Menu Plan: What Our Family of 4 Eats on $200/mo.

You can read all my Menu Plans under the Menu tab and all the recipes that I’ve posted under the Tasty Tuesday tab. 

Before you read this, I want to acknowledge that some of you may eat even more healthful than we choose to.  Some of you may not enjoy eating the same thing for dinner and then again for lunch the next day.  Or you may be vegan or choose to eat totally organic.  That is wonderful and absolutely okay!  However, this how we’ve chosen to eat; we like it and think it is providing us a healthy, balanced diet.  So please keep that in mind if you want to leave a comment.  I really DO love when you comment and share your thoughts on my posts- even when they don’t agree with mine-, but please  just be kind and considerate.  It is just nicer for everyone!  Thanks so much!

After reading my post on 4 Things I Do to Keep Our Grocery Budget at $200/mo. for a Family of Four, quite a few of you kindly asked if I could please post what we eat on such a small budget

I also got quite a few comments like this, “$200 a month w/ coupons, sounds like a lot of packaged foods and/or lots of meatless meals” and “I’m not going to starve my family to save a few bucks” and “I think I’d rather be an inmate than to live at your house…. ‘here kids, is your slice of toilet paper for the day’….’Save some of this pickle slice for tomorrow!!’”  (Yup, someone actually left that in the comments!)

So in order to help those of you that truly do want to get ideas of how to feed your family for less and also to show that we do actually eat pretty decently- no toilet paper eating here!, I thought I’d do a series of menu planning posts to give you an idea of exactly what we do really enjoy eating on our $200/mo. budget.

A couple of things that will be helpful for you to know up front:

  • Our family of four consists of 2 adults with fairly big appetites, a 4 yr. old boy and a 10 mo. old girl.  The baby is partially breast fed but is also eating a lot of table food too.  I don’t buy baby food but instead make my own or give her what we are eating, mashed up.
  • I buy lots of fruits and veggies in bulk from local farmers/orchards in the summer and then freeze or can them.  This is not only much cheaper it is also healthier too.  But that is why if you look at my Weekly Spending Summaries you won’t always see lots of fruits and veggies.
  • The other factor is that I have a stockpile. My cupboards are full from previous shopping. Here’s why. When I can get pasta for free with coupons I buy as much as I have coupons for. When I can get flour for really cheap (last year I got about 6 bags for $0.50/bag and put it in the freezer and am just now using the last of it) I buy as much as I think is reasonable. I do this as much as my budget allows, on as many items as I can and as a result save lots of money. So when I go to plan out what we eat, I just try to plan my meals around what I already have in the cupboards. Obviously I still might have to buy a few things at regular price here and there but by stocking up when the price is at rock bottom I save a lot. And that is why it might appear just by looking at a couple of week’s worth of my groceries that we don’t eat very well or very balanced.
  • We rarely snack.  By eating “heavy” food like granola at breakfast we don’t get hungry until lunch time.  And the same goes for the afternoon…our lunches are big enough that we rarely need a snack before dinner time.  When we do snack I try to keep it mostly healthy by offering fruit, nuts or maybe No Bake Energy Bites or a homemade granola bar.  I do have iced coffee or a homemade latte almost every day… I don’t really consider that a snack, but maybe you do.  :)

This is the typical amount of fruit and yogurt that my son eats at lunch each day.  Often he’ll even ask for seconds on top of this.

These menus were from August when I was crazy busy with canning and freezing.  I tried to keep things really simple and we had some repeat meals too, which doesn’t typically happen.  But I figured it was better than getting take-out.  Our breakfasts consist of Homemade Granola or Homemade Grape-nuts, the occasional bought cereal that I was able to get for $0.50/box and sometimes some fruit too.  I know that might seem awfully boring to some of you, but we actually all really enjoy it and prefer it over other breakfast food.

The lunches you see below for Monday-Friday are just for my son and I.  My husband takes sandwiches, fruit, leftovers and the like in his packed lunches and the baby eats whatever is around that she is able to digest.

