Here’s a look at our February 2023 groceries and meals we ate that month!
February 2023 Groceries
We’ll start with a look at my grocery shopping trips this month. First, on the first Sunday of the month our entire family was able to worship together in Lincoln (where Asa, Justus, and their wives go to church). It was wonderful to be together, and we headed to Costco after church so we could eat lunch and shop. There are 16 of us now (including wives and a girlfriend) so lunch at Costco was slightly nuts. But cheap. How else can we feed 15 people for $32? (Baby opted for his bottle instead of a hotdog.)
I tried to capture a pic of all of us walking into Costco. Grown-up kids, little kids, Daddy – everyone holding a baby or a little hand…
I spend a solid $731 that day and got home with a great big haul of groceries. Sausage, chips, shredded cheese, frozen fruit and corn, maple syrup, honey, fresh greens and spinach, butter, rice, yogurt, cinnamon bread, creamer…
Coffee, applesauce pouches, yogurt pouches, peach cups, yogurt cups, half and half, cream, sour cream…
Chicken nuggets, carrots, apples, coconut oil, mozzarella, salad mix, frozen tilapia, cantaloupe, granola bites…
Many of the snack-sized items I got to help supplement our school kids’ lunches (even the splurges cost less than paying for a school lunch).
Four of our foster kids qualify for WIC benefits, which is a huge perk as it provides us with a small amount of fruits, vegetables, cheese, eggs, milk, cereal, juice beans, bread, and formula each month at no cost to us. I snapped this picture of the groceries I’d gotten with two of our WIC cards and wasn’t able to take pictures at home because all the babies wanted to be held at once since I’d been out. ;)
Mid-February we were in Grand Island for Malachi’s soccer games. I ran into Sam’s to get “just a few things” which for us means that I only filled one cart. :) :) :)
I spent $161 on food that day.
At the end of the month, I had a chance to go to Costco and Aldi. I came home with this after spending $304 on food. How did I get away with all these groceries for so little? Just before I went to Costco that day, I received an email that included my Costco Reward Certificate. It covered almost all my needs that day. SO THANKFUL!
At Aldi, I got strawberries, blueberries, clementines, bagels, pretzels, ketchup, sausage, grass-fed beef (on sale!), brown sugar, cottage cheese, and cases of:
- Chicken broth
- Salsa (2 cases!)
- Pears in 100% juice
- Peaches in 100% juice
- Cream Cheese
- Mac and Cheese ($0.50/box – a great convenience at a low price)
Since I stocked up so much at Aldi, I only needed one cartful at Costco. I got shredded cheese, applesauce, yogurt pouches and cups (on sale!), chicken (x3), butter, sour cream, broccoli, apples, greens, chicken nuggets, pizza, blackberries, guacamole cups, avocado cups, white queso, mandarin orange cups, half and half, red grapes, green grapes, caesar salad mix, and croissants.
After a Costco trip, the boxes are the best!
We are settling in with a new baby, I’ve had extra foster care meetings and appointments this month, and overall, we are pretty tired. Happy, healthy, joyful, thankful, and tired. So I decided this month to simply buy what we needed without overthinking and then get back to sticking to a budget later when I’m more rested and able to think/plan more frugally. :) These days sure are sweet though.
Keith loves his baby brother…
So. About that grocery budget.
I am realizing that I will soon need to increase our grocery budget.
I am having to rely on some convenience foods right now, and eventually, I can cook more from scratch and save more money. But even with that, I’m realizing that my budget may need to increase soon. Had it not been for our Costco Reward money, I would have gone FAR over budget this month. And there’s not much I feel I can do about it. The kids are only going to eat more as they continue to grow. Plus, for goodness sake, I am feeding 10 people three meals every day.
Stay tuned for an update on that once I have time to sit down and figure out what makes sense for our family. I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you feel is reasonable to spend per person per month on food. :)
Meals We Ate in February
Ready for the fun part?! Here’s a look at some of the meals we ate in February!
Someone gave us some Italian Bread loaves so I used them that night to make Pizza Boats. I served them with fruit and fresh spinach. (Some of my kids dip their spinach in ranch, some just eat it plain, and one of them dips it in ketchup, ha. Whatever gets the spinach down, I say.)
