Any ideas on how to spend less and have great dishes to make?

Leah - posted on 11/18/2010 ( 33 moms have responded )

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So there is me(23),my hubby(32) and our son(15 months). We sometimes have $50 a week on groceries. I never feel like we have enough in the house because sometimes I go without eating. We buy my son those gerber lunches etc. I am hoping to stop it all together and start feeding him exactly what we eat so we can save money. His lunches/dinners are about $2 each and I think if he just eats everything we do we could save money. He is already on whole milk.

So what is something cheap but new and easy to make? I am really so sick of eating all the regular stuff such as spagetti etc.

Also the hubby and I are trying to lose weight,could we still eat the same things we always do,just eat less and exersice more?

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Jessica - posted on 11/30/2010

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Chicken stew with dumplings:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons shortening/margarine/butter
1 cup ice water

Chicken ( I have used as little as 3 chicken thighs and fed 12 people. Just add more veggies and make more dumplings)
1 tablespoon seasoning salt, or to taste
3 1/2 quarts water
1/2 small onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/4 cup margarine
salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
bay leaf!
Directions

In a large bowl, sift flour, baking soda and salt. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water until mixture forms a ball. Divide dough in half and shape into balls. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight.
Remove the skin from the breast, thigh and back of the chicken, but leave it on the legs and wings. Season chicken with seasoning salt, and place in a large stock pot. Pour in water. Add onion, celery and margarine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cook for about 1 1/2 hours, until chicken falls off the bone.
On a lightly floured surface, roll one ball of dough to about 1/8 inch thick. Cut into 2 inch squares. Drop into simmering broth, and let cook for about 2 minutes. Stir gently to prevent sticking; add more water if needed. Season broth while dumplings are cooking with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until dumplings are cooked through.

Lazy cabbage roll casserole:
1 can tomato sauce
ground beef
2 cups beef broth
1 cup rice
bag of coleslaw (no dressing)
season to taste( I add onion, garlic, pepper, red or green pepper if I have it, canned tomatoes if I have them).
Also instead of using tomato sauce and ground beef, I will use left over spaghetti sauce and add extra rice!
Mix it all up and throw in oven for about 1 hour on 350. Depending on oven could take up to 1.5 hours. Watch carefully.

I have more if you want them :)

Be thrifty by buying more fresh fruits and veggies, watching intake of meat (eat beans, lentils, fish at least once a week to keep red meat intake lower) buy your son more fruits and veggies for snacks and give him cereal for breakfast with added fruit, pieces of cheese or yogurt :)
Look for sales and try to stay on the perimeter of your grocery store! Buy your bread, fruit/veggies, meats, dairy FIRST then consider aisle foods. Do not be afraid of marked down produce! A brown banana makes a fantastic banana bread! Use old receiving blankets for homemade (and reusable!!) wipes, go to the food bank if possible for your canned goods OR this spring (if you have a backyard/balcony) grow some veggies and fruit. You can can this for the winter months! Spaghetti and other tomato based meals become even less expensive when using your own canned tomatoes :)

Doing some research is the best way to save money. Find coupons, make laundry detergent (2 sunlight pure soap bars grated, 2 cups borax, 2 cups washing soda and hot water. Melt grated soap on stove with just enough water to cover soap. Once liquid add to bucket with lid (plastic garbage cans from dollar store work well but need a lid) fill with water and add borax and washing soda. Mix well! Then let sit overnight. Add gelatin like detergent to old detergent bottles. Fill half with detergent, half with water. Save you bundles!!

Good luck! I have many more ideas if you want to contact me :)

Sarah - posted on 11/25/2010

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Have up tried AllRecipes.com or something like that? You can put in the ingredients you have and then get a list of recipes. It's pretty handy.

Christie - posted on 11/25/2010

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Don't buy the Gerber foods for regular dining! It will drain your budget and the food itself isn't really very good. Buy the veggie cans (off brand) and feed your baby some veg in most meals. A handful of dry cheerios, yogurt and a sippy cup of milk is breakfast for my son. Lunch has consisted of half a banana, half a grilled cheese sandwich and some canned veggies spread out on his tray so he can feed himself (or the dog, depends on the veggie of the day). Dinner is whatever we are having cut up really tiny--if we are eating spicy, I'll pop open a can of chicken noodle soup (the kind with the large egg noodles) and drain off the liquid. Cut up the veg and chicken chucks into baby size bites and with the noodles, he has dinner. Scrambled eggs are always easy too. Sometimes, just an avocado (if they are on sale) and he gobbles that up....it's a treat!

