A new year often brings a lot of change, and my once family of 3 is now a family of 5. We have two boys staying with us for a while and even though we’re making adjustments as they get settled, I don’t imagine my food budget to increase by much.
In fact, I’m expecting to only spend around $350 per month for our new family size of 5. No, we will not be eating rice and brand or canned meat every night. Yes, we will be eating healthy, balanced, and filling meals. We may even dine out once or twice as well.
If you’re interested in learning how I plan to feed a family of 5 for $350 per month, keep reading.
Traditional Warm Breakfast Foods
All three of the kids love pancakes for breakfast and warm breakfast is more filling. Plus, cereal is full of a ton of added sugar and not as healthy as people think. We have a waffle maker too so plan to switch it up between the two. A box of pancake mix is around $2.59 at Target and it makes around 12 to 18 pancakes. We usually get around 20 medium-sized pancakes which is enough to feed the kids for the entire week. We may add a banana or mandarin orange to this breakfast but it’s easy to prep for the entire week.
I also like to prepare my own homemade pancake mix. I use a combination of flour, flaxseed, eggs, baking powder, cinnamon, and stevia or honey and the kids love these healthier pancakes as well. On weeks where I’ll switch it up, I may prepare scrambled eggs and brown rice – a simple breakfast but one of my favorite growing up. Sometimes we add turkey bacon or sausage as to the breakfast meal as well without stretching the budget.
Practical and Creative Lunches
It’s interesting that we all eat slightly different things for lunch but what works is the fact that we keep it practical but creative. Yes, sandwiches are fine but deli meat can get expensive. Since we’re all at home for now, sometimes we do soups, beef hot dogs for the kids, or I’ll meal prep something like chicken burrito bowls or turkey burgers.
We try to make lunches quick and easy and pair them with an in-season fruit or vegetable if possible.
Batch Cooking Homemade Meals
We live on leftovers in my home and I love batch cooking. Cooking takes time and I don’t always have that time every day so I like to use my Crockpot and pressure cooker to prepare homemade meals that will last us 2-3 days. I keep a Pinterest board of meal ideas so I usually recycle a few of our favorite meals with new ones from my board.
One meal that my family really likes is one that truly tastes like Thanksgiving. Basically, we take about a pound of ground turkey, cut up some onion, green apple, and celery, and simmer everything in some vegetable or chicken broth. When everything is almost cooked, I mix in some stove top stuffing and it literally tastes like a warm and hearty Thanksgiving dish.
Get Snacks From Discount Grocery Stores
My favorite discount grocery store is Aldi and each year they step their game up in terms of the brands they sell and the foods they have. I can always find good deals on snacks at Aldi so I often take $30 and load up on everything from popcorn and granola bars to yogurt, apple sauce, pudding, and fruit snacks. The kids love snacking and I like to keep the snack cabinet and fruit bowl stocked.
Another cheap way that I stretch snacks is by baking a few sweets. Sometimes I’ll make blueberry muffins or a box cake and serves as a nice cheap dessert or snack.
RELATED: 7 Ways to Lower Your Grocery Bill
Other Ways to Feed a Family of 5 For $350 Per Month
Shop Twice a Month
I’ve been shopping twice a month for a few years now and it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. By shopping less, you save more money and get to work with what you have. By naturally giving yourself fewer opportunities to go to the store, you won’t have to worry about going off your list as much.
RELATED: 6 Costly Grocery Shopping Habits
Learn to Meal Plan and Prep Well
Every two weeks, I sit down and plan out dinners for the next 14 days and some breakfast and lunch options for the family. I start by looking at what we already have in our cabinets, fridge, and freezer to use up. Then, I go from there. Meal planning is not as strenuous as you’d think once you get the hang of it. I figure if I can plan 4 batch meals, that gives me 8-9 dinners so I’m halfway there.
When I have time on Sunday, I may prep some meals or food items and this helps us avoid the impulse to order takeout during the week. Other times, I intentionally budget for restaurant meals and include them in our meal plan.
Build a Grocery List Based on What We Have
Never start a grocery list or go to the store without taking a full inventory of what you already have on hand. Even if it’s just frozen vegetables and some sauces, you can likely use these ingredients for an upcoming meal. There have been too many times when I bought food from the store and realized I already had it at home.
To feed a family of 5 for $350 per month requires a lot of planning and creativity, but it’s so worth it. I love how we can eat well and still keep our food budget under control. That way, we can spend money on other goals not have such a tight budget overall. It may take some time and tweaking, but you can also cut your family’s food budget without making too many big sacrifices are well.