Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Feeding a Family of 8 1/2 People

People often ask me how I feed a large family on a relatively small budget.  Food is expensive.  There is no way around it.  When you go through 7 or 8 gallons of milk a week, its going to add up.  But there are definitely ways to cut the costs.

I've taken pictures of a month worth of meals I prepared.  These aren't special or fancy for this post.  This is just a typical representation of the types of meals I make - most of them are very inexpensive.  I serve dessert with most meals, but didn't take pictures of them.  Often they are homemade cakes, cookies, bars, pudding, cobblers etc. Sometimes I serve ice cream or Popsicle.  Sometimes it is just a couple of marshmallows, but we all tend to like something sweet after a meal.

Full disclosure - These were from about a month ago before my morning sickness really took its toll.  And, we had several classroom dinners during this time, so those potluck meals aren't included.  I also did not include meals where we ate at friends' homes.  These are just the meals that we prepared at home.

I'd love to hear about or see what your family typically eats!

Roasted beets, cooked beet greens, corn on the cob, black beans with diced tomatoes and peppers and a dollop of sour cream.

Buffalo wing turkey melts, cole slaw, homemade pickles.

Taco salad.  (I like my chips separate from the actual salad)

Grilled chicken and broccoli

Spaghetti squash topped with a mixture of pork sausage, beans, and peppers with feta cheese on top.

Farmer's Market tomatoes and fresh beans.  Leftover diced bbq chicken over Basmati rice.

Rice and Cheese served with applesauce.  This was a childhood favorite.  You boil some tomato juice.  Slice in some hot dogs.  Add rice and boil till rice is cooked.  Then add chunks of cheese, covering the pot till the cheese chunks melt.  This is always served with applesauce.

Homemade pizza made with homemade dough and homemade sauce.  We like turkey pepperoni best.

Spaghetti with a tomato sauce.  We diced yellow squash into the sauce. 

Cold pasta salad.  Great make-ahead meals for a busy day.

Homemade meatballs, roasted red potatoes, garlic bread, peas.

Splurged and ordered pizza for my birthday. 

Beans with sauteed zucchini, tomatoes and onions

lentils with tomatoes and carrots served over Basmati rice.  Corn

Cold tuna noodle casserole

Quinoa with black beans, tomatoes and corn.  Melted mozzarella on top.  

Grilled caprese sandwiches.  Fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil.  Yum!

Corn on the cob, cheeseburger, and watermelon

Turkey, homemade mashed potatoes and gravy, peas.

Grits, fried eggs and tomatoes.

Tuna melts on leftover hamburger buns, watermelon.

Turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cucumber slices.

Kielbasa, cabbage and sour kraut hotdish.  Served with homemade biscuits.  This actually tasted much better than it looks here. 

Frozen pizza.  See how adding the banana gives the appearance of a well-balanced meal?

Salad.  Crock pot chicken and potato recipe.

Chili and bread.  I'm from Wisconsin, so of course the chili has noodles.

Pasta with a vegetable/tomato sauce topped with feta cheese.  Served with bread.

Disappointing new recipe.  Pineapple and kielbasa - bad combo.  Served with peas.

Pork chop, home fries, salad.

Pasta salad.

Looks like a Manwich, doesn't it?  It is actually a "Beanwich"  Made like a sloppy joe only with beans instead of meat.  Served with sweet potatoes and salad.

Here are some of my big tips on feeding a family inexpensively.

1.  Don't go out to eat.  Seriously, our family goes out to eat only a few times a year.  It is a big treat.  I go out once a month with some mom friends, and Ben might go out for lunch once a month, but otherwise we rarely go out to eat.  For a "date" I'll occasionally take one child out for lunch (usually when we have a coupon for the child to eat free).  And we splurge on getting ice cream now and again.  Otherwise, breakfast, lunch and supper are all prepared at home.  Ben and the kids all take lunches to school.  We save HUGE money by preparing our own food.

2.  Buy what's in season.  Self explanatory.  Whatever is in season is likely to be inexpensive and taste great.

3.  Cut down on meat.  Many of our meals are meatless.  The ones with meat still often have bits of meat diced up rather than a huge slab of meat.  There are other healthier, cheaper ways to get enough protein.

4.  Know where to shop.  Most of my shopping is done at Cub Foods for convenience.  But we also like going to the Asian food store for vegetables, rice, and other misc. items.  We shop at Mike's Discount Foods, the farmer's market, and Aldi's. 

5.  Plan your menus around what is on sale.  Don't buy beef if chicken is $1 a pound.  Don't buy oranges when apples are cheaper. 

6.  Buy in bulk.  This might not work for every family, but we earned our large family credentials when we bought our first 20# bag of rice.

7.  What you see is what you get.  I refuse to make separate meals for picky eaters.  I hear many parents say they can't make the kind of food that I make because their family won't like it.  I don't believe that.  If they are hungry, they will eat.  I make the food.  They can choose to eat it or not.  And with rare exception, all my kids eat all the different kinds of food I make.    

8.  Dried beans are your best cheap food friend.  I cook a couple of bags in my crock pot and then freeze them in meal size portions.  They thaw in a jiffy, have no sodium (unlike the canned) and are way cheaper than canned beans.


Jessim said...

Those meals look fabulous!

I want a grilled caprese sandwich!

Kirsten Jill Robbins said...

You have inspired me! I'm so copying this!

Megan Gangl said...

Hi love reading your blogs:) You inspire me!!!!

Megan Gangl said...

Hi love reading your blogs:) You inspire me!!!!