I hadn’t made this Cheeseburger Mac in a long time and it really hit the spot! I made it on a day when we were having trouble with our kitchen sinks draining properly. So I served our dinner on these disposable trays we had accumulated somehow.
What does our kitchen look like when our sink drains are messed up and I can’t wash dishes??
The sippies and other bowls and cups you see above are actually clean. I had taken them upstairs to our bathtub and washed them because running out of clean sippy cups isn’t an option. Matt worked all afternoon and solved the drain problem. It’s always good to be reminded to be thankful for the opportunity to wash dishes!
There was a box of free zucchini when I went to a WIC appointment for our girls, so I brought some home and made a double batch of this Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread. I shared two of the loaves with a family going through intense health issues. The other two loaves got eaten in two days at our house.
Here’s a little peek at our 2-year-old and 1-year-old sitting at a little table that we’ve had since our big boys were little. They were eating a breakfast of banana, yogurt, and zucchini bread bites.
I had a roast in the freezer so I slow-cooked it one day with potatoes and carrots.
I made 6 pounds of meatballs one day (recipe coming soon). I froze 4 pounds of them and baked 2 pounds for dinner that night with mac and cheese and steamed broccoli.
Here’s a look at six of our littles around the table eating meatballs. :) :) :)
When Baby#11 was born, someone gifted us an amazing pizza gift card. We took advantage of this one night when the pizza place was offering a special! That was a great night off of cooking for me!
I had picked up some Uncured Beef Smokies from Costco, and the kids were super excited. I poured barbecue sauce on them and slow-cooked them all afternoon. They were…so-so. :) It was a nice, convenient dinner but none of us gobbled these right up.
The day I made those smokies, the kids had the day off of school. One of our daughters-in-law was at our house helping for the day so we made a huge batch of Cream Cheese Cut-Out Cookies for Valentine’s Day.
One day in February it got up to 60 degrees, which is crazy for us in Nebraska! I took advantage of the weather and smoked a bunch of brats and hotdogs for dinner.
We took some to share with another family who had just had a loss in their family, then we enjoyed these with baked beans and carrot sticks.
One night I made a big batch of Cheeseburger Soup, but added noodles instead of potatoes. We ate our fill that night, then I added sour cream and cheese to the leftovers to create a casserole to eat another night.
For our school kids’ Valentine’s Day lunch, I made and packed them a heart-shaped quesadilla. :)
For dinner on Valentine’s night, I made Chicken Pizza Bake and took a few minutes to cut the pepperoni into hearts. :)
Here’s a look at a Saturday morning breakfast for all the littles that they enjoyed after watching a show (so I could wake up slowly with our baby). Sausage links, apple slices with peanut butter, yogurt, pumpkin muffins, and cinnamon toast.
I don’t remember what we ate for our main dish this meal, but I snapped a picture of Brayden and Keith eating pear slices and spinach with ranch while they waited on the rest of their meal. This is often how I feed the kids: give them their fruit and veggie to eat first before filling up on the rest of the meal. We have fewer food fights this way.
I put White Chicken Chili in the crock pot one morning and we enjoyed it that evening with Applesauce Bread. If you haven’t tried this easy chili recipe before, you must. It’s delicious, and it also takes no effort to make!
On another day, I made regular chili. We didn’t eat it, but instead, I filled two gallon-sized freezer bags with it and froze them both. I had browned several pounds of ground beef so it made sense to create something with the cooked meat before stashing it away. Chili it was! Now we have two meals ready to thaw and eat at any time! OR, I can use some to make this amazing Chili Cheese Dip.
Lunchtime each day can be a bit of a “thing” for our 4-3-2-and 1-year olds. They are all so little, and lunchtime is almost naptime, so we’re all a little bit tired at this point in the day. So, I’ve taken a break from giving them leftovers (Matt, Elias, Malachi, and I eat those up at lunchtime though!) and I’ve started giving them more “snacky” items. Here’s an example of a day I fixed their plates with pepperoni, cheese cubes, avocado cups, crackers, and applesauce. It was a hit!
