I need tips for meals for a family of 4.

[deleted account] ( 20 moms have responded )

My husband and I have tried to maintain a low budget for food. We were spending about $50 a week. We shopped bi-weekly when he got paid. We started looking at our spending on restaurants or fast food------$137 in a 7 day period. Yes, that's WAY too much money to squander away on useless junk. I have been a wife for 5 years and have been the primary menu planner. I have always struggled. Now I realize it may be due to the fact that we were spending such a small amount on groceries. That budget also includes t.p, toothpaste, shampoo, etc... Needless to say we have decided to increase our budget. So I need some advice on where to start. What are good staples to have around the pantry/fridge? What are some meals? Any advice is welcome.

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Lady Heather - posted on 01/31/2011

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A nicely stocked spice and herb cupboard can make many different meals out of the basics. We tend to shop the deals for meat - buy larger packs and split them up, get cheaper cuts. We get chicken legs with backs attached a lot because they are super cheap. I just change up the herb or spice or mustard or whatever on top, pile it on some onions or a mix with carrots and celery for a straight up roast chicken. Throw it in the oven for a while. Make some potatoes or rice and a pot of steamed veg and it's all good. We split ground beef into smaller packages. We buy turkey breasts and slice thinly to make a smaller amount go round.

I like my fresh veg. We always have broccoli, carrots, celery and then add seasonal stuff to that (right now it's lots of squash, cabbage, cauliflower and sweet potato).

We always have bananas, pears and apples and then we have one "special" fruit a week. I keep frozen fruit on hand. It's great for throwing on yogurt and in smoothies. Can be expensive so you definitely want to buy when it's on sale or go to Costco or something.

Pantry staples...we always have whole grain pasta in a shape and spaghetti, brown rice, some canned and dried beans, lentils (exploring the world of vegetarian cooking can save you some money!), nuts and seeds of some sort, basic baking supplies, oats, cheerios, canned whole tomatoes and chicken or veg stock, canned tuna and salmon, unsweetened applesauce to take along for snacks while we're out. Those seem to be the things that get the most use.

We don't keep a lot of snack foods around. We snack on fruit, nuts, yogurt and homemade baked stuff. I have soooo many recipes I could share if you are interested.

Here's my cookie recipe to start:
1 cup butter
1 cup sweetener of choice (I usually use real maple syrup or combine it with brown sugar)
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk or milk alternative
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1.5 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup unsweetened coconut
1.5 cups chocolate chips, raisins or my favourite - super dark chocolate chopped up into chunks and shavings

Whisk together flour, b. soda, b. powder and salt in small bowl. Whip butter and slowly add sugar. Add eggs and beat for one minute.Add milk and vanilla. Add flour gradually and mix in at low speed. Stir in oats, coconut and chocolate.

Bake for 12 minutes @ 350F on greased or parchment covered cookie sheet.

NOM. At least you won't spend lots of money on sweet stuff this way. This makes about 5 dozen cookies. I put half in the freezer and keep the other half out for immediate use.

I'll post some dinner things tomorrow. I just have this one off the top of my head.

Carla - posted on 01/30/2011

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Potatoes, onions, cellary, cream soups, carrots, canned tomatoes, rice, noodles, powdered milk, bulk hambugar, bulk chicken breasts, eggs, tub margirin, onion powder, garlic powder these I always have on hand I can make many different meals,,, the bulk meat I break down into portions for my meals and freeze for meals,, a large roast can be broken down also,,, I save alot of money that way

Kacie - posted on 01/25/2011

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makeover meal moms is a great place to find all the info you need on stocking a Pantry. My husband and I have a budget of about $100 a week on groceries (not including the TP and toothpaste and the such) I find that if you buy a large package of ground beef and a large package of chicken and the beginning of 1 week (6-7 lbs each which costs me about $25 to $35 of my weekly grocery budget) you can feed your family fairly cheap and easy throughout by adding things such as pasta sauce, taco seasoning, mac and cheese, rice and the such as staples to your pantry.

Angela - posted on 02/01/2011

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Kitchen staples to have include Spices ( salt, pepper, garlic, onion, italian), rice, pasta, canned or frozen veggies, flour, milk, butter, bread, and eggs. You can generally budget $50-75/week once you have the basics. Shop weekly sales/specials and use coupons. Bulk prices are generally better but knowing when to shop for your items helps. Like if we shop after say 4-5 in the evening especially the day before sales end - we can get good meat marked up to 50% off the sale price. Most of our stores also double coupons up to .99 everyday. Also, try shoppoing @Aldi for canned goods and some of your everyday items as they are a great discount store. Most canned veggies are .45 or less a can. Hope this helps out and good luck!

