How I Feed My Family of 5 For Under $100 Every Month: Part 5

The Fundamental Home

It’s the last week of our grocery budgeting series.  I hope it has been a blessing to you and your family.

This week, I am going to share with you 8 tips to make the most of your grocery budget.

#1- ALWAYS Buy ONLY What is Least Expensive

 

What I mean by this is that, in order to get your grocery budget down to the lowest possible cost, you will need to only buy what is least expensive.  I may be in the mood for hamburger, but if chicken is on sale, that is what we are getting.  In the end, that may mean we have chicken almost every night for two weeks.  If that is how it has to be, that is what we do.  It normally doesn’t happen that way.  Most of the time, I have a variety of different foods on hand that I am supplementing with the items I buy on sale.  Then, when I make my menu plan, I rotate items we have in abundance so we don’t have one thing night after night.  If I have to make the same thing, I try to vary the preparation.  I might baked chicken one night, have chicken soup another night, chicken tacos the next night, and follow that with an Asian inspired chicken preparation.  This rule does not only apply to purchasing meat.  It is relevant whether you are purchasing pasta or vegetables.

Produce is a specific area of your grocery budget where you should only buy what is the least expensive.  The good news is, this is usually seasonal produce.  Good for you, and good for your wallet.  The bad news is, organic is never cheaper than non-organic.  My family will almost always opt to pay for organic if the price difference is only a few cents.  If a bag of non-organic carrots is $0.99, and the bag of organic carrots is $1.29, I am buying organic.  If the difference is greater, I may have to purchase non-organic and use a vinegar wash.  My family is always careful when we buy one of the “dirty dozen.”  The truth is, though, there are other less expensive ways to eat produce.

#2-  Grow a Garden/ Farm/ Eat Locally

As you may know, we are experimenting with our first garden this year.  It’s not going well, in all honesty.  Even if it completely  fails, we are learning lessons that we can use for our next attempt at gardening.  I WILL master it because I must.  The cost of fresh fruits and vegetables is rising all the time, and I don’t know about you, but I have trouble keeping up.  Gardening is a necessary skill if you want to keep your grocery costs as low as possible.

I have met families that only eat what they grow or raise.  It is so impressive to me to see them living self-sufficiently.  If you have enough land, you can learn animal husbandry in addition to gardening.  By raising your own food, you can eat for less.

If growing your own food is not possible, consider eating locally.  I don’t have enough land for an apple orchard, so every year, we go to orchards in our area to get apples.  It doubles as a field trip and is one of my favorites!  We eat apples for weeks.  We also buy bags of  “seconds” (imperfect in looks, but not taste) to make apple juice, sauce, and vinegar.  We have also found deals at our local farmer’s market when certain produce is in season.  When everyone has bushels of corn, it’s easy to make a deal.  Even better, you are helping to support members of your community.

#3- Freeze/ Can What You Have

Don’t let that good produce go to waste.  Freeze or can what you have.  I already mentioned how I froze all of the “fixins” from my church’s sub party.  In fact, I freeze foods all the time for convenience.  It’s a lot easier to grab a handful of already chopped, frozen onions and peppers when you are making homemade pizza.  So, when I  have some time and the produce, I just start cutting and freezing.

Canning is something I am still learning.  I started that for the first time last year.  Buying the cans to get started is not exactly the cheapest thing I have ever done, but they are an investment.  I just purchase them little by little.  I also accept gifts of cans from others who don’t can.  It seems like almost everyone’s grandmother has canning supplies, but not everyone wants to keep them.  In that way, I have been building my collection.  I also found some supplies at thrift stores and yard sales.  My pressure canner, new in the box, was purchased at a thrift store for $18.00.  My apple corer/slicer, also new in the box, was purchased at a thrift store for $3.00.  Look around, and you will find good deals on canning equipment.  On that note…

#4-  Do Not Waste

The Bible says in Proverbs 18:9

He also that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.

