Need to Spend Less on Groceries

Updated on January 17, 2011
T.R. asks from Warwick, NY
37 answers

I have a family of 4 with 2 children. I make a meal plan for 1 week....what I will make for each day and of course, write all indgredients down on the grocery list. I'm not one to go to the grocery store every day or every other day so I find this works best to avoid that. Except my groceries come out to $200 for the week. I always include making sauce on Sundays which gives me 1 other day to have pasta and sometimes homemade chicken soup which will be a leftover for 1 more other day. Although, I can't continue to use this same menu every week. My children....agghhh...well thats another story....they rarely eat what my husband and I are eating. So then, I have to make something else that they like....which adds on more to the food menu. Anyhow, does anyone have a good food budget? Do you have a recipe or 2 that will end up for a leftover for another night and my children will like it? What refreshments is good that doesn't have alot of sugar? We buy the green gatorade which can be costly. I heard that gatorade has sugar, but it doesn't seem like more than others I've had. Were not too much of soda fans and we need more than water and milk to have for refreshments.

I shop at ShopRite because that's the nearest store. Big grocey stores is far and I only spend more money on gas getting there. I really only buy 1 type of desert for my kids..ex. cookies and 1 type of cracker. Coupons??? they aren't worth it..."Buy 2 and save $.50? I don't need 2 and I would be spending more if I bought 2 and most of the oI've never tried buying in bulk at a Sams Club.....does that really help. I feel like I have to come up with another $150 to go there the 1st of the month and still have anothe $200 for a meal plan for the week. I try to buy store brands for everything. We have to for this month reduce our weekly budget and I'm freaking out. I have many recipes but their all for just 1 night meals. I make alot of chicken cutlets. HELP

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So What Happened?

WOW unbelievable responses. I have to print them out and highlight all your suggestions. I know they will make a big difference...financially and the kids. I'm so looking forward to making these changes. Thank you...thank you! Please keep them comiing if you think of more things. Maybe I can get my grocery budget down to $50/week LOL! I definitely see what I've been doing wrong...Unbelievable HELP! You guys are great!

Featured Answers



answers from New York on

gatorade is loaded with sugar. I buy seltzer usually 79cents for a two liter bottle and we mix it with orange or cranberry juice. It goes a long way and the kids love it. no sugar!

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answers from Washington DC on

Well stop making 2 meals and buying such expensive cuts of meat. Chicken cutlets unless they are on special are soo expensive. After a couple of days the kids will eat what you make. MIne do. But the only other option they have is go hungry. And shop rite is always very expensive. If it is under 20 miles go to the farther store for a once a week trip.

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answers from New York on

I totally understand. My food budget is $100 per week for a family of 5. Luckily the oldest is 5 so they don't eat so much. Here are some tricks that help me. Buy in bulk. Milk is way cheaper at BJ's. Under $2 a gallon. I buy the big package of fish fillets and freeze them. Cereal is cheaper. You may need to do two shops a week. I do one trip to the regular market and one trip to BJ's or Costco. The main problem keeping costs down is not dinner. It is all the other things each week. Drinks, lunch stuff, snacks, etc... We cut out soda and cold cuts. It's a challenge but we are all still well fed. Don't worry as much about dinner and try to lower the costs in other places. But a couple nights of leftovers are always good.

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answers from Topeka on

Multiple meals from one base:
Bake a chicken... meal one chicken with veggies
meal two chicken fried rice or chicken burritoes
Make a delicious big pot of beef stew and eat off of it for 2 or 3 just gets better each day!! Add a big salad and cornbread or rolls...and you have dinner!!!
Same with a pot of chili...we can eat that 3 days in a row without complaining
Bake a turkey breast ( or turkey legs if your family prefers dark meat) have turkey the first night...then make a yummy turkey pot pie the 2nd night with the left overs.
You need to start making meals that meat is NOT the main ingredient of the meal. Make casseroles that include you are using as much of the expensive meat. Or make a chef's salad with turkey and ham as one of the ingredients.
One of your big issues is that your children are not eating what you are preparing for the family dinner. So in essence you are preparing two meals every evening...and naturally that is going to cost you a lot more. I don't know how old your children are but you may need to start instituting some new rules. "If you don't eat what I have prepared for our dinner you have 3 choices.... #1 Peanut butter and jelly sandwich #2 Cereeal #3 hunger pains.
Stick with it....they will revolt at first but they need to learn to eat what is offered to them. Of course that means you need to accomodate them as much as possible...have at least one thing on the dinner menu that you know they like....don't make things that you KNOW they refuse to eat too many meals in a row.
Get them involved in the food preparation will probably ( hopefully) make them more willing to eat if they were in on the cooking. It is also a great time of togetherness and bonding for the family. As I said, I have no idea what ages your children are but if they are at least 18 months old they can get involved in some way...measuring things...mixing things....helping to set the table...etc.
Do you use coupons? Do you look at the store ad and shop around the things that are on sale? Both of those things can greatly impact your grocery bill at the checkout stand.
Good luck...with the rate that prices are going up this is a battle that all of us are fighting on a weekly basis!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Lynchburg on

Dear SAHM-

The best single investment I ever made was a freezer. I buy meat/poultry/fish when on sale...and freeze. I make TONS of soups...and freeze smaller containers. I often freeze leftovers (too small for a full meal) and then pull out and 'assortment' for a 'potpourri' night (fancy/joke name for leftovers).