Alisha - posted on 02/01/2011

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also dont forget about discount stores like dollar treee and the 99 cents store just check experation dates but u can find all kinds of things in there u can use in your pantry like rice bread even fruits and veggies sometimes we are a millitary family and we just got stationed in germany and i am stuck shopping at the commesary not the best deals i say but if u can use the dollar store i say go for it its good food and its cheap and some stuff is like 4 for a dollar compared to 2.99 a box

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Michelle - posted on 04/26/2011

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a tin of evaporated milk is good to have, along with your self raising and plain flour brown and white sugar, icing sugar vanilla essence, (if you like choc chip cookies there are some amazing recipes the one i use just needs basic things (flour brown sugar white sugar margarine or butter and choc chips))
if you can afford it have frozen fruit is really good to chuck in cakes or muffins for a healthy twist. otherwise i think everyone has mentioned everything. When my partner and I started out we started with pasta sauce pasta, potatos rice frozen vegies 2 minute noodles and cereal.

Constance - posted on 04/26/2011

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I can give you tips on how to save money on the pesonal care items.
These are some things that are a staples in my pantry at all times.
Canned tomatoes
Canned beans
Pasta
Flour
Sugar
Canned mushrooms
I am heading ou the door but I will send you the list later, and I will get some recipes that quick and simple, and cheap that are healthy. A little later today.

Tammy - posted on 04/26/2011

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the most economical way to keep stocked up on staples such as rice , is to buy in larger quantities and divide into portions. I always check the per unit price and work from there. Buying a huge package of meat and dividing it into family meal sized portions and freezing it is WAY less expensive than buying it pre portioned. When things are on sale, I take advantage of that to stock up too. Buy 20 cans of something on sale, I like to keep canned tomatoes, sauce, beans, rice, pasta etc on hand for fast, cheap meals like spaghetti or chili.

Charlee - posted on 02/04/2011

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Some people don't like Walmart...but here is my big tip. You can get your local grocery store ads and take them to Walmart. They will honor the sale prices in the ad. That way you can get all the savings in one place and save some more money on gas.



I feed a family of 4 on a $400 a month budget and that includes all paper products, cleaning and toiletries.

Geishia - posted on 02/03/2011

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When things are tight with my budget, I find things like meatloaf and mash potatoes or spaghetti and meat balls work!!!

Erin - posted on 02/03/2011

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As I cook or try new recipes, I keep a list of what my family likes or did not like so I don't waste money making things only I will eat.

Buy store brand items. The quality is just as good, and the price is better.

Take advantage of inexpensive cuts of meat and cook them in the slow cooker so they turn out flavorful and tender.

Beans. Buy them dried and not canned. Your money will stretch a lot farther. Plus, beans are full of protein and fiber and other essential nutrients. Beans will help your meals bulk up and fill you up.

Though they cost a little more, spend the extra cents on whole grain pasta instead of the semolina (white) varieties. They are healthier and more filling.

Frozen vegetables. While I love fresh veggies, unless I am munching on them or having a salad, it saves a lot of money to cook with frozen.

Try lookin at Real Simple magazines website. They offer lots of great tips on stocking your panty and saving money.

Check out websites like Betty Crocker and Kraft Foods for recipe ideas. Kraft even has a search function where you can put in the ingredients you have on hand to find a recipe to make with them.

Suzanne - posted on 02/03/2011

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Plan your menus for the week by what is on sale at your local supermarket. Use coupons and only buy what is on your list, eat before shopping and leave the kiddos at home if possible. Good luck!

Alisha - posted on 02/01/2011

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chicken is a staple to have in the house ! i make awsome buffalo chicken tacos its cheap easy and not to spicy and has veggies in it my kids love it get family packs of chicken and seperate when u get home depeding on the meal u are making my chicken tacos all you need is
3-4 boneless skinless chicken brest halfs
corn tortillas buffalo sauce
1 lg onion
1 lf tomato
buffalo sauce.
in skillet put one whole onion sliced, cook untill starting to brown then slice tomatos and add to onions, cube chicken in bite size peices cook untill browned then add buffalo sauce to taste.. heat up corn tortillas and shead cheese abd serve.. my kids anr 3 and 1 and they love it ... u can always add lettous or have a salad on the side its quick cheap and easy and its always ok to make alittle more then needed because left overs are great for next day lunch ideas ;-) hope this helps alittle

Joanne - posted on 01/30/2011

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My kids love the large box of kraft mac and cheese. (the one with the cheesy cheese not the powder) It costs about $2. I then would buy ground beef and sautee till cooked. I then add to the mac and cheese with cooked frozen peas and this meal for four can cost you about $10...if you use two boxes of kraft..not sure how much you guys eat but it's yummy.