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33 Comments

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Kim - posted on 02/18/2012

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Leah,

Hi.... I just have a comment on your son eating the Gerber lunches etc.... If he is only eating them at lunch that is more then $14.00 and if he eats them twice a day that is pushing $30.00.... That is A LOT of money.... Ok here is my point.... When my daughter was old enough to start eating baby foods.... she refused them..... I tried EVERY brand and EVERY kind of baby food there was.... I took her to her pediatrician because I was upset she would not eat the baby food.... He said "Kim, there was babys BEFORE there was baby food...." Here is my point.... she is now 12 years old and she is very healthy.... AND she never ate baby food..... I would start feeding him what you and your husband eat.... Although if there are some meals that are spicy I would suggest one of the dinners you use now..... or something else....(please make sure he does get a balanced diet.... ) I suggest talking with his pediatrician.....(I wouldnt make a special trip just at his next visit....)



As for your question about loosing weight..... I have seen better results that last.... by eating "normal" food.... but better postions and exercise more.....



Good luck I hope this helps....!!

Tammy - posted on 02/16/2012

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I agree taking your son off of the packaged meals. Not that I would quite buying them cold turkey. We had our son eating whatever we ate by the time he was 1. Actually he did it to himself. I would feed him and get him cleaned up before my husband got home from work and then my son would still eat off of my husbands plate.



I bought some of the Gerber meals when we were going out to eat or to a friends house for dinner. Not sure if he would eat what they had prepared or if they used spices that he was not used to. It worked wonderful. Also the Gerber snacks are great to throw in the diaper bag when you are going for walks to the park etc. They travel well have a seal tight lid and they are small enough that your son could feed himself from the stroller tray.



Other than those instances my son ate what we ate on a regular basis. We just had to cut it up into smaller bites.



Good luck with the budgeting; there are alot of ideas on the different posts. Take one idea that you really like and use it till you feel comfortable and then dive into another idea. Don't let youself get overwhelmed.

Amanda - posted on 12/17/2010

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My kids have been eating what we eat since they turned 1. I would have your son eat what you guys eat, it would def save money. If you go to Kraftfoods.com they have lots of recipes that are easy and sometimes don't take many ingredients. One of them is a vegetable stuffing bake: brocolli, stuffing, mayo, milk and cheese - thats it. quick and easy and cheap and my kids eat it.

Cynthia - posted on 12/05/2010

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Let me ADD: It is better to shop & eat healthy for all of your family. I am a wife, mom and 33+ years nurse and I have noticed for many years that the groceries that are CHEAP are not what are best for health of our bodies!
Shop for bargain @ stores like a Alidi, or Save Alot or Sams or Costco. Buy generic labeled products instead of name brand.
Buy more beef / chicken / fish than pork products.

Watch Sodium / Salt (Ramen Noodles) contents of products because they can lead to other health issues.
Watch Sugar Content of products if you are watching your weight.

Cynthia - posted on 12/05/2010

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Here is a GREAT cookbook for all moms:
Cyndy Salzmann, "The Occasional Cook."
I am sure you can find this book used (cheap) or new (reasonable) on www.amazon.com.
I have used it for years, she teaches how to grocery shop to get more meals out of what you buy.
She teaches how to "PREPARE" meals ahead of time, so that meals are not troublesome.

I recommend this book to all moms!

She includes how to get started, shopping list and recipes.
ENJOY!

Stacy - posted on 12/03/2010

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You really should consider using coupons. Check out this site... www.savvydollar.org It will help you get started so you can save money & afford to have more creative meal choices.

Tiffany - posted on 12/03/2010

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We have staple meals we do...tuna casserole, spaghetti, homemade pizza, turkey chili, turkey burgers, omelets and sandwiches. We save leftovers and even freeze them so that we don't have leftovers 3 days in a row lol. Especially since it's getting cold now, we do a lot of hot sandwiches with soup. A great thing to make is a veggie soup...you can buy a bag of mixed beans for $1 from walmart, buy chicken broth and use leftover chicken. We always get a rotisserie chicken once a week from BJ's, and so I use ALL the meat from it for other things. We've used it in soup, chili, omelets, chicken salad, etc. Stretch what you do have to make a bunch of meals. Another great thing to try is Quinoa...you can do sooo much with it and though a big bag costs about $6 at Costco, it lasts so long (in the fridge). We make so much with it and it's so versatile, healthy and yummy. Try rachael ray's website because she has TONS of ideas on how to stretch meals. You can still lose weight and make some yummy meals for less. If you ever need a recipe idea, fell free to message me.