I am recently baking bread...a good whole grain slice of bread...and small soup as an appetizer goes a LONG way as healthy CHEAP filler before a main course.

Stir fry is cheap and healthy...LOAD UP on the veggies...and the smaller 'meat' portions are not noticed.

I am not a huge fan of coupons...but use a 'sam's club for paper products...bulk flour...oils...and some of their dried products (raisins...nuts...etc). I buy LOTS of store brands...

I made a choice LONG ago with kids...(I have 7)...I will NOT short order cook. I present healthy choices for dinner...If they choose not to eat...there are always peanut butter sammies. All are healthy eaters now...good BMI...and good (and frugal) 'chefs'...I whole heartedly agree to let them help as early as possible with meal prep...good lesson for them...good bonding for ALL...and...if something is not 'well received' can always say "well...__________ helped"...LOL

Good luck!!

Good question in these frugal times

I have recently re located...and wish I had a friend here that hunted...venison is tasty

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answers from Johnson City on

On average I spend $40 to 60 a week on Groceries. I buy the bulk pack of chicken from walmart, divide it up and freeze it. We can make about 4 to 5 meals from that. I bake it, make stir fry with rice, chicken parmasean, bbq it, may things to do with chicken. I cook veggies to go with it. I quit buying red meat about a year ago due to it being so unhealthy. I make lasgana, chile, and soup with ground turkey and always have left overs for the second night. I buy fresh fruit, fruit cups, and dry cereal for our sons snacks. I don't buy crachers, chips, and junk food so to say. Like you we were spending way more on groceries than I wanted, so we changed our habits. Our son eats what we eat, I would not make 2 meals so he had something different. That will lead to bad habits in the future.

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answers from Clarksville on

For me what helps keep my grocery bill down, is to shop for two weeks instead of one week. I will save $20 for the second week for milk, eggs, and bread. When I first started doing it I saved $100. I was able to buy more in bulk because some items would be going for more then one meal and would be used at the end of a two week period. I also switched to ground turkey instead of beef, in my frozen section I find it for just a dollar. I also plan one snack a day (two when they were younger). My kids like to try to snack all day and not eat there meals. I only cook one meal, but my kids don't like to eat something different from us. For me sometimes Sam's Club will save me money others it won't, depends on what I plan on having and the sales at other stores. As for the gatorade, I don't buy it. We drink frozen juices and I will add extra water to them.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Feeding a family of 4 on a budget

I have a family of 4, our grocery bill (only food) for the week is always less than $100. Here is the trick. Pre-packaged goods cost more. Don’t buy those “instant” anything. Buy the real thing and actually “cook”.
Stay away from C.R.A.P. and you wills ave money.
Refined Sugars

Prepackages goods are what cost you.
Those “instant side packages” are about $1.00 a bag - most families will need 2 for a meal. Buy real pasta and add your own seasoning. A bag of pasta will feed your family 2 times and it only costs $1.00.
HEALTHY bread in the stores is about $3 a loaf, I make it at home (in a bread maker) for about $1 a loaf - the $60 investment for a bread maker was worth it in just the first few months.
Canned soups are a NO NO! Too much garbage in them. Make a soup. I make an amazing Garlic potato soup, enough for 2 family meals and a couple of lunches for about $5. If you bought healthy soup, you would be paying about $5 a meal.
Breakfast is the only are we “splurge” on (a whole $2 a person). is our ONLY meal to start our day.

We have four family menus that my daughters have helped us make and we rotate them weekly. We have a variety of items on the menus - soup, pasta, "picnic", pizza, fun-finger-foods etc. At least one night each week is “their night” and it’s their menu with the items they planned.
- Veggie lasagna
- Eggs: Omelets stuffed with veggies and cheese
- Whole grain rice with veggies (my kids LOVE a mixture of tomatoes, green onions, olive oil and Italian seasoning warmed in the over and sprinkled over rice)
- Pasta – get creative – ANYTHING goes on pasta
- French toast sticks
- Whole wheat pancakes with fresh fruit
- Stirfry
- Soups – minestrone, cream of broccoli, tortilla, pumpkin the choices are endless!
- Oh so sea shells: Buy large sea shell pasta and have her help you stuff them with her fav foods, carrots, broccoli mushrooms, cheese, asparagus, etc
- Tortellini
- Pasta salad
- fajitas
- quesadillas
- enchiladas
- wraps – my kids put EVERYTHING in a tortilla wrap – even cold spaghetti!
- grilled cheese with veggie IN or on the side

You can get a really great free resource at It is a very simple 12 week program to getting your family on the right track with healthier food and better overall eating habits. (anyone can get a copy if they want it)
I can also send you my menus if you want. Just send me a private message with your home email and I will send you the excel sheet. (again available to anyone)
I have some tips on my blog as well (

Have fun with food! It is what keeps you alive!

Family Success Coach

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answers from Johnstown on

I buy for the entire month except for my veggies & fruits. I buy meat at the local butcher shop (trust it much more than chains) and put it in the freezer. I also cook 2 or 3 of the same meals and freeze the rest (ex. lasagna, homemade soups). It not only saves us money, but also saves me time.

Summer time I raise as many of my own fruits and veggies as possible. We had a horrible blight (sp?) come through here 2 summers ago so this year everything was planted in pots and sat on our porches. It still grew wonderfully and even added curb appeal to the house as well.

