Here’s what happens when you put a Super mom on a super tight budget.

By Annie Campbell
June 10, 2020
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Ever make it halfway through your shopping trip and come to realize there’s no possible way you can stay on budget with all the food you need? 

We’ve been there. We’ve ALL been there. But luckily, there is another way. 

No matter how challenging it may seem, it is possible to feed your whole family for the week on somewhere in the ballpark of 150 bucks. To prove this point, we sent our Mom Vs. host, Nicole McLaughlin, on a quest to grocery shop for her family of five for a week with only $150 in hand. Here’s what she learned, and some of her best tips for doing it yourself. 

Create a Menu

A.K.A, write a grocery list. The most impulse buys happen when you roam the aisles without a proper list. Sure, some great dinner ideas come out of a grocery store browse, but so do unnecessary snack purchases that will take up more of your budget than you want. Plan out which meals (and snacks) you want to have throughout the week before hitting the store.

Plan Meals That Recycle Dishes

As you plan out your menu for the week, choose meals that recycle at least two dishes. For example, grill chicken for dinner one night, then use the leftover chicken later in the week for chicken quesadillas. Rotisserie chicken and ground beef recipes are a great place to start. This tactic will not only save you money (because bulk items tend to be cheaper), but will also save you stress later in the week. 

Shop Your Pantry First

Time to pull out those pantry staples! Invest in a stockpile of pantry staples to kick off your budget dining, especially when your grocery store is offering great deals on buy-one-get-one pasta, rice, or condiments. The long shelf-life of these items makes them available to use anytime, but frees you from the worry of using them up quickly. Other popular staples to have on hand include: peanut butter, grains, dressings, and boxed mixes. Just don’t forget to take inventory of what you already have before accidentally buying double. 

Don’t Forget Snacks

Especially in summer months when your kids are home all day, snacks are a must. Try to make affordable and healthy choices available to your kids throughout the day. For example, grab a bulk bag of apples (which tend to be smaller and more cost-effective than buying individuals) to pair with a spoonful of peanut butter. Just don’t forget to factor those snacks into the budget!

Spend More Time to Spend Less Money

Earning savings at the grocery store often comes at the expense of time. Shopping at multiple grocery stores, scouting out deals on the shelves, and prepping whole ingredients yourself (rather than buying premade meals) can take up a significant chunk of time. However, the time spent will pay off as you make healthier meals for you and your family, and when you add up your grocery receipts at the end of the month. 

Stick with Affordable Meats

No, you don’t need to give up filet mignon for good, but rather, save it for special occasions and pick up a flank steak instead. Pork shoulder, ground meat, pork chops, sausage, and canned fish are all great, affordable proteins that will keep your family well fed. Better yet, include a meatless meal or two in your weekly rotation to save money. 

Get Cooking

Now is your chance to brush up on (or begin learning) some valuable cooking skills. Get creative with recipes, and ask family and friends for their favorite dishes. Cooking at home is the best way to save money on meals, and the more you enjoy it, the more likely you’ll be to stick with a new routine. 

Don’t Sleep on Canned Goods

Not only are canned beans, meat, and veggies super affordable, they also cut down drastically on cook times. These dinner recipes, for example, all start with a can of beans. Canned goods are also great items to stock your pantry with for easy meals at the drop of a hat, especially when they’re on sale.

A Little Junk Food Never Hurt Nobody

 Well, not exactly. But in busy households, sometimes quick junk food fixes are the easiest way to keep everybody happy. Some convenience products, like boxed mac and cheese, frozen pizza, or prepared sides will save dinnertime stress and break the monotony of the same old supper routine. As long as they don’t become routine, these quick, and often inexpensive buys, can certainly come in handy.