Alright…without further ado, here’s what we ate!  :)

WEEK 1

Monday

  • Creamy salsa chicken wraps with rice; homemade yogurt; home-canned peaches; frozen blueberries (I freeze my own); grapes
  • Homemade Ham Loaf (made with ground turkey and ground pork); herbed cooked potatoes and carrots; homemade applesauce; fresh locally grown peaches

Tuesday

  • Leftover creamy salsa chicken wraps; homemade yogurt; grapes; fresh peaches
  • Hot Dogs (Oscar Mayer no preservative, no fillers variety) with Nature’s Own hot dog rolls; spinach, mandarin orange, almond and feta cheese salad with homemade dressing; homemade applesauce; fresh locally grown peaches; homemade triple mocha cheesecake

Wednesday

Thursday

  • Leftover ham loaf; leftover potatoes and carrots; homemade 100% whole wheat bread; homemade yogurt; frozen crushed strawberries (I freeze my own); frozen blueberries (I freeze my own)
  • Deep Dish Taco Squares (similar to this recipe); green beans (I freeze my own); fresh locally grown peaches; homemade applesauce; homemade from scratch brownies

Friday

Saturday:

  • Various leftovers including veggies
  • Various leftovers; lettuce salad with homemade dressing; fresh locally grown peaches

———————————-

Week 2
Sunday:

  • Carry-in meal at our church- I took 9×13 dish of peach dessert and enough cabbage salad to feed approx. 20 people
  • Leftover pizza; leftover cabbage salad

Monday:

  • Egg in a nest (basically an egg fried in a piece of bread); cheese and crackers; homemade yogurt; strawberries; blueberries; peaches
  • Dinner at the in-laws

Tuesday:

  • Breakfast wraps from freezer; cabbage salad; banana; homemade yogurt
  • Zucchini Quiche; fresh locally grown sweet corn; homemade applesauce; locally grown cantaloupe

Wednesday:

  • Leftover zucchini quiche; cheese sticks; homemade yogurt with granola sprinkled on top; homemade from scratch brownies
  • Homemade turkey filling; spinach, almond, mandarin orange and feta cheese salad with homemade dressing; homemade applesauce; ice-cream

Thursday:

Friday:

  • Meat and Cheese Sandwiches; homemade yogurt; banana/peaches/blueberries
  • Leftover turkey filling; spinach, almond, mandarin orange, feta cheese salad with homemade dressing; homemade applesauce; leftover Gingerbread Cake with Caramel Icing topped with crushed strawberries

Saturday:

———————————-

Week 3:
This week I also made 2 cheesecakes for a bridal shower that I helped plan.

Sunday

Monday

  • Breakfast wraps made with leftover sausage; homemade yogurt sprinkled with homemade granola; peaches/blueberries/strawberries
  • (My sis-in-law and her 3 children ate with us) Leftover deep dish taco squares; baked potatoes with sour cream; green beans (I freeze my own); homemade applesauce

Tuesday:

  • Leftovers; homemade yogurt; strawberries/blueberries
  • Dinner out- Date night!!

Wednesday:

Thursday:

Friday:

  • Egg in a nest (basically an egg fried in a piece of bread); homemade yogurt sprinkled with homemade granola; banana; frozen crushed strawberries
  • Homemade vegetable soup; cheese and crackers; fresh locally grown peaches

Saturday:

  • Gone to my parent’s for the weekend and took: 1 gallon orange juice, 2 loaves of homemade French bread; 1 peck of locally grown peaches

So, what do you think?  Could you eat like us?  Or would you rather be an inmate?  (See 3rd paragraph above.)  :)

How to Buy Baby Food on a Budget
How to Buy Baby Food on a Budget
How to Buy Baby Food on a Budget

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  1. by Jennifer Sonnenberg

    On October 15, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    I absolutely LOVE your menu! It is perfect in every way!! Thank you for the ideas!! :) You are awesome! And I am up to the $200 a month challenge!

  2. by Lydia Beiler

    On October 16, 2012 at 7:01 am

    Jennifer, you are too kind. I’m sure there are things that aren’t perfect, but hey, I’ll take the compliment. :) Thanks for putting a smile on my face this morning!

  3. by Susan

    On October 16, 2012 at 9:37 am

    It’s a shame some people feel the need to be nasty. I love reading your blog and you have some wonderful ideas. I don’t think it’s a crime to go without once in a while. It may not be a popular idea, but I think it can help create a sense of creativity and gratefulness. I’m not saying we need to straighten bent nails (what my grandparents did during the Great Depression to save a penny!!!), but a little frugalness never killed anybody. Hope that wasn’t to preachy! : ) Keep up the good work Lydia!

