As a large family momma of 7 growing kiddos, one of the most frequently asked questions I get is, “What do you guys eat?!”.
The first few times I heard this, I thought it a bizarre question. As if the grocery store is not available to families with more than 2.5 children, therefore leaving us with no other option than to find alternative food sources. It has since occurred to me that this is a coded question. What people really want to ask is, “How can you afford to feed your large family.”, but they don’t want to seem nosy or be offensive. They would get a better answer from me if they would just come out an ask what they were actually thinking. They really aren’t getting the response they want when I stand there and say, “Uhh, I think we had chicken last night?”
Although, my husband is the only person in my house that works outside of the home, feeding our large family hasn’t been a terrible struggle for us. And, it’s not because we are rich because we are constantly gathering coupons. I am typically able to feed all 9 of us for $100.00 to $150.00 each week. And there’s no piddly toddler-looking plates over here. We eat pretty good, if I do say so myself.
Here are my 4 money-saving tips when feeding a large family:
1. Marked-Down Meats are your Friend.
The first way that I save money on my grocery bill each week is by purchasing mark-down meats. If you have a carnivorous husband and a house full of tiny meat-eaters like I do, then this tip is going to save you a ton. I save $2-$6 per pack by purchasing meats that have been marked down because the “sell-by” date is approaching. It’s my opinion, that this meat is just as good as any other packaged poultry or beef you buy at the store, you just have to be prepared to cook it the same day your purchase it, or pop it in the freezer for later.
2. The day-old bakery section is a sweet, yeasty paradise!
I absolutely love this section of my grocery store! My kids tear through loaves of bread so fast that I can’t remember if I actually purchased loaves on my last shopping trip or not. Loaves of bread are sometimes marked down to just $0.50 a loaf in the day-old cart. My children especially like this section because I often buy cupcakes, donuts, or other sweet treats I wouldn’t normally buy if they were full price. Just like with the marked down meat, you have to decide to freeze it or eat it within the next few days.
3. You don’t always save at wholesale Clubs.
It has been my experience that I am not saving one dime by shopping at Sam’s, Bjs, or Costco. For my family, I’m certain that we lose money there. I think other people shop there more-so for the convenience of purchasing items in bulk, but I personally haven’t seen the value. I tend to spend more because these types of stores have less generic brand items than the Wal-Mart or Aldi I typically shop at. When I do the math, it’s a better deal for me to buy several smaller cans of green beans at my local grocery store than to buy the giant name-brand can at a wholesale club.
Another reason I don’t shop in these clubs for groceries is that I tend to leave out with way more perishable items than my family is prepared to consume in the time before the food expires. I’m pretty sure that defrosted grapes probably taste terrible, and I hate tossing them into the garbage because we didn’t get to them before they wilted and shriveled in my refrigerator. Essentially I’m just tossing money in the trash.
4. Make a shopping list.
The number one way that I save money each week is by planning out my meals and creating a shopping list for the things i need.
When you have several children like I do, you are on borrowed time at the grocery store. It is like mission impossible and you have exactly 15.35 minutes to get everything you need for this week’s meals and to get to checkout before the timer goes off in your 4 and 5 year-old’s heads and they start fighting over who gets to ride on the back of the cart. If the two little ones begin fighting, it can set off a chain reaction within the group, causing you to leave your cart angrily flailing to the car, and thus, aborting your mission.
Making a list just simplifies things so you can get in-and-out of the grocery store quickly, grabbing only what you need, and not getting distracted in that cereal/granola-bar/fruit snack/raisins/every-thing-else isle. Without a list, you’re subject to lose focus and start picking up random items that you really don’t want. Then you end up making several more trips back to the store to pick up the things that you actually did want but forgot to pick up.
So, this is what has worked for my large family of nine. I’m sure that these numbers and ideas will change as my family gets a little older, and maybe even expands by one or two more little meat-eaters.