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answers from Las Vegas on

I have a family of 4 and we manage with usually spending about $100 or less per week. I shop at Fresh and Easy and usually receive an email coupon for $10 off of $50. I don't have to purchase anything specific, just $50. It is not suppose to include dairy, but it still goes through.

As for my laundry and toiletries, I shop at a Walmart convenience store. They don' have all the extras for me to toss in the cart. It is near my cleaners, so I purchase things as needed. I spend $20 or less, often less.

For laundry soap, I used to use Oxyclean for my whites and stains. I have found that the laundry bar soap "Zote" gets the stains out just as well. It costs $0.99 at Walmart. It is a bar soap, so you have to lather it onto the stain and then scrub, not much different than lathering a scoop of soap. Not only is it cheaper, it lasts a long time.

There are great coupons that don't require you to purchase 2 at a time. If they do, can't you save box 2 for week 2? I do it all the time. If you shop at Sams, you will be buying at least 4 boxes.

I have a Costco that sells meat at restaurant prices. It is the whole cut and you have to cut it up. I usually make a purchase like this when I am having a party or large dinner.

As well, if you have the membership cards for your grocery store, you may be able to load up on savings online prior to shopping. You go on line, enter your card number in the stores website and load up what you will purchase. Hand the card to the clerk and the discounts are couponless.

I save about $20 per week on grocery and toiletries and I hardly put any effort into it. As well, always use a coupon for eating out. There is nothing wrong with going out to eat every once in while, but I go where the coupons are. Our water company offers car wash coupons, taking $2 off of a $5 car wash. That's 40%! Sometimes it is all in the store you are using. My grocery store around the store would drive me broke in a month if I shop there.

Gatorade has too much salt unless you are in the heat or playing sports and need to replenish. Try a sugar free fruit juice. They are usually still sweet.

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answers from Austin on

Make 1 meal. Our daughter never cared for food "mixed together" She also preferred raw veggies at this age..

If I was making a casserole with rice, meat and veggies, before I would mix it all together, I would keep out her serving of the items and give them to her plain.. without the sauces..

A spoonful of rice, a spoonful of the cooked meat and some of the veggies raw.. Zucchini, carrots, celery, tomatoes..

Even spaghetti, she want the pasta on one side and the sauce on the other, she liked to be able to eat it her way..

Then during the meal, I would place a small serving of the actual casserole.. Sometimes, she tasted it and most times she didn't, but it was there.. Eventually she learned to eat some casseroles, but they are still not her favorite by any means..

This was no extra work on my part, it was all prepared, but not mixed together..
Our daughter still does not care for anything creamy..

If you are making a stew, do not purchase cut up stew meat.. instead purchase a cheap roast on sale and cut it up yourself..freeze it in parts so you will already have it in the freezer for the next time needed.. If the recipe calls for a pound of meat, only use 3/4 or 1/2 lb and the rest make veggies..
You could also serve stew on top of enriched noodles..

If you make chili, use homemade beans and use ground turkey instead of ground beef.. Grate zucchini and carrots into it.. your family will have no idea.. and serve it over brown rice..

Purchase whole chickens and cut them into parts on your own.. Or purchase the least expensive chicken pieces.. thighs, legs..

Soups are cheap and you can add lots of veggies and serve it with noodles or rice..

Do not purchase crackers, instead purchase house brand saltines and have peanut butter. You can make your own peanut butter crackers..

No more Gatorade.. There is no nutritional value in it.. Milk, and concentrated juice.. even then water down that juice..

Eat the fruits and veggies that are in season.. Oranges, apples, pears.. Sometimes I will make a bowl of fruit salad and add a few grapes or canned pineapple to the fruits.. this makes a great dessert..

I also noticed we do not serve bread with any meals. No rolls, etc.. The only bread we may eat is toast or an occasional sandwich.. If I make pulled pork in the crockpot, and serve it on burger buns or kaiser rolls, we usually only eat 1 a piece and then I freeze the rest of the package for another time.. I am always amazed how much bread cost.

We do keep tortillas, but they are super cheap down here.. Good for quesadillas, breakfast tacos filled with eggs and sausage..

Things to buy in bulk,, Rice, pasta, potatoes, carrots, apples, toilet paper...
Remind your family, you eat what is served. if they choose not to, that is their choice.. I promise, they will not starve.. This is costing you too much money..

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answers from Chicago on

I don't live near you so I cannot help with reasonable stores. I can tell you some ideas. I would make Sunday your baking day and bake a beef and a chicken or a pork. A couple of things for the week. Enough for a first meal that day. You can find all sorts of meals everywhere. But get cheap cuts of beef for instance (our stores have sections where the beef is really good but close to the expiration date and needs to be purchased so they lower the price). But lots of pasta. Cheap soups in cans. And beans, beans, beans. Do you have a crock pot? You can begin the week throwing lots of veggies and things in the crock pot with beef or chicken. You can make Chicken alfredo type things with pasta and chicken soup, you can cook beans and serve them in tortillas Mexican style with a meat. If you are like me and are exhausted at the end of the day cook the pasta in the morning. The more you do (if you can) in the morning, the less to do at night, and I am sure other mother's will have recipes. These are not recipes but letting you know how you can eat cheap and stretch it.Homemade Macaroni and cheese is a big hit. And buy dry packages of vegetable and onion soups, those are great spices to cook the meats with or cooks stews and soups.
About the gatorade. I think we went into debt over that a couple of years ago. Some coach told my son he had to have it for his sports...ahhhrrrggg!!
Anyway, how about good old fashioned Kool aide?