It means that, it is the same thing to be lazy as it is to waste.  Don’t let your food go to waste.  This doesn’t mean force feed your children.  I have seen families who let their children fill their plates high and then get angry when they don’t finish it because the child was “wasteful.”  My friend, teach your child to get a small helping.  Then, allow them to refill as often as they would like.  As I said, our priority is health.  Teaching your child to gorge himself for the sake of not being wasteful is poor health and poor economy in the long run (medical bills are expensive).  If my children find themselves to be full with food on their plate, it can go into the compost pile to help us grow more food.  It’s much better off there than making my child sick.

When I say do not waste, I mean, don’t let anything go bad.  Make sure you know the expiration dates of the food in your house and use it before passes.  Don’t take out meat and neglect to make it (I have done this and feel incredibly guilty afterwards).  Don’t let your produce go bad.  Make sure you know the grocery items in your possession and how long they last.  Use what is going to go bad first.  Of course, if the “goodness” of something is questionable, throw it away.  Health first.

#5-  Make One Person In Charge of Groceries

You need a Grocery Czar (my official title).  Someone who knows what you have, in what quantity, and how long it will last at all times.  In most houses, that’s mom.  One family I know has three teenage daughters, and the oldest two handle the groceries and menu planning.  It doesn’t matter who it is, but there must be some place where the buck stops.  I have found that families where both parents work struggle to save on their groceries.  The reason is that both mom and dad are buying groceries and “planning” meals.  Dad doesn’t know that mom took out burgers for the grill, but he wants to help make her night easy, so he runs and grabs a pizza.  It’s such a sweet thought that Mom smiles.  She’ll just make the burgers the next night, but the next night, soccer practice runs late and everyone just wants a quick bite.  The family eats out and the burgers at home are thrown away.  The problem is, this situation happens just about every week.  Dad and mom are trying to share the load, but neither is really taking ultimate responsibility for the family’s meals.  What seems to be a good thing, is really a costly thing.  One person needs to be in charge of the groceries and meal planning.  Then, they need to communicate those plans with everyone else in the house.  Post the menu plan.  If it is posted regularly, the family will know to check the schedule.  You will save tons if one person is willing to step up and take control (and the other person is willing to let go).

#6-  Follow a Meal Schedule

Have your meals at regularly scheduled times.  This will ensure that no one gets too hungry and wants to eat unplanned snacks between meals.  Without a schedule, some would skip breakfast, be hungry for lunch around 10:30, then not be able to eat dinner until 6 or 7, so they have a huge snack at 3, which really interferes with their appetite at dinner, which makes them starving the next morning.  Don’t do that to yourself or your family.  Have breakfast at the same time everyday.  Do the same with lunch and dinner.  If you want to have snacks, plan a snack time.  No matter what meals your family plans to eat, put them on a schedule and stick to the schedule.  You may need to force yourself to plan ahead.  Just keep it consistent.  One a side note, this will make your family happier, too.  Nothing is worse than when Momma is hungry.  At least, that is how it is at my house 😉

#7-  Use Pinterest/ Experiment

I mentioned last week that I helped a friend with her groceries.  One issue she was having was that she didn’t know how to cook too many different meals.  My first suggestion to her was to learn.  I asked her if she had any internet access at home.  She did not.  I asked her if she had any cookbooks at home.  She did.  I asked her to hand me one.  She did, and I told her that her homework assignment was to pick one dish that she was unfamiliar with and attempt to cook it at least once a week until she had mastered every dish in that cookbook.  Then, she should get another cookbook.  If you don’t own any, try the library.  Expanding your cooking knowledge will allow you the ability to use different, possibly cheaper ingredients.  You need to make this a priority.

If you do have internet access, I suggest using Pinterest.  It is full of great recipes that other Grocery Czars have already pinned and some have even tried.  If you haven’t already, be sure to follow me on Pinterest.  I have a ton of great recipes, and I really do try most of mine, though I haven’t gotten to them all yet.  If you aren’t sure about it, send me a message and ask.  I would be glad to tell you my experience with a particular recipe.

Don’t be afraid to experiment, just have a back-up plan because there will be failures.  When I first started making pizza crusts from scratch, they were awful.  I checked other recipes because I knew there had to be something wrong with the one I had, but it turned out, they were all the same.  So, I knew it had to be me.  I kept trying over and over again until I mastered the pizza crust.  Now, my family prefers my homemade pizza.  Don’t be afraid to make changes.  One of my family’s favorite meals is tortellini soup.  The recipe we use is VERY spicy, and I like spicy!  The first time I made it, according to the recipe I loved it but almost died 😉  It was WAY to hot for my taste.  I knew I could tone down the heat and it would be perfect.  When I make this one now, I use only 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon of black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon chili powder as a substitution for the dried chili peppers.  I also use Hot Italian Turkey Sausage.  It’s much more palatable.  Don’t be afraid to experiment.  Try.  Fail.  Try again.  Try it another way.  Keep trying and learn to make as much as you can.

#8-  Always Take What is Freely Given

We started this post with always buy what is cheap, but let’s not neglect the things that come to us for free.  Free is always better than cheap!  This time of year, members of our church start bringing extra produce from their garden to share.  It is such a blessing to have different varieties of homegrown tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, and squash.  The fact that it is free is a bonus.  Enjoy the things that others are willing to give to you.

You may also be able to glean.  Maybe your neighbor has a fruit tree, and they don’t use the fruit.  Ask if they would mind if you take some.  Years ago, I lived in a house that had a plum tree (this was before I had learned to be frugal).  That tree made a huge mess on my sidewalk when it dropped its fruit every year.  I was glad when a neighbor asked if they could pick the fruit.  It was less for me to clean up later.  There is a property that neighbors our family.  It is vacant, and the owner has said we can make use of their large persimmon tree.  I don’t know what I am going to do with it yet, but I will do something.  Another neighbor has blackberries.  I am happy the things that others may not be using because I appreciate the preciousness of our resources.  If someone is willing to share, we are happy to receive.

That’s it!  The very last of my grocery budgeting lessons.  There is SO much more I want to say, but there only so much space.  If you can think of anything else you would like to know about grocery budgeting, please let me know.  I am so happy to have been able to share what I know in this 5 parts series.  To check out the other parts, click the links below

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

NEW!!!!!!!!!!  We make a video update every six months, and the new one is just out.  Check it out to see us grocery shopping and take a peek at our bi-weekly grocery haul.  Here’s the video-

You can also find the bi-weekly menu plan on the blog.  Click HERE to check it out!

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32 thoughts on “How I Feed My Family of 5 For Under $100 Every Month: Part 5

  • December 17, 2015 at 1:50 pm
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    My big struggle is with #4 — especially produce. I always buy lots thinking I will be healthy and snack on it, and then I don’t want to when the time comes, lol. Or I buy it too far ahead of when I will need it, or maybe circumstances change and the planned recipe gets delayed… one thing I’ve been doing lately that helps (but hasn’t fully conquered the beast) is when I see something that is not looking it’s best, then I juice it. There’s obviously a window where this is possible, and if I wait too long, the opportunity is gone. But doing this has reduced our produce waste just a little bit. I’m visiting from Thrifty Thursday — this would also be great to linkup on Frugal Friday on my blog tomorrow. 🙂

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    • December 17, 2015 at 7:46 pm
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      Thanks! I will be sure to post it on Frugal Friday. I hope you will check out all the other parts in the series. Maybe it will help give you some additional ideas. It helps me to keep my pantry levels low. This way, I am forced to use something. I also slice and freeze a lot of produce before it goes bad. Things like peppers, onions, and celery often get frozen at my house. We have been known to juice some things, too. If the opportunity passes, into the compost it goes without a second thought. Health first! Thanks for stopping by! Come back and visit us again real soon!

      Reply
  • January 27, 2016 at 1:30 pm
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    These are exactly the tips I have been looking for, I struggle keeping our family of 5’s grocery bill on the lower side.

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    • January 27, 2016 at 1:35 pm
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      I am glad it was helpful to you! I hope you will check out the other parts of this series. There is SO much more that will help you to bring your grocery budget down. Thanks for visiting us here at The Fundamental Home.

