How to Feed a Large Family on a Budgetby Robin Hewitt
It's a matter of supply and demand: the more your family grows the more food you need. In today's world of skyrocketing food prices it can be hard to keep food on the table, especially if you're on a tight budget. By managing the ways you shop and cook, you'll learn that feeding a large family is not as tough as it seems; the key lies in being a smart shopper and using every opportunity you can find to save money on your food budget.
Watch the supermarket sales. Purchase enough meat, poultry, cereal and staples for three weeks' worth of meals at a time. Grocery store ads typically run on a three-week rotation; for example, boneless chicken will be half price for weeks one and four of the month. By purchasing only when an item is on sale you can save over 50 percent on items you always buy.
Inquire with the meat department of your local stores as to when they mark down the "short date" products. Usually they have a set time of day in which they're required to have markdowns completed; many times you will find high discounts on premium cuts that you might not normally be able to afford.
Cut out coupons. The Sunday news will typically have hundreds of dollars' worth of coupons in special inserts; the trick is to only clip coupons for items you already use. A $2 coupon used on a $6 item that is not usually on your list will mean an extra $4 spent, rather than a savings. For items you do use, try to match a coupon with a store sale for extra savings.
Limit prepared foods and snack foods to see an instant savings on your food budget. For a large family this can be vital; for example, consider popping corn in a kettle instead of buying packaged microwave popcorn. Quick "helper" meals may seem to be a good deal, but when compared to the cost of the individual ingredients you'll quickly realize the true cost.
Write a menu by the week or month. This will allow you to take stock of what's in your pantry, refrigerator and freezer so you can plan your meals to fit your budget; you will also find it easier to serve balanced meals without repetition.
Be prepared to buy in quantity if you spot a good deal. Often a supermarket will have products that are being discontinued and you can take advantage of the price by being flexible with your shopping list. Jot things down that you use up to avoid extra trips to the store for forgotten ingredients.
- Always have a quick snack before you shop to lower impulse spending.
- Join a warehouse club and buy in bulk to save on canned and paper products.
- Invest in a freezer so you can take advantage of low prices on seasonal fruits and vegetables.
- Always use or freeze perishables before their expiration date.