We have four growing boys, 8 cats, and 2 dogs as well as 2 adults in our house. My husband and I strive weekly to fill the larder and keep everyone happy, healthy, and well fed. It’s a goal and we do a pretty good job.
First, I should say I never wanted 8 cats because I know you went O.O at that. So do I – daily. However, I used to rescue cats and nearly always had nearly a dozen in and out between cleaning them up, getting them healthy and friendly, and finding them homes. I learned early that cleaning house often, having plenty of kitty pans, and keeping those pans cleaned every few days was the key to a non-smelly house. However, this batch was not my idea and the boys and their father tend the cats, their feeding, and the litter chores. Not my circus. Not my monkeys. Well, 1 monkey likes me. The rest? Meh.
We spend roughly $500/week on food and supplies for the house, which keeps us in kitty litter, pet food, boy food, snacks, and balanced meals.
In the process of balancing this large active family, I have learned how to make lists. Not only that, I have learned how to actually use them. This is probably the more important talent, to be honest.
First, my free plug of the day.
One of the best tools I have ever stumbled upon is a shopping app for my phone. It’s shareable with my spouse’s phone (and anyone else really), updates when either of us makes changes (on all phones and devices hooked to the service), and allows me to make detailed shopping lists so that all that I need is done in one very carefully orchestrated and organized shopping trip (on Fridays).
What tool is that? https://www.ourgroceries.com/
I love this app. I highly recommend it for any busy family. Also, it is free or it’s available for very little. It’s worth the pittance it costs and pays for itself quickly in saved gas from extra trips and frustration of not having your needs in an easily made and easily managed place.
In order to fully manage a large family and a strict budget, I make meal plans. Our menu is set out for the week and items are purchased for that plan. Here is an example:
- baked chicken, butternut squash, mixed vegetables
- baked pork roast, baked potato, baked carrots
- beef chili with biscuits and potato wedges
- beef meatloaf, mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables
- brats-n-kraut, mixed vegetables
- noodle bake with vegetables inside
- tacos, baby carrots
- school boys (3): shaved ham, sliced sharp cheddar cheese, and a loaf of bread with baked beans, pineapple tidbits, and canned carrots/peas
- school boys (3): hard salami slices, sliced sharp cheddar cheese, and a loaf of bread with baked beans, pineapple tidbits, and raw baby carrots
- school boys (3): shaved turkey, sliced sharp cheddar cheese, and a loaf of bread with baked beans, pineapple tidbits, and baby cucumbers
- school boys (3): (x2) summer sausage, chucks of sharp cheddar cheese, corn chips, baby carrots with dip, and apple pieces
- home lunch: sausage patty with tater tots, a slice of cheese, green beans, and apple pieces
- home lunch: beef patty with tater tots, baby carrots (wheels), sliced cheese, and orange pieces
- weekend lunch: leftovers
- pineapple upside-down cake
- fruit crisp
- meat sticks
- cheese (string) sticks
- can of vegetable choice
- baked beans
- sweet potato chips (make yourself)
- potato fries (make yourself)
- tortilla and cheese (or peanut butter honey)
- baby carrots and dip
The boys are allowed to make some simple snacks as long as they clean up afterward. Both the 14 and the 12 year old are capable of it, although the kitchen is usually a mess afterward. Sigh. The 6 year old isn’t allowed to do more than watch and help as he learns. The 22 year old is handicapped and in a wheel chair with the mind of a 1 year old child, so he has to have everything prepped for him to eat.
The boys have learned over their lifetime that you do not eat anything out of the ordinary or off the list without asking first. Nothing makes Mama angrier than going to make dinner and find the locusts have consumed something she needed as an ingredient. I am pleased to say it doesn’t happen very often.
Because of my dietary restrictions, I cook my own meals separately from the boys’ meals. This means that the boys ALSO ask when they find something that looks yummy, because if they eat MY food it will mean no tech and an unhappy Mama. I am not pleasant when hungry.
Our grocery list consists of ingredients, some snack foods that I deem acceptable, some easy prep foods for the boys to snack on, and pet supplies. I strive to buy foods for my boys without high sugar, simple starches, red40, or corn syrups. I avoid Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) in all its forms, gluten in all its forms, “low fat” items (high in sugar), food coloring, and fake things such as artificial sugar, artificial or synthetic fats, sugars, and materials, margarine and hot dogs. Gluten free is more expensive, so our grocery bill is roughly $125 more a week than the average family of 6 shopping in this manner.
I allow them three “bad” things weekly: one candy (for each boy) of their choice from the .99 aisle, ice cream that is as close to natural as I can get (Breyers, one container), and the meat sticks that I had to search to find so that they were not as horrible as they might have been. They are also allowed one soda every now and then.
I strive to stay between $400-500 a week for all our supplies and groceries. The more ground meat we use, the lower the cost for the week – but the boys get tired of it and there’s only so much you can do with ground meat. I enjoy a variety and so do they, so it’s worth a bit more now and then.
I will be continuing along this vein for a while, to show how we function day to day in our healthy diet and lifestyle goals.