Feeding a large family on a budget does not have to be budget breaking. Feed a family of four on a budget definitely does not. Keep reading for my tips on how to fight rising grocery costs and feed your family on a budget!
I think we’re all aware of just how expensive it is getting to buy food these days. If we were being real with each other, we’d admit that everything is rapidly becoming more expensive but food especially seems to be headed right through the roof.
And with rising food costs, more people have an issue feeding their family. It’s because of this that I wanted to do a quick post on how to feed a family on a budget.
Yes. Even with higher food prices at the stores, we can save money on groceries and still have a reasonable grocery budget that doesn’t make us dread going to the supermarket.
Why A Family of Four?
This post is based on the average American family size. In 2021, that number was 3.13. Since a post on feeding 3.13 people would just be silly, I rounded up to four.
It’s also a great jumping off point for those that are trying to feed a large family on a budget or for those who have smaller families. It will give you a good idea of what adjustments you need to make in order to stick to whatever grocery budget your family has.
What is the Average Cost to Feed a Family of 4?
According to US News, the average cost to feed a family of four is between $900.00 and $1100.00 ppr month. And that is considered a low grocery budget. For moderate and high budgets, the amounts just keep climbing.
Frankly, I think that is a bit ridiculous. Even with rising costs, I can feed my family of four for less than that.
I am certain you can as well!
Can You Feed a Family of 4 on a Week?
Honestly this is a complicated answer; yes and no both work here. There are a lot of factors involved in answering. Rising inflation, where you live and medical issues requiring a special diet are three of the biggest factors involved.
With that said, it is possible to feed a family of 4 on $50.00 a week at the moment for most people.
At the moment. If food costs continue to rise or inflation continues to rise, that may change.
What is a Realistic Food Budget for a Family of 4?
While I just told you that you can feed a family of four for $50.00 a week, I’m going to be honest and tell you that it isn’t very realistic these days.
There’s also the fact that what’s realistic for me isn’t likely to be for you and vice versa.
What is realistic for you is the lowest food budget that you can both afford that will allow you to make nutritious meals that fit any diet or health needs. Whether that is $50.00/week or $200/week, will depend on your needs.
What is the Cheapest Way to Feed a Family?
But we are here to learn how to feed your family on a budget. So, let’s get to it.
Always Menu Plan
Menu planning is the only way to ensure you have enough food to feed your family for the week. If you’re going to the grocery store without a plan, you can just about guarantee two things: you will overspend and you will find yourself scrambling to make dinner after a day or so.
If you’re new to making a meal plan, using a guided menu planner such as THIS one can be a great help to get you started.
For some, a full 7-day menu plan with 3 meals a day and snacks will work best. If you’re working with a super low grocery budget such as $50.00/week, this type of plan is best since it allows you to plan every single bit of food that is being used and needs purchased.
For others, such as myself, planning only dinners will work best. Since my husband is on the truck most of the times and my kids have their own homes – although I do feed them still quite a lot – I plan 7 dinners and simply ensure I have breakfast and lunch options on hand.
Give each option a try. Once you’ve done each one a couple of times, you’ll know which is the better option for you and your family.
Find Frugal Recipes
Unfortunately, when you’re planning meals on a budget, you will need to take a look at the recipes you’re used to cooking.
To be frank, saving money on food, does not involve making expensive recipes that can cost almost your entire grocery bill in one meal. Instead, it involves finding the cheapest meals possible.
Recipes that use chicken, eggs, or veggies are almost always a great option. While the price of eggs is currently high, the price of chicken is often lower than beef. Soup and pasta are also great frugal options and you can never go wrong with a couple of homemade pizzas.
If you’re not used to cooking frugally, don’t worry; you don’t need to sacrifice flavor just to save money. We have quite a few delicious recipes HERE for you to choose from.
I also love to find good cookbooks and modify the recipes as needed. One of my favorites for cheap meals is Ms. Clara’s Depression Cookbook. Recipes in books like this one are tried and true and can be modified for taste very easily.
Always Look for Savings
Most of us are used to checking sale ads for lower prices, but are you searching everywhere? Using coupons, rebate apps and even offers that you can scan your receipts to make money with are everywhere.
If you’re not already, making sure you’re signed up for your store loyalty or rewards programs are almost always useful for saving a few bucks. Rebate apps, coupon apps, and coupon codes can also help.
The catch with these savings is that you have to actually look for them. If you don’t, you’re basically admitting that you don’t need to feed your family on a budget and are content at spending more money than you need.
Eat Cheaper Options
I touched on this earlier, but choosing cheaper ingredients is one sure-fire way to lower your grocery budget. For the most savings, opt for things that can be used across multiple recipes.
