Living on one income can be very stressful for a family. This stress falls on the homemaker to figure out a way to help her family through budgeting and frugal living.
If you’re wondering how you as a homemaker can stretch the family food budget, then you’re in the right place. In this article, I’ll share some of the things I do that help me stretch my meal budget every month.
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How can a homemaker stretch the family food budget?
1. Plan your meals in advance
The first way to stretch your family’s food budget is to plan your meals in advance. Meal planning has many benefits.
When you know what meal you’re shopping for, you won’t fall prey to impulse buying.
Many people go to the supermarket with no idea what they’re cooking, and end up buying random things which they end up not using. That’s an easy way to waste money. Planning your meals in advance also helps you create a well-balanced diet for your family.
The image below shows an example of a simple breakfast meal plan
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2. Make large meals
Another way for a homemaker to stretch the family food budget is to make large meals. When I say large meals, I mean a meal that’s meant to last a week in the fridge.
I know people like variety and don’t want to eat the same thing every day. The truth is that not cooking every day saves money.
An example of a large meal I cook is fried rice and chicken. I make it in a huge pot. It’s enough to feed a family of 4 for one week. To add some variation, I’ll also cook another meal as a backup.
That way, we can alternate between eating fried rice one evening and the second meal another evening. For lunch, I like to keep things simple. Check out 16+ Easy Lunch Ideas for Busy Stay-at-Home Moms for meals you can make today!
3. Freeze leftovers
Freezing leftover meals from the week will help you save money on your family food budget.
A study done in the American Journal of Agricultural Economics found that the average U.S household waste $1,866 worth of food every year.
There is no way we can possibly use up everything in our fridge by the end of the week. The best way to avoid spoilage and wasted food is to freeze the things we didn’t eat that week.
Fruits, veggies, meats, and cooked food can all be frozen and used up at a later date.
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4. Buy food in bulk
Running to the grocery store every time you need to make food is an easy way to waste money.
Grocery stores tend to add a few dollars and cents to their prices to make up for the cost of transporting the goods to the store.
The best way to stretch your family food budget is to shop at membership stores like Costco, BJ’s, etc. When things are sold in bulk, they tend to be cheaper.
Every month my family and I make a special trip to Costco to restock our pantry and get fresh produce. This allows us to avoid the high prices of the supermarkets each week.
5. Make simple meals
To feed a large family, simple meals are the way to go. Try to avoid making meals that require expensive ingredients like seafood, beef, and exotic spices like saffron, etc.
As much as we love to enjoy these things, it’s not worth spending half your food budget on.
6. Don’t eat out
One of the biggest ways we waste money is by eating out. If I spend $13 dollars to order lunch, and another $15 dollars for dinner, I’d have wasted 28 dollars.
That’s almost the amount of money I spend on cooking one pot of food meant to last one week.
My meal budget for one meal is $30, so in a week, I’ll spend $60 dollars to make two meals meant to last 7 days each.
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7. Buy less meat
Meat is the most expensive part of a meal. If you’re not a vegan then it’ll be really hard to avoid eating meat altogether. The best thing you can do to save money on your family meal budget is to cut back on how much meat you buy.
I try to make vegetarian options when possible. When I have to cook with meat, I opt for chicken or pork because they are cheaper than beef. Sometimes I use sausage as an alternative when they’re on sale.
8. Use a food pantry
There’s no shame in going to a food pantry when you don’t have enough at home. Food pantries are meant to help out low-income families or those on a tight budget get enough to eat.
Try looking for a food pantry in your area by searching on google. Some churches and local non-profits also have open food pantries on certain days of the week.
I usually try to get items like canned goods, breakfast cereal, or anything in boxes from food pantries. This way, I can restock my pantry at home when items are running out.
9. Grow your own food
If you have the space in your backyard to grow vegetables, then take advantage of it. Plant some simple crops like carrots, potatoes, and other root vegetables. Those are easier to maintain.
You could also plant spices like oregano, mint, parsley, and pepper on your window sill if you live in an apartment.
Planting your own veggies isn’t just a way to save money, it also teaches your kids the value of hard work. It could be a fun family activity to do together.
10. Buy store brand products
One way I stretch our family food budget as a homemaker is to only buy store-brand products. I stay away from name brands because they tend to be more expensive.
There’s really no difference between store brand and name brand, so buy the one that helps you save a few bucks.
11. Buy produce on sale
Buying food on sale is an easy way to stretch your family’s food budget. When I buy meat, I try to only buy the one that’s on sale that week. Then I’d plan the rest of our meals around that.
To find out the items on sale at your local grocery store, you’ll have to be diligent and look at your store newsletter. Usually, they’ll tell you when an item is going on sale and how long a sale will last.
Feeding a large family can be tough, especially when only one spouse is earning income. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing we can do as homemakers to help out. I hope this article has given you ideas on some things you can do today to stretch your family food budget.
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