Dec
09
2010

Frugal Shopping and Fruitful Meals

Large families are accused of having tons of money to “feed all those kids,” but Chris and I are very frugal shoppers. The grocery bill is probably the most common example of our frugality. Really, meals don’t need to put a family under financially.


Here’s a video Chris took in 2006 when TLC filmed us for television. Our frugal shopping became one of the central interests of the show.


But what do we eat? This is one of the most common questions people have of us. I put together this quick menu of a typical week of “frugal” meals. Let’s run through a quick menu, list a few of my favorite frugal ideas, and then I’d like to hear from you (see the end of the post).

Sunday

  • Brunch: Chocolate chip pancakes, sausage, maple syrup, and warm white chocolate drizzle.
  • Dinner: Savory sandwiches, veggie salad, dill pickle spears.

Monday

  • Breakfast: Cinnamon raisin bagels with cream cheese, eggs, and oranges.
  • Lunch: Leftover savory sandwiches, chips, and salad.
  • Dinner: pizza.

Tuesday

  • Breakfast: Blueberry bagels with cream cheese, eggs, and oranges.
  • Lunch: Leftover pizza with carrot sticks.
  • Dinner: Crock pot chicken, baked potatoes, veggie tray.

Wednesday

  • Breakfast: English muffins with jam, oranges.
  • Lunch: Chicken sandwiches (from leftover chicken).
  • Dinner: Tacos.

Thursday

  • Breakfast: “Peanut butter walls”: peanut butter, raisins, cinnamon on tortillas.
  • Lunch: Taco salad.
  • Dinner: Chili with homemade cornbread, salad.

Friday

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal.
  • Lunch: Leftover chili and cornbread.
  • Dinner: Homemade beef stew with crackers.

Saturday

  • Breakfast: Peanut butter toast, eggs.
  • Lunch: Leftover stew.
  • Dinner: Spaghetti with salad and garlic bread.

Notice a few things about this week of eating, all things that save you money:

1. We don’t go out to eat. Most families make a habit of going out to lunch or dinner as a substitute for eating at home. We just don’t do that.

2. Everything is bought in bulk. When do we ever buy food in a small package? Take any of the ingredients above and consider we have a bucket-full in the pantry that we take from. The overall savings of this food is incredible.

3. Many of our lunches are meals from the night before. When the refrigerator is filling up, the food becomes the next day’s lunch.

The result of frugal meals? We eat like kings! Do you have ideas for frugal eating?

About Wendy Jeub

Yes, Wendy Jeub has brought 16 children into the world, and loves each and every one of them. So much so, she'd welcome more!

  • Mary Lou

    Just one question: How do you manage to make enough to have leftovers?! 😉

  • http://www.hilltopblessings.blogspot.com Sheri Lorenz

    I love your menu! Nothing fancy, but all enjoyable meals that are balanced and “doable”! As my boys are getting bigger and our family grows, I have realized I have to learn to cook “bigger” in order to have leftovers for lunch the next day. That for me is the most difficult. How much do you cook? If a 9×13 fits your family for one meal, do you automatically cook two 9×13’s so there are planned leftovers?

    We are a family of 6 and expecting a baby via the foster-care system. It’s sort of like being pregnant for the last three weeks for several months. I’m constantly adding freezer meals to have on hand so that when she does get here, we will be ready. Any tips?

    Blessings!

  • http://www.hilltopblessings.blogspot.com Sheri Lorenz

    By the way, I realize that a 9×13 does not feed your family for one meal!

  • http://www.kendavis.com Joy Groblebe

    GREAT post! While I only cook for six everynight…we eat a lot of the same things you do. And leftovers for lunch the next day take out 1/3 of your meal planning every day. LOVE IT!!!

  • http://lingley.blogspot.com/ Nicole Lingley

    Thank you for this. While I only have 4 children, we go through almost $800 in FOOD a month!!! The hubby and I have been trying to cut it down and make menus but it just never seems to work out. Now that I see and have some ideas that make sense…I’m going to try and work it out again. :)

  • http://aboundantlyblessed.wordpress.com Becky

    I love this as I often wonder what other families especially large families eat. Now I have another question along these lines. How do you menu plan? What sounds good that day/weekly/monthly or do pretty much eat the same things every week so you don’t have to menu plan. I am really enjoying your daily posts. Keep up your encouraging work those of us with smaller but growing families appreciate all your tried and true methods.

  • Tina

    I always enjoy your posts. I know couples with only two kids who consider themselves lucky to come away from the market “only” spending $800 or more a month, citing the need for convenience foods because of the lack of time. But, it doesn’t have to take a lot of time!

