How to Feed a Family of Five with $45 Per Week
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The average American household spends approximately 13% of its money on food, but 42% of that money is spent at restaurants and fast food places. Food is the second largest expense that Americans spend their money on (Holland & Ewalt, 2006).
Today’s economy has certainly changed from the 80s, 90s and early 2000s. In fact, more people than ever are living from paycheck to paycheck. Therefore, the need for a tight budget is essential for many people, especially if you have children. When you have more than one child, it is important to carefully manage your money. Why? Well, because children have specialized needs, depending on their ages and health. In other words, parents are responsible for providing for their children’s basic needs (i.e. food, education, love, guidance, protection, housing, healthcare, etc.).
And, although feeding a family of five can seem taxing, if not impossible, it is possible. The keys are: careful budgeting, and staying far away from cheaper processed and junk foods (i.e. frozen dinners, hamburgers, fries, pizza, chips, sodas, etc.). These foods may be appealing (i.e. cheap, fast foods), but they are often filled with trans-fat, and high levels of sugar, salt, and calories, which is not healthy for you or your children. Feeding a family of five can take some serious creativity. But, with budgeting, and careful planning, you can provide your family with healthy foods every day. Listed below are ways that you can feed a family of five with $45, per week.
Tips on how to feed a large family with $45, per week:
Create a List
If you are on a tight budget, and you need to feed a family of five, you will need to create a grocery list – and stick to it! Go to the store with your list, weekly planned meals, and only the money you have to spend. Do not use credit cards to fund your shopping trips, or you will be extremely unhappy when the monthly bill arrives. Also, avoid purchasing a lot snack foods (i.e. cookies, cakes, candy, chips, sodas, etc.). Why? Well, because snack foods tend to be high in fat, sugar, and/or salt, and low in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Note: “Junk foods” and processed foods are the leading causes of childhood obesity.
If you want to purchase snack foods for your children, if possible, opt for healthy ones like: apple slices and low-fat caramel, veggies with low-fat dip, low-fat mozzarella string cheese, Welch’s fruit treats, etc. Also, try to purchase ingredients for larger meals that will last longer (i.e. casseroles, spaghetti, tacos, etc.), and do not forget the veggies (i.e. green beans, greens, broccoli, new potatoes, creamed corn, etc.). Why include the veggies? Well, because it will expand the meal, so that you can feed everyone, and still have leftovers available for the next day or two. The goal is to stretch a meal that typically cost $9, per person, across the week, without going over your $45 budget.
Buy in Bulk
If you are trying to feed your family of five on a budget of $45, per week, you may want to consider purchasing large quantity food products from wholesale warehouses like: Sam’s Club or Costco. In addition, you may want to purchase your meats directly from a farmer. Half of a cow that has butchered into different cuts can feed a family of five for almost the whole year. Note: The best way to preserve meat purchased in bulk from a local farmer is to freeze it until you are ready to eat it. The meat can stay in your freezer for a year, without getting frost bit. Furthermore, buying in bulk will reduce your weekly shopping bill from $45 to approximately $20, per week.
Grow Your Own Fruits & Veggies
There is almost nothing better than fresh fruits and veggies, so, if you can, start your own garden filled with all of your favorite fruits and veggies. Note: Fresh fruits and veggies are stocked full of vitamins, minerals, and water, which are essential for mental and physical health. Truth-be-told, setting up a garden in your backyard will require some effort, but in the end, it will be well-worth the work. Why? Well, because it will help reduce your weekly grocery bill. Yay! Also, consider growing spices and herbs in your garden to give your meals a little extra zest.
If you live in an area that does not allow backyard gardens, look for a community garden in your area. In a community garden you will be able to purchase a small piece of land to garden on. Note: Some community gardens are free, provided you share your produce with the other community farmers. Growing your own fruits and veggies will not only take a chunk out of your bill, and help you feed your family of five; it will also help you add to your income. How? Well, by selling your produce to others in the community. Most gardens can yield up to $500 to $600, per year (i.e. a weekly reduction of between $10 and $15).
Yes, you can successfully feed your family of five by pay attention to sales and using coupons. Plan your meals around weekly sales and coupons (i.e. usually located in newspapers and online), if possible. You will be surprised of how much money you will be able to save simply by purchasing foods that are on sale. In fact, you may be able to feed your family of five for $15 or $20, per week. Note: Many grocery stores offer bulk item discounts, in which you purchase so many items, and you get one or two free. Check your grocery store flyers to see what items are offered on bulk discount, and plan your meals around them. Also, as mentioned above, do not be afraid to cook larger portions that you can freeze and eat later.
You can stretch your meals by simply cooking. I understand that most people are busy – with children, spouses, jobs, and/or other activities, however, if your family is on a tight budget, and you are trying to feed a family of five, you may want to carve out some time to demonstrate your culinary skills in the kitchen. Why should you cook? Well, because it is healthier for your family. It is also cheaper, believe or not, than eating out all of the time. Even McDonald’s and Taco Bell can add up if you are a family of five, who eats it once or twice a day, every day, all week long It may appear that you are saving money by eating fast food, but it is an illusion. In reality you are actually spending more than you would by simply purchasing items from the grocery store, and “eating at home.” In fact, you can reduce your weekly grocery budget from $45 to $25 or less, per week, simply by opting for home-cooked meals.
Ellis, R. (2015). Take a big bite out of Grocery bills. NBC Nightly News. Retrieved from http://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/take-bite-out-your-grocery-bill-n169026
Holland, L. & Ewalt, D. M. (2006). How Americans make and spend their money. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/2006/07/19/spending-income-level_cx_lh_de_0719spending.html
Templin, N. (2009). How much green can growing a vegetable garden save you? The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB123983924976823051