around dinner time ;)



answers from Washington DC on

Wow you’ve gotten great tips. I coupon rarely and shop ever month and a half only picking up milk/ produce when I am actually going to use it cause I will be throwing our money away otherwise. We are creatures of habit so I buy the same products religiously when they are on sale. I plan a lot of crock pot meals (cause I work full time and wanna eat as soon as I get home) but have found that the key to cutting your budget is PLANNING. Make a list, don’t buy a lot of “empty calorie” items (juice/ snacks) plan for extra so you can take it for lunch the next day and buy in bulk when you can. I have a family of 5 and this seems to help alot



answers from Chicago on

I shop according to meals. But having said that I do get larger cuts of meat so that I can use the leftovers up in casseroles and soups later in the week. for instance

I get 2 potroasts and make them both the same time. day 1 is the potroast its self with veggies and a salad
day 2 is soup (left over meat and veggies along with a bag of frozen mixed veggies.

I make baked chicken breasts and we have that with rice on day 1 and day 2 we have chicken and rice soup (not always the next day may be later in the week lol)

Taco's can be made into taco salad, or burritos later in the week.

My kids love spaghetti we make a huge pot of spaghetti (Make a 2 lb box) and a huge vat of the sauce. first day we have individual plates. day 2 is baked spag (mis up the spag and sauce thats left and cover with mozzarella cheese sort of like fake lasagna)

I buy on sale if it is in the weeks menu. but my husband who is allowed to go groc shopping only if I am next to dying will buy 10 of something because it is on sale. we currently have 10 cans of coffee because it was on sale. who has room to store 10 cans of coffee? I made him put it in the basement lol.

I do keep a lot of pasta on hand. it lasts forever and can be make into so many different things.



answers from Salinas on

Follow the advice below, there are some great tips. Just from your post I would say don't buy processed "box" foods. I don't know how much hamburger helper costs but I bet it would be much cheaper to make pasta from scratch. Just put some veggies in it instead of on the side and add a salad and not only will it be cheaper but also much better for you.

Also plan every nightly meal, don't ever shop without a list and planned meals. Buy big containers of stuff not indiviually packaged items. No frozen pre-made food at all, not only is it bad for you I cannot believe how expensive some of that stuff is.

Do you eat beans? A great source of protein, you can do anything with them and they are very inexpensive and filling.
Think whole foods, less or no meat, made from scratch and you will be eating healthy food, helping the enviroment and saving money.



answers from Chicago on

We bought a gorgeous full size freezer last year. I love it. I shop the sales, and then grocery shop in the basement. I do coupon too, so we put in some great storage shelves. It was so worth it to me to make a little store area in my basement. I'm not a crazy couponer, but I usually have some extras of things we need in the basement, and I will stock up when deals are great.

I then try to plan out 10 meals at a time. I do half from what is on hand, and then the others dependent on sale price produce. So strawberries were on sale yesterday, as were spinach, so we had a nice salad, and a pork tenderloin from the freezer.

I also cook almost everything from scratch. Pasta sauces are so easy, all you need is tomatoes, cream, and a few other things (lemon, wine)....I also always make my own mac and cheese and then freeze it. You save a small fortune, it's healthier, and everyone is happy. We also do things like make up a bunch of hamburgers for the freezer, different soups..Also, hubby has become an expert at cutting up his own chickens. When they are on sale, I'l buy a bunch, he'll cut up a few so we have "parts," and we'll freeze a few for roasts. We then use the carcasses to make stock and soup. It's so much cheaper if you cut it up yourself. But I am the crazy lady that will buy 7 or 8 chickens when they are dirt cheap. I'm also the crazy lady that only buys cereal twice a year, when it drops to its basement price.



answers from Detroit on

I'm a mom of 8 too n I hear u I am struggling with eating healthier with the rest food too. I don't think there's any hope I have tried couponing but u really need tons of time. I don't have but I do go through weekend out ons I do try to by stuff on sale but that doesn't always work if u don't have a pantry than now. Just te wha we need I try to leave a certain amount out of the check some weeks where good most we r not if u do find something that works let me know. Do shop a lot at Walmart than krogers. I only go to krogers for milk lunch meat n fruit n veggies bu. like to go to fruit aren't for most.



answers from Saginaw on

I find it helpful to plan my meals according to what's on sale. I check the flyer and if hamburger is on sale, then spaghetti, taco's, sloppy joes, etc is on the menu....if chicken is on sale I stock up. I buy the family packs (lots of them) and break them down into ziplocs according to how many I normally need for a meal. boneless skinless chicken breasts are huge nowadays compared to years before so when I end up with really big ones, I pound them out a little so they aren't 4 inches thick, and cut them in half and you end up with 2 breast cutlets out of one.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions