If you have a big family or are planning one, the grocery bill can be shocking. When you commit to home cooking, there are lots of frugal ways to feed a big family. Technically, I do not have a big family. I have three big kids, growing teen athletes with big appetites. In addition, I often cook for a crowd, so I’ve learned a few strategies to help you save.
Plan Out Your Meals
Even more true with big families: you need to plan out your meals in order to feed the family properly while sticking to a budget. Whether you’re making pasta, a casserole, or any other type of dish, planning ahead gives you a chance to decide on the amount to serve and how much to save (I usually pull my “leftovers” out before putting dinner down on the table). It also gives you the opportunity to shop on sale and stock your pantry when prices are low.
Keep Your Meals Simple
Another frugal way to feed a big family is to keep it simple. If you aim to feed your family healthy, then you can keep it simple with lean protein and veggies. With big eaters like my teens, I add carbs like baked potatoes, pasta or rice (and the adults usually skip them). Do what is easiest for your family and your schedule. By rotating a simple formula like protein + 2 vegetables + carb, you can make a meal quickly on a busy weeknight.
To avoid cooking on weeknights, consider batch cooking to feed your big family. This is where you cook several meals at one time. Often, I double up on a meal like meatloaf or casseroles and freeze the second one. Batch cooking is best done on a day that you have a few hours to focus, since it takes time to cook up several meals. However, you will save time in the long run because you won’t need to prep on the nights you serve those meals.
Buy in Bulk
Not only is feeding a big family a challenge, it can be expensive. For many, buying food in bulk will always be the answer. When you buy in bulk, you are saving more per unit. While you may pay more up front, you’re still saving more money in the long run. You can buy in bulk at stores like Costco, BJ’s Warehouse and Sam’s Club, or look for family-sized packages at your local grocery store. See how I deal with bulk purchases of protein with my Freezer Cooking post.
Grow What You Can
With any size family, one of the biggest ways to save is to grow what you can in your own garden. Look around in your neighborhood to see who is doing this successfully, and ask for help. You can also learn a lot at your local garden center. While this may sound weird to someone who’s never done it, it’s truly amazing how much money you can save.
Shop at Aldi
I know it’s not in all parts of the country yet, but they are opening new stores all the time! You can save more money feeding your big family by shopping at Aldi. I’ve found that you need to have a balance between shopping at Aldi and another store, since they don’t carry everything. Get the majority of your groceries at Aldi and from there you can decide where else you will shop (for me, that’s Costco). The produce deals alone have saved my family so much money, and my kids are eating fresh fruit and vegetables all week. Since we bake a lot (to save money on snacks), the Aldi prices have been much lower than those at the warehouse store or regular grocery store.
When it comes to feeding a big family, there are lots of ways to save money. And of course, these savings tip work no matter how many are in your family. I’d love to hear your suggestions, too!
What are your tips to feed a big family?