Alyson - posted on 12/03/2010

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i make organic chicken stew for the family using all fresh ingredients and i blend it for my seven month old. if i blend an adult potion for him i can make enough for him to last a week. i freeze it in individual portions and defrost and microwave as needed. i add carrots,parsnips, swede, onion, celery, potato and chicken stock and lentils to the stew and it contains all the nutrients he (and we) needs. hope that helps:)

Arica - posted on 12/02/2010

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First, I think you're spot on in switching your son to 'real' food. You'll save tons of money and he'll get to be a 'big boy' eating the same food as mom and dad! If you like casseroles, one of our faves is pretty cheap and easy and always a hit with my kids (13,9 and 6). For a 9x13 pan which should make 2 meals for 3 of you - cook about a pound and a half of lean ground beef. add 2 cans cream chicken or mushroom soup concentrate. layer in dish with thinly sliced potatoes (peeled good for your little one) and green beans. You'll need 4-5 potatoes and a couple cans of green beans and you should get a couple layers of each. Top with some shredded cheddar or mex blend cheese and bake at 350 for about an hour and 15 min. Good left over or frozen (just bake before freezing or your potatoes will turn black). Great balance of green veggie, starch, lean protein.

Susan - posted on 12/02/2010

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Quinoa and lots of fresh vegetables and fruits are great kids his age love anything they can try and feed themselves. My daughter is 16 months and loves cubes of cooked sweet potato. I boil them in water slightly sweetened with Agave nectar and cool them. Avocado cubed with a little lime juice to keep it from browning. Hard boiled eggs or deviled eggs are good too. I also quarter Kiwi and cut Banana

Keri - posted on 12/02/2010

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Shopping at a place like Sam's Club or Costco could save you some $. My family shops for juice, frozen foods, yogurt and many other things that are mostly only available in single or very limited quantities per package. We can spend upwards of $100, but the purchases can last up to a month depending on what it is. Even household products like toilet paper, paper towels, household cleaners, etc. are sold in 2-3 packs and larger containers (sometimes that are 1.5 times than what you'd get at the local supermarket.)

As for losing weight, it really depends on your body type and how it processes food. My husband and I eat lots of fruits and veggies, pasta, etc., but we also inidulge from time to time in pie, cake, pizza and the like. My husband is more of an exercise nut than me and he has lost A LOT in the last 3 years, while I have either maintained a healthy weight or fluctuate from time to time.

Jennifer - posted on 12/02/2010

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Try betterbudgeting.com they have great cheap recipes and other ways to safe money too. Since it's winter time we started eating alot of soups. We make a big pot and it usually last 2-3 days. Also I understand why you sometimes go wihtout eating but some cheap meals you could have for yourself would be salad (mainly just lettuce w/ dressing), sandwiches(PB&J is cheap and you can get a good bit from one jar) , hot dog(w/just ketchup & mustard), ramen noodles, you get the pic. Also we don't always have meat in our meals and when I make the menu for the week I try to make things that use the same ingredients so I can divide the ingredients between each meal. Also my family drinks 2% milk so I save an empty jug buy whole milk then divide it out and add water it gives me 2 jugs of 2% for half the price. Also I try to save money in other areas so we'll have more for food. I know it may sound gross but me & my daughters take baths together to save water, I hand wash and dry our clothes to save money on power, And when we take a shower I catch the extra water in buckets to use for washing clothes. Since it's winter to save on the power bill we have closed off the hall way where the girls sleep and they sleep in our room with us one in the bed and we moved the baby's crib in there for her. Good luck and hang in there. (By the way...I'm 28, hubby is 39, Jewels is 9 and Izzie is 9 mon)

Carol - posted on 12/01/2010

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Hey Leah
I have been shopping on a budget for years. There have been times I have had 35 dollars for a family of five. It takes some doing but I have managed to keep our house stocked(my kids would say there is nothing good to eat aka junk food but they have never gone hungry. On top of this I have lost weight in the process. I make sure that the main feature of the week is the meat that is on sale followed by veggies and potatoes. My kids happen to like ramen noodles so I keep lots of them on hand. They are cheap and you can add different things to it to make a meal. All of this should be fine for your baby. I made my own baby food until the kids could could eat with us. Your baby is beyond that but I would just make sure there are left overs or PB and J available if you make something that is too much for him. Steak sometimes is cheaper than hot dogs per pound, add a potato and a salad and you have a meal that is not only economical but a meal that is satisfying and weight lose worthy. Good luck.
Carol

