Feeding Many With Little

With 3 teenage boys in the house, along with 5 more of us, many ask me how I manage to keep everyone fed. Many assume we must get some sort of assistance or something, because how can anyone possibly feed that many people on a reasonable budget. Let me show you how.

Our weekly grocery budget is about $100-150 a week. It varies weekly, depending on overtime, and other expenses. With that, I manage to keep us all healthy and full.

STEP ONE:

Just like with the house extras, cut out the food extras. We only eat out maybe 1-3 times a month. Cut out the junk. Chips, candy, ice cream, soda and cookies are NOT a necessary part of your daily diet. Reducing your processed sugars will have a massive impact on your grocery bill, as well as improve your over all health. If you MUST have these things, I suggest strict moderation, or making them yourselves. It is healthier, and more cost effective, to make things from scratch.

STEP TWO:

Cut out the garbage at breakfast. Boxed cereal, even the “healthy” ones, are not super awesome for you. When you have teenagers, the kids can go Fat Cereal Mascotsthrough 1-3 boxes in a single meal between them. This also goes for those frozen waffles, pancake coated sausages, and pre-made breakfast sandwiches. Clear out your freezer space for meats, fruits and veggies. We keep Hungry Jack pancake mix, because it only requires water, and a box costs $2 or less. Oatmeal, grits, eggs, fresh or frozen fruit, milkshakes, bacon and sausage are our breakfast staples. Go with the larger packages of grits and oatmeal, not the individual packets. It will save money and is easier when making for several people at a time. Breakfast is THE most important meal of the day. Don’t start your day with fast burn sugary garbage. It is not healthy and will eat your grocery money faster than you can eat it!

STEP THREE:

Plan your meals. Many of you work and think you do not have “time” to plan a meal. I assure you, you do. It takes moments to lay something out before work, if you plan ahead when you shop. Start by buying your meats in bulk, and separating them out into meal size portions, and putting them in baggies. This will save freezer space, thawing time, and reduce your over all meal costs. I keep a few baggies with 2-3 extra portions in the freezer too, for when guests join us for dinner.

STEP FOUR:

PortionPortion out your meals. Many people start freaking out at this notion. “OH MY, you want me to portion out our FOOD?!” Umm, yes, I do. This will keep you from over eating, which is not healthy for you, and will allow you to control your food budget a bit better. Keep the portions reasonable. You do not want people walking away hungry, but you also do not want to waste any food either. America is one of the leading countries of wasted food. We throw away more food in a single week than many other countries have to eat in a month! It really is rather damaging to ones budget.
Many are under the impression that all you can afford for $100-150 a week is simply potatoes and rice. That is simply not true. You just need to learn how to shop a little differently.

Breakfast Dinner Soup

Lunch

 

 

 

 

 

Chicken leg quarters come in a 10 lb bag at Walmart for about $5. You can cut those quarters in half, and make several portioned out meals out of that $5 bag of chicken. Ground beef is rather expensive most places, but you can get it for about $2.29/lb at Aldi, when you buy the larger packages. I suggest having a meat scale at home, so that you can portion out 1-2 lb baggies (depending on your family size). When you get them in the baggie, flatten them out. This will save space in the freezer, and they will thaw faster. Also, Watch the “reduced” section. You can find awesome deals in the reduced priced meats section. If you have a butcher, or meat market near you, they often do package deals. Watch your prices though. Some meat markets like to throw things like potatoes into their packages to make it look like you are getting an awesome deal.
TomatoesI am not overly fond of feeding us canned veggies. Green BeansThey are not the most healthy. If you are somewhere that you can grow a garden, even a small container garden, it is something I HIGHLY recommend. You do not need a large space, to grow a large amount of food. Many people think that since they do not have space for a huge elaborate farm style garden that they can’t grow their own food. This is simply not true. Start with the basics: potatoes, tomatoes, sweet peppers, onions and beans. Get GOOD soil, and compost, and add that to your plot/planters BEFORE you start your planting. Trust me. You will thank me later.

If gardening is indeed something you are incapable of, I suggest Aldi or Save-A-Lot for your canned veggies. There is no need to pay $2 a can, when you can get them for $0.59 or less a can. If you have a bents and dents store, all the better. Again, just watch your prices.
Fruit and veggie standsfarmers-market-17 can be nice, but try hitting that early morning farmers market instead. You will be supporting a local farmer, and getting nicer fruits and veggies than you will in a grocery store. You will also find a larger and healthier variety of fruits and veggies at a farmers market than you will in an average grocery store. If you can’t grow your own, this is the next best way to go. Aldi also has good prices on their fresh fruits and veggies if you have one near you.
We do not buy a bunch of processed foods. I have found that by the time I get them in large enough quantities to feed us all, it actually costs less to make a meal that is 1 meat, 1-2 veggies and a starch. The only exception to this would be the occasional lasagna, taco kits, and pasta sauces. While I prefer to cook most of my meals fresh, sometimes a Momma just needs a night off.