  4. by Lydia Beiler

    On October 16, 2012 at 10:49 am

    Thanks Susan! Don’t think you were preachy…and I do agree with what you said. Doing without is def. not popular and even though being frugal has become more popular there are still a lot of people that don’t want to sacrifice anything to save. Hope you can continue to be inspired by what I post…that’s what I aim for!

  5. by Lorie

    On October 16, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    From other blog posts I have seen, these are healthy. A lot of times its junk, but these meals are not. But unfortunately these meals wont work. My daughter is allerfic to milk, nuts, and wheat and has intollerance to other breads.

    I also make everything from scratch, but maybe because I live in Cali I would never be able to do this.

    My medically fragile son alone costs $100 a month in sterile water for his medical formula.

    And I spend $130 a week just on groceries for 2 adults and my daughter (9). That is fresh fruits, veggies, meats…

  6. by Lydia Beiler

    On October 16, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Lorie, yes, I’m sure if you have allergies to deal with it is much harder to keep grocery costs down. I always hope that we won’t ever have to worry about that! Not just because of cost but because of the hassle of always needing to try to watch out for problem foods. And please don’t feel pressured to live on $200/mo. That is just what we have chosen and my goal is to encourage people to think outside the box and find ways to save, not to make them feel like they are “less than” if they are spending more than we are. Blessings as you care for your family- especially your son!

  7. by Rene Ramon

    On October 16, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    I also feed my family of 4 on $200 a month, however, our menu does not look like yours at all. We try to eat healthy, but I don’t freeze fresh fruits or make my own bread. We do however have fresh eggs, fresh milk and my husband hunts for our meat (not all of it) and we have our own animals to slaughter, which saves lots of money. We also barter with people that have vegetable gardens, but we use what we get. I love your menu and I am going to try some of your dinners! Thanks for posting.

  8. by Lydia Beiler

    On October 16, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Rene, I love hearing from other people that budget $200/mo. for groceries! Jealous of your fresh eggs and “fresh” meat. We do get milk from a local farmer for a good price and I’m really thankful for that. I would love to barter but I haven’t really found people that I think I could do it with—keeping it in mind though. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  9. by Diana

    On October 16, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    Sounds healthy to me! What a shame people are so unkind. I just found your blog today on Pinterest. Very good tips. I’m looking forward to following you. BTW I have a 10-month-old baby girl too. :)

  10. by Lydia Beiler

    On October 16, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Welcome Diana! Hope you can find some helpful tips. Have fun with that baby girl of yours! Mine is trying to walk…makes me busy. :)

  11. by Cynthia

    On October 17, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Very inspiring! I’ll have to try some of your recipes.

  12. by Lydia Beiler

    On October 17, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    Cynthia, I’d love to know what you think of the recipes when you try them. :)

  13. by Sarah

    On October 17, 2012 at 6:05 pm

    Thank you for this post! This is a great meal plan, I think its healthy and well balanced. I rarely find other people’s meals plans that are simple enough, yet healthy. I am very excited to try some of your recipes and look forward to future menu posts! Thank you!

  14. by Krystal

    On October 17, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    We currently spend this amount per week for my family of four which is completely unnecessary! You have inspired me! I don’t know how anyone could post a nasty comment unless they were jealous and envious. I’m a bit of a health nut and I’d gladly eat every meal at your house! I’m up for the $200/mo challenge too! I just found your blog today and look forward to following!! Keep up the great work! :-)

  15. by Monica

    On October 17, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    Great post, Lydia, and once again I think it was gutsy of you to do this. It shows real accountability, and it was pretty brave. Like I usually say, it won’t work for everyone but it may give some ideas to those looking to cut back on the grocery bill. We do leftovers, too, and yogurt has been my breakfast for years. I’d encourage you do to these posts from time to time and link in some more of your recipes. Unless you’re holding them for when your cookbook comes out. ;) That would be fine, too.
    By the way, my son is on the verge of his first steps and the way I see it is, at least his hands will be cleaner when he starts to walk!

  16. by Lydia Beiler

    On October 18, 2012 at 9:31 am

    Sarah- thanks! Hope you enjoy the recipes.

    Krystal- Welcome and thanks for your encouragement. And if you do indeed try to cut your budget, I’d highly recommend doing a little at a time, otherwise it’s really easy to become discouraged quickly and decide it’s not worth it.

