It’s hard work feeding a family with picky eaters in the best of times, right? Feeding them in one of the roughest cost-of-living crises is nearly impossible. Especially if you are on a mid to low-income.
Add to the table teens or adult kids who tend to eat A LOT and, well, sometimes it seems like making it though the week with enough food won’t happen.
Supermarkets are not making food budgeting easy and there has been a wave of people calling them out for sneaky ticket practises and price gouging.
Just this week one item went up five percent, while another staple jumped by thirty percent.
And the current trend of replicating Curtis Stone’s feed a family under $10 has shown in the last five years, supermarket prices have jumped a whopping 150% on average.
There doesn’t seem to be any relief for families who are struggling, and those who are new to the struggle are suffering even more than those used to it.
Food budgeting – realistic tips and tricks
My family consists of me, my son and partner and my youngest non-binary child and partner. I also have three dogs, a cat and a fish who rely on me. Three of the kids are teens and one is 20 so they aren’t just eating toddler-sized meals either.
With the kids’ job-seeking and between jobs, it’s hard for them to contribute to any part of living in a house other than physically cleaning things and cooking with me. Sometimes it feels like a miracle that I make it week to week.
My kids also tend to send me recipes on TikTok or Instagram they want to try, and I am an overachiever when it comes to feeding people. Making tasty food is one of my love languages. Luckily, most of the recipes are easy to prepare and don’t need much in the way of ingredients.
My method of food budgeting and saving on our weekly shop isn’t perfect, but it’s a realistic, doable system to make sure everyone goes to bed with a full stomach.
Here are a few things I do and hopefully help you too if you’re looking to start food budgeting and cut down on the weekly grocery costs.
1. Menu plan (before you hit the shops)
Menu planning or meal planning has been such a budget-saving thing for me. Primarily focusing on dinners, I make a list of the meals we will eat for the week and any ingredients I don’t already have and then add them to my shopping list for my supermarket of choice.
Then I walk around my kitchen, laundry and bathroom and add anything else we need for the week onto the list.
It’s usually cereal for breakfast, unless I feel like making pancakes, and sandwiches for lunch. Unfortunately, I can’t buy as much fresh fruit and veg as I used to, but most of the meals I make have veg in there somewhere.
2. Add one extra each week
Every week I budget a couple of dollars to add a spice, herb or sauce to my cart and now have a great little collection of spices I can mix and match to create some delicious meals.
3. Learn to make certain things from scratch
I have always enjoyed baking from scratch. My suggestion is to start with meatloaves, meatballs, and burger patties. Buying ground meat is cheaper than readymade burgers etc.
It’s satisfying because I know what’s in the food I make, and it’s worked out cheaper.
4. Learn to love fillers and leftovers
Feeding a family of five doesn’t always mean there are leftovers, but if I make enough for six, there’s always a bit left over I can put in the fridge and have for lunch the next day.
If it’s within the budget, I make extra and store the second batch in the freezer for a night I don’t feel like cooking or things are going on which means we’re not all here at the same time.
5. Do a meat-free meal
An overabundance of meat isn’t ideal for us, health-wise. And cutting into the meat with extra vegetables grated up and mixed in, or using lentils, beans, and chickpeas to add a different texture and flavour to meals can help the budget stretch a little further.
Sometimes, if cauliflower is on special, I’ll grab one and use it to make cauliflower steaks or popcorn bites. A little imagination goes a long way lately.
6. Start a garden
This one is a bucket list dream. I long to have a flourishing fruit and vegetable garden of the things we use and enjoy the most. I do not have a green thumb, but YouTube is a garden of video tutorials.
Food budgeting seems daunting and honestly, it can be. But managing to feed hungry, growing bodies a variety of delicious food, and still managing to keep it within budget is one of the most satisfying things I’ve done in recent years.