Meats such as bacon, sausage, pork chops, ham and ground beef are still some of the cheapest cuts especially if you get them on sale or with a coupon.
For poultry, chicken thighs or leg quarters are often cheaper than breasts. Turkey is an option if you have a little bit of play in your budget, but these days, turkey is far more expensive than chicken.
Fruits and vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, tomato, apples and even chickpeas or lentils can help change a recipe into a filling, flavorful dish and tings like onions, garlic, chicken broth, salt and pepper combined with cheese sauces, rice or beans can really help take a recipe to the next level.
Obviously the easiest way to spend less at the grocery store is to buy less. Now I don’t mean to skip buying items.
I mean that you should try to rely on the stores less by making more of what you need and buying less.
This is something that I started in 2015 with THESE products. While I didn’t start making them for monetary reasons, the fact that I do has allowed me to save a ton of money over the years.
If you’re confused on how to get started relying on the store less, THIS post has a lot of great ideas.
You can also take a look at our recipes for:
- Homemade Deodorant
- Homemade Shave Cream
- Homemade Bread
- Homemade Pasta Sauce
- Homemade Coconut Shampoo
- Homemade Neosporin
- Homemade Bengay
- Homemade Toothpaste
- Homemade Diaper Rash Cream
- Homemade Baby Formula
Those are just a few ideas to get you started. Find more HERE.
Waste is one of the largest costs for a high grocery budget. How much produce are you tossing each week? Are you making use of your leftovers each night?
Even if you don’t want to eat leftovers the next day, place them in a freezer bag or other airtight food storage container and freezer them. You’ll avoid the wasted food and money while preparing a meal for another time.
You might be surprised at just how many foods can be successfully frozen for later. HERE is a list of 75 foods you can freeze! 75!
For produce, avoid buying what you aren’t sure you can use. If you know you’ll need bell pepper for only one recipe during the week, why would you buy three that won’t all be used. Instead, save the money on the two that may spoil and only buy what you can use before it will spoil.
Doing what you can to reduce waste in your home does take work, but once you’re on a roll, it is totally worth it.
Know When to Shop
The time of day or day of the week you shop makes a difference in how much you spend sometimes,. If you wait until the end of the week, you’re more likely to miss out on sale items.
It’s also a good idea to figure out when your store marks meat and other goodies down and to plan your shopping trips around those days and times. Doing so will increase your chances of finding really good clearance deals that can help lower your overall cost.
Buy in Bulk When It Makes Sense
Buying in bulk can help you stretch your food money but only when it makes sense. If you will use the product before it spoils and it is cheaper than buying the smaller version, buy the bulk item.
However, if it will go to waste, it does not matter if the price is cheaper. Wasted product is wasted money.
The whole point of buying bulk is to avoid the need to purchase that item in the future. If what you’re buying isn’t useable, that defeats the whole purpose since you have to buy a replacement.
Club or warehouse stores like Sam’s Club and Costco both often offer fantastic membership offers for new members. If you’re not a member, I do recommend it, but only after you’ve weighed whether buying in bulk makes sense for you and your family.
Sam’s Club new member offers are HERE and Costco’s membership offer is HERE.
Grow What You Can
When you’re struggling to feed your family, growing a garden is incredibly important. This is why growing a victory garden was so important during World Wars 1 and 2.
Even if you can’t do anything other than grow food in your kitchen, it’s still important to try. Growing what you need to eat, even a small amount, means you don’t need to pay a higher price for those fruits and vegetables.
Build Your Pantry
Having a well-stocked pantry allows you to make meals without needing to buy ingredients. Your pantry should include things such as pasta, flour, sugar, and so on. By taking the time to build a stockpile, you can skip going shopping when you don’t have the money because you already have what you need.
One quick note about building a pantry and freezer stockpile; it absolutely must stay organized. If it does not, you will have spoilage which means wasted money.
To keep this from happening, I highly recommend you use keep things organized with bins and baskets like the ones I use HERE and that you keep a paper pantry and freezer organizer like THIS one. Trust me; it makes things so much easier!
Finally, when you’re trying to feed your family on a budget, learning how to stretch meals is important.
What I mean by stretching is not serving smaller portions although if your family eats big portions, that may be an option.
Instead, I mean adding ingredients such as rice that will “fluff” or fill out the meal to make it more filling without making it more expensive to make.
If you’re new to this method of cooking for less, HERE is a great list of foods that stretch to get you started.
Feeding your family on a tight budget is hard. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t, but it can be done if you’re willing to put the work in. Like any form of saving money, it can be work. Just keep reminding yourself; nothing worth doing is ever easy.