As a mother of a large family, the grocery bill is often a topic of discussion. With food prices rising, how can a family maximize their resources and keep their grocery bill low?
I define a “large” family as family with 4+ children. Finding recipes that feed 6+ people is often a challenge for me. Thankfully most recipes can often be doubled, but this doesn’t necessarily keep costs low. Feeding a large family can often equate to $900 or more each month. Here are some practical steps I’ve taken to keep our costs down.
1). Go No Processed Foods. While there are many articles written on the health benefits of avoiding processed foods, most people don’t realize that this can also impact your bottom line. There is definitely a transition time involved in learning to eat and shop properly, but the benefits are amazing, both health-wise and financially. If you are willing to consider this step, here is a website that can help you do it: http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/real-food-defined-a-k-a-the-rules/ I feel that Lisa does a great job of laying out how to shop, read labels, plan and more! I bet you’ll find your perception of food changed and your kitchen transformed!
2.) Grow What You Can. There are thousands of resources out there to teach you how to grow your own food. I recently downloaded a pdf teaching me how to grow veggies in a 4 square foot area! You can also learn about really cool techniques such as hydroponics and aquaponics.
3.) Shop Local. Lancaster County is rich in produce. Shopping at markets such as Roots, Green Dragon, Central Market, Bird-In-Hand, and others can definitely cut the cost of your produce bill. Just be sure to stick to your grocery list or you will find yourself with more than you anticipated!
4.) Meal Planning. This is a big topic on many food blogs today. You often can buy meal plans off blogger’s websites to help you plan. Many of these meal plans also provide you with your grocery list for the week. I’ve found, however, that many of the plans are not a fit for me because they are designed to feed 4 people, and often have more preparation and ingredients than I have time for. I’ve found that meal planning can be very simple and practical using this strategy: Make a list of meals you know your family likes that you don’t mind making. These meals should have 2 main details to qualify…they must use 8 or less ingredients and must have a short prep time. Ideally, your list should be about 15 meals and should include breakfast and lunch ideas. Next, print out a free downloadable calendar online and begin to fill in each day with your meals. You should have filled in about 2 weeks. This will be your springboard to your ongoing meal planning process. I’ve found that most meals I can make twice per month and no one really notices. As I’ve used this strategy, I’ve added in new recipes I’ve found online or seen on FB. I now have an archive of quick and easy recipes to use for efficient planning, and my grocery list is mostly memorized. I plan to write more about this topic in the future.
5.) Stick To Your List. If you’ve planned your meals and snacks, your shopping list should be straightforward. The absolute best way to save your food dollars, is to simply stick to your list. No extras, no impulse buys. Oh, and don’t shop when you are hungry.