After my final Costco run of the month, we enjoyed their croissants with chicken salad, grapes, and strawberries.
The older boys weren’t home for lunch that day so we actually had leftovers. I turned them into Chicken Salad Melts with cheese and ranch, which we baked the next day after church and ate with tomato soup, smoothies, and chips and salsa.
Here’s a peek at a marker board I moved into the kitchen. I’ve been writing down meals as I plan them for each day so that our 7 and 9-year-olds can read it instead of asking me over and over what we’re eating. It’s served as an added blessing that Matt knows what I’m planning and starts helping with prep without asking what needs to be done. :)
Completely unrelated to food, but worth sharing is the picture of our silverware drawer after our four year old cleaned out that part of the dishwasher. We are starting to get our 4-7-9 year-olds more involved with household needs and he is very capable of this task. Who cares that the silverware is all messy in the drawer? Not me!
We made breakfast for dinner that included biscuits, sausage/cheese eggs, pears, and blackberries. It was simple and the kids loved it!
I made three lasagnas one afternoon, freezing two and saving one to eat during the week. You’ll see that meal in March!! :)
How’s your budget looking? Care to share how much you spend per person per month? (I’m currently at $120/person/month but need to consider increasing and would love some input!)
I seriously look forward to all your meal posts! Also, don’t ever stop with the muffins. They are truly lifesavers.
I have a family of five (two adults, kids 11, 9 and 7) and we average around $200 per month per person right now. This works out to $6-7 per day.
We do a lot of things that could be more frugal – e.g. cold cereal, salad kits, individually packaged snacks for co-op days, prepackaged lunch meat for my husband, and frozen or take and bake pizza sometimes.
We homeschool and are working through managing some individual challenges with different kids, so while I love to cook from scratch, in this season we need hot food rather than ideal food. ? (My husband values my reduced stress of a flexible grocery budget over optimum frugality, which is helpful since I am not naturally inclined to rank priorities in that way.)
We do a lot of things well – we eat mostly home cooked food; aside from frozen pizzas, most of our frozen food is plain meat, vegetables and fruit. We don’t have a ton of sugar. We mostly drink water. We always, always have things like apples available for snacks, and more ‘fun’ fruit regularly too. We rarely eat a full meal out.
I had been reading frugality blogs in the wake of a cold winter with memorable gas prices (our heat is gas-powered). I was feeling discouraged about how much less people that write about frugal living spend than my family does… then I found links to how the USDA calculates a healthy meal plan at a ‘thrifty’ level and felt like I had a better perspective. Food is just expensive! https://www.fns.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/file/CostofFoodJan2023LowModLib.pdf
Wow, that chart is eye opening! Food really is just so expensive right now! We are a family of 4 – 2 adults, 1 – 13 yr old boy, and 1 – 16 year old boy. Based on this chart, we are spending around the frugal level each month and I still feel that my grocery budget is out of control.
We are a family of 5. Our kids are 10, 8, and under 1 (he doesn’t really count ? he doesn’t eat much!)
Our budget is $180 per week, but our older boys eat school lunch so that saves us a little. Over the year it averages out to about 780 a month. We buy some convenience And snack items, which makes it higher, but worth it in time saved for me.
Thanks so much for sharing all of your ideas. I used to be able to feed 11 people 3 meals a day with $1200-$1400 per month, but unfortunately in the last year even with my oldest getting married, moving out, and leaving us with 10 people to feed, our grocery budget has been creeping up to $1500-$1600 per month. I would like to get it back down lower so I am constantly on the lookout for new meal ideas, but I’m not sure if that is possible with the inflation and my little kids growing up and wanting more food now! :)
I think you’re doing a great job considering your load! you give to others and you make ahead. you only have so much time…. heart / relationship time is more valuable. that being said when there’s a moment for the oldests to help prep, you could cut out a lot of convenience foods? peel or slice the oranges and put into a container instead of the cups, buy the blocks of cheese and shred / slice at home, etc. Buuuuuttt, you’re a seasoned pro and you know all of this. If you need to increase the budget and you are able, do it! :)