Grocery shopping and preparing meals is just one of those things that has to happen in every home to get through each and every day, week and month. It is something that I use to completely dread and now that I’ve figured out some easy tricks and simple recipes I can quickly make a grocery list, drive to and from 2 different stores and buy everything plus get back home within a 2 hour period of time, which is nice that I’m not gone half a day just buying food for the herd. In the past I’ve been so discouraged reading how some people can feed a family of 5 for $50 a week and wonder where I’m going wrong, but I’ve came to the conclusion that A) those articles aren’t up to date for prices that I see on a regular basis and B) my herd eats a lot more then 1 piece of toast for breakfast, half a sandwich for lunch and a small serving of meat and a potato for supper. We are a family of 5 plus I have 10 daycare kids for breakfast, lunch and snack…yes, you read that correctly and I am crazy but I sure do love those littles so its all worth it. I’m not able to ever walk out of the store with only $50 of food to feed my herd for a week but I am able to walk out with plenty of healthy foods plus some fun things they enjoy for treats every now and then along with all of our cleaning and personal care items for $150-$200 every week…which I’m pleased with since this also includes all the daycare items.
When meal planning for the week I like to use a form like this
You can make your own or print this Menu planning sheet. Just search for the free printable meal planner. To start I will look in the freezer and pantry and see what wasn’t used up last week and start meal planning with those items and then will fill in with family favorites or new recipes I want to try from Pinterest, Facebook or cookbooks I already have. I also don’t add side dishes to my actual menu plan sheet because part of me really likes to wing things ? for the daycare breakfast they also get fresh fruit and for their lunch it will include fresh fruit, veggie and some type of grain per the guidelines I have to follow. I just stock up on a ton of these items and pull out whatever sounds good that day. I’ve found that buying fresh is usually the cheapest except frozen veggies are usually the same price or a little cheaper so I will also buy some frozen bags of veggies to keep on hand.
After I get my menu plan all figured out I’ll start making my list. I always start at Aldi and then head to SAMs club, if needed I’ll finish buying items at Walmart and I buy all of our beef at our locally owned grocery store because I like it the best. Making AND following my list is key in staying in budget…bad things happen when I buy items not on this list! Like we end up with a jumbo tub of cheese balls that no one will finish before they go bad and all of a sudden I’m walking in the door with $300 worth of items and half of them weren’t needed.
Using a clipboard works best for me because my list won’t get burried in the bottom of my purse and I can easily check the items off as I put them in the cart. I can also easily see what items Aldi or SAMs didn’t have that I need to add to my Walmart list.
Once I’m home from shopping I will prepare meals for the following week to help my evenings out or make lunch time go smoother…the majority of all your recipes can be frozen which makes meal prep easy and quick! Just don’t thaw meat and refreeze without cooking it first…I don’t exactly know what will happen to you but I’m terrified of stomach sickness so I’ve always followed this kitchen rule ?. I can usually get all the meals prepped within an hour or so!
I want to feed my family healthy meals but I also don’t stress over it. We currently have Hot Pockets and Uncrustables in the freezer. I’ve been known to throw pop tarts at my children as they walk out the door in the mornings and we have boxed snacks on the pantry shelf all the time and a large assortment of cereals to pick from. If I got up early each morning to make a healthy breakfast for them I would be a grouchy momma bear and not someone they would want to see. So I don’t stress over it but do the best I can on the budget that works for my family.
Some of our favorite meals include:
-tater tot casserole
-chili and cinnamon rolls
-grilled cheese and tomato soup
-baked potato bar
-BBQ pulled pork (I’ll make a large pork roast and use for sandwiches, nachos and pizza)
-homemade pizza night
-salad and sandwich night
-baked chicken with Olive Garden dressing
These are just some of our all time favorites that are easy and cheap to make. Pinterest is a fabulous place to find so many recipes but just don’t stress out if yours don’t come out looking Pinterest perfect! My herd will eat just about anything no matter what it looks like! If you struggle with spending to much at the grocery store or not knowing what to feed your herd hopefully these ideas will help you out some!
What are some of your favorite recipes? Or how do you save money at the grocery store? I would love to hear from you and if you haven’t already would love to have you join us over on Facebook and Instagram where I share more about saving money, recipes and whatever adventure is going on at the time!