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Tuesday, October 9, 2012
How Do We Feed Our Family of 11 for Under $250/Month?
sorry . . . the title line was taken from an article I wrote in 2001.
but . . . it got your attention, didn't it?
first published in the Spring 2001 edition
of the T.E.A.C.H. Magazine
How do we feed our family of eleven for under $250 per month? (even in 2001, that was very economical) Let me try to answer that question for you. In addition to learning how to shop for groceries and where to find the great deals, you also need to know what items to put on your grocery list. I am often asked, "What exactly do you feed your large family?"
Beyond the Basic Breakfast:
First of all, cold cereal is not on our grocery list. Not only is it extremely expensive, but it also leaves the children hungry shortly after breakfast. Most mornings we eat pancakes, oatmeal, French toast, or homemade granola. We have found the best prices on flour and oats at our local restaurant supply store. This limited menu doesn't get boring because we use a wide variety of toppings for each meal. During the summer months we stock our freezer with fruit, so that we can pull out bags of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, or blueberries all year long. We also love the tastes of molasses or apples and cinnamon on any of the above meals. And another fun and easy favorite for kids is to add a package of Jell-O mix to either the batter or the oats. This adds not only a yummy flavor, but some fun colors, too. So go beyond the basics this week, and try something new for breakfast.
The best way we have found to save money on the 15+ sandwiches we make every day is to grind our own wheat for flour and bake our own whole wheat bread. However, if this task seems overwhelming for you, try shopping at a bakery outlet store. We often get loaves of bread for only 25 cents each. When we find good sale prices on cheese, we love to have grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. We also stock up on tuna when we find it on sale. However, most often we find ourselves eating peanut butter sandwiches with a variety of jams or specialty butters. We make our own jams in the summer and apple butter or apple-pumpkin butter in the fall. And since we have just begun the adventure of beekeeping, we look forward to many peanut butter and honey sandwiches in the years ahead. If you like honey for baking or for sandwiches, you may be able to save a lot of money by purchasing your honey from a local beekeeper.
By now, you may be thinking that our meal selection is pretty limited, but the dinner menu is where we let our creativity shine. Each month we have a different member of the family use one or two cookbooks to come up with a list of 25 main courses for dinner. Then I use the list of meals to create the shopping list, and we do our once-a-month grocery shopping. Our older children each cook dinner one night per week, so they can choose from the monthly list what they want to make. We have found a wide variety of delicious meals using rice, pasta, or tortillas as the main ingredient. Often, we double all of the ingredients in the recipe except for the meat. We still end up with a wonderful meal, but save a lot of money by using less meat. If you are looking for something new for dinner, why don't you check out a new cookbook from the library?
The focus of our meals is not dessert, but we do like to have sweet treats several times per week. The key to keeping the cost down with desserts is to make everything from scratch. You will not only save money, but the taste and nutrition will be far superior as well. I am the pie baker of the family and love to use fresh fruits in the summer and apples in the fall. Cassie and Jeremiah specialize in cookies any time of year, and the whole family joins in the fun of cranking out our homemade ice cream at summer barbecues or while we are camping.
Don't get stuck in the same old rut. Cooking inexpensively doesn't have to mean it's boring. I hope you will take the time to look through some old or new cookbooks and try something different this week. Be creative! Have fun! Enjoy your time in the kitchen!