Whenever I write a heartfelt post like this one, I usually get various emails from people that need a bit of encouragement and help. Yesterday I received an email from a woman that needs help in budgeting real food for her family of six children and two adults. Her incoming finances have come to a halt and with that, so has her grocery budget.
I was wondering if you had any tips for me. I used to be able to afford raw milk, truly fresh pastured eggs, grass fed meats, and organic vegetables… but lately our incoming finances have come to a screaming halt. I do not have food stamps, I have to feed 6 kids and 2 adults on 150.00 a week. Where I live raw milk costs 10.00 a gallon. 🙁
What would you suggest to someone in my position?
When I read this email my heart sank remembering the difficult times my family went through last year. I know what it’s like to have your source of income pulled right from under you and then having to pull what resources you have left to make ends meat and still feed your family nourishing food. It’s a very difficult place to be in especially when we have optimal standards of feeding our family.
Dear reader, let me try to help you the best that I can and to those of you reading this post, please feel free to impart your wisdom in the comments below. I know this community is one to help and encourage one another, so let’s join together today and help as best we can.
First of all, you can do this. It will, however, take time and dedication but it can be done.
25 Day Grace Filled Journey to Real Food
First things first, if you haven’t already, please join the free 25 Day, Grace Filled Journey to Real Food email subscription – you can join at any time. I have written many posts in this series about budgeting in real food and I even include 3 weeks of free menu plans to help you along the way and free resources including my grocery list of what I buy at Trader Joe’s and Costco to save money.
A Real Food, Food Budget
Second, I’ve also written a series of posts that will give you a better understanding to the basics of budgeting for real food. This will give you a good starting point and introduce you to methods of obtaining local, real food for less money. It may take a bit more work on your part, but it can be done.
- A Real Food, Food Budget
- Save Money on Real Food by Buying in Bulk, Bartering, Working, and Making the Right Connections
- Cutting Food Costs Through Meal Planning
- Buy Local Pastured Meat With Your Tax Return
- The Cost Saving Benefits of Owning a Grain Mill
How to Feed a Family of Eight on $150 a week
Step 1. Menu Plan
The number one way to save money is by menu planning and then sticking to it. The sticking to it can be a bit more difficult… ahem. Depending on how you menu plan, just make sure you plan according to the season. When you plan your meals around what’s currently growing and being sold at the farmers market, you’ll save quite a bit of money. I personally plan my menu’s after seeing what’s growing in my gardens and visiting the farmers market. I then plan my menu’s around what I have purchased. I enjoy planning this way as it also ensures that my menu’s are vegetable heavy which also saves us money by cutting down on meat.
Step 2. Source Your Ingredients
Local Pastured Meats, Eggs, and Dairy
If you’ve joined the 25 Day, Grace Filled Journey to Real Food or have followed My Humble Kitchen for awhile, you’ll know that the three most important things to buy local are meat, dairy, and eggs. So with that in mind, the best ways to save money on these products are…
- Buy local pastured meat with your tax return. This is what my family does every year and it saves us a lot of money and stress throughout the year. I don’t have to worry about buying meat, besides chicken, for an entire year. It allows me to also increase my weekly grocery budget for other things I may need.
- Since it’s already the middle of the year, my second recommendation would be to join a local Weston Price Foundation group. In this group you will find many homesteaders raising their own meats on their own properties. Often times, you’ll be able to score great deals by purchasing your meats directly from them. You’ll find that products purchased through this group are simply the best.
- If you’re a real foodie, one of the most difficult meats to purchase locally is chicken. It’s very expensive. My number one recommendation would be to raise your own chickens for meat in your backyard. I know, it sounds crazy, but it’s simple and you can easily raise 15-20 birds for about $8 per bird. (I’ll make sure to write up a post on this soon.) It takes about 3 months to raise a bird, so you still have time this year. I know many of you may be thinking, but I can’t cull them myself. No worries. Find out where your local farmers are taking their birds to be butchered so that you can take yours in as well. If raising birds is out of the question, I would then recommend buying organic chicken from Trader Joes or Costco. I purchase from them often as its economical and the birds are at least raised with organic standards. I purchase packages of drumsticks from Trader Joes and boneless chicken thighs from Costco.
- As far as eggs, you can definitely read about how to raise backyard chickens from my Urban Chicken Keeping 101 series. If that’s out of the question, I would again check into your local Weston Price Foundation group as most of their members will make sure that they feed their chickens gmo free/soy free feed.