Dawn - posted on 12/01/2010

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I have had a budget that small or even less in the past...one thing I do is when one of the stores is having a sale on meat, like ground chuck, chicken breast or even round steak (which I have the meat department run through their cuber a couple of times). I buy extra...even if you can only afford one or two packages, it will add up to savings for you later...because in just a few weeks, you will have bought enough extra to get you through a week without buying meat...or it will keep you stocked up with meat. I think most have given you some great ideas, but some may not be practical when you budget can't handle it. I also catch a ham shank on sale too...they are pretty cheap, when on sale...I portion it out for 2 or 3 meals for us...but your small family you can get at least 4 meals out of it...I save the bone with some meat on it for ham and beans...and part of it for potato soup...and both of those meals will stretch for at least 2 or 3 meals...and baby can eat it too...also, when I make chili...we use the left overs for chili dogs the next night with baked potatoes...there are lots of ways to make things taste as good as you can make it...like the cubed round steak, you can either pour mushroom gravy over it and bake it or crock pot it...or you can add brown gravy, from the packs and do the same. Use your imagination, look up recipes on line and take some of the good advice you've gotten on here...there are a few staples you should always keep on hand...flour, canned soup, potatoes and veggies...with these things you can make lots of different things. I use frozen veggies now, but when our budget was tighter, I used can more often, not as nutricious, but helped the budget along. I heard it said this way...fresh is best, frozen next, canned when the other isn't available...so don't throw out the idea of canned food...just use it sparingly...try not to use it or boxed foods at every meal. There is very little nutricious value in processed foods...and they are so bad for you...try to avoid them if you can.

Angie - posted on 11/30/2010

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I say you definitely need to stop feeding him the Gerber meals. They are ridiculously overpriced and you can make the same things yourself for much cheaper. By now your 15 month old can eat whatever you are eating. He doesn't need his own meal in a convenient, ready to go package.

Amie - posted on 11/30/2010

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My son has been eating what we have been eating since he was a year old....there hasn't been anything yet that he doesn't like...We don't give him the spicy stuff though, but he enjoys roast, chicken, stir fry, grilled cheese, scrambled eggs....we try to make something that everyone can eat, if not than we make sure we have hotdogs or chicken nuggets on hand to cook along with our meal....my 4 yr old is picky but not my 1 yr old..he is 16 months now....the stir fries are good cuz you can mix them up with beef or chicken and you get your veggie serving too :) good luck

Candi - posted on 11/30/2010

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Have you tried buying food through Angel Food Ministries? There's no income requirements. My husband and i buy there sometimes. www.angelfoodministries.com. They have distribution sites nationwide. $50 a week isn't much for a family of three, but Angel Food could help you to stretch that a little.

Shawnie - posted on 11/30/2010

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do veggiterian dishes, they are cheap and healthy. lots of caned beans and canned veggies. if you need specific recipies let me know, but i find that rachel ray has some great ones and they last a couple nights too.also yes make your son eat what you eat

Amanda - posted on 11/30/2010

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I usually get a whole chicken and place it in the crockpot with some spices that I have on hand or a can of cream of chicken/mushroom soup or just a 1/4 cup of water if Im out of soup. Cook it all day and use the broth to make rice. We always have a ton of chicken left over and I shred it and make chicken tacos/fajitas depending on which spice package I have on hand. Plus with the crock pot it saves time and money. At least that is what I have found. Another thing that I have found is that almost everything that I have bought that is walmart brand is fantastic. Fries, dressing, cookies,laundry soap ect.

