Feeding a Family of Four for Less Than $200 per Month

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Grocery shopping for a family of four for less than $200 per month may seem like a dream to most, but I can assure you it can be done if you apply the right strategies.  And no, we don’t have to live like it’s 1920, living on bread and water.  These are meals that will actually be healthy and fun for your family.

I started this strategy a year or so ago when I was sick of going to grocery store and spending $200 every single time.  It seemed like once I was home and unloaded the groceries, I had no idea what I spent my money on!  I’m sure you can feel the frustrations, right?

If you don’t want your next monthly grocery bill to be as high as your mortgage payments, here’s what you need to do.  I promise it’s simple!

#1 Meal plan for 30 days

Before you even go to the grocery store, you’re going to want to create a menu for the entire month.  However you do it, it’s up to you, but what I do is simply create a calendar on Microsoft Word, and I will insert what I’m going to make for the day, along with the URL where I can I find the recipe.  What you’re going to want to focus on are recipes that cost less than $5 to make, and all of these recipes can be found by simply searching “$5 recipes” or even visiting Pinterest for countless ideas.  One of my favorites, even though it does charge a small fee ($5 per month), is 5dollarmealplan.com.

#2 Plan one or two meatless meals per week

If you’re a fan of meat, great, but as you may know, meat is going to be a budget killer.  It’s not uncommon to buy steaks and roasts for more than $10+ per pack.  Try to make it a habit to eat one to two meatless meals per week, and by doing so, you can really help your budget.  These meatless meals could include homemade pizzas, alfredo pasta, macaroni and so forth.  Again, use the Internet for inspiration as there are tens of thousands of ideas.

#3 Add the beans

If you like beans, then get in the habit of adding them to as many recipes as you can.  As a cheap, healthy filler, beans can easily be mixed into burgers and meats to stretch the meat to add more portions.

#4 Consider breakfast for dinner

Breakfast meals are some of the cheapest meals you can make, and if you have kids, you probably already know how much they love pancakes, waffles and eggs.  Try to cook a “breakfast for dinner” meal at least every 10 days to help stretch your budget.

#5 Always use leftovers

Chances are, especially if you have a kid that doesn’t eat for the night, you will have leftovers.  Don’t throw these away just yet since they can be a great meal for the next day for either lunch or dinner.  Whether it’s leftover soup or pulled pork, throw it in some Tupperware for an easy 10-minute dinner or lunch at the office.

#6 Limit your grocery shopping

As a family, I try to grocery shop no more than two times a month, but right now, I shoot for one time only.  If you can, try to create your 30-day meal plan and purchase everything for the next 30 days.  Yes, while you will probably need some staples such as milk and eggs, it’s okay to go grocery shopping for these, but if you’re afraid you’re going to spend too much, just go in with $20 in your pocket and that’s it.  Doing so can make you budget better.

Spending less than $200 per month can be done if you’re really good with planning.  It can take some tweaking at first, but I promise once you get into the swing of things, it’s a lot easier than you think!  Aside from the tips above, you can also do the following at first to help your meals in the future:

  1. Purchase meat in bulk and freeze for the future.
  2. Make your own bread with a bread maker.
  3. Always buy produce and fruit that’s in season.
  4. Avoid the processed food aisles, which are usually in the center aisles of the store.
  5. Consider lemon water as a drink of choice.
  6. Try to cook as much as you can from scratch. If it comes in a package, there’s a good chance you can make it!
  7. If you have the time, consider growing a garden.

There you have it!  If you have any ideas you’d like to add or any questions, I’d love to help.

Stephanie Lynch is from Howmuchisit.org, a cost-helping database designed to help consumers find out what things cost in life.

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