Let’s face it, having three boys, has given me a lot of experience with feeding hungry kids on a budget. A dear reader was asking for some tips on this subject and I happily gave her some. I quickly realized I had enough to write an entire blog post and more. I imagine there are many parents in this same predicament who need some great tips on feeding hungry kids on a budget.
Simply put, there is very little to go around some days. I stretch things as far as they will go to feed my family of five.
Feeding hungry kids on a budget
Meat and cheese are the two most expensive ingredients that I buy. Coming up with ways to stretch them is a big help feeding my family.
- I have always wanted to buy half a cow, or pig. I can’t ever really afford it though. You have to have a large amount of money up front to pay for it. If you could spend $800 plus on meat and you have a large freezer, then I would go for it. Search for a local CSA, or farm share to see if they have any available.
- I recommend stretching hamburger meat. Meat is super expensive this little trick helps a lot. Here’s how I do it, How To Stretch Ground Beef.
- Next, if the kids like beans, use them in place of meat one or two nights a week, in a soup, stew, or just plain old beans and rice. Or you can cut your meat in half and add beans in as a filler.
- Also, have a vegetarian dish or two each week. Use food items like Quinoa, beans, nuts, yogurt, cottage cheese, Swiss Cheese, and Eggs in place of meat to provide protein. (Picture of my Quinoa, and sausage stuffed peppers)
- Make tacos for cheap by stretching the ground beef. Add double the amount of taco seasoning (my favorite brand, the gluten free kind is better than the original), to stretched meat. My family likes really full tacos, so I add refried beans in the bottom as a filler. I can use less meat in the tacos this way!
- Make your own broth/stock – Anytime you have bones, you can use them to make your own bone broth. You can also keep the odds and ends of your vegetables to make a vegetable broth or stock.
Other foods you can use or make in creative frugal ways…
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- Instead of buying taco seasoning, you could make it yourself! I have several recipes to mix your own seasonings! Taco seasoning, chili powder, cajun seasoning, chili seasoning, curry powder, and mediterranean seasoning.
- Save the bread ends to make your own breadcrumbs. You can flavor them by adding spices. Most people uses Italian spices. Just let the bread get hard, and then put it in the oven at 250ºF for about 30 minutes or until crispy, but not burnt. Then place the bread in a food processor until you have breadcrumbs. Store in a airtight container. I use these in my Green Bean Casserole, and my Macaroni and Cheese.
- Make your own granola bars! They are so good, and it’s nice knowing all of the ingredients that go into them are good for you. You can freeze them too!
- Make Crackers – this recipe is for gluten free crackers, but they are so delicious! You wouldn’t believe how easy they are to make and you can freeze these too!
- Make soup at least once a week. It’s usually a cheap meal choice. It only needs a little bit of meat, and you can add quinoa to a soup. It is rich in vitamins, more so than rice, and it takes on flavor so much better too. You cook it the same as you would a long grain rice. Check out my Mulligatawny soup, Pickle Soup, Pumpkin Ginger Coconut Soup, Spaghetti Soup, or Cheese Soup.
Saving on odds and ends
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- Another thing I do is stock up on items like toilet paper ( I get mine on Amazon, it’s cheap), using my tax return. So instead of putting it on the grocery list and using grocery money, I already have it stocked! Check out more at Everyday Items To Keep On Hand.
- Stop using paper towels, and paper napkins. Use a wet washrag (I use these) to clean up your face instead, then use it to clean off the table. Use a washrag to clean up messes too. You will be washing your dish towels anyway, so there won’t be much more water or energy used by doing this. The money you save from NOT buying disposable napkins can go towards groceries.
- Make your own chap balm for cheap! You’ll love my recipe, it’s amazing!
- Use natural cleaners, they are usually much cheaper than commercially made cleaners, and do a great job. Hop on over to see my favorite Natural Cleaners.
Cheap and easy snacks – (adults will love these too)
- I can’t always afford to buy snacks, but when I do I find cheap items at Trader Joe’s. Their salty peanuts are cheap. Banana chips, and other cheap dehydrated fruit, fresh fruit, and more. See the whole list at Easy Healthy Kid Snacks.
Grown your own, and preserve it
- Preserve food – Make your own Strawberry Jam, or Pear Butter for waffles or toast. This is especially great if you grow your own pears, or strawberries. There is also canning, fermenting, dehydrating, etc…
- Next, start a garden. If you haven’t already. If you can’t perhaps you can get some apple trees, or something that might be useful in a few years after it grows, because you and I both know this whole eating a lot of food is just going to increase as they get into those teenage years! My stepson was eating one whole LARGE pizza by himself as a teenager! Ahhh! Seriously.
Buy produce at Farmer’s Markets or CSA
If it’s cheaper or a good deal, you can buy produce at your local farmer’s market or a CSA. Sometimes their packages will be worth it, sometimes not.
Churches and non-profits
If you’re seriously struggling to feed everyone, you might try asking a local church or a non-profit who sometimes provides food to needy families. Local grocery stores are constantly throwing out almost/or expired foods. Many of them will give these almost/or expired foods to a non-profit or a church. You could get anything from bread, produce, to boxed or canned food items. Being crafty and able to make a meal with on-the-fly ingredients is helpful in this situation. I actually made these stuffed peppers with food we got for free! I received an entire case of bell peppers. I made a couple of dishes using them, and I dehydrated, and froze them for later use.
Home Cooked meals
- Eating out is a rarity around here. Obviously, I don’t have to tell you that cutting it to a minimum will help immensely! Use the money instead for groceries.
- My other tips… many of my recipes on my blog are quick, easy, and cheap to prepare. Check them out. Cooking from scratch is cheaper than buying processed/boxed foods. I aim to try to make dinner for all five of us for under five dollars, if possible. With price increases in the last several years the prices are probably more like 7 to 9 bucks now, depending on the meal. You can also check out some depression era recipes.
I hope these tips help you. If you have tips, please share them in the comments!
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