Please welcome Maat from FrugalChicken as she shares some simple tips for feeding a family on a tight budget. Anyone can do this and save a ton of money! And be sure to stick around for her Pulled Chicken Sandwich recipe at the end.
If you’re like me and want to avoid boxed foods, it’s very important to know how to stretch your dollar so you can feed your family nutritious meals. I’m able to feed my family of 4 only whole foods on $200 a month. I’m going to show you how you can do it, too.
My best tip… To save money, you need to cook from scratch. I can’t emphasize this enough. There’s a lot of hints out there to streamline this process. I have a lot of meal-making hacks in my guide.
Save money buying meat in bulk
Meat is the star of every meal because my husband loves meat. So, when I create my grocery budget, I start with meat.
I buy meat in large quantities when I find a good sale, and cut it up into realistic servings. My local store sometimes sells pork butts for $1.19 a pound in bulk quantities. I will buy 30 pounds, which costs $35.70. Broken down into 1 pound roasts, you have 30 servings.
You can grind it yourself for sausages, make roasts, put it in the crockpot with barbeque sauce for pulled pork, you name it. I buy it with the bone included, and roast the bone for stock, which I use to flavor side dishes, such as risotto.
You can buy beef in bulk quantities, too. It’s harder to find good sales on beef, so I buy ground beef when it’s $2.99 per pound. Last time I bought 10 pounds, which came out to $29.90. I cut it up into 1 pound servings, which I use in chili, hamburgers, etc.
If you total that up, you have spent $65.60 on 15 servings of pork and 10 servings (plus or minus) of beef. On to chicken!
I only buy whole chickens, and cut it up myself. It’s a lot simpler than it sounds, and it doesn’t take more time than, say, to chop vegetables. You will get premium cuts for a lot less than you would pay otherwise. I only buy chickens when they’re $0.95 per pound. Imagine paying $0.95 per pound for skinless chicken breasts!
If you buy a lot, and you don’t want to cut them all up at once, you can freeze and cut them up just a couple at a time. Once they’re butchered, you’ll have breasts, legs, thighs, and wings, as well as leftovers for stock.
You can make one meal out of the breasts, such as a curry chicken, and another meal out of the legs, etc. If you want a boneless dinner, try making pulled chicken sandwiches, which is super simple using your crock pot. There’s a recipe at the end of this post.
You can use the stock for soups, which gives you yet another meal. If you’re not sure how to make stock, check out my guide, How to Make Bone Broth.
If you buy 10 chickens, and they’re 5 or so pounds each, you’ve spent $47.50 for several meals starring chicken.
Make your own bread
This leaves about $87 in the rest of your grocery budget, which is a lot to play with. To really stretch your dollar, you need to make bread at home, or be content with limp, white bread at $0.87 per loaf. Breadmaking is simpler than it sounds, especially if you have a bread machine. I buy flour when it’s on sale, usually for $1 for 10 pounds. I have come home with 100 pounds of flour before, eye-rolling husband included.
I also buy a lot of rice and spaghetti, and spend about $1 for 2 lbs of each. You can make your own noodles at home using flour and eggs, but frankly, that’s a skill I haven’t perfected yet, so I still buy my spaghetti. I buy these items at the dollar store.
By produce seasonally
For fresh veggies and fruit, I actually produce a lot of my own, but if you can’t do that, then you need to buy seasonally. For example, if it’s summer and tomatoes are aplenty, that’s when you buy tomatoes. When strawberries are $0.99 per pound, you’re buying strawberries.
You can buy in bulk quantities, and can or freeze your extras. This is easier and less time consuming than it sounds. I recommend you pick up this excellent tutorial for home canning.
Turn on Netflix, get ready for a marathon, and can those tomatoes.
If canning is not your thing, you can also dry them in your oven. Who doesn’t love sundried tomatoes in a romaine salad with feta?
Grocery shopping for whole, nutritious foods on a budget is easier than you think. If you follow this guide, you’ll save a ton!
More help feeding a family for cheap
- 10 Best Tips for Saving on Groceries
- Can you eat on $100 a week?
- Essential List of Easy but Healthy Snacks
- My Frugal Pantry List
- Feed a Family of 5 for Less Than $50 a Week
Pulled Chicken Sandwiches
- 4 chicken breasts
- 3 cups BBQ Sauce
- ½ Vidalia Onion chopped
- Bread for sandwiches
- The night before, chop up your onion into small shreds.
- In the morning, place the chicken breasts and onion in your crockpot along with the BBQ sauce. Cook on low for 8 hours.
- Your chicken is done when the breasts come apart easily with a fork. Shred the chicken (wear gloves for easy clean-up) until it’s in small pieces. Stir to combine with the barbecue sauce.
- Add to the bread to make a sandwich.
Maat van Uitert writes from her homestead in the Midwest, where she lives with her family, 7 horses, two pigs, and an every growing assortment of chickens. Her blog, FrugalChicken focuses on from-scratch cooking, frugal living, gardening, and livestock.
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