    As a single person with no kids and cooking only for myself, I can (and do, at times) feed myself for $15-$20 a week. There’s no real magic in it, just some cooking skills and keeping to the budget. The raw materials are very inexpensive compared to the more convenient take-out, eat-out, or processed foods. And with a little time in the kitchen, voila — dishes that are varied and stretch for a couple of meals, at least. (Now, I do eat out occasionally, but the money I’m saving on the weekly food budget more than makes up for it.)

  • http://www.apurposefullife.blogspot.com Heather

    Do you do snacks? If so what kind of things do you eat? How do you manage hungry teens who seem to want/need to eat all the time?! I would also like to know how in the world you cook enough for leftovers for the next day’s lunch?

  • Kristi

    I have 9 kids at home, and the teens are boys (you know how they eat), and I manage to keep my food budget averaging around $600/mo. Cutting out nearly all “convenience” foods is the key. My budget was $600/mo when I had 6 kids too (that’s when I started tracking my spending), so I’ve been able to feed more kids on the same budget by cutting more and more convenience foods.
    For my meal plans, I pull out a list that I keep of commonly made meals, I list about 5 meals that I want to make for the next week. Then I pull out a list I made on my computer that is a grocery list of commonly purchased groceries, organized by isle of my favorite grocery store. I circle the items I need to buy for those meals, plus my staples. I also buy a few frozen pizzas for the days that just don’t follow the plan. On busy days, Tuesday is a regular busy day for us, so I make sure that is a crockpot day, or something ez like BBQs.
    My husband and I get away and eat out occasionally. But I don’t include that in the $600/mo budget. That is separate. He’s self employed, so it usually only happens when he has a boost in income. We do take the kids out to Pizza Hut once a month with their book-it coupons and the 3 pizza/$15 deal. :-)

    • http://www.apurposefullife.blogspot.com Heather

      Thanks for your input and ideas, Kristi!

  • Kristi

    Forgot:
    Snacks: apples, bannanas, PB&J (that’s about it)
    Leftovers: I usually take a recipie that feeds 8 and double it intentionally so we can eat it for lunch the next day. We homeschool, so they are all fed at home. Otherwise our lunch menu is commonly sandwiches.

  • Laurie

    We too are menu meal planners ! Love it, it really takes the load off me when it comes to cooking. Lots of times I can prepare stuff ahead of time and only have to warm it up. We do most of our baking from scratch and do not eat out as a family. My husband and I do go on our date once a week night. However when money it tight we will pack something and just go sit somewhere and talk. Or go for a walk. The quality time is wonderful. We have many stores in our area that run by one get one free. These can be tricky but even if its a dime savings we go for it. I can use those items in the next weeks menu. Which I always try to budget money for deals at the store to use in a meal. We buy lots of bulk items and by doing so we have cut down on running to the store so much. I might go to the grocery store three times a month for staple items like milk, paper product or just to hit a good sale. I love having more time for my children and husband. I will add that about three years ago I got fed up with going to the grocery store with my husband and having what little time I had with him spent shopping. So I try really hard to never go grocery shopping when he is home. This allows more family time. We have 7 children and they all love to eat. We have never gone hungry, never had to charge food on credit cards, nothing but paying cash. On average we spend 75 bucks a week on groceries. We also grow a large garden in the summer and can get two growing seasons from it. We love to can our own food. I also get creative with some snacks for the kids to mix things up. However even the snacks have changed in my house. We eat only the sweets we bake from scratch, however we usually bake different kinds of breads. The kids love bread and milk for a snack. I have learned several years ago ( and still learning from friends like Wendy ) to cook more filling meals which cuts the grocery bill down big time !!!

    • http://www.apurposefullife.blogspot.com Heather

      MMM! Bread! I’ve just been inspired! I am going to pull out some pumpkin I have in the freezer and make some pumpkin bread!

  • Wendy Jeub

    Mary Lou, I make enough so that there are usually leftovers.

    A 9 X 13 pan does feed us I just make it extra thick!
    I also talk about this on our CD “Cheaper By The Bakers Dozen” by adding in a few eggs you make a meal more hearty and adds extra protein! Just whip them in a bowl and add to the meat, kids don’t even notice. 😉

  • Wendy Jeub

    Becky, I menu plan around what is on sale, what I have on hand and by our tastes. I also speak about this on our CD “Cheaper By The Bakers Dozen”. I make the same three meals every week. Figure out what 3 meals your family will eat that often for us it is: Tacos, Spaghetti, and Chili. In the winter I add in soup too. Now you have 4 meals down a week and you only have 3 left to plan for supper.

