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Old 01-29-2012, 10:51 AM   #1
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family of 4 w/$350mo grocery budget-pls help

I really need help with making $350 grocery budget work for a family of 4.
Its me and DH and we will eat anything and a 2.5yo very very picky eater and a 14mo who will eat anything.I base most my meals around what my older DS will eat.He will eat most breakfast foods, few fruits, hardly any veggies unless I hide them and hardly any meats.He likes noodles, sea foods, sandwiches, chicken nuggets (homemade), potatoes..Alot has to do with texture and if its in solid form.He really likes finger foods and soft, smooth textures.
Anyways Ive been struggling with making this amount work.Ive tried having one large shopping trip a month, small weekly trips, list, meal plans, coupons....Im still having a hard time and to be honest Im not sure why!I dont buy junk food, chips, processed foods, ect.But by the end of the month we have very little food in our pantry.
I really need help!So if you had $350 what would you buy?What meals would you make?


Oh and I have looked at the $5 meal thread and other threads on here.

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Old 01-29-2012, 11:07 AM   #2
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Re: family of 4 w/$350mo grocery budget-pls help

We spend about $300 per month for a family of 5 (myself (and I eat twice as much as dh!), dh, and three kids ages 4, 3, and 14 months). We eat lots of fruits and veggies, milk, eggs, cheese, yogurt, beef, and chicken, whole wheat bread and pastas as well as some processed foods like cereal, crackers, chips, dressings, and canned goods. I suggest shopping with the stock-up method. When something you like or use a lot of comes on a good sale, buy a few months worth of it. This means, of course that you will have less $ to spend on other things, but after making it work for a few months you will find that stocking up on what's on sale pays off big time. Our pantry and freezer are pretty much always full. I choose what to cook based on what I have on hand. HTH some.
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Old 01-29-2012, 11:13 AM   #3
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Re: family of 4 w/$350mo grocery budget-pls help

Do you use any online or clip coupons? I agree with PP about the stock up method. It worked for my family of 4. How about switching to no-name brands of products that you buy or the grocery store brand?
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Old 01-29-2012, 12:54 PM   #4
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We also stock up with coupons/sales and then buy bulk on major items. We buy a cow a year ($2.80lb) and then chickens and pork from a local farmer. This saves us quite a bit. I buy bulk in flour, rice, baking supplies and make most things from scratch. Then i watch for sales that match with coupons that will save me at least 60% off. For instance i bought 50 bags of tuna when it was. 99 each then used a .50 coupon which doubled making them all free. I now don't have to buy tuna for months and have tuna for all types of meals. If i get something more than 60% off i try to stock up fir 3-6 months. It takes a while to get a good stockpile going. We are a family of 6 (almost 7) and used to spend about $300 a month. Right now we are up to $600 a month but we are eating very little processed foods and im stocking up for when i have lo5 so people can just throw meals in.

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Old 01-29-2012, 04:28 PM   #5
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Re: family of 4 w/$350mo grocery budget-pls help

Do you have an ALDI? I fed a family of 4 only 3 years ago on $280 a month with HEALTHY foods by using ALDI a ton. But for better nutrition, I'd make things besides what only your picky eater will eat.

Spaghetti with meat sauce with brocolli
Fish with rice and salad
Whole chicken roasted with potatoes and green beans

Lunches- pb&j with fruit and carrots, yogurt with granola, hummus with crackers or pita and veggies to dip, leftovers

Breakfast- oatmeal with various toppings

Snacks- soymilk, raw nuts, fruits and vegies with a dip maybe, rice cakes

That's what our menus were like during that time.

I went to Big Lots for Sun Free and Clear detergent, shampoo, etc, bought toothbrushes and other stuff like that at ALDI or dollar tree. (That $280 included all toiletries and cleaning supplies.) I realize prices have gone up, but $350 should be plenty using a discount type grocery these days if you keep things simple.
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Old 01-29-2012, 05:58 PM   #6
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Re: family of 4 w/$350mo grocery budget-pls help

We are a family of 4. DS1 is 4. DS2 is 2.5. I cook dinner and if they choose not to eat that is their choice. DS1 has started eating a much larger variety of foods but DS2 still refuses if its unfamiliar. I'm certain he won't starve.

