Yes, I feed a family of 6 for $150 a week. I did the math. That's about $3.50 per person per day. (Actually, it's slightly less than that because cat food, cat litter, and cleaning supplies are also in the grocery budget.) It works out to less than $1.50 a meal per family member. Is that even possible? Absolutely, and we aren't eating hot dogs and macaroni and cheese every night either. My husband and I and our four growing children, ages 7-10, eat healthy on this budget. Here is how I make it happen:
1. Where and when to shop. We shop a discount grocery chain known as Aldi. The groceries there, especially staple items such as eggs, butter, cheese, and sugar, are significantly less expensive than other stores. We also shop at Meijer, a store with everything from clothing to hardware and a good grocery department. I also have a separate list for Walmart, where certain items are less expensive.
2. Stick to the list. Never shop hungry. That will put extra things in your cart. Extra things cost extra. Buy what you need to make the things your family eats.
3. Coupons. Be choosy. Be smart. Don't buy three cans of soup you won't use simply because it's a great deal. Sometimes even with a coupon, the featured brand is actually costing you more than the store brand. Use your coupons wisely. If they can be combined with a sale at the store, you can save money.
4. Shop sales. Examine local sales flyers carefully. Our local grocery store has a pasta sale about every eight weeks. 99 cents per box combined with a buy 10, get the 11th free. This deal helps me purchase enough pasta to last us until the next sale.
5. Plan your meals. I write them on a wipe-away board on the fridge and also on my grocery list. If the local store is having a sale on ham or pork roast, I will plan on purchasing some that week. Most meat can be frozen for future use, but be careful to know what is in your freezer and how much space you have available.
6. Family Packs. Often buying the family pack of meat can save up to 20 cents a pound. Invest in freezer bags and divide the meat at home. We enjoyed three meals from one package of pork ribs. Watch your prices. Buying in bulk is not always to your advantage, especially if the food will go bad before you use it or you don't have enough room to store it.
7. Stretch your meals. I often use less meat than a recipe calls for, and more of other ingredients. We also like to have a big bowl of pasta with butter and parmesan as a side dish. Fresh fruit is also a common side, especially cut up bananas and strawberries. Using leftovers in soup is also a tasty way to stretch a meal. We also drink water with our meals rather than juice, milk or lemonade.
8. Utilize leftovers. A ham will provide not only a meal, but lunchmeat, cubed ham for a later date casserole, and a soup bone with soup meat. We also have "leftover lunch" a few days a week, reheating and reusing what is left over from our dinners.
9. Don't skimp on the fruits and vegetables. While produce prices sometimes make me cringe, I know it is important for my children to have these things. Also, produce prices change with the season. Buy blueberries in July. I always have apples, grapes, clementines, and bananas on hand.
Staying on a $150 a week grocery budget requires planning and discipline, but it's well worth the savings.
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