Beth - posted on 11/30/2010

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none of the jarred or canned food is nutritious. If you want to try to provide good/nutritious food for your children, frozen or fresh vegetables and fruit is the way to go - and not microwave steam it, which also zaps the nutrition out of it. The kids don't even need all that much meat or starch - once or twice a day. I know produce is expensive, but you can find good deals on bulk at Sams/Costco (either fresh or frozen - even organic) By the time you buy all the meats and packaged products you've spent a lot anyway, and they don't even need it - FRUIT, VEGETABLE, GRAINS and some meat/eggs or protein replacement such as lentils beans etc. Nutrition is most important to me, and we're working/learning to reign in the cost on fresh food and prepare it right. I like what Jessica two posts above has to say too. (P.S. brown bananas good for smoothies too or you can freeze yours if they're going bad and use for smoothies - grapes too :)

Jessica - posted on 11/30/2010

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Also check out S.O.S. cuisine! They allow you to pick how many you are feeding and you can choose the budget menu. It will create a meal plan for you using sale prices in your area and makes you a grocery list! :)

Denelle - posted on 11/25/2010

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We have been using angelfoodministries.com. They are nationwide and offer boxes of food for 1/2 off or more of retail. All the other tips are great as well. I too feed my kids whatever we are having for our meals.

BETTY - posted on 11/24/2010

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make nourishing Veg soups(Puree the childs)Cottage / sheppard pies.easy meat and veg for all three of you,scrabled egg with bacon leave out the bacon for the child or liquidise it. you do not have to live on pastas.

Sandra - posted on 11/24/2010

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stews are a good way.................buy cheaper cuts of meat that you have to stew a bit longer, use seasonal veggies such as carrots or potatos.......usually lasts us for 2 days and is a nice hearty meal on a cold winters day............

Amy - posted on 11/24/2010

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also, don't be afraid to try some off-brands. I know a lot of people won't, but there are some really good ones out there.

Amy - posted on 11/24/2010

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soups freeze well and you can make bunches of them ahead of time and just get small portions out to eat during the month. So many soups that are pretty inexpensive. Gerber lunches are insanely priced around here!! If you have space for a garden, try and grow some stuff. I've even heard people grow some food plants in the house. Eggs are pretty inexpensive. Mayo, eggs, noodles and you can have macaroni salad. Make sure you plan meals ahead of time to used leftovers wisely and make a new meal out of them. old stew? sheperd pot pie/chicken pot pie. Use broth from crockpot roasts for noodle soup, leftover chicken - shred it up for enchiladas. Learn to make stuff from scratch. You can save so much money. Stay away from foods that aren't filling. Chips was our biggest waste of money in the house. We now only get them when we have extra money. I always fed my kids whatever we were eating - even when babies, we got a food grinder and they ate what we did. Carrots are pretty cheap too. And when you can get some veggies that feeze well on sale, but extra and freeze for later.

Renee - posted on 11/23/2010

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Hi chick, my names Renee and i am in the same boat. I usually buy a small mince some beef noodles and thats 2 meals. I too use to buy our kids lunch's but then had to stop coz every dollar added up which meant less food. Does your child goto daycare or anything? Buy some custard and a few packet of jelly's and make some jelly and custard pie.My kids love it and i make enough to last for 3 days.But instead of putting them in big containers put them in little little containers with lids. Similer to yoghurt and jelly tops. That their should only cost you under $4.00 and it something that will last your child for 3 or more days.Also a good treat for you and your partner.If you want you can e-mail me and i can give you some more cheap meals. Our family at the moment consists of 2 adults and 4 kids under 4 and we have to live off $55 dollars a week. you can do it it's just how you do it.my e-mail is renee.clarke85@yahoo.com if you need help with cheap recipes. And chin up chicky you doing a great job for a young mum. But you shouldn't be starving, you need to be strong as well

Katherine - posted on 11/21/2010

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There is a thread RIGHT above yours, meals for $5. I posted some links in it.

Michelle - posted on 11/18/2010

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i posted a conversation about basically the same thing bout a week ago...someone suggested.. campbellsoup.com..they had some pretty good things..and theres a section for dinners on a budget. me and my husband lucked out we bought those lunch/dinner things for our son but he wanted nothing to do with them.,,hes always wanted our food...so it saved us money..50 dollars a week is pretty good, we spend about 100 a week, for a family of 3/4. we're tring to bring it down tho.

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Those Gerber meals are great for times you eat stuff that he won't, but really they're way too expensive to feed him all the time. A can of green beans is like 50 cents at the store and can feed all 3 of you for at least one meal. A box of macaroni with some ground beef added in is super easy and basically the same as those meals, but again can feed all of you. We use those meals for our 14 month old for times we have chili or spicy food, but we just make regular table food to feed everyone! We've always used table food- sometimes we just buy the low sodium or whatever, but you can make more bland food and spice it up or salt it up once it's on your plate. Try making a lot of your own stuff. Instead of buying premade cookies or the refrigerated dough, make it using flour, sugar, etc. That saves a TON of money!

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