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answers from Denver on

Stop buying crackers, cookies, gatorade. You don't NEED something else to drink besides water or milk.

Kansas mom is right, meals should not have meat as the main ingredient. Veggies, veggies and more veggies. Steamed, baked, anything. A big pot of veggie soup is filling, satisfying, and will do for two or three meals.

Kids are not eating what you're presenting because they've learned, from you and hubby, they'll get something else. Stop doing it, it's crazy. You're not a short order cook. They aren't going to die from hungry for a couple of nights and will figure out really quickly that they better eat what's in front of them.

I don't know anything about shop rite as far as pricing, but, I'd find a cheaper store as Cora suggested. You may as well try it once, see what you spend and how much gas it cost. The difference may surprise you.

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answers from Chicago on

I recently started using coupons and have already saved tons of money.
Go to,,
Sign up for daily emails. you collect coupons, from your sunday papers and online and then combine the manufacturers coupons with store coupons with sales to get stuff for very very cheap or even free.
The websites above send you daily emails and tell you exactly which coupon to use at which store on which item to get the best deals.
I didn't think this would work at first, but when I got a bunch of free Kraft cheese, I got hooked and have been using coupons ever since.
Since September I've been able to get the following for free: cheese, yogurt, oatmeal, butter, cereal, cereal bars, toothpaste, toilet paper, paper towels, dishwasher detergent, laundry detergent and much much more.
It's my new hobby!

There are many other sites dedicated to this, but start with those and I can guarantee you'll save tons of money!

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answers from Eugene on

Pork seems to be cheaper now than Beef. Chicken can be cheaper too.....but it seems to me that Pork is less. When I go to the store I buy things that are on sale or cheaper than other stuff...for instance - apples - I buy the lesser of the choices even if I prefer red delicious. If the Fuji are cheaper that's what we get for the week. Coupons are great too if they are for stuff that you already buy. There are so many things you can do to cut down on your expenses. As for your kiddos - times are tough....let them know that they will eat what you give them for dinner...plain and simple. If they don't eat the dinner then they don't eat. They will learn very quickly that they will eat it because they are hungry. That's what we do with our son. Oh and potatoes are inexpensive can do so much with potatoes. Shred them, bake them, mash them and make soup and freeze it for later. Good luck.

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answers from New York on

I shop at the Walmart supermarket because my paycheck really doesn't cover shopright or other fancy markets. Do you shop sales? I'd say to buy your meat when it is on sale, stock up on each thing and keep the meat in the freezer. Bulking up meals with pasta or beans lets you use less meat. Doing a cheap meal each week also helps - sandwich night or breakfast for dinner night - pancakes or eggs, I can get a box of 10 breakfast links for .98 at walmart to go with them. You don't mention how old your kids are, but I spend about $180-$200 on a normal week for groceries for 2 adults, an 11 and a 15 year old. Things like stew, lasagna, baked ziti and pulled pork/beef in the crockpot can last for two meals, but may not be the cheapest things to make. Of course, you can stretch them by using more potatoes/carrots and less beef in your stew, or doing a meat free lasagna.
I'd also suggest looking at what else you are buying other than dinner ingredients and find ways to reduce those costs. Some of those items may be adding up in your bill!
Separate from your budget, I'd cut out the gatorade. It isn't a juice or a soft drink. It is an electrolyte replacement for athletes. If you aren't doing serious athletic activity, you don't need that salt and who needs all that artificial coloring? Buy real juice. Iced tea mix and cartons of lemonade aren't too costly, but any "drinks" have pretty much the same sugar as soda.



answers from Nashville on

I only shop 2x a month for groceries except for the occasional milk and bread purchase. I have a family of 3. I buy the same things. Family packs of chicken breast and the big rolls of ground beef. We have a deep freezer in the garage so that helps us store up too. Pasta is cheap and I always make mac and cheese every week. Buy the store brands only and the cheap velvetta for mac and cheese and pasta shells and sphagetti. I also buy fresh veggies and romaine hearts for salads. No soft drinks just apple juice for the baby girl and baby food. My store has a buy one get one free on baby food. Also I buy flour, shortening, baking powder, yeast to make rolls and other yummy things. Also cream of chicken and mushroom soup to make casseroles during the week and stuffing mixes and crackers and butter. Also try to find a outlet grocery store or save a lot. I found these are the cheapest in my area. You can make meat loaf and burgers and casseroles with the meat and with the chicken to make a bigger meal. Be creative. Good Luck. I have never spent more than 400 a month on groceries. Check coupons and only buy the extra items that are marked down or on sale. Pie crust is really easy to make yourself and way cheaper in the long run.



answers from New York on

Buy a whole chicken - three meals. 1. roast chicken. 2. chicken enchiladas from leftover meat, chopped up. 3. chicken noodle soup from cooked up carcass of chicken!

Cut out the gatorade - food coloring and artificial sweeteners are out for kids. Water and plain (not chocolate) milk are great. We buy plain sparkling water (89cents for 2Liters) as a 'treat'.

