"God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him."
(1 Jn 4:16)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Feeding a Large or Small Family on a Budget

A few years ago, I gave myself a grocery budget challenge. A week or so ago, I received the following from a dear friend:
On my last trip to Winco, I was amazed at how expensive all the meats were. I was walking in circles trying to find some dinner meats that didn't cost at least $12. Anyway, if you write down your dinners, I'll write down mine for you ;)
I am posting my response just in case other mothers find it helpful:

A serving of meat should be no bigger than the palm of a person's hand.

We eat a lot of chicken. I look through all of the ads that we get each week and I buy whole chickens when they are under $1.00 per pound (used to be under $0.70 per pound), stocking up on as many as I can. We have an extra freezer to store meat and other foods. If we run out of chicken and there haven't been any sales, then I will buy it from Costco for $1.19 per pound. We cook 2 chickens at a time. Served with rice, vegetables, and sometimes salad, this usually gives us dinner for 2 nights and lunch for my husband for at least one day.

In addition to whole chickens, we also eat chicken breasts. I buy fresh, boneless, skinless chicken breasts when they are under $1.70 a pound or frozen from Costco for $2.19 a pound. The Costco chicken breasts are large, so we cut them in half before serving them with vegetables, rice/potato, and sometimes salad.

We throw any left-over chicken, whether from a whole chicken or chicken breasts, into a stir fry with rice, vegetables, and a couple of eggs.

Beef is a treat in our house, served once a week (twice if  we have leftovers). I usually cook a roast in the crock-pot with onions, carrots and garlic. I serve it with potatoes/yams, and sometimes salad. When we were first married, my mom told me to never spend more than $1.50 per pound on beef. Now, I can only buy it if it is under $4.00 a pound. During the summer, we will buy steak occasionally if it is on sale and under $4.00 a pound. Once again, we cut the steak in half when serving (unless we have guests). Two or three times a year, we will have Irish stew.

We used to get ground beef because it was the cheapest beef that we could find, but this is no longer the case. We liked to use it, along with oatmeal, to make meatloaf. I will only buy it for under $3.00 and even then I cringe to pay so much for it.

Costco's hams are a decent price. We don't buy them often, but when we do they last a few days. I freeze the ham bone and use it in beans when needed. As a side note, it is cheaper to buy Costco's black forest ham and slice it up for sandwiches, then it is to buy lunch meat.

Right now, pumpkins and squashes are a good price at Winco, so we are eating those with dinner. I have found that pumpkin is very filling which means we don't need as much meat. 

During Lent and Advent, we try to eat meatless meals on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday. I have occasionally tried to carry this into Ordinary Time, but eventually I hear balking. Beans, lentilsspinach lasagna, and homemade soup tend to be our staples for meatless meals. Leftover beans from Wednesday or Saturday can have a ham bone thrown into the pot for dinner on Thursday or Sunday. We have added a little ground beef to the spinach lasagna recipe once and it tasted good.

I wish that we could afford fish and other seafood, but, unless I have a fisherman in the house, the cost is prohibitive. I miss the days when I could buy a salmon for $1.99 a pound on sale.

When we lived in _______, the local Safeway used to mark down some of their meats that needed to be sold by that date for quick sale on Wednesday mornings. I would buy what I wanted and freeze what I wasn't going to use that night. This summer, I was in Fred Meyer when they were marking down their whole chickens for a quick sale. I placed every single one of them in my cart. Heather told me that the Safeway she frequents will sell their milk for 50% off on Tuesday nights. You might want to call a couple of local stores and see if they will tell you when they mark down their meat and milk.

If you would like any specific recipes, please let me know.

May God bless you and may Mary keep you close to her Immaculate Heart!


  1. It is crazy how much food prices have risen! We shop at Aldi and have been able to keep our budget down with a lot of effort but despite our best effort we had to significantly raise our budget for the first time in ten years.

    What do you do with the pumpkins? I'd be interested in recipes. I have about seven pumpkins presently and a limited amount of ideas. Thanks.

    1. I have had to raise our food budget too.

      Pumpkin uses:
      1. Bake or puree pumpkin and serve with a little butter (and brown sugar)
      2. Pumpkin Bake
      3. We also puree pumpkin to use in recipes like pumpkin pancakes and ice cream, freezing any remaining pumpkin puree for use as needed.


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