Lauren - posted on 01/27/2011

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go nuts in the sunday paper w/ coupons, then sign up for weekly emails of your favorite grocery stores, w/ more coupons plus sales. then combine the store coupon & manufacture coupon on top of the sales, it really helps my family!

Evelyn - posted on 01/25/2011

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One thing I like to do. Is get my grocery sales ad (for me it's Dillons). I find things on sale and then I match them up with coupons whenever possible. I usually can save 1/2 of my grocery bill and I get the mostly the staples like canned tomatoes, fruit, etc.

[deleted account]

We have shopped at Sam's Club for a long time. We buy veggies in bulk and then bag them up. We also buy our meat at a local market for a fairly decent price. We aren't big meat eaters, but that was mostly due to the fact that we gave ourselves a small budget. My real problem now, is not knowing what to buy. I have been buying the basics for so long, that I don't know where to begin. Does that make sense? I would decide, we need x amount of ounces of chicken per meal per week, we would buy just that. Or say I did spaghetti, I would buy x amount. We usually have a pretty bare cupboard and fridge, but our freezer usually has meat and veggies. I guess I am looking for more in depth information on what normal people buy. :) I haven't really bought snacks other than pretzel sticks and string cheese for my kids. We just discovered Laughing Cow cheese, delicious. So that's kind of new for me. To actually be able to buy extras. I hate 'helpers' hamburger etc... because they have so many added ingredients, so I stay away from those, but convenience foods would be a nice thing to have. Maybe I am asking for information that I can only find from actually shopping around.

Deb - posted on 01/25/2011

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My boyfriend and I are always on a tight budget, especially with food. We are new parents so money is even tighter.... Luckily I've had to basically struggle my whole life so I was brought up very budget friendly and can make and entire meal out of a few bucks... the trick is bulk... I know it sounds more expensive but next time you go to the supermarket, pick up the packages of meat by the butcher station.... say you would like to make pasta (boxes of pasta usually go for $1 and up, jarred sauce usually $2 and up)..... but you want meat sauce, but you would also like to make hamburger helper or meatloaf or burgers later in the week.... check out the pricing for the individual lbs of ground beef, then pick up the 2 or 3lb package... they usually add just over the poundage you would need for each meal in there... so you can get a 3 lb ground beef for about 7 or 8 bucks depending on city, state or store... take it home and separate the beef in to the proper portions for each meal.... you can take the 1 pound for the pasta sauce... then the other 2 lbs toward burgers or meatloaf or for 2 dinner's worth of hamburger helper.... you can get alot of fries, mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, & even scalloped potatoes out of a 5lb bag of potatoes instead of buying a box of mashed potatoes, a box of scalloped, & a bag of fries.... Green Giant makes bags of frozen veggies for bout $2 and up.... you can pretty much pre- plan and entire weeks menu off of $25 worth of groceries... you just have to take the time to really shop and calculate the value and what you can use to its full potential in the kitchen.... I've been doin it for years and trust me.... there was a time I lived in a household of 10 people... there were 3 toddlers, my ex's parents, his 3 sisters, me and him.... I made $100 worth of groceries go a very long way... and don't be afraid to get creative either.... you would be surprised what healthy, satisfying, and affordable meals you can come up with. I wish you the best of luck!

Kristen - posted on 01/24/2011

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Here is a great blog with healthy, flavorful recipes that my kids enjoy. Everything from Salmon to zucchini/ brownies. Everything is homemade, which means it costs less, and it is healthier because you determine the additives (like salt). http://wp.me/pRa1N-bV Let me know if it helps!

Jelissa - posted on 01/24/2011

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beef and brocolli is really cheap and pretty quick.. beef strips, brocolli, carrots, and other veggies if desired with a brown gravy (i add a tbs of soya sauce) and serve over rice.. my kids love it.. hope that helps

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