Feeding a large family can prove to be a true challenge. This particularly holds true for families that are on a budget. If truth be told, finding an economical means of feeding a large family can prove to be rather daunting. And even if you aren’t on a budget, food costs can be overwhelming. But by just making a few changes to your cooking system you can start walking away from the dinner table with leftovers.
The fact of the matter is that food is worth spending money on, particularly if you want to feed all those delicious nutritious meals to your family. However, you obviously want to make your dollar stretch and refrain from spending unnecessarily. But the good news is that there are many ways to guard your food budget, and still feed your family delicious, nutritious food. Here are a few tips that you should follow when trying to feed a big family:
10 Menu planning is necessary
Menu planning is going to help you save lots of money, time, effort and stress. If you’re a ‘free spirit’, there’s a good chance that you won’t like being tied down to a set menu. However, cooking whatever you’re in the mood for will lead to way too many trips to the grocery store, which leads to spending more money and wasting more time.
On the other hand, menu planning is going to let you refrain from standing in front of the fridge at 4pm wondering what you should prepare for dinner. At the same time, a planned menu will also save you from making your family eat the first, normally unhealthy meal that comes in mind!
It’s what’s best
By planning out your menu, you will not have to stress out about your family’s meals. The best part is that it will let you feed your family a nutritious, well-balanced diet.
9 Use fresh ingredients
Fresh ingredients almost always cook better than frozen or canned ones. For instance, shredded zucchini or fresh carrots can meld rather perfectly into quite a few meals including baked items. Fresh salads loaded with a little of this and a little of that stretch a meal and fill your kids' hollow legs that require near-constant feeding.
If truth be told, fresh vegetables happen to be far more easily affordable than meat. The best part is that if you move away from common vegetables and get adventurous, it will be possible for you to find a few vegetables that will make your meat-eater forget he’s eating half his normal serving.
A few more ideas
If you want to add a bit of crunch to your salad, try jicama which is one of the best natural sources of vitamin C and potassium without sodium, cholesterol or saturated fat. If you want, you can also shred stir-fried cabbage with carrots and pork to make Chinese dumplings. Serve it with fried rice, and you have a simple, yummy meal.
8 Take your expenses into consideration
Pay attention to how much the little things cost when you need to feed your family on a budget. This includes things like spices and seasonings. Instead of buying that dollar packet of taco seasoning, it is best to just make your own, it’ll cost just about a few cents. The individual seasonings are not usually cheap, but combined into various mixes, they pay for themselves quickly.
If you want, you can keep an entire dozen of ‘normal’ herbs and spices on hand for them to be used in various mixes like ranch dressing mix, taco seasoning, herb rubs and even wild rice seasoning. The best part is that it will take you about five minutes only to throw together all the ingredients for taco seasoning that lasts for four or five meals. Besides saving cents, you save sodium and MSG, common additives in many store-bought mixes.
Bulk buying can help too
Consider buying in bulk the ingredients that don’t necessarily have to be fresh. Things like beans, rice, and grains can be purchased in 20, 30, even 50 pound buckets at a fraction of the cost of single-serving sizes in the grocery store.
7 Leftover nights are important!
The fact of the matter is that even the most well-planned week is going to change and you will probably end up with a bit of leftovers. Yes, leftover night may not be your thing because just about everyone loves fresh and hot meals. However, you are bound to find something totally rewarding about getting creative in the kitchen with your leftovers.
To get started with, it is highly recommended for you to create a ‘stock bag’ in your freezer in which you can place leftover veggies that you won’t be eating to be used for broth in the days to come. You can also prepare tortillas on leftover nights and the best part is that most kids love tortillas. Just throw in that leftover chicken with a bit of veggies and ranch and lettuce.
There are options galore
For a quick BLT, all you need to do is throw a bit of bacon with lettuce, tomatoes and cheese in a wrap. Also, you can use a mixture of leftover ingredients in things like stews, soups and chili!
6 Shop at more than one location
When feeding a large family, you obviously want to get the best deals while getting the best food for your dollars. Research conducted on large families found that more often they bought only hormone-and-antibiotic-free meat. They also rely on farmers markets for produce during the summers and eat minimal amounts of commercially packaged food.