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  • January 27, 2016 at 1:46 pm
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    Love the tips! We have been trying to cut down on the groceries bill as well so the timing is perfect. I have an idea for you on the persimmons. My mom always made a simple salad with it growing up. Sliced persimmons, lettuce, peas tossed with just a bit of mayo salt and pepper.

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    • January 27, 2016 at 2:01 pm
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      Thanks for the suggestion! I will have my husband try it first. He is my guinea pig 🙂 Thanks for stopping by The Fundamental Home!

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  • January 28, 2016 at 4:30 pm
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    For gardening efforts use the opposite approach to grocery shopping. Grow what costs most at the store. For us this means lettuces and greens and green onions and parsleys and herbs…these cost more per pound than steaks or shrimp. I have friends who I supply with eggs all year. They give us greens and lettuces and onions and other stuff in season. The amount of fresh greens they get almost year round with a 8×8 bed is remarkable. They cover with old windows in winter and blankets on those as needed. You might consider a hay bale raised bed and some recycled windows for a garden.

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    • January 28, 2016 at 8:59 pm
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      That is REALLY good advice, and exactly the kind of thing I would have NEVER thought of! Thank you so much for sharing that with me and all of the readers. There is so much I need to learn in the path to complete self-sufficiency, but I am working on it everyday! Blessings!

      Reply
  • January 31, 2016 at 2:04 pm
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    Thank you so much for your ideas!! We have been really struggling! We are a family of 4 and I am 8 months pregnant with our third child. We live in VT and veggies and fruit are really expensive! The only way we can afford veggies is through cans. We do not have an ALDI without going 2 plus hours south. Our discount store is actually more expensive then going to a regular store like price chopper and using coupons. I really need help knowing cheap meals to make. I am not the best cook! I also would love recipes for things you use for snacks that are homemade. Love the help and looking so forward to more!

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    • February 1, 2016 at 3:11 pm
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      Cooking is such an important skill. I didn’t have a clue when I got started. Thankfully, I had some good friends who showed me their recipes and made me feel comfortable to start experimenting. That’s all you need to do. Get a recipe, and start experimenting with extra ingredients. Here, we enjoy trying new things. For instance, I am on a mission to figure out how to work with dried beans. Anytime I have a moment, I go to Pinterest, type in the ingredients I have on hand (which aren’t necessary for any of the meals on my menu plan)- like navy beans, chicken, peppers. Then, I will take a recipe that I think looks good and give it a try- like white chicken chili. I did this recently and found something amazing. I do have a couple of posts on my favorite frugal recipes. You can check them out here- Paella and Potato Soup (I am making Paella tonight) and Curry and Vegetarian Chili

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      • May 20, 2016 at 3:16 am
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        AWSOME subject matter!! In your canning adventures know that dry beans that are home canned come out much much cheaper than cans that are store bought! AND you may can them in quarts for soups and cassarols or pints or half pints for use in salads I’ve learned a lot about this from YouTube, especially at ‘Linda’s Pantry’. It takes penny pinching and easy availability up a notch! 😉

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  • February 20, 2016 at 4:31 pm
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    Great article! It’s sometimes difficult for us to work around many inexpensive recipes as my youngest son has food allergies and sensory issues, but the methods taught here will definitely help me stay organized!

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    • February 20, 2016 at 5:34 pm
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      Our one son has been on a number of elimination diets. Sometimes it was hard to stay on budget, but when we had no choice, we worked it out. You can do it, too. It just takes a little practice. Let me know if I can help!

      Reply
  • May 11, 2016 at 3:06 pm
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    I really appreciate all of the great advice thanks! I struggle with cutting my grocery bill even though I gave a well stocked pantry and usually a well stocked ( full)fridge and ( full ) freezer. I make many things from scratch as well and am a fair cook. I do shop at home first but still spend about 100 a week. Any advice is welcome. I also have a family of 5 as well. Thanks in advance for your help 🙂

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    • May 12, 2016 at 6:36 pm
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      I am not in your home, so it is hard to know what the exact issue is. I would guess that, perhaps, you are choosing your meal plan based on what you would like rather than what you have, sticking too closely to recipes (rather than leaving things out or substituting to accommodate what is in the home), using more expensive ingredients, or you are including your non-food items in the budget. I see all of those mistakes frequently. If any of those are an issue for you, I would work on that first. If you want to email me more specifics, I will see what I can do to help first.