    Monica- Thanks for your kind words. It did feel pretty vulnerable to post this. And I totally agree with your words: Like I usually say, it won’t work for everyone but it may give some ideas to those looking to cut back on the grocery bill.

    Aha! You have discovered my other love: cooking and baking. :) A cookbook? Well, I admit that I never once thought of that, but it does actually sound like a lot of fun. Hmmm… Anyway, I will try to continue to link to the recipes we enjoy. Thanks for that suggestion.

    Ha, like your perspective on your son learning to walk. Sophia doesn’t get her hands terribly dirty (at least not that I notice) but I often wear white socks or leggings on her and whoa, I realize how dirty my floors are! With her walking along things more I’m not seeing quite as many dirty clothes which is really nice.

  17. by Carrie

    On October 19, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    I love this post! We are slowly trying to whittle down our grocery bill! I am super excited about your yogurt recipe! My kids are yogurt obsessed! Lol I’m also wondering about your bread recipe, I would prefer to make my own bread but my husband loves the texture of store-bought bread and I’m having a hard time recreating it at home! I make all of our English muffins, rolls, and bagels so if I could get the handle on sandwich bread I would be set! Lol!

  18. by Lydia Beiler

    On October 20, 2012 at 7:37 am

    Carrie, kudos on working at trimming your grocery budget! I hope you all like the yogurt recipe…we sure do, although it does taste a bit different than store bought yogurt. Mix in some fruit or jello though and your kids probably won’t notice. :)

    I haven’t ever posted my bread recipe, mostly because I make it in a Bosch mixer and I’m not entirely sure how it would work if you use a different mixer…although I can’t imagine it would be too hard to adapt. If you are interested in it, I’d be happy to email it to you. It’s 100% whole wheat with a little bit of oatmeal in it and it is SO incredibly soft. I’m not a huge fan of just any 100% whole wheat homemade bread since they can easily be dry, but this recipe is not that way.

  19. by Liz

    On November 1, 2012 at 7:54 am

    Thank you so much for this post! I’ve seen all sorts of save money blogs, but they all seemed either too extreme or to have too much prepackaged food. I agree with Monica that I would love more of your recipes, or for you to publish a cookbook, everything you make looks so delicious!

  20. by Lydia Beiler

    On November 2, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Liz, thanks for your kind words! And your suggestion helps me know better what to post- I really love knowing what kinds of things my readers enjoy and find helpful. I’ll do my best to post some more of my recipes in the future. If you want to see the ones I already posted click on “Tasty Tuesday” under the Categories Tab on the right hand side of my blog.

  21. by Dana Edwards

    On November 4, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    Thanks for the ideas! I can’t wait to make some yogurt!

  22. by Dana Edwards

    On November 4, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    And can I get your bread recipe too? When I’ve made bread it’s good the first day but goes stale so quickly. Seems cheaper just to buy it.

  23. by Nickole Zeleji

    On November 7, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    I would love to know if you would be willing to share the recipe for your 100% whole wheat bread! Please and thank you!

  24. by Lydia (Thrifty, Frugal Mom)

    On November 7, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Dana, you are welcome. Hope the yogurt turns out well! I’ll try to post the bread recipe next Tues. as my Tasty Tuesday recipe. (If I don’t get it done then- I need to make another batch so I can take pictures- I’ll just email you the recipe.)

    Nickole- see my note to Dana. :)

  25. by Shelley

    On November 18, 2012 at 12:09 pm

    I love your meal planning. I do the same prepping.. it is the only way to save money. I found organic Chicken on sale for .99lb… I bought ALL of it, prepped and froze it all. We are eating a lot of chicken over the next 2 months. We eat a lot more Red meat than you. I buy it on sale. Kroger has some great deals. We also eat a lot of fish. I just learned how to make my own Tortilla’s.. so easy will be very hard to buy the pack of 10 for 2.80.. as it takes less than .50 and I make so many more and they taste better. I go to 3 different grocery stores every week. ALDI’s is my favorite. Kroger for sales/10for10,Costco for bulk items. It takes some patience but I too find it a challenge. I keep my grocery bill around 400 per month. That feeds 2 Adults, 3 kids.. and buys 2 lbs Starbucks Coffee. Can’t live without our Starbucks.