Simply and calmly require the kids to eat what you eat. They will not starve, you will save time and money, and they will learn not to be picky eaters and to be happy with what you require of them. (They will probably have to go hungry one dinner - don't give them a before bed snack - or anything extra special for breakfast, as if you feel guilty - just give them their usual filling wonderful breakfast.)



answers from Austin on

Try only eating meat once or twice a week. Eat beans for protein instead. That saved us a lot of money and is healthier.



answers from New York on

I like these responses myself! Quit the gatorade and just do water. That's all we do. I only do juices of sorts for parties. Hubby and I do coffee and kids have their milk. Lentil soup is high in fibre and iron, I cook it twice a week. It's great for the kids. Do a dozen burgers and save in freezer. Everything else has been pretty much said by the others. Be well.


answers from Washington DC on

i love costco. bulk definitely saves us money. do you have an extra freezer and pantry to store big sizes? i also belong to a buyers' club so i get a lot of our food at nearly wholesale, and can get lovely local organic produce for not much more than factory-farmed grocery store produce.
you really don't need much more than water and milk, and gatorade is really pretty yucky stuff. look at the ingredients. switch to juice and cut it with water or sparkling water. make your own lemon and orange-ade with minimal real sugar or honey.
your crock pot is your best friend. build your meal around veggies, pasta, rice or beans, and add meat occasionally as an extra. even lower quality cuts of meat can be yummy if simmered in a little olive oil and balsamic, or even italian dressing, for a day. potatoes and carrots love the crock. in summer you may opt for the grill more often, but in winter crock pot most days of the week.
i'm not a proponent of forcing kids to eat stuff they hate, but i certainly would not be making 2 separate dinners every day. have peanut butter (or something similarly cheap, easy and basically boring) available for them to fix themselves if they don't want your dinner, but do not be a short order chef.
you can do this!
if you buy bulk flour and sugar you can make your own yummy cookies for WAY less than store-bought.



answers from Honolulu on

Wow! I don't know where to begin. I have 600 for my family of 5 for a month and that was only upper that far because we moved to Hawaii (the land of 3.50 for a pound of ground beef, 6.50 for a gallon of milk and 2.50 for bread...) and before we were a family of 4 living on 200 a month for food. You guys must eat lobster or something!

My kids are 5, 2.5 and 9 months and they all eat what I make or they go to bed hungry. I am not a short order cook, though we do eat something the kids want to eat once a week for dinner (this week we had macaroni and cheese (blue box) with tuna and peas mixed in... though we do have variations of this involving broccoli and left over chicken).

Lets see normal breakfast is oatmeal or eggs (though this morning the kids vetoed both of those and asked for canned peas... I don't argue when they want veggies instead...)

Lunch was left over chicken, re-fried beans, cheese and leftover rice (fried rice with peas, carrots, lima beans, green beans and green pepper) in a tortilla and put in the toaster oven until cheese bubbles then wrapped into burritos.

Dinner was variation of shepherds pie. 1/4th pound ground beef and frozen mixed veggies (carrots, peas, corn, lima beans, green beans) and a can stewed tomatos for the filling. We ate all the mashed potaos last night so we used corn bread instead (mix it then let it bake on top of the filling. Works best in a crock pot as then it doesn't burn.

snacks include fresh fruit, carrot sticks, fresh spinach, cheese slices or whatever left overs we have.

Dessert in out home is applesauce, yogurt (not the frozen type), dried fruit or gram crackers (called "cookies" in our home).

We only drink water, milk, black coffee (hubby has this coffee kick) and occasionally hot tea (no sugar, no honey, no cream, just plain tea, but VERY strong). If I must have flavor I have been known to add some lemon juice to my water (1 teaspoon for an 8 ounce cup) but I don't add sugar or anything. I see juice as a gateway to soda in children so I don't buy those either. Fruit has all the same nutrients and the fiber too, while juice has no fiber.


answers from Rochester on

I just have one suggestion (although I could give a ton...but I think you're probably overwhelmed with them.)

Look in the juice aisle at WalMart for the "water flavorings" section. Hawaiian Punch makes a sugar free, and they come 8 individual packs to a box, in lots of flavors (and did I mention, sugar free?) It says to use the flavoring in a 16 oz. bottle, but I use it in a 32 oz bottle (with about 28 oz. in it) and it tastes very strong and sweet like that.

The best thing? Each box of 8 costs ONE dollar. So, 8 gatorade size bottles of flavored water, sugar free, for ONE dollar.

(And a hint...I actually buy a gatorade bottle for my daughter and I, and just continue to reuse reuse reuse them with the flavorings and tap water...then I replace them once every month or two.)

If you still need more suggestions, mail me...I feed a family of four on about 500 a month. That includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, drinks, name it.



answers from Houston on

My husband and I only have one kid, but we have a very strict budget- $300 for the month. I pay cash for everything, which really helps because if I can only spend 40 that time, then that's all I can spend with cash (it's easier to go over budget on a debit or credit card).

You might also try the following website and see if it helps:

I don't do coupons either for the same reason and we dont' shop at Sams, although occasionally my mom will let me use her card. We shop at our local grocery store (HEB) and buy mostly fresh fruits and veggies, meat (usally chicken quarters @.59/lb), and then rice/pasta/or some other starch. For my daughter I do ham (1 ham is $15 but lasts forever) or frozen chicken nuggets. We will also do frozen veggies like broccoli just because it's cheaper and lasts longer than fresh.