We found that with cutting out a large portion of the processed junk food, we where able to feed the kids more food, at a much lower price. Reducing the amount of sugars, junk, and processed garbage has also had great health benefits. Our energy levels have come up, and our weight is coming down. We are more healthy, and energetic than we where before. The kids are not complaining about being hungry ALL THE TIME, like they where before, because the meals are more satisfying for longer.

Sylar Fast

So if you want to eat more for less, this is how you do it. You reduce or cut out your junk food, plan and pre-portion out your meals, and eat things that are more satisfying for longer periods of time. You will see your grocery expenses go down and your money savings go up! This is how we feed many with little.

 

Fat cereal mascot photo from Brian Altano’s Twitter.

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Enough Room?

With the upcoming blending of our families, I find that I am asked questions like “Are you SURE you have enough room for that? Where are you going to PUT everyone? How do you have enough space for EIGHT people?” Many seem to be under the impression that to have a family of 8, you must live in a mansion, or at the very least a 6+ bedroom house.

Ribbon Drawer

We have a 4 bedroom, 2 bath house with living room, large library/office, dining room, kitchen, garage, and laundry space. It is “only” about 2,000 square feet. It is no mansion in the hills, but it is not a tiny house either. Two of the kids rooms will have bunk beds, and one has a queen size bed, because he is too tall for a regular twin size bed. The master bedroom is large enough for two queen beds, which is much larger than most master bedrooms we have had.

House1 House4

House3 House2

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have a hard time understanding the way newer generations think. Many people seem to be under the impression that every child must have their own bedroom, and a large one at that. Sharing bedroom space, much less a common bed, seems to be becoming a thing of the past.
If you go back 2 or 3 generations, life was very differnet. My grandparents each came from large families. They had between 9-11 (living) siblings. While I do not know the size of the homes two of them where raised in, I have visited the homes of the other two. They each grew up in 1 and 2 bedroom homes.
I find it hard to imagine having 11-13 people in a 2 bedroom house. These where not large 2 bedoom homes either. We are talking your average small to moderate apartment size.
Now think about that for a minute. Think about the closet space that would be required of that many children in todays world. Think about how much space they would need for their “stuff”. Think about the clutter of “toys” that 9+ kids would have, based on the amount of toys most 2-3 children families have.

HomesteadWe think about having 9+ kids in the house, and most think pure and utter chaos. Only 3 generations ago though, that was the very normal family make up though. It was normal to have several children sleeping on a single bed. It was very normal to have children sleeping in the floor on pallets, or even having a large “family bed” with the younger children. Though for some reason the thought of having a home like that today, makes one think of extreme poverty.
I want you to think for a moment about your childs room. Think about the amount of “stuff” your child has in their room right Toys2now. How much of that stuff do they really “need”? How much of it is neccesary, and how much of it is over abundance? Do they really Need 50 hot wheels, a book case full of books, 25 barbies, 4 remote controlled cars, 3 different game consoles, 40 different game discs, a tv, 15 different board games, and a whole slew of other toys and accessories? Does having mountains of material possessions help them develop more mentally? Does it help teach them anything, other than how to constantly clean their room?
We have enough room for 8 people in a smaller space, because we have cut out a large portion of our abundance of “stuff” and are working daily toward a greater abundance of life. Our children are FAR from deprived in any way. They DO have games, and game consoles. They have a box of blocks, and a box of cars. We have just cut down on the over abundance of said items.
Clothing is one place we struggle to control the masses. I have to admit, I DO love my clothes. In the last 2 years, I have given away over 30 garbage bags of clothing out of our combined closets. WOW! That is a ton of clothes. You know what, not a single one of us are going naked for it either. Having less clothing has forced us to wash our laundry more often, because the option to simply grab another clean pair out of the drawer/closet is not there. We can’t let the laundry pile up for 1-2-3 weeks at a time, because we simply do not keep that much clothing on hand, and someone is going to run out of underwear.
Living more, with less, has become a motto that many are re-adopting. America is one of the highest consumer driven societies in the world! Our kids have more “toys and stuff” than children in other countries. Many are beginning to wake up and realize that when you have more stuff, that stuff is not always a blessing. In fact, after a while, it becomes quite the burden. Instead of having time to go on that walk, or play a board game with the kids, you find yourself endlessly cleaning and cleaning.

Possession
So instead of asking me if I have enough space for 8 people, Ask yourself, why DON’T I have “enough space”? What is taking up the space in your house? What is your house filled with, that consumes your time, effort and money? What is your house so full of, that you question if a 4 bedroom 2 bath house is “large enough” for a family of 8? What can you get rid of, to give yourself more space? What material possession can you go without, to buy yourself another few moments in the day to do something other than clean? What dust collector, and space hog are you holding onto, that you can let go of?

Decumulating
Having enough space in your home, is as simple as clearing out the excess. De-clutter your home, and you will notice that not only to you have more space, but you have more time too. You will find yourself stressing less, and smiling more. Life is better when you fill your home with memories, and get rid of the excess space hogs. Soon you too, will find that, yes, you have enough space for more.

 

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