Everyone’s family needs and shopping options are different. Here’s how I shop and budget for our large family.
Who We’re Feeding
Here’s one of our latest family pictures, taken at our Boy #2’s wedding last summer. Our two oldest sons are married and on their own now. Boy #3 is a college senior and lives at home while he finishes his last semester. Boy #4 is a high school senior – and just about the time we thought we’d be empty nesters, God started to grow our family through foster care and adoption. The six littles in the picture are either adopted or will be soon. What a journey! You can read more about our family here.
Suddenly that picture is outdated as we welcomed another baby boy into our home early this year. :)
When you take a look at our large family’s overall grocery budget for the month, you might choke on your coffee. It’s large and possibly overwhelming to some. Here’s how we save in other areas so that we afford to buy all these groceries. And here’s a quick breakdown of our eating habits:
- We feed 4 adults, 3 school-aged kids, and 3 toddlers – a total of 10 people – three meals every day. (Several days each week, one of our former foster sons comes over too.)
- We very rarely eat out (approximately once every three months if we are on the road somewhere).
- Our school kids pack a lunch to take to school; the rest of us eat lunch at home.
- We feed a lot of guests – anywhere from 5-20 extra people per week.
How I Grocery Shop and Budget for Our Large Family
We live in a small town without a lot of grocery store options. So here’s what works for me when it comes to grocery purchases.
1. I hit Costco and Sam’s once per month to stock up on bulk items.
Costco and Sam’s are an hour away from us, so I make a plan for all the kids for the day, then I go stock up once each month. Read here about what I like to buy at Costco and Sam’s. You’ll see that I splurge on a few convenience items like frozen pizza and chicken nuggets. These purchases give me a night off from cooking without making us pay restaurant prices. It’s a perfect compromise!
2. Walmart Pick-Up
In our town, we have two local grocery stores that are rather pricey, plus Walmart. Two to three times each month, I place a Walmart pickup order to fill in gaps for our fresh produce and dairy needs until I can get back to Costco or Sam’s. Here’s a look at typical Wal-mart pick-up orders for our family.
3. Azure Standard
I get a few items every month or two from Azure Standard, and I like ordering items from them that I have a hard time finding other places. Here are some of the items I like to buy from Azure.
4. Local Farm Eggs and Milk
We are blessed to have friends with a farm a few miles away. They supply us with our milk each week. Our eggs come all the way from across the street where our neighbors enjoy raising chickens!
Our Family Eats Well for an Average of $4/person/day.
That’s how I shop, but how about how we eat?
All totaled, we average about $1,200/month for groceries. The great big budget number seems large, but it divides into just $4/person/day (less than that, actually, because we also feed guests from our regular budget). This includes all meals and snacks plus features many high-quality fruits and vegetables. I feel very good about this, especially since this budget number includes packed school lunches and ways we splurge at home instead of eating out. (UPDATE: I am currently working to see if I can keep our budget at this number or if I need to increase it. Stay tuned.)
Here are some examples of meals we eat at our house:
I made this simple Baked Chicken Leg meal for just $0.99/plate. It was a feast with chicken, baked potatoes, steamed broccoli, and fresh watermelon.
After a Costco trip, we often have Chicken Salad on croissants with spinach. We had this with fresh strawberries, raspberries, and carrots. The croissants are a splurge, but this is still an inexpensive meal!
Here’s one of our favorite meals: Smoked marinated chicken thighs – so easy and so delicious. On this particular day, we ate this with steamed green beans, buttered corn, baked potatoes, and grapes.
Breakfast for dinner is always a hit. This French toast meal served with eggs, sausage, and fruit is a favorite. The toast and eggs were flying off the plate and skillet faster than I could keep up!
I watch for mark-downs on meat and buy pork roasts when I can get them for less than $3.00/pound. I like to cook roasts overnight on Saturday to enjoy a meal like this on Sunday after church.
We’ve found that eating a lot of fruits and vegetables actually saves us money! Crazy but true!
More ways we save money:
- How to Save Money on Coffee
- How to Save Money on Meat
- Ten Easy Food Items You Can Make at Home to Save Money
- What to Add to Meat to Make it Stretch
- How Eating Fruits and Vegetables Isn’t Expensive
- Four Inexpensive Meals I Made from Costco Groceries
- Why Did I Spend $8 on a Watermelon?
- More Ways to Save on Groceries – Maybe??
- How Packing a School Lunch Saves Money
But wait? You NEVER eat out??
Can you imagine taking this many babies into a restaurant? Here’s what we do instead. <— This post might give you some fun ideas for your family if you’re trying to eat out less. :)
High grocery store prices won’t get us down. What ways are you finding to save at the store?
Coming up next: Do I still buy organic food??