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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Feeding a Family of 5 for $75 Weekly

Yesterday's post asked you to leave any questions about my budget or your own. I'm answering one today and will continue to answer the others throughout the month of September, so feel free to continue to add your own questions to the list.

Anonymous said:

How on earth do you only spend $300 a month on groceries for a family of 5? I'm impressed!

My grocery budget is roughly $75 a week. Sometimes I go over and sometimes I go under, which means that it does average out to about $300 a month. While the price of groceries does depend on the area where you live, the type of food that you eat, and the meals that your family likes - it is the best area in your budget to save some money. Just cutting your food budget by $25 weekly will save you $100 a month!

First and foremost: make a menu and a detailed shopping list. You have to know what you are buying before you walk into the store in order to stick to your budget.

Stock up on great sale prices. When something is a loss leader, on clearance, or just a spectacular sale which you know you won't see for quite some time, stock up! These are the weeks that I spend a bit more on groceries but it evens out in the long run when I can pull these items out in later weeks to use for meals. One recent example is Hebrew National hot dogs. I'm not a huge fan of hot dogs but since my kids like them I compromise and buy the "higher quality" hot dogs. Super Target one day had the 24 packs of Hebrew National hot dogs on sale for $4.99, typically $9.99. I stocked up on a couple packages and stuck them in the freezer. If it's something you typically buy and it's at a price you've never seen it at before...buy as much as you think you will use before the expiration date.

Use coupons. I've fallen off the coupon wagon as I no longer purchase a newspaper so have no source for coupon inserts. Yet, company Facebook promotions are everywhere and it is so simple to sign up for free coupons. I keep track of where to sign up at Hip2Save and get many free food and beauty coupons or samples this way.

For an example of my shopping, I am giving you a picture of this week's grocery trip and my menu. Be aware that my menu is paired down to my easy and quick meals this week as I am preparing for a garage sale at the end of the week and therefore chose things that would be quick to prepare once home from the long sale day, or something that my husband can cook. I only plan out our suppers. Breakfast is always something simple such as cereal, toast, oatmeal, pancakes, cocoa wheats, or even just a yogurt parfait. Lunches are leftovers, sandwiches, pasta, cheese and crackers, and other easy and simple foods. I don't feel the need to plan these and fly by the seat of my pants when it comes to breakfast and lunch. Lately it's been a lot of tomato sandwiches, sliced peppers, sliced cucumbers, and mixed fruit.

Menu for the week:

Roast chicken, potatoes, and vegetable

Hot dogs, potato salad

Pepperoni rolls, salad

hamburgers, corn, baked beans

Tuna on toast, vegetables

Beef Stroganoff, homemade rolls

spaghetti, garlic bread, vegetable

The vegetables listed are frozen, canned, or most recently - fresh from our garden. Fresh or canned fruit is added to our meals, along with a glass of milk. We often have popcorn later in the evening for a snack.

With this menu in mind, I went to the store and bought:

(The orange juice, spaghetti, spaghetti sauce, and Dannon drinkable yogurt was all free with coupons.) I spent $64.45. This includes ingredients to make several desserts, kitty litter, and dishwasher detergent. That leaves me with $10 left for the week to buy milk, which I get at a different store in town which sells non-homogenized milk.

That is how I feed a family of five for $75 a week. Any questions?


  1. I'm not much of a coupon person, for the odd item, but we cant get the same type of deals here anyways. Lately I've been trying to work up a stockpile by menu planning with what's in my freezer & using the rest of our budget for sale items! I'm impressed with $75/week! We're a family of 6 and our current budget is $165/week.

  2. The cost is impressive. I feel like a champ spending $500 a month for three, but we eat organically, fresh and local produce which is, of course, pricier. Should be the other way around, but it is what it is.

  3. I do not know how I would feed my family of five with three pre-teen boys on $75 a week. We eat a strict organic, semi-vegetarian diet. I don't know how $75 would cover healthy food for a week and I do menu plan.

  4. Any particular diet (organic, vegan/vegetarian, allergy restrictions, etc.) are going to bring the cost of food up. And having older children (especially teens!) will also cost more.

    I don't think we eat too bad on that price though. What wasn't shown in the picture is all the fresh produce that we get from our garden which is a big staple of our diet right now. One of the biggest ways to save is cutting back a lot of the junk. While you may see corn chips (for the salsa that the kids guzzle down...we literally can go through 3 lbs. of that a week!), or the crackers (for quick lunches with cheese), or the twizzlers (a well deserved snack for the kids) there isn't a whole lot of fillers. That is where the grocery prices can sky rocket - chips, soda, cookies, etc. is often times half of a family's grocery budget!

    What scares me even more are the families that don't even "know" what they spend on groceries on average each month because they fly by the seat of their pants and throw whatever they feel like into the cart. Not knowing how much you spend on your most versatile expense (groceries) is where a lot of families go wrong.

  5. I was given a quart bag of cherry tomatoes, which I quartered and mixed with hot whole grain pasta, olive oil, and some minced garlic. Lots of grated cheese. I had free pasta from some grocery deal and a reduced price piece of cheese to grate. Great meal at very low cost. HTH

  6. I am learning how to not go crazy. I used to be on food stamps and had to use all that month and I hated being on it but never had to worry about food. And so we got off and my husband makes 1400 every two weeks. And seems like I need to learn how to budget didn't have to before just bought whatever we wanted. So hard now but I feel better and only wanted to use until we got a job I stay at home to raise our three kids one boy and two girls. 7-5-3 and I feel like a failure cause we cut close every week. So thank you for some of yoyr advice.

    1. Breaks my heart to read this. Your not a failure. Your amazing. You hit hard times and needed help. You climbed up and out. Be proud of yourself. I a.

    2. I am currently a family of 5 me and 4 kids. And I get food stamps meal plan coupon and only shop sales and never just get what we want. I am not trying to be harsh but if your husband makes 2800/mth how are you running short? My ex was military and made less than that and we didnt run short even though he was horrible with money. He allowed me $300/Mth and that included diapers and all household items. I think maybe you need to look at your budget.

    3. Anonymous, $2800 a month isn't all that much in certain areas of the country. I am a family of 6 and that is our monthly income. However, rent in our area is outrageous and we have to pay $1400 a month for rent, not including utilities, for a not particularly great townhouse. That's just the way it is here. And living in one of the worst metropolitan areas for traffic, gas expenses are high as well simply to travel back and forth to work. If we lived in the Midwest where we used to live, we lived nicely with money to spare on about $1600 a month. Widely varying expenses by geographic location can account for this.



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