Ways we keep the food budget down:

one night a week we have breakfast for dinner (pancakes w/ peanutbutter or cereal and fruit)

I bake a whole chicken each week. I then divide the chicken into 3 or 4 containers and use the remains to make broth. I can get 12 cups of broth from a chicken. I use the broth to make rice.

Tonight I made rice using the broth (4 cups broth, 2 cups uncooked rice) then threw it in a casserole dish. Added some cooked broccoli, about 1 cup of the chicken, added a little cheese on top and baked it. It was good and was pretty inexpensive. We also have enough for DH and I to have lunch for the next 2 days. Fills you up and stretches the chicken.

I wait until the chicken are on sale for 69cents a lb. So I pay about $3.50 for a whole chicken. When they go on sale I buy 8 and when I run out its usually about sale time again. So for $3.50 I get several meals of meat.

When I make spaghetti I use about 1/2 lb of hamburger and add about 1/4 of a bag of frozen spinach (kids dont even notice).

Grilled Cheese and Tomato soup is yummy and cheap.

My kids eat a lot of fresh fruit. I try to get what is on sale. We usually have 5-6 different fresh fruits in the fridge (aldi have great produce).

We bought 1/4 of a cow this year so we have some beef in the freezer. Prior to this I waited until the big 5lb things of hamburger went on sale. I think it was $8.97 for 5lbs. I got 4 of those and divided it into 1 pound things and froze it so we could just pop one out.

The chicken and hamburger were on sale at Hyvee. The also have great cereal sales. I stock up (usually 10-20 boxes!) when it goes on sale for less than $2 a box. Recently they had cheerios for under $2 a box. I bought about 8 boxes. At the register it printed out a coupon save $4 on 5 boxes of cheerios. I went back and got 5 more boxes while they were on sale. So they were just over $1 a box. The didn't expire for about a year and we eat several boxes a week.


We do most of our shopping at Aldi but shop the sales at Hyvee.

I also started gardening last year and had a huge garden and froze lots of veggies and some strawberries. Definately worth the effort and the kids got to help with the garden. It also made my ODS eager to try the food he helped grow.


Also, It helps to not waste. If I make a meatloaf and we don't eat it all. The next night I make spaghetti and use the leftover meatloaf as the meat in the sauce. That way if I make too much we don't have to eat the same thing for a week.

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Old 01-29-2012, 09:55 PM   #7
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Re: family of 4 w/$350mo grocery budget-pls help

Our budget is $300/month for 4. I really rely on stockpiling items. I make a price list and know what a good price for my regular items are. I use coupons when it's for items my family already uses. I'm really picky about products I bring in my home. If it's a great price I buy what my family will use before the expiration date.

I shop Safeway (sales with coupons), Winco (everything + use coupons), and Costco (baking items, dairy, bread, fish) occasionally Walmart(but I really don't like to). Shop about 3-4 times a month. Costco runs are once every 2-3 months. I get our produce from Bountiful Baskets (produce co-op...their might be one in your area). We also order meats from Zaycon and local farms, or B1G1 Free sales. I use Azure Standard too. Really I do one big shop each month then fill in the weeks with getting bread, milk and eggs, and any sales.
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Old 01-30-2012, 07:16 AM   #8
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Re: family of 4 w/$350mo grocery budget-pls help

I shop around the sale ad and my coupons. We don't eat meat every night.
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Old 01-30-2012, 07:17 AM   #9
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Re: family of 4 w/$350mo grocery budget-pls help

Shoot I've been doing that for years. My boys are 7&8. Stocking up helps but this month we've been doing the pantry challenge so we've spent under $150 for our groceries this month. I garden and that helps a TON. shop the store edges and bulk food stores for the rest.
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Old 01-30-2012, 11:58 AM   #10
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Re: family of 4 w/$350mo grocery budget-pls help

It greatly depends where you are in the world. Grocery prices vary so much from state to state and even city to city.
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