Hope that helps.



answers from Albany on

The first thing I would recommend is not going to the store. Go to and do it online. I saved sooooooo much money shopping that way, and they will deliver as well. They do great deals once in awhile where they waive the shopping/delivery fees, and they did a "Spend $100 get $25 off) promotion last year as well. It helps to get the best deals on everything when you can examine items without trying to keep track of the kids and having other carts/people pushing you around.



answers from New York on

I have a large family also, I have 5 kids if that helps. What I do is I go to BJ's for the most part and buy my frozen vegetables there. You can do the same at Sam's, I was there yesterday and bought vegetables, coffee, eggs, etc all in bulk but then I take them off my regular list. BJ's has better prices on toilet paper and paper towels so I go there for those things. Also when I buy a turkey I use the bones for soup when it is on sale. Same for boneless chicken breasts, Shop Rite usually has them on sale for $1.99 lb. so I stock up, but you can do the same with the leg 1/4's, drumsticks, etc. Sam's and BJ's has the hamburger in bulk much cheaper so I buy a package and split it myself, the same for the sausage and eye of the round roast beef. With the roast beef depending on how large it is either I cut it and make stew with one piece and a roast with the other or I make the whole roast and slice it on the meat slicer really thin and we make sandwiches with the leftover. I also will buy it and slice it raw and make stir fry or steak sandwiches with soup for dinner. Do you have an Aldi's near you? If so we get chips, milk, celery, onions, potatoes, etc. there but I do find that if I go to the store near us it is much cheaper than going to the one on my way home from work or school which are in different towns. The milk is close in price to Sam's and BJ's so if I need milk and am there I grab it rather than making another trip out. Look at your prices between stores and shop wherever the better prices are and if that means going to Sam's for some stuff then so be it. If you need any meal ideas let me know, I have been doing this for a long time and have helped others out cutting their grocery bill down, but those people live near me so I know what works in this area, but meal ideas I am very good at. Let me know if you need any other help.



answers from Spartanburg on

1. Kids eat what you fix. Period. They won't go hungry and if they want to complain, they can do it in the privacy of their room, not the dinner table.
2. You are already buying store brands, try to only buy what is on sale that week...instead of planning your meals before you see the sales in the store, go online or pick up the weekly flier and make your meal plan based on the stores sales.
3. Don't buy convience packaged anything, no individual containers/servings. Cookies, crackers, chips are not food necessities, and they inflate a food budget fast! I'm not saying you can't have sweets, but don't buy a package every week from the store, there are quick easy recipes to make cookies or cupcakes. Unfortunately if you are looking at cutting back, gatorade may not be a good option every week...when it is super on sale, sure, but not all the time just b/c you don't want milk and water. My kids like flavored selzter water.. they call it bubbly water and pretend it's a soda, it's also sugar/sweetner free.
4. I never buy meat unless it is a large package and on sale...I divy it up and freeze in meal size portions, which for my family of 4 is about a pound per meal. Meatloaf is made with 1 pound ground turkey (usually) and 1 can black can't taste the beans but they bulk up the meat dish and almost double it in size for about 50 cents. It is so easy and cheap to add a can of beans to tacos, soup/chili, any kind of cassarole, most crock pot meals.
Good luck and hope this helps...



answers from Boston on

Buying bulk helps with certain item especially if you have coupons. I have found it's cheaper if I but meat from a butcher a lot of them offer bundles.
The only time my kids get something different then hubby and I is if I make something I know that they flat out not like but that's not very often. We don't do desert often and when we do i bake it withe kids.if they are Hungary after meals th can hav fruits, veggies, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese,ect.



answers from New York on

I am certainly no expert, and am trying to figure this out myself. I'm trying to make foods my family will like, make things healthier, and still keep them within budget and easy to prepare. Not an easy task! Like you, I try to plan for the week. My new plan is to, on Sunday afternoons, saute some greens (like spinach with garlic) that we can have for a few days as a side dish. Also to roast a chicken, and put some sort of soup in my crockpot. I plan to have the soup for one night for dinner, and then have it here and there for lunch--if there's enough leftover, I plan to freeze it. I'm also trying to do grilled fish at least one night a week, and at least one vegetarian meal. Anyway, another place I just discovered, that I'm turning to for inspiration is:
If you scroll down to the bottom of her blog, she has links on building a better pantry, freezer cooking, buying bulk, etc.
Good luck! I look forward to seeing others' suggestions.



answers from St. Louis on

I am not familiar with ShopRite, but I do know that if I use our local grocery store (small town- 1 store)...then my groceries cost waaaay toooo much! Once a week, I drive to our nearest WalMart....which is 15 miles away. I stock up for the week. & as an example, if I buy milk-bread-bananas-lunch our local will cost at least $5 more than at WalMart. So my rule of thumb is: if I need more than those supplies, then it's definitely worth it to me to make the trip to WalMart (which is the only big store in our area). I work very hard at limiting my trips to WalMart to once a week.....& it truly pays off.

There are a lot of good coupons out there....not requiring "Buy 2 & save $.50". The nearest big city for us is St Louis & that weekend paper has excellent coupons each weekend! I also print my own from mfg websites, such as Kraft. I've even printed coupons from HPs links.... Coupons can really save you does buying generic/store-label food items!

