I get so many questions on how I can possibly feed our family of seven (with three teen age boys) and still stay under $500/month.
Well, it’s here!
31 days of sharing how meals work (and don’t work) in our kitchen while still staying under $500 for “all you can eat” style feedings. If you haven’t seen our intro video, click below to meet my fellow partners in crime (Toni and Kate).We all have different lifestyles, different approaches and it should be very fun. Yes, it will be revealing even for myself to see how life with a large family is lived out on a daily basis.
Boxes of stock piled cereal comes with the territory of many kid, quick snacks and a Grocery Guru mom, but I am trying to get away from eating so much cereal since my guys can eat three bowls and still be hungry.
So we started off the day indulging in Easy Oatmeal with Diced Apples. It’s always great to use up those apples as they start to go. I hate wasting produce.
For lunch, my children are Smoothie Masters (and yes, they make up all different kinds of recipes). They can look through the fresh produce (preferably the items that have gotten too ripe to eat raw), as well as the fridge and freezer and surprise me with all kinds of delights.
Since most of the produced they use has been marked down for “quick sale,” it’s an incredibly economic way to get their raw foods in on a daily basis. Lunch ended up being strawberry and banana smoothies and Taco Dip made with fresh guacamole (free with coupons), red peppers/tomatoes (marked down produce), salsa, cottage cheese, and sour cream. You’ll see these two items a lot in our nearly daily repertoire.
Tonight’s dinner was one of our weekly staples – Taco Soup. Since my day was literally met with a five hour interruption, I was quite nervous about dinner plans. When I questioned at about 5:00 – “What should I make for dinner” (yes, that typically foils everyone’s best laid budget plans), I was delighted with how my 12 year old son responded. “Mom, make Taco Soup. You already made up all the meat yesterday.”
That, my sweet overwhelmed cooking friends, is WHY I FREEZER COOK, even if it’s just taking one hour out of my day!
My son knew I had done the busy prep work ahead of time and this meal is one of those “go to” items when meat is already prepared. Even though I wasn’t able to step up to all that I wanted to accomplish in the last two days with my freezer cooking. I did let my crock pot work for me and cooked up eight pounds of ground beef (while I was at church), and then baggied them up for times just like this. I was able to grab cans of crushed tomatoes, already prepared ground beef and rice (I needed a little extra to fill them up), your choice of beans (we LOVE black beans), bags of stockpiled frozen white shoepeg corn, and yummy seasoning. Besides just the typical taco soup seasoning, I added some Hidden Valley Ranch packages (the dry stuff) for a twist…it was yummy. Topped with cheese, sour cream, and some crushed tortilla chips, this is a family favorite that my kids can’t get enough of. For those of us who loved fresh red peppers, we chopped those up and served them separately….yum!
My kids were stuffed, happy and I do believe when the tally occurred at the end of the day, I probably fed my entire family of seven (with left overs) for under $15. I’ll take it, but I’ll also start showing you the receipts of how I get to that point. 🙂
I would love nothing more than to reduce out grocery bill. will be looking forward to more tips!
GREAT post!……..and I posted Taco Soup this week too! lol
The taco soup sounds delicious, and I love your tips for saving money in the kitchen. Thanks for hosting!
Taco Soup (with the Ranch Dressing Mix) is a staple in our house too. I never thought to add rice, though. I can see how that would be a good food-stretcher. I’ll definitely try it! (Have I missed something? Did you cook your rice in with your meat? And did I miss your instructions on cooking your beef in the crock pot?)
Anyway – thanks always for inspiring us to live on less. Blessings to you and your family, Jennifer~
The taco soup sounds delish, and what a great idea to add the ranch dip. Some of my most “inspired” meals have come from little time and pantry explorations. 🙂 I’m posting a 3 Hour Chicken today that is SUPER easy and absolutely heavenly. My kids can’t get enough of it.
Great idea in collaborating with other bloggers for your cooking. What a way to HAVE to stick to your plan. Good thinking.
Laurie @ DomesticProductions15.com
Your Taco Soup sounds perfect with my recipe. Who says you can’t serve both? Mexi night works for me.
Great job raising a thoughtful son!
I usually have the prep work done for tacos, so it shoule be easy to incorporate them in this tasty soup. Thanks for sharing; I need more quick and easy meals in my repetoire!
I always enjoy reading about frugal, quick meals. I’m working on getting some freezer cooking done this week to make my life a little easier. 😉
Mmmm….smoothies. I need to start doing that!!! 🙂
Your sour cream is shaped like a heart!!!!
Hey! We want the next scarf tying video!! Soon!!!
@Anna, that is too funny…yes, it’s coming. What was I thinking agreeing to do a whole month of cooking posts…I’ll squeeze it in there somewhere. 🙂
@Jens, Thanks!! We can’t wait! 🙂
Thanks for sharing your tips and for hosting Tasty Tuesday!
Taco soup is one of my fav go to meals that provides all the best things! Good taste, easy to make, inexpensive, and nutritious! Its a winner on all levels!
Thanks so much for hosting!
I have a question for you. Can you e-mail me at ahandfuloflife.aol.com so we can “talk” privately? (That way I can e-mail my ? to you.)
We also had Taco Soup! I made ours with black beans from the freezer and added some cooked rice to make it thicker and easier to scoop with chips. The boys like to eat it that way.
I’m going to have to look through your blog to see if you talk about how to cook your ground beef in the crockpot – what a great idea! We love taco soup around here (but for now we’re just a small family that’s growing LOL).
I am also feeding a large family and I look forward to following this project!
Mmmm, taco soup… We love that too! We’ve started freezing extra meat and chicken stock and things like that, and it’s amazing how handy it is! Guess what? I signed up to go to the Relevant conference & I’m so excited to get to finally meet you IRL now! 🙂 Too much fun!
Ooo that looks like yummy food. I SO wish I could cook…
this post was AWESOME…exactly how you feed your crew on a given day…
but I, along with others it looks like, beg you to tell more about cooking ground beef in the crock pot. I know I could just experiment, but don’t want to screw up and waste. Please fill us in on this potentially HUGE time saver!
Jen, this is going to be really fun to watch. I’m looking forward to this!
Hope you’re loving your new appliances!
Thanks for your food ideas. I am looking forward to the nitty gritty of food budgeting. I hope this isn’t too nosy and snooty but I hope you share exact numbers, dollars and cents. I need to reduce my spending my about $300/month. I know this will be a gradual process but I could really use some practical tips and examples.
@Barb, Barb – nope, it doesn’t sound snooty. 🙂 I will do my best to try and outline the actual $$ since honestly, I know this will be the biggest part of helping people in a tangeable way. It won’t happen every day, but I’ll try and spend a few posts really detailing the nitty gritty.
question for you about your almost too ripe produce: how ripe are we talking? and how often do you go to the store to pick that up? do you need to eat it within one or two days after buying the produce? how do you make sure it doens’t spoil before you get to it? i only have a family of 3 so i’m trying to figure out if this would work for me and my family. loved the post!
I’m really looking forward to your $$ breakdown. I spend WAY too much each month and really want to rein it in.
quick question: how did you cook the hamburger meat in the crockpot?
Hmmm? Do you know of a way to save money while not being able to eat Gluten? It is in EVERYTHING…lol…I just found out I have Celiac Disease…It has been hard on the budget…Meme