  26. by Lydia Beiler

    On November 19, 2012 at 7:40 am

    Thanks Shelley! What a great price for chicken! I tried making my own tortillas once and they were awful. It’s scared me from trying it again, but maybe I should think about it. Do you share your recipe? Sounds like you are doing a great job of saving!

  27. by Sunni

    On November 27, 2012 at 12:27 am

    Hi Lydia!
    I read your “$200 a month” post and then followed the link here. I will just say that I am floored that anyone would criticize your other post and I think your monthly menu looks great.
    I have just started setting up and cooking once a month meals and it is saving my family a TON of money every month. I plan the entire month ahead of time, make 2 or 3 of several dishes and then use my crockpot 3-4 days a week. We have more “from scratch” meals, and the time savings is huge for me as we usually don’t get home until 6:30pm. PLus, like you, I buy cheaper cuts of meat and they get so tender in the crockpot!
    Great job on this post. I think you guys eat great (and wouldn’t bother to pick at you if I didn’t agree). I would love to see more posts like this. The only way to make it better is by sharing more of your recipes. The creamy salsa chicken wraps sound great!

  28. by Lydia Beiler

    On November 27, 2012 at 6:21 am

    Sunni- thanks for your kind words. I’ve come to the conclusion that people just often feel more free to be mean spirited when they can “hide” behind the internet. But people like you who are kind and encouraging sure make my work more fun and give me the motivation to keep at it.

    I keep thinking of trying once a month cooking or at least something like that on a smaller scale. But I’m just not sure it would work right now for me with blogging and taking care of my 2 little kiddos. But everyone I hear talk about it loves it…and it’s making me really think I should give it a go.

    Thanks for the suggestion to share more recipes. I’m working at trying to get more of my recipes posted. And I have another Weekly Menu Plan almost ready to post and I’m going to try to link to more of the recipes that I used.

  29. by Stacey Renee' Lampley

    On November 27, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    I think you have some great ideas and have a done a great job! Think with alot of your menu ideas is that most people don’t eat this healthy! I am trying to incorporate more healthy things in our diets too. We barely eat out maybe once or twice a month and we have a family of six. We are currently at about $700ish a month on food. I will say that making what you can certainly helps and the healthier foods are more filling which helps us decrease our monthly food budget as well! I am certainly going to try some of your ideas next month! Thank you!

  30. by Lydia Beiler

    On November 28, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Stacey- Thanks for taking the time to comment! I do think you’ll find that as you eat healthier and eat more whole foods that you do actually end up often eating less and therefore spending less. At least I know that whenever we eat “junkier” we seem to end up eating more. And yes, making what you can really does help, although I realize that some people simply don’t have time to always do it. However, often you can carve out a bit of extra time if you really want to. Hope you enjoy the recipes that you try. I’d love to hear more of your thoughts or suggestions!

  31. by sarah peterson

    On November 30, 2012 at 12:36 pm

    I am impressed!I spend about $500 on groceries and toiletries every month and feel like I cut out a LOT! We have 5 big eaters in the house. I do not coupon though- I tried and think I spent more money! haha. I am terrible at it! I printed out your recipes and meal plan thuogh. Maybe I can save a few bucks! Thank you for all the work and time you put into this! It helps!

  32. by Lydia Beiler

    On December 1, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    Sarah, thanks for your kind words. I know some people find they spend more when they coupon…maybe it’s the temptation to use them even if it’s not a good deal? Hope the recipes help you save! And thanks for commenting and letting me know you enjoy this. I always appreciate knowing I’m helping someone out. :)

  33. by Jennifer

    On December 3, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    AWSOME, may not be what my family would eat but most of it looks pretty yummy. Don’t let the meanies get you down.

  34. by Lydia Beiler

    On December 4, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    Jennifer- thank you! :)

  35. by Lima

    On December 7, 2012 at 9:59 pm

    hey,

    I think it’s great that you make everything from scratch! I do the same (except for the bread). And don’t listen to people’s rude comments, it’s great that you are trying to save for your family and sharing with us all. And the meals you make are pretty healthy. The most unhealthy stuff you can eat are packaged foods which you hardly ever have on your table so good for you :)

  36. by Lydia Beiler

    On December 8, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    Lima, we love from-scratch stuff. It does take time but once you get used to doing it, it’s not that big of a deal. Plus we feel so much better eating that way!