As for how your family eats, STOP catering to those kids! Stand firm & insist that they eat what you eat! There will always be a few exceptions, but not to the extent that you're having to plan 2 menus for 1 meal.

For each of our dinners, I try very hard to make sure there is some kind of leftover. After several nights of this, then we have a YoYo dinner: you're on your own! & I don't have to cook that night. This system works very well for us....particularly with working around work schedules & evening activities with our son! Wed. night is Religion School night for our son - & we have to leave right as DH comes home from that's usually our YoYo night.

As other posters have mentioned, I pull multiple meals out of one round of meat. Baked chicken will provide enough meat for the next day's soup or pasta. The same with pork & beef....the leftovers go into tortillas, soups, casseroles. & as a head's up: I also spend $200/week.....but that is for my family of 4 - which includes 3 MEN!!.....& that same $200 also covers my inhome daycare food/cleaning supplies too! Huge difference in our budgets! Oh, & I do use the local butcher shop once a month....rather than buying weekly....fresh meat without preservatives/ a fraction of the cost!



answers from New York on

I haven't read the other responses, but I will offer my suggestions.

First of all, do use coupons! There are a lot of websites that can help you do this. You may not need 2 boxes of crackers this week, but you will 4 this month, right? So when they're on sale for 1/2 off, buy 4 or 8 (depending on your storage). I always stock up on items I know I'll use (cereal, canned tomatoes, crackers, etc.) when they are on sale. I may spend $150 one week, but then just $40 the next because I have the rest of the items in the pantry/freezer. Especially with protein ... when there is a good sale, I will buy a few packages and freeze what Idon't need right away -- I can often save 1/2 the cost of meat that way.

As far as making 2 dinners, yes, that is expensive! My solution? Just don't do it. Your children may pitch a fit for a while, but they will get hungry, and will eventually eat. Sure, take their preferences into consideration, but don't let them run the show. If you make chicken with a mushroom sauce, ask them eat a certain number of mushrooms, but then don't force it ... they can still eat the chicken.

I think you answered your own question about the gatorade ... you said you need more water and milk for refreshments. Water is free! It's just about the only thing we drink in our house. We also have 100% juice that we dilute with about 1/2 water (this is healthier because it's less sugar, and it makes it last longer). Make gatorade a treat, not the regular beverage. Also, I believe that buying the packets of dry gatorade mix and mixing it yourself is significantly cheaper (it's also much better for the environment because you don't nhave all those bottles).

As far as meals go, pretty much everything I make I do in large batches and then eat as leftovers for a day or two. Turkey chili, chicken 'n' dumplings (I make it with skim milk so it's healthy), chicken curry, tortilla soup/chicken noodle soup/minestrone soup etc., all sorts of pasta (tomato sauce with ground turkey, pesto sauce, asian vegetables and chicken, etc.). My biggest money-saving tip is that I rarely make a meat-starch-vegetable meal ... I use a little meat in something else. I use lots of beans, rice and pasta. For instance, I might make burritos and fill them with a little seasoned ground turkey, stewed black beans, spanish rice, salsa and lettuce. 1 lb of ground turkey will make enough burritos to last for DAYS if you also fill them with other things. I often have plain, seared chicken breasts in the fridge that I'll cube up and add to something like a pasta sauce, over salad, in a curry or soup. If I do cook a whole piece of meat for a meal, I serve each person about 1/2-3/4 portion and more sides (a "serving" of protein is actually the size of your palm, not nearly as big as what most people eat at a meal). We simply don't need as much meat as we eat, and it is expensive!

Good luck!


answers from New York on

I have fed my family of 3 for as little as $75 a week. I don't usually use coupons because we buy mostly fresh foods. Some rules I use are:
1) Buy big and prepackage myself--crackers, pretzels, trail mix, yogurt, drinks. Anything can be broken down at home for far cheaper.
2) I only buy items on sale unless absolutely necessary. Use the flyer to make your meal plan and stock up on things you use lots of when they are on sale.
3) I very rarely buy any meat that is over $1.99/lb
4) I plan one vegetarian meal a week.
5) I only cook 3-4 times a week. I always cook enough to have for leftovers, if we get sick of it, we freeze the rest for another night.
6) I love Costco. We get our money back on the milk alone. Diapers, some produce and other dairy are at lower prices everyday then some sale prices at the stores.
7) my kid either eats what she is given or she doesn't, she has never starved herself
Some things we avoid
1) deli items
2) center isles whenever possible
3) connivence foods (frozen dinners, prepackaged snacks, pre made anything)
4) recipes, they often call for expensive items that I would only use once. I either improvise with what I have or just get creative with the sale items



answers from New York on

Ok it seems like you have already received alot of responses. My kids are very picky as well, but I tell them "this isn't a restaurant. You eat what I give you". That will cut down costs because you are now only cooking "1" meal a night instead of "2".
We have a family of 5. The kids are 8 , 4 and 7 months and we are on a very tight budget. We have a chest freezer in the garage that keeps food for a long time without any of it getting freezer burn like it would in your refrigerator freezer.
With a combination of your ShopRite card in ADDITION to coupons, you will be surprised at how much you save. One time I saved $90 and on my last trip I saved $43.00 and I'm not overboard with coupons either, but they do help. If it's .50 here and .50 there, it adds up. Plus why give money away if you don't have to.
I also take advantage of when meat is on sale at the store. Alot of times they have buy 1 get 1 free, so I will stock up. Or when bread is on sale, I stock up and put everything in the deep freezer. (our store just had a sale "buy 1 english muffin package and get 2 free- so that's a savings of about $6.00)
I think the key to saving is to stock up when you see the deal.
I was a very snooty shopper before. We had a very tough year and I started buying store brand to save money. I found that alot of the items are just as good, if not better. Some aren't, but most are. Ex. Store brand sugar taste just as good as a name brand, but taste just as good and cost less.
We also shop at Costco (occassionaly), buying is bulk is cheaper. I buy meat and paper goods.
Good luck!



