Feeding a Family for $400 a Month?
by Tawra Kellam
Tawra Kellam, editor of LivingOnADime.com , does something that most people think they can't do today. She feeds her family of 6 for $400 a month. Most people say that's an impossible feat but what's even more impressive is that she does it without using coupons.
How does she do it? First, Tawra says, "I use what I have. If I don't have milk in the house, I don't make a special trip to the store for it. The kids won't die from malnutrition if they miss drinking milk for a day or two. If I'm out of bread, I'll make some cornbread or muffins. If I'm out of fresh veggies, I will use canned or frozen instead. Stop going to the store for one or two things. I shop for food 2-3 times a month and that's it."
Shop the clearance sections. "I regularly find milk on clearance for $1.75 a gallon. My store marks the milk down a few days before the "sell by" date. The great part is that milk stays fresh for 1 week after it's opened. I just throw several in the freezer and then I don't have to make a special trip for milk. Just thaw, shake and serve."
Purchase meat only on sale or on clearance. Again, butchers mark down their meat a day or two before the "sell by" date. Generally, meat is good for 3-4 days after the "sell by" date in the fridge or 6 months in the freezer. Tawra says "I never buy meat unless it's on sale for $1.99 or less a pound. If it's not on sale, we don't eat it. You can get some great unadvertised deals just by watching the meat counter's clearance items. I found 5 lb. rolls of hamburger for $2.95 each after New Year's Day. Of course we stocked up and will have enough hamburger to last 6 months. I can get "soup bones" with enough meat on them to make a great vegetable stew for under $2.00 for the entire family! Add some rolls and you have a complete meal for 6 for less than $3.00. When chicken is on sale for under $2.00 per pound, I stock up. I do this with all my meats. This way we can always have a variety of meats."
Ask. Most people are intimidated by asking, but Tawra regularly asks when things will go on sale or be marked down. By asking, she found out that bananas, milk and meat are marked down each morning. She tries to shop in the mornings to get the best deals. She says, "When we lived in another state, they marked things down in the evening so that's when we went shopping. Adjust your shopping times to find the best deals."
Serve your family proper portions of food. "Most parents give their kids way too much milk, juice and soda. My kids get soda on special occasions only. They eat milk with their cereal. For snacks, they eat a piece of string cheese, fruit or one or two cookies. The kids don't sip on milk or juice all day long. They drink water and are just fine with it. As a general rule, I try to give them one vegetable and one fruit for lunch and dinner and then a piece of fruit with cookies or cheese as a snack. This gets their "five a day" in very easily. Stop letting kids just "graze" on chips and other snack food all day. My kids get one small "bowl" of chips a day and that's it."
So what do the Kellams eat? Tawra shares some of their menus with us:
- Slow cooked roast, brown gravy, onions, carrots, potatoes, buttermilk muffins and a fruit plate
(The next day, the leftovers from the roast are used as BBQ beef along with potato salad, green beans and strawberries or grapes.)
- Pizza (homemade), tossed salad and fruit
- Maple glazed chicken, scalloped potatoes, glazed carrots, applesauce and dinner rolls
- Sloppy Joes, cucumbers and tomatoes
- Tacos, refried beans, green beans, sliced apples and tortilla chips w/ honey
Jill Cooper and Tawra Kellam are frugal living experts and the authors of the Dining On A Dime Cookbook. Dining On A Dime will help you save money on groceries and get out of debt by cooking quick and simple homemade meals. For free tips & recipes visit http://www.LivingOnADime.com , sign up for our free Living On A Dime Newsletter and learn to save more!