  37. by jennifer

    On December 16, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    That was in inspiring post! I love your meal plan. I’m trying to be frugal and trying to be smart with my money. I think putting some effort, like homemade bread, cereal, yogurt, freezing and canning is a great start for me. I am glad to have found this. I look forward to more inspiring posts from you!! :)

  38. by Lydia Beiler

    On December 17, 2012 at 7:56 am

    Jennifer thank you! I recently posted a 2nd Menu Plan that you might enjoy seeing too. (Look at the right hand side bar for “Categories” and then select “Menu”)

  39. by Karen Evans

    On January 10, 2013 at 5:33 pm

    Where do you live? I’m coming over for dinner!!! Only joking of course but these meals look great :)

  40. by Lydia Beiler

    On January 10, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    Karen- :) I’d love to have you! Thanks for your compliment. You made my day!

  41. by BethieofVA

    On January 18, 2013 at 11:56 am

    I just found you! LOL! I was love to know about your “cabbage salad”. Thanks!!

  42. by Lydia Beiler

    On January 24, 2013 at 9:40 am

    BethieofVA- Welcome! What did you want to know about the cabbage salad? Were you looking for a recipe? If so I can try to get it for you, although it will be a couple of weeks. (We’re away from home right now.) Honestly though, I wasn’t overly impressed with the recipe. It was the first time I tried it and it was okay but nothing amazing and got soggy kind of fast. But if you still want it, I’ll be happy to try to get it to you….it was the kind of cabbage salad that has Ramen noodles in it.

  43. by Julia

    On February 1, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    I have to say it took me a LONG time to get to reading this post. I’ve had a lot of crazy things going on in my life since we last emailed.
    Thanks for posting this! My life should be normal again after April, so don’t be surprised if you get a barrage of questions right about then.

  44. by Theresa

    On February 2, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    I also feed my family on $50 per week, though we have three teenagers and 2 dogs, and my budget includes toiletries and household goods as well as food. My husband and kids are avid deer hunters, so our menus include venison that I don’t have to pay for. I pack his lunch for work each day from dinner leftovers the night before. I was excited to find your blog, since my husband is from Lancaster, Pa and grew up eating ham loaf, egg in a nest, baked oatmeal and other things I never heard of until we met!

  45. by Fanar

    On February 18, 2013 at 9:53 am

    Hi! I have to say that I think what you’ve done is fantastic! I have a family of four, myself and my husband and two boys, a 3 year old and a 10 month old. My question is: how much do you sepnd on household items? i.e. papertowel, bath paper, personal care items, etc? I try to buy store brand as much as possible (most are just as good as brand name, with the exception of peanut butter, gotta have my JIF!) I feel like I have managed to cut the bill down, but would like to cut it some more. Right now I have us on a $400/month budget. Do you have any suggestions?

  46. by Lydia Beiler

    On February 19, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    Fanar- Thanks for your kind words! And good for you! $400/mo. is really doing quite well although kudos to you for wanting to try to see if you can cut it a bit more. My $200 includes household items and toiletries (including diapers). Yes, store brand items are good enough for me too. However, I often end up buying name brands because I can actually get them cheaper with coupons if I watch for sales to use the coupons with. (more on that in a bit) As for how to cut expenses…could you use rags instead of paper towels sometimes? I like to have paper towels on hand but honestly we don’t use them very much because I have a stack of rags on hand to use for cleaning etc. Old towels work well as general purpose rags, sheets for cleaning mirror/windows and t-shirts for dusting. You could also make your own cleaners such as homemade window cleaner and bathroom cleaner. You might be able to find a lot of the personal care items that you use at dollar stores like Dollar Tree. And if you use disposable diapers you might enjoy my post on 7 Ways to Save on Diapers and Wipes. Some people like to use conditioner in place of shaving cream- you might want to try that. And I often use white vinegar instead of liquid fabric softener to soften my clothes. It works great!

    And if you really want to save, consider using coupons for personal care and household items. Honestly, I pretty much never pay for toothpaste, toothbrushes, lip balm, shave cream and body wash and I can often get toilet paper, Kleenex, razors and more for at least half price all with using coupons. The trick is to shop drugstores and use coupons on their sale items. If you are interested in this, I’d highly recommend checking out FortheMommas.com. She does a great job of doing coupon/store match-ups for stores like Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid. If you keep watching the deals and stock up when you see items for really cheap or free (even if you don’t need them right that moment) you’ll soon start saving a bunch just because you’ll rarely have to pay full price for those items.