      Reply
  • June 14, 2016 at 5:44 pm
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    We grow a ton of food in a few box beds using the postage stamp gardening or grid method. Rather than doing all the dirt prep though, for $35 a yard we filled the boxes with black gold organic compost. The only insect repellent we use are marigold seeds that we harvest year after year. We give away most of it since it’s just the two of us but it’s the best way for large volumes of food in smaller spaces.

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  • June 24, 2016 at 8:11 pm
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    Just found your site. Great series on groceries! Thank you so much for sharing your insight and posting videos! It put a smile on my face to see your daughter so enthusiastically helping😊.

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  • June 27, 2016 at 6:36 am
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    I was excited to find your information and have stayed up til morning to read your entire 5 part series. I was surprised to find that I already do most of what you suggest and that we even keep our cabinets organized the same😂. I think I will have trouble with planning meals while shopping because I don’t have too much experience cooking and don’t know what would make a good meal. Have you made any videos of how to cook the meals and to show the end product? I think those would help tremendously. I can follow a recipe, but there are priceless tips and tricks of the trade to pick up on when watching someone cook. Thank you for helping others and having such a servants heart and for being genuine with the videos…..I promise NOBODY has a spotless kitchen/pantry.
    Nancy from Florida

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    • June 27, 2016 at 5:11 pm
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      I have made a couple. Here’s a link to my most recent one- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aRSt6rN5How If you join our Frugal Family Food Facebook page, you will see lots of videos that will help. Members are sharing regularly meals that help them stay on a tight budget. Thanks for the kind words! I hope you find some things that are helpful to you!

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  • June 30, 2016 at 2:50 am
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    i am a new subscriber and already do most of what you say in addition to raising a large garden and preserving either by canning or freezing. we also have several apple trees and a cider press and make our own cider, apple molasses, dried apples, apple pie filling, applesauce, etc. my husband knows how to butcher and we usually have a deer every year in the freezer and every other year butcher one of our cows, so that saves us a lot of money as well. it’s nice to see someone who ‘gets me’ as so many just don’t understand how we can spend so little on groceries.

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    • June 30, 2016 at 11:58 am
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      I feel the same way! I love it when people get me, too. There aren’t very many, but the numbers are growing! Thanks for subbing and commenting!

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  • September 22, 2016 at 4:42 pm
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    I just discovered your website and YouTube channel. Great tips, but I feel like I’m overspending, now. I used to think that $1 per person per meal per day was a good budget. Now, I see that I can do better. Thanks for the challenge.

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  • February 3, 2017 at 2:40 am
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    I stumbled across your YouTube and blog at the right time! My hours were just cut dramatically at work and my fiance and I are saving up for our wedding next year. With just the two of us, I don’t see why we can’t get our monthly grocery bill under $100. Thank you so much for all of your tips! This blog is a big blessing to us right now

    Reply
  • March 6, 2017 at 7:24 pm
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    Love your posts and the great ideas! Many I do but your post are great reminders when I have those lazy moments and forget the prize at the end (spending lesson on groceries ). Blessings to you!

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  • March 19, 2017 at 11:03 pm
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    Thank you for this blog series! I have a family of 4 and we are in the self-sufficient type category with gardening, canning, hunting, and livestock. However, our grocery budget climbed from average $220/month when we lived in the city then up to nearly $400/month on our farm. I’ve trimmed it back to $150/month now. Playing “Grocery Czar” gives me a bit of intellectual challenge to entertain me during the otherwise tedious tasks of staying home. You’ve inspired me to play with my meal planning more and try to reduce my budget further without sacrificing nutrition.

    Reply
    • March 22, 2017 at 4:42 pm
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      Awesome! I changed the name to Kitchen Manager, but sometimes I still like to think of myself as the Czar 😉

      Reply

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