Grocery shopping, for them, didn’t happen in a single weekly trip to the store, but to many locations to get the things they need. Another reason why you should shop for groceries at more than one location is because supermarkets pay different prices for the same product through distributors. Some stores pay what’s listed in the distributor’s catalog, while others get a blanket discount off of all products, based on volume.
To put it simply, the more products that a retailer purchases collectively, the larger the discount they receive. So for instance, if your small co-op sells an organic soup for thirty cents more than the large chain store down the street, it’s because it cost them considerably more.
5 Leave out the Meat!
When feeding a large family, it’s highly recommended you go completely vegetarian one to two nights a week. Believe it or not, it’s far easier than you think and the best part is that it will help you save a good deal of money too.
As long as you provide sufficient protein, you can rest-assured that your family will have a balanced meal on vegetarian nights too. For many families, the best go-to meatless meals are:
- White Chili
- Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup
- Pasta (Mac & Cheese, Spaghetti, Cheese Tortellini, Lasagna)
- Loaded Potato Bar
- Taco Night where you use refried beans as the main filler
- Quesadillas and Beans
Do away with health concerns
As a large family, it is best for you to eat meat only a couple times a week. Apart from saving a good deal of money, it will also help you do away with health concerns and may even enable you to save on freezer space.
4 Shop local
It’s highly recommended for you to shop local for produce. This particularly holds true for people who are blessed to live in areas with lots of farm stands, co-ops and produce outlets. Apart from supporting local businesses, you will also be able to carefully choose your produce, which will prevent you from overbuying. Most of all, this way, you will only get the things you need while ensuring better quality for your family.
Also, you should try to buy your pantry items from a discount store. These may not be your favorite place to shop, but trust me when I say they’re very pocket-friendly. Also, there is no need at all for you to purchase all your groceries from there, but as long as you do your research before making a purchase, there’s a lot that is just fine.
Cut your grocery bill in half
By making this simple change, it will be easily possible for you to cut your grocery bill almost in half. Also, you will be totally surprised at what all your local shops have. Gluten-free, organic, specialty and truly healthy options!
3 Portion control is important
When dealing with a lot of ‘little people’ at home, portion control is going to necessitate for dictator-like oversight. Believe it or not, kids can act like a swarm of locusts right from the Bible when it comes to a full refrigerator. For this reason, you need to approach portion-control the same way you approach meal planning – divide and conquer.
Instead of letting snack time be a free-for-all, you should limit the choices every day. For instance, if it’s fruit like grapes, wash them in the morning and set a bowl on the counter for the day. Let them add things like yogurt if appropriate. If you or one of your kids is an accomplished baker, supply your family with a steady stream of snacks. However, limit baking to a certain day of the week, unless there is a special event.
Plate the food for your kids
When you serve a meal, make sure that you plate the food for your kids. That may sound a little control-freakish, but it will pay to make sure there is enough for everyone when you are having a zero-leftover meal.
2 Shop from home
In case you prefer using a regular grocery store, try shopping from home – online shopping can prove to be really helpful. Doing this will allow you to see the sales and keep an eye on your total as you go – that’s definitely the best way to go when you’re on a budget!
Budgeting effectively will be easier because you can view the cart piece by piece when shopping online. You’re less likely to throw extra items in your cart like you do when you’re in the store. Moreover, there are often promo-codes that offer a percentage off your online order, or free delivery. You can even just do your shopping online and go pick it up at the store - often worth the extra couple of dollars!
Cut down on transportation costs
If you have your groceries delivered to you, it will be possible for you to cut down on transportation costs as well. While you are at it, make sure that you shop the sales – that will help you save even more money!
1 Control waste
“Waste not, want not” is one of the wisest sayings. To be honest, the generations before us were quite talented at repurposing things. It’s obvious that you don’t want to hoard, but it’s necessary for you to think about what food you’re throwing away and how you could have saved it. The good news is that there are quite a few ways for you to control food waste.
To begin with, start buying raw milk from a nearby dairy. This way, you will be able to separate the cream to make butter. The leftover liquid from the butter can make a great substitute for milk in biscuits, pancakes etc. – anything except for sauces and gravies. If you have leftover green beans, reheat them in an omelet. For leftover vegetables, slip them into a casserole or soup. If you want to hide them, puree!
If nothing else works
Compost the remaining vegetables. The latter vegetables are going to be an amazing result of the great sacrifice made by the former vegetables!