    Hope that helps!

  47. by Cherie

    On February 25, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    Well done! I am so impressed & proud of a fellow Mum for doing such a wonderful job at feeding her family so well. You are an inspiration. Keep up the good work!

  48. by Lydia Beiler

    On February 26, 2013 at 6:39 pm

    Cherie- Your words brought a smile to my face. Thank you!

  49. by Jenn

    On March 4, 2013 at 10:15 am

    I’ve actually found that it’s cheaper for us to eat MORE meat and cheese, with lots of veggies, because the protein and fat keeps us full for longer. We don’t eat starches (the kids eat some), don’t eat bread, and have fruit occasionally for dessert. I was shocked that eating more meat would save us money, but it did, and both my husband and I lost weight. My kids went through a growth spurt when we started eating more meat/fat, and so we had to get some more clothes for them…so maybe eating more meat didn’t save us money? ;)
    But cooking from scratch is the key. You save so much money by purchasing ingredients, plus since it takes time and effort to make something edible, most people in my family find they aren’t hungry enough to make something, and just wait until the next meal to eat their fill!

  50. by Lydia Beiler

    On March 5, 2013 at 8:23 am

    Jenn, that is fascinating! And in some ways it makes sense since those things keep you full more than some other foods. I so agree with you about the cooking from scratch thing. It’s healthier, your food is filling because it is REAL food and it’s cheaper for the reasons you mentioned too.

    Thanks for sharing. And now you have me almost convinced to try a week of doing just lots of meats and cheese! I’m afraid we’d miss our homemade bread and potatoes though! :)

  51. by Anne

    On March 11, 2013 at 4:40 am

    Hi Lydia, have just found your site and have a question for you.
    Please don’t laugh….well not too hard…but I’m in New Zealand and have never heard of Baked Oatmea. Do you have this for breakfast or is it a desert?

  52. by Lydia Beiler

    On March 11, 2013 at 6:57 am

    Oh Anne, I totally understand. I think even here in the States it’s probably something that is more of an East Coast thing. Most people eat it as a breakfast dish but with the chocolate chips added we like it as a dessert too so we eat it for either. In fact, we enjoy it as a snack sometimes. I figure it’s healthier than a lot of snacks even if it is a sweet.

    The great thing is that you can sub out the chocolate chips for nuts or fruit- it’s such a versatile dish.

  53. by Juls Owings

    On March 11, 2013 at 1:36 pm

    as a Personal Chef which focuses on healthy eating…I stand and applaud you. So many times I have to show what an actually serving size is, we as Americans eat far more than we should.

    I will mention…I pretty much serve the same except hot tuna of any kind(hubby can’t stand it) and I don’t serve any other protein when I serve peanut butter so the boiled egg would have not been there SMILE SWEETIE you are doing GREAT.

  54. by Lydia Beiler

    On March 11, 2013 at 5:42 pm

    Juls- You just made my day with your comment. Thank you for your encouragement! I try hard to provide good, healthy, balanced meals for us and it is definitely a challenge at times but I do mostly enjoy it.

  55. by Stephanie

    On March 14, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    I try to get by on <$400 a month for my family of 5 (2 adults, 2 elementary age boys and and almost exclusively BF boy) I use $2.50/lb as my goal for meat. I recently found a website zayconfoods.com that sells meat in bulk. I haven't used it yet but it might be worth looking into. I also plan my meals a month in advance so nothing spoils. I am gluten free as well, so this makes it a little more challenging. I make myself an individual portion of gluten free pasta, or pot pie with gluten free crust just because these are so much pricier than regular versions.

  56. by Lydia Beiler

    On March 16, 2013 at 9:39 am

    Stephanie- From what I’ve heard from other readers $400 is still pretty low as far as grocery budgets go- especially with having to do gluten free. I still am able to find meat under $2/lb in our area but I’m thinking I might have to up my cheese buy price to $2.50/lb. as it is getting about impossible to find for less than that. Yes, I keep wanting to post about zayconfoods. I typically like to try out things like that before I post about them but I can’t with Zaycon because they aren’t doing any deliveries to our area. Looks like a good deal though!