- For milk, I also have had to give up purchasing raw as the prices are nearing $10 a gallon as well. With 3 children and 3 cousins that drink a lot of milk, this just wasn’t economical for my family. So instead, we’ve opted for locally produced VAT pasteurized milk. It’s pasteurized at 180F and non-homogenized. The cost here is half of what raw milk costs so it’s a good compromise for my family. Again, you can read all about the differences in milk by signing up to my free 25 Day, Grace Filled Journey to Real Food email subscription series.
For my family, purchasing locally raised, pastured meats, dairy, and eggs is the most important thing. I don’t budge on it, I don’t compromise. In the comments or in our facebook group page, let’s discuss how you source these products at the best prices.
I save the bulk amount of money by growing my own produce and shopping at the farmers market. If you’d like to get started gardening, check out my Organic Vegetable Gardening 101 post. It really saves me money especially with simple things to grow like lettuces, carrots, and beets. Also, when the bulk of the summer crops hit like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and eggplants… goodness, I hardly have a need to go out for produce. It’s fantastic.
Once I’ve purchased all that I can locally I then purchase the rest of what I need at Trader Joes, Costco, and HyVee. I can’t say enough good things about Trader Joes. I’m going to share a post soon on why I love it so much and exactly what I purchase through them. If you’d like my list soon, sign up for the 25 Day, Grace Filled Journey to Real Food.
Pulling It All Together
Praise God, my family is currently able to spend a bit more on groceries than our strict $120 per week we were spending a year ago. We’re currently spending about $150 a week for our family of five. Can it be done for a family of eight. Yes, but I would suggest leaning heavy on legumes/rice and eggs as protein.
Per week, this is what I would do. I would make a batch of chicken broth using 12 legs or a whole chicken once every other week. I would buy the chicken at Trader Joe’s. That will get you two chicken meals using the pulled meat plus broth. That would be two meals that I would use for week 1 and week 2, then repeat.
So, per week I would make
- 1 pulled chicken meal (enchilada’s)
- 1 chicken meal
- 2 red meat meals
- 2 legume/rice meals
- 1 egg meal
The key to making this work and taste delicious is to think and cook traditionally. People from days of old have eaten very well with very little. So as long as you learn how to make really great and nourishing one pot meals using homemade broth, you’ll find that the meals to make cost little and are nutrient dense that they’ll leave you satisfied for a good amount of time.
Below are some of my favorite nutrient dense meals that I know your family will enjoy.
This is my favorite meal that my entire family enjoys. It’s one of the most simple and humble meals that is made throughout the entire country of Spain. It’s economical and will make for 2-3 meals. This version has more ingredients included but I seem to make the first version (the first link) more often than this one.
10. Self Crusting Quiche’s
These are some of my favorites, but of course you can also enjoy others like real food sloppy joes, red enchilada’s, or simple casserole meals like this creamed sausage, spinach, and potato. They’re all nutrient dense and economical. Also, we’re still trying to finish up our recipe index above, but feel free to check out what we have done so far by clicking on the recipe tab above.
Do The Best That YOU Can!
The last and most important thing that I want to stress is that I want you to do the best that you can with the resources that you have. If you can’t afford to buy everything local and organic, don’t stress it mama. Give it all to God and he will bless you far and more abundantly than anyone else can. So if that means that your meat is not organic or local, so be it. I personally feel that feeding your family whole, real foods, made from scratch is by far the most important thing. Also, don’t feel overwhelmed or cast burdens on yourself that you just weren’t meant to carry. Be free and live free in his grace. Don’t ever feel condemned. That’s what my 25 Day Grace Filled Journey to Real Food is all about. Doing the best that you can, in His grace. If you feel overwhelmed or burdened, join today and also, I would really encourage you to join our amazing and encouraging facebook group here. With nearly 1,900 members, you’ll find that we are all on different paths in our journey to real food but I guarantee you, you won’t find a more encouraging group willing to help one another in which ever way we can. This group blesses me for sure!
Dear reader, I hope this post has encouraged you that feeding your family real food on a limited budget can be done. Most importantly, don’t stress it mama. Our God loves you so very much. Do the best that you can and He will bless you abundantly through all of your efforts.
So, let’s open up the discussion. Please share with us how you afford real food on a limited budget. Where do you shop, where do you get your meats, you eggs, and dairy. Any comment you leave will be a blessing to this community!