answers from New York on

Not sure if anyone else has said this yet, but you really need to rethink your attitude on coupons, especially at Shoprite, which doubles all manufacturer coupons under $1. I shop at Shoprite, and using the coupons I get from my Sunday paper and Shoprite coupons I get from our local flyers, I save on average $15-20/week with the coupons alone. And why wouldn't you need 2 of something? You have a family of four. If it's something you eat or use on a fairly regular basis, you're bound to need 2 eventually!

I also great suggest basing your menu on what's on sale that week, as well as stocking up on sale items, even if you don't plan to eat it that week. Shoprite regularly has Perdue or Tyson chicken on sale for 40% off. When they do, buy enough for three weeks, and most likely you'll almost never have to buy chicken at full price again! Do that for all your non-perishable staples. And buy treats only when they are on sale.

As for drinks, buy powdered ice tea, koolaid (sugar free), lemonade, etc. and make it yourself. SIGNIFICANTLY cheaper, and really - why pay more so they can add water for you, which is free? (speaking of which, I also suggest buying a faucet mount filter, or filtered pitcher rather than bottled water - both cheaper and better for the environment! Brita filters are even recyclable).

My shoprite also sells a limited number of things in bulk sizes. If it's something that you eat regularly, it's worth it.



answers from Pittsburgh on

1. Stop making separate meals for the kids - if you feed them what you eat they will learn. And they will be healthier for it.
2. Join Costco or Sams and use them for fruits and veggies (way cheaper), paper products and meat (if you will use or freeze all of it).
3. Water and milk are the healthiest beverages. Stop buying soda, gatorade and juice. If you need to, juice some oranges or grapefruits occ as a treat.
4. USE the COUPONS from Costco - they are BIG and often apply to a single item.
5. Sign up on your regular supermarket's website to receive their coupons and weekly specials.
6. Boneless chicken breasts are way more expensive than either chicken thighs (especially with the bone in, they are also tastier) or buying a whole chicken and cutting it up yourself.
7. Stop buying pre-packaged convenience items.
8. Stop buying pre-made cookies and desserts. Fruit is way healthier for dessert and if you eat what is seasonal, often cheaper. For winter, it is usually melons, grapes, pineapples (splurge) and lots of citrus. Cut a grapefruit in half, sprinkle with a little sugar and put it under the broiler - fast, yummy, healthy and cheap. Freeze grapes for snacks and eat right out of the freezer.
9. Buy the meat/chicken/fish that is on sale that day. My supermarket marks meat down a lot the day before it's expiration date. If you are going to cook it right away it is fine.
10. Follow the current recommendations that an adult serving of beef is 3 ounces. The rest of the meal can be whole grains (brown rice pilaf, quinoa, etc) a veggie dish and beans (beans are cheap, easy to cook in quantity, healthy and really versatile - you can cook a pot of dried beans and use them in recipes for 3-4 days).



answers from Flagstaff on

You can go here, , to sign up for an email for ShopRite or to just browse the deals each week. If there are coupons to match, she let's you know that too. I also go to this forum to find deals There is also a coupon databse which you can use to look for additional coupons to help you save.

I'm not sure where you live, but we get our fruits and veggies from this food coop. I can't buy what they give us for that price. Hopefully there is one near you, but if not, keep watching, because they have expanded to several states in the last 6 months.

Personally, we just drink milk and water. The rest of it is wasted calories anyway. My 7-year-old has had juice and such, but she still prefers the basics. We also cook from scratch whenever possible as it does work out to be cheaper.

Do you have a standalone freezer? If not, you might want to join your local freecycle group as I've seen several given away in our area alone. I could not feed my family of 3 for $45 a week if I didn't have the extra freezer. I take advantage of sales in a big way and plan my meals from my pantry and freezer. I don't make a menu and then go shopping as it costs too much that way.

Hope this helps.



answers from Albany on

First of all, you DON'T have to make another meal for your kids... you are not a short order cook. It is your job to serve a variety of healthy foods for your family, it is their job to eat it... if they don't like it, they won't starve themselves... they will learn to eat the parts of the meal they tolerate. Making one meal, not two every night alone will save you money. Also, coupons are worth it sometimes. First if you get the paper, look at the grocery flyer and make your meal plan according to the specials for the week as much as you can... use coupons for the things that are already on sale as much as possible... or on non-perishables such as cereal and canned goods... pasta etc. where you will eventually use the food, but it won't go bad. And, don't serve gatorate. Although real fruit juice is more expensive, it is much more healthy... I always water down juice quite a bit for my kids and even myself- it will go much further... I know it's not easy... but you can find ways to be creative. Good Luck!

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