  57. by Jessie Parrish

    On March 18, 2013 at 6:58 am

    This is my first time visiting. I love what you are doing. I’m sorry some people feel the need to be mean. I also feed my family of three on a 200/month budget. Plus twice a month extended family comes for din. It has been a challenge but now I’ve got the hang of it so I find it pretty easy to make my list. Just so nice to know we are not the only ones on a budget. Sometimes it seems that way. Thank you for all that you put on here.

  58. by Lydia Beiler

    On March 18, 2013 at 11:09 am

    Jessie, thanks for visiting and for your kind words. Yes, it’s always fun to “meet” other people who are living on a similar budget. I agree, the longer you do it the easier it gets and the more you kind of know what works. Hope you find more inspiration here at The Thrifty Frugal Mom!

  59. by taylor

    On March 24, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    we have a grocery budget of $200/month, as well (actually $195). this also includes other household items, like yours does. i used to coupon more, but i found that i easily got carried away; we now have a $20/month coupon budget for me to use as i see fit. so i guess this makes our budget $215? it is me and my husband. he is 6’1″, 225 pounds, training to be a power lifter. which means protein protein protein! we drink 2 gallons of milk a week, use about 2.5 dozen eggs a week, and all of our meals include meat. my husband aims to consume about 3500 calories a day (although i’m petite and require less than average). we live in a pretty rural area and have very few stores to choose from, unless we want to use the gas to drive to a larger city 45 minutes away. i’m pretty proud of this budget for us! and i was encouraged to read your blog :)

  60. by Jessica

    On March 31, 2013 at 12:45 am

    wow, you are amazing! I just found your site through a pin a pinterest. I seriously don’t know how you do it…I have a budget of 600$ a month on food and not for the life of me can I keep it under that. not even close. I’m usually 200$ over. Also, this makes it sound even worse, I don’t cook meat at home. Were vegetarians, and I’m mostly vegan. We don’t use a lot of cheese or yogurt and we drink almond or soy milk.
    I give you major props. I don’t see why you would get nasty comments. I think you eat pretty good!
    Oh, were a family of 4. 4 1/2 year old boy and 17 month old boy.
    We aren’t snackers unless it’s fruit/ veggies and nuts and we eat almost everything organic…Maybe that’s my problem.
    I also want to start canning. I have a huge garden. I don’t know where to start or how to do it. any suggestions?
    Ok i’m rambling. Thank you for your post!

  61. by Lydia Beiler

    On April 4, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    Taylor, if you are eating that much meat and don’t have much store selection I would say that you are doing an amazing job- especially with not using many coupons. You have every right to be proud. :) Thanks for taking the time to comment and glad you were encouraged!

  62. by Lydia Beiler

    On April 4, 2013 at 1:45 pm

    Jessica, I’ll be honest, that does seem like a lot for groceries to me. But at the same time if you are buying pretty much everything organic it is going to cost more. Have you ever checked out an organic coupon blog like Organic Deals? I’m sure there are other similar blogs out there that you could find by googling something like “organic blogs” or “organic deal blogs”. Also do you use coupons at all? Contrary to what many people think, there are actually a number of sites that offer coupons for organic products. Check out this post for links to all the sites that I know of.

    Yes, canning/freezing is an excellent way to save. I grew up with my mom preserving lots of things so I was used to the idea although it wasn’t until after we were married that I really learned how to do it. I know it seems daunting but it’s really not that hard. Is there anyone that cans that you could get to help you learn how, you know, to kind of walk through it with you? If not, check out these sites: All About Canning, Farmgal. You could also check out books from your local library on the subject to learn more if you’d like. I have this cookbook which I really like as it gives pretty detailed instruction on preserving. My only complaint is that I think she tends to overcook things…as in can things for longer than they would need to be canned which results in less flavorful food. But her directions are great otherwise.

    I don’t know where you live but if you can get large quantities of fruit from local orchards and can/freeze them you could eat them as snacks instead of always buying fresh. Typically this is much cheaper. And if you freeze instead of canning your nutritional value is pretty much the same as fresh fruit. We love frozen peaches (I add sugar and a bit of OJ to them), blueberries, and crushed strawberries and even applesauce. If you like applesauce you should try it frozen. So good! Anyway, now I’m rambling. :)

    Hope that helps!

  63. [...] got our Menu Plan posted…you might enjoy checking it out [...]

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    On January 3, 2014 at 3:57 pm

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