Today, I’m sharing 27 Best Grocery Budget Tips for Families Who Are Struggling! You’ll hear all about my experiences as a young mom and some lessons learned “the hard way” when I had a budget of $75 a week as a young family of 4, all the way to only $250-$350 dollars a month up to a family of 7!
27 Best Grocery Budget Tips for Families Who Are Struggling
“Jamerrill, what about the family of five or four who struggle to put food on the table?”
I get that question a lot! Yes, Good Friend, I can do wild things like buy a whole cow or whole hog in advance. I do massive mega grocery hauls to do freezer cooking, freeze drying, and canning extravaganzas! What do I know about trying to feed a smaller family who is struggling to just get food on the table?
Mega & LOTS! You may have heard that I experience food insecurities in my childhood. In my earliest days of marriage as a very young adult, I couldn’t even cook rice. We may be a large family now, but we haven’t always been. As a very young, brand new mother, I started with almost no budgeting or cooking knowledge whatsoever but I did have wisdom enough to pray about our spending and budgeting!!
In this video, I chat about how I learned how to feed my people just by rolling up my sleeves and jumping in. Over 20 years ago, when our two oldest were babies, my budget was only $75/week. And how did I earn my grocery money? I donated plasma while the boys played in the day care room there! That leads us to the first tip I learned as a young mom struggling to buy groceries. So let’s jump right into my list of 27 best grocery budget tips for families who are struggling:
- Donate plasma if you have to! If that doesn’t work for you, find any creative way to earn a few more grocery dollars. There are ways that weren’t around 20 years ago when I was a young mom like Instacart or Door Dash! I would have done that if it was available!!
- Meal Plan around your budget! My meals as a young mom were very basic meals. I’d take cream of mushroom soup, noodles, some kind of protein and make a meal and try my best to make that meal last for several meals. Other simple meals I often made were beef stroganoff, tacos, chili, spaghetti. I didn’t stray from one pot dinners at that time in life.
- My friend introduced me to Sharp Shopper!! You can find amazing grocery deals at Sharp Shopper or a similar discount food store near you. Find a Sharp Shopper near you here: https://www.sharpshopper.net/
- Get boxed meals (like Hamburger Helper) at Family Dollar! Not only are they cheap but those recipes on the boxes helped me learn some of my first dishes!
- Add rice to anything to bulk it up and make it stretch into a couple meals!
- See if you qualify for any extra help. There are so many programs like WIC or food stamps to help struggling families. As a young mother, we got WIC which provided us with healthy items. It saved us about $50-100 each month for our family of 5.
- Big Batch Cooking!! Yes & Amen!! When I began working as a charge nurse, our grocery budget grew to $500/month + WIC benefits. I was a busy working momma so I cooked on Friday for the weekend (I worked Friday through Monday morning). My priority was to have meals we needed and have the freedom to spend time with the kids when I was home. During the week, we ate the same meals for two nights. You can do this in whatever it works best for your family. Some people do what we did and eat the leftovers the next day and there are some who freeze the leftovers for another day to have more variety. That will help build up your freezer stash in a simple and inexpensive way!!
- Make beans and use in different dishes! I made mega tons of beans and cornbread. Then I could use those beans in soup as base, make pinto beans, add meat to beans…You can get super creative and use those cheap beans in many ways!
- Once a Month Grocery Shopping: As a family of 6, our grocery budget got smaller when I first started blogging and we had to stretch our budget even further. I had over ten years of experience of living the extreme budget challenge and I was already implementing most of these skills. I started to sit down and make a meal plan for the month. I’d take our limited grocery funds at beginning of month and do a once a month grocery shopping. I bought enough milk and meat to last for the entire month. I liked to get the chicken leg quarters, a little ground beef, turkey burger. I also would look for good deals on produce and go through those first. I could also get produce that lasted longer like oranges! Toward the end of the month, I’d have to fill in with fresh produce as needed.
- We had an extra refrigerator! You can find super deals on marketplace and have an extra refrigerator to help you store your groceries for the month and your growing freezer meals stash! We still have our first refrigerator and we don’t plan to let it go.
- Start a little garden! You may remember from my early blogging days, even then, I had a little farmhouse garden. We grew our own fresh vegetables in the summer and that saved money and trips to the grocery store!
- Start a little flock of chickens! It didn’t take a lot of money to keep our little flock but we saved money on groceries and meat, too!
- Turn your dream into a side hustle! Blogging was my hobby but when I really jumped into it as a business and created my YouTube Channel, my grocery budget doubled. I finally was able to work with a $600-800 monthly grocery budget. Get creative! And don’t discount the time that you “prime the pump” and do your hobby for free! Just do it! We crashed the site the first time I launched it to make $$ because of all the time I had put into for free the previous year. What do you have stirring in you?
- Keep Cheap Staples on hand! Cook all meat for the month for all the frugal meals when you buy it and buy rice and oatmeal in bulk. Having those pantry and refrigerator staples always on hand helps you stretch those grocery dollars.
- Make homemade laundry soap! Back in my younger days when I had the time to do this, I spent about $20 on supplies to make a years worth of laundry soap. Yes & Amen!!
- Make your own reusable napkins and wash them with your home made laundry soap!! I cut up old dish towels for our “fancy” reusable napkins.
- Clean with your own vinegar and water solution! I still use this to this day!
- Cloth diapering! I don’t do this anymore, but back when my youngest were babies I did cloth diapering. Not the cute designer ones you see now..the old fashioned with pins!! Quite the budget-saver if you have the time for it!! If you can’t do the old-fashioned cloth diapering, there are upgrades and super nice (and cute!) cloth diapers these days!
- Find produce deals! Buy bushels of fruits when you find deals and eat them! Let the deals tell YOU what you will eat.
- Make yogurt in slow cooker. I would find the cheapest container of store bought yogurt and cheapest milk I could find and use these to make more yogurt in the instant pot or slow cooker!
- Butcher your own chickens if you can. I had some mean roosters and I just couldn’t find a home for them so really I wanted to be able to do butcher them for meat, so I did it! I literally googled how to butcher them and I did it. We used them in our meals and saved money on our meat!
- Buy a little here and there to build up your pantry!! Stock up on brown rice and oatmeal because they last a long time! When I truly did once a month grocery shopping, by the end of the month, my pantry was almost bare but would try to buy a few cans of peas or carrots to build up my pantry stash. When I bought a little here and there I eventually had a week oemergency food!!
- Be creative about your food storage! I’ve had so many pantry situations over the years. Do you remember my two upstairs coat closets I was using before the Grocery Store in my Basement? I’ve also had other closets I’ve used like my under-the-stairs little pantry closet in my forest house! Where ever you can find space for it, store your food in creative places to build up your pantry stash!
- Make homemade soups with whatever you have on hand!
- Use all the leftovers from cooking down meat to make broth!
- Use your tax return to build up food storage for the coming year!
- Grab my FREE guide pack How I Feed My Family For (less than!) $100 today! This guide includes a detailed budget grocery list, frugal recipes, big bulk batches for many meals including leftovers, freezer portions, bonus ideas and more!