Sunday, February 1, 2009

My Dilemma

Everyone knows that it costs a lot to feed a large family.

It certainly costs a lot to feed our family. I struggle each month to stay within our monthly food allotment. That's why I was very interested to discover this chart, which lists the Official USDA Food Costs as of November 2008 for both families and individuals, listed specifically by age and gender. Four plans are given: Thrifty, Low-Cost, Moderate and Liberal.

After adding up all the members of our family currently living at home, I came up with the following figures:

Thrifty Plan: $383.70 per week or $1534.70 every four weeks
Low-Cost Plan: $506.70 per week or $2026.80 every four weeks
Moderate Plan: $627.10 per week or $2508.40 every four weeks

I wasn't even brave enough to run the figures for the Liberal Plan!!!

So, here is my dilemma. My food budget is $400 per week, or $1600 every four weeks. It sounds like a lot of money, but like I said, I struggle to stay within this budget. After seeing this chart, I understand why!!!

It appears that it may be feasible to stay within this allotment, *IF* I follow the thriftiest plan for a family of my size and make up. However, I'm assuming these government figures are for food only, and my budget also contains paper goods and cleaning supplies.

Seeing this in black and white makes me feel rather hopeless of every staying within my budget. And yet, I don't have a choice; I must learn to stay within my budget. Thus, my dilemma . . .

Furthermore, my family is not only very large in number, but also very large in stature! With four teen aged boys, three of those hungry athletes over 6 feet tall, I guarantee they eat more than the average "14 to 18 year old male" from the government chart!!!!

On top of that, the city where we currently live does not have a lot of options for bargain shopping. I used to have a lot of great stores at my disposal, such as produce stands and a state farmer's market, day-old bread outlets, and several discount grocery stores. The store I miss the most is Aldi's. That store saved me a tremendous amount on groceries!!

The other aspect of my dilemma is that I feel certain that the thrifty food plan keeps costs down by using a lot of cheap carbs. That is something I've been trying to get away from, in order to aid my weight loss goals. Also, my sons are instructed to eat a lot of protein in order to build muscle, and I haven't yet found a coach willing to foot the bill for all that meat!

So, I find myself in quite a dilemma. I'd love to hear strategies from other mothers of large families who've learned how to feed their families for less. I discovered one mom who claims to feed her large family for just $400 a month!!!! But, she does have a lot of young children, which makes a difference.

So, I'm open to suggestions! If you know any secrets for stretching a strained grocery budget, please leave comments or a link to your blog. I look forward to gleaning some new ideas!


Keesler Chaos said...

Beans and rice are cheap protein when eaten in tandem. Filling, and easy too!

Jules said...

I'm afraid I have no tips. In fact, I'll be watching your blog with interest to see if there are any hints to help me cut my food bill that will help me down here in New Zealand. Like you, I don't have access to places where I can buy food in bulk cheap. We do grow some of our own and my DH goes hunting and we get meat from farm-kill but there's still a lot that we have to buy. And it all adds up!

Laurel said...

I am SHOCKED by those food cost figures.

I am the mother of 13 ... right now I have 8 kids living at home (which includes 2 teen boys who are athletes), and 2 twelve year olds who can certainly put away some food ... just last month I had 10 kids living at home, which added 2 very athletic young adult men (I also have some over 6').

And ... seriously ... I spend LESS THAN $500 per MONTH on food. I truly do. I track every little penny spent at the grocery store.

We live in Western Washington, which is one of the more expensive places to live in the U.S. We do NOT grow our own food. We do NOT hunt. We do pick a LOT of berries in the summer and make our own jam. (But, even when you take the cost of all of the fruit, the sugar, the pectin, and the jars, and distribute them over the course of a year, that only adds $50/month.

In the next week or so, I will be selling the 3rd Edition (newly updated version) of my What's Cooking? book, which explains "how to save money at the grocery store and time in the kitchen". I hope you'll pop on over to my blog and read some of my "What's Cooking?" posts in the archives.


mama of 13

Laurel said...

oh yes ...

We DO eat meat for EVERY dinner.

We do NOT have day old bread outlets, bargain grocery stores, co-ops, or any other "cheap" place. We shop at regular old grocery stores.

Our kids are BIG eaters ... confirmed by every family that our children have ever eaten with.

I REALLY would like to help you. I think I need to know what you ARE eating, in order to offer suggestions on how to cut back on cost.

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