    Also, since the meat is always in the freezer I do not buy meat at the store which is usually the highest part of your food bill.

  • Wendy Jeub

    Heather, Those teens! 😉 Yes they want to eat all the time. So I keep around, apples, carrot sticks, celery, pretzels, pop corn and nuts. They know that snack times are over at 10:30 am and 4:30 pm. In the meantime they can have these snacks and not feel hungry.

    Myself I like to eat a cucumber a day.

  • Wendy Jeub

    Kristi, A big pat on the back from me! Yes, that is how you do it! We use to use the ‘Book it’ program too. Keep up the good work!

  • Wendy Jeub

    Laurie, That’s it! When we lived in MN we also had a huge garden and so enjoyed putting up all the tomatoes!

  • Wendy Jeub

    I sounds like many of you are doing a great job! Great for you and your families. Keep up the good work! :)

  • Tammie

    I think this will really start to help me, knowing that is can be done and not be so hard as I make it to be .. I am currently REAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLY bad with being frugal ! WoooBoy.. you have NOOO idea.. might even be worse then cooking ! Your’e shocked, I know !!!

  • Tarahleigh

    i think its fantastic how you manage achieve such a creative menu and on such a little budget! We live frugal ourselves, we’re only a family of four but every dollar saved is for the better. we did have frugal months of the same set of 4 meals over and over until i read a few of your blogs and opened my mind to a more creative menu plan that ultimately saved us more. and for that im thankful :)

  • Wendy Jeub

    Good to hear Tammie and Tarahleigh!

  • Margaux Hames

    HI WENDY, MY MOTHER HAD MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS AND A FAMILY OF SEVEN PEOPLE TO CARE FOR. SHE NOT ONLY HAD A FRUGAL LIFESTYLE BUT DEALT WITH A DISABILITY. IN ORDER TO SAVE TIME AND HER ENERGY SHE TOOK ONE DAY A WEEK AND COOKED LARGE POTS OF WHOLE POTATOES, RICE AND PASTA. AS EACH DAY CAME FORTH SHE WOULD TAKE SOME OF THOSE POTATOES AND MADE SCALLOPED POTATOES OR FRIED POTATOES OR A SALAD FROM THEM. SHE WOULD USE THE COOKED RICE FOR DIFFERENT RECIPES OR A DESSERT FROM THEM AND SO ON. IT MADE AN EASIER WEEK FOR HER AND WE HAD WONDERFUL HOME COOKED MEALS. THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR LIFE WENDY. EVERYTIME I READ YOUR BLOGS I RELIVE MY MOTHER WITH WARM MEMORIES. MARGAUX

  • Wendy Jeub

    Awwww That is very very sweet! We also make up big pots of dried beans and then we have them on hand. Thank you for the reminder it is a great idea!

  • Christina

    We have a family of 8, soon to be nine. We are mostly a gluten free family because of dietary issues as well. Which unfortunately is a little more expensive. I listened to the above. You said you spend roughly $500-$700 a month, including diapers, cleaning supplies, I am assuming toothpaste, etc as well. We do the same, on $480 a month, including laundry soap, shoes, and clothing. The only things I don’t purchase are the diapers and wipes, as we use the cloth kind. Cloth diapers have saved us a lot of $. We save a lot by buying things like rice flour, sugar, etc in 50# bags. We also save a lot by shopping at our local Damaged goods stores, where canned veggies in dented cans are less than 50 cents a piece. We also don’t get any convenience foods, but most of the family can’t eat them anyway. We make just about everything from scratch. We have our own cows (one dairy), goats (two dairy), and chickens which we can supplement our groceries with. We’re working on the garden. We live very simply, making our own yogurt, cheese, etc. But I have come across your Kombucha video. And I am wondering what the health value is. We don’t drink pop, and when I can find juice for less than $1 I’ll pick a little up for popcicles in the summertime. But what are the benfits of Kombucha?

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  • Shannon

    Oh, I’m just DYING to know:  How in the world do you have enough for leftovers for 16 people to eat a second time for lunch?   I’ve been watching your food videos.. such as the Mac & Cheese, and the French Fry dish – that meal you create in your video would be completely consumed for dinner – and I only have 6 children!!!!  Are you really working with that higher magnitude of quantities – such as 28 cups of macaroni noodles?  I just can’t seem to have leftovers no matter how hard I try!  Your crockpot is about the same size as mine but we eat  a crockpot full for dinner…..  Help!