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How I feed my family of 7 for $500 a month in 2024

Grocery costs have never been higher and our family, like everyone else’s, is really feeling the pinch. We have 7 mouths to feed and our grocery costs soared to almost $2000 for a couple of months after we lost everything in a hurricane. We had to eat out for almost every meal when we didn’t have a kitchen to cook in. When we finally settled into a home, groceries had gone up even more, but I’d had enough. This is everything I did (and still do!) to combat rising prices and feed my family of 7 for only $500 a month.

I’ll start with the most helpful tips first.

We are a meat-eating household, but to cut costs the most, we’ve started a meatless Monday, plus one other day per week.

For us, this looks like rice and beans one night and usually a lentil dish one other night.

One of our favorite meals is lentil sloppy Joes.

We love it so much that when I tried to make Manwich with ground beef, my kids acted disgusted and we had to beg them to eat it.

Who knew lentils were the answer to Sloppy Joes that we didn’t know we needed.

The next thing I do is to always shop sales and buy things at the best price.

You can see my expiration date shopping hack here.

I always swore I’d never force my kids to sit at the table and finish their dinner.

Now, I tell them, “look, this is dinner. I’m sorry if it isn’t your favorite, but this is our meal for tonight. Let’s try to appreciate it.”

All of my kids have really embraced this.

We sat down and had a heart to heart with our kids and basically said  look, there is only so much money. We can make 3 meals for each dinner time and try to make everyone happy, or we can make a meal, everyone can eat it, and we can have enough money left over to make memories as a family. You have to understand that we are so lucky to be able to depend on food for each meal. Let’s not ruin it by being overly picky.

Rice and beans served with cheese, sour cream, and hot sauce, are one of our kids favorite meals.

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Money Saving Lunches

We hardly ever have planned lunches. 

Lunch is just leftovers.

Same thing with ingredients about to go bad.

If something is already made and sits in the fridge until it rots, it’s not just money being thrown away.

It’s my time.

If you have a meal or leftovers from a restaurant that are about to go bad, worst-case scenario, throw them in the freezer.

We are big fans of tapas lunches.

If you’re not familiar with tapas-style eating, it is basically small plates of food.

There are tapas restaurants where you choose several options, all served in very small portions.

I find that even if my kids complained about whatever the meal was when I was serving them a full plate of it, they’re far more receptive when everyone is splitting whatever is left over and there are only a few bites each.

Shop at Home First

The next thing I do is go through our freezer, pantry, and refrigerator and see what needs to be used up.

If something is about to go bad, I will almost always find some way to use it.

Sometimes I’ll come across some weird sausage I got on clearance that has made its way to the bottom of the deep freezer.

With some sauce and pasta and some frozen veggies on the side, that’s a full meal.

The way to get to a $500 a month grocery budget is by using what you already have on hand, buying cheap food on when it’s on sale, and just filling in the gaps each week when you go grocery shopping.

Stop Eating Out

This one should go without saying, but it took a ton of effort on our part to break our addiction to eating out.

You can read all about that here.

Don’t allow yourself to be caught without a plan for dinner and be tempted to order food or to go out to eat.

Always have a plan and set it in motion first thing in the morning.

Whether it’s taking meat out of the freezer, starting something in the crockpot, or simply having some easy to make meals at home – always have a plan.

When the day gets away from us, I have (on more than one occasion) suggested cereal and milk with fruit for dinner.

It’s 100% always a hit in our house.

I feel I must put here that if you are struggling to put food on the table for your family, you must never feel guilty for doing what you have to do to feed your loved ones. Whether that means finding a local food bank, applying for and receiving government assistance, or asking a local church for aid. Those programs are available because people often need them. More often today than has been the case in many, many years here in the U.S. Please put your pride aside and do whatever it takes to fill the gap between what you can afford and what you need for your family. 

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