My job is to feed a family of 8 people. Feeding them is the easy part, feeding them healthy, organic, unprocessed food, now that’s the fun part. I get a lot of questions about our grocery budget and how we can afford to feed our kids organic foods when our family is SO large.
Eating healthy wasn’t always on our family’s radar. I didn’t really grow up in a healthy food conscious home and neither did my husband. We pretty much ate anything that was available to us. So learning how to make the best choices in food was new to the both of us. When we changed our eating style, we were forced to look at the ingredients in the foods we were eating. Talk about an eye opening experience!
I had no idea that sugar had so many different names and I had no clue that sugar was hiding in SO many of the foods that we buy. No wonder my kids were always bouncing off of the walls! After learning how to look at all the labels of the foods we bought, and doing research on what some of the chemicals were linked to in our health, I decided the convenience wasn’t worth the risk of my family’s health, so I made the change. I’ve put together some tips on how we are able to feed our family of 8 on a budget of $150 a week eating fresh and organic foods.
Plan your meals
Planning meals can be a pain in the butt, but every Friday I sit down with my husband and I go over what he’ll want for dinner for the next week. He hardly ever has any input, so I’m basically telling him what I’ll make and he agrees to eat it.
Shop for your groceries weekly
I used to buy my groceries a month in advance because I thought it would save me extra trips to the grocery store. I’m not sure about you, but a party a’int a party until you’ve grocery shopped with 6 kids. Shopping a month in advance actually proved to be the worse plan ever.
Sure, I saved myself a grocery trip, but oftentimes I would forget things in the back of the fridge, and they would spoil and I found that I would buy things that sounded good at the moment but didn’t really fit any meal and it would stay in the cabinet, uneaten. I was essentially wasting money and food. Never a good combination.
Use a calculator
Have you ever been in the grocery store and run into the lady calculating EVERYTHING? Then we’ve probably met. Sticking to my budget means knowing how much things cost and figuring out the cost of our purchases BEFORE we head to the checkout line. If I find that I’m going over my budget, I’ll put unnecessary items back, you know those spur of the moment purchases that you just HAVE to have. When I take the kids to the store I like to give the list to one kid, have another kid find the price, and the other kid will add up the total. When we’re finished shopping we know how much money we need.
There’s nothing more embarrassing than not having enough money to pay for your groceries. You have to play the put back game at the checkout, and most of the things that you put back are usually the things that weren’t on the grocery list in the first place. When you arrive at the store with your list and a budget, chances are you’re more likely to stick to your list and not stray too far from it. I found that when I used my debit card to pay for food I wasn’t really concerned about going $3 over budget, but $3 one trip and $5 another trip will surely blow your entire budget.
Buy in bulk
In the colder mornings my kids have oatmeal. Oatmeal is a simple meal that keeps them full until their morning snack (and will still tide them over in case I forget). I buy organic oatmeal in bulk in the bulk section of our grocery store. I buy enough to last the week. We buy our meats, dairy, some frozen and fresh veggies, and healthy oils from Costco. Costco has come a long way in the organics game. They have gone from very few organic items to LOTS of organic items including coffee (which my husband LOVES)!
Learn about the dirty dozen
There are foods that I ALWAYS purchase in organics, I try to stick to the rules of the dirty dozen. The dirty dozen are 12 foods that should always be bought in organic form. The amount of pesticides used on the non organic forms of the fruit or vegetable can expose you and your family to harmful chemicals. Apples, strawberries, spinach, tomatoes, potatoes, celery, peaches, grapes, cucumbers, bell peppers, hot peppers, and blueberries. My kids refer to the list as “foods that we eat the skin of.” I say sure.
Stay away from specialty stores
Try not to do ALL of your shopping at specialty stores. I go to specialty stores for those hard to find organic products. Doing the bulk of shopping at high end stores will just make your budget go up in the end. We do the bulk of our shopping at Trader Joe’s (they have LOTS of organic foods to choose from) and Farmer’s Markets type stores for our fresh produce.
Buy seasonal fruits and veggies
Trying to buy strawberries in the middle of the winter might cost you a pretty penny. I stick to the fruits of the season. They are usually always on sale and will give you the best bang for your buck. Buying seasonal will always keep you on budget.
Make your own snacks
I would buy snacks for my kids, sometimes spending nearly $50. I would be so upset that they would blow through snacks so quickly. When we did our Whole 30 program, I learned how easy it was to make the snacks. It turns out, it wasn’t that hard to reproduce similar snacks at half the cost! So get in the kitchen and make your own snacks! The same can be said of those salad dressings, sauces, and condiments.
Keep your meals simple
I found that the simplest meals are often the best meals. 3 ingredient meals are just as tasty as meals that use fancy ingredients. Our best meals are meals that we put together at the last minute. I love getting in the kitchen and experimenting with different ingredients. Some are hits and some are not, but I’ve learned a thing or two about what my family likes and what they don’t. Grab an apron and get started!
I really hope this has helped you if you’re on a journey of eating healthy. The kids and I are anxiously awaiting the spring as we’re going to embark on our very first garden, where we can grow our own organic fruits and veggies. We’re even discussing planting fruit trees! Good luck and healthy eating!