Menu Plan: What Our Family of 4 Eats on $200 Month (Post #2)

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

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 asked if I could please post what we eat. So I’ve attempted to record it for you.

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

  • Our family of four consists of two adults with fairly big appetites, a 4-year-old boy and a 11-month-old girl. The baby is eating mostly all table foods but is still partially breast fed. She usually eats whatever we are eating or things like bananas, peaches, yogurt and bread.
  • 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.  :)
  • 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.

WEEK 1

Sunday

Monday

Tuesday

  • Leftover Turkey/Gravy/Potato Filling; Leftover Green Beans; Homemade Applesauce; Leftover Gingerbread Cake

Wednesday

  • Out with relatives

Thursday

  • Leftovers; Homemade Yogurt; Home Canned Peaches; Frozen Blueberries (I preserved)
  • Dinner with in-laws—took 3 qts. Frozen Fruit (peaches/strawberries/blueberries) that I preserved—I like to mix these three fruits together and serve them slushy…it’s so good and refreshing!

Friday

  • Leftovers; Homemade Yogurt; Peaches/Blueberries/Strawberries (I preserved)
  • Rehearsal Dinner (we coordinated a friend’s wedding)

Saturday

  • Brunch of various leftovers
  • Dinner at wedding

______________________________________

WEEK 2

Sunday

  • Lunch at in-law’s

Monday

Tuesday

  • Eggs in a Nest (an egg fried in bread); a few leftovers; Homemade Yogurt; Banana; Home Canned Peaches
  • Soup Bucket Soup (as talked about here); Cheese/Crackers; Homemade Applesauce—This was the first time I tried the Soup Bucket thing and I was fairly impressed. It was easy to add some tomato juice, cooked hamburgers and some seasonings to the soup bucket contents to make a tasty soup.

Wednesday

  • Surprised my husband and took lunch to him at work. We ate with him. It was a last-minute decision and I bought sandwiches and chips at a local deli. (If you want to make your husband’s day, try this!)  :)
  • Crock-pot Tamale Pie; Green Beans (I preserved); Homemade Applesauce; Homemade Cookies (from freezer)

Thursday

  • Eggs in a Nest (an egg fried in bread); Cheese Sticks; Homemade Yogurt—didn’t have any fruit as I made too many Eggs in a Nest and we were full!

Friday

  • Leftover Crockpot Tamale Pie; Homemade Yogurt with Homemade Granola; Frozen Strawberries and Peaches (I preserved)
  • Cheddar Cheese Chowder (meatless); Lettuce Salad with Homemade Dressing; Homemade Applesauce; Pumpkin Trifle (used graham crackers instead of Biscoff cookies). This chowder is supposed to have ham in it—for some reason I forgot to add it and discovered that it is really good meatless too! So we got a bonus meatless meal in for the week.

Saturday

  • Leftover Soup; Homemade Yogurt—this was just for me and the baby as my husband and son were gone
  • Eggs; Homemade-From-Scratch Pancakes with Homemade Gravy, Homemade Pancake Syrup and Peanut Butter; Fruit Slush; Homemade Applesauce

______________________________________

WEEK 3

Sunday

Monday

  • Leftovers; Homemade Yogurt; Frozen Strawberries and Peaches (I preserved)
  • Leftover Vegetable Soup; Lettuce Salad with Mexican Salad Dressing; Cheese and Crackers; Homemade Applesauce

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

  • Leftover Cauliflower Cheese Soup; Homemade Yogurt; Peaches and Blueberries (I preserved); Cookies (bought)

Friday

Saturday

  • Leftovers for the hubby and baby; Our 4-year-old and I went out on a date for lunch :)
  • Leftovers

______________________________________

WEEK 4

Sunday

  • Both lunch and dinner at my in-laws

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

  • Leftover Salmon Soup; Homemade Yogurt sprinkled with Granola; Home Canned Peaches and Blueberries (I preserved)

Thursday

Friday & Saturday

  • Forgot to record what we ate…yup, I really am quite human!

Sunday

  • Ham Loaf (partially homemade); From Scratch Mashed Potatoes; Cooked Carrots; Pumpkin Cake; Ice Cream
  • Various Leftovers

I’d like to periodically do these “What We Eat” posts.  If you have any suggestions on how to make it more helpful or readable please do let me know! 

Add a Comment
Back To The Thrifty Frugal Mom
  1. by Brandy

    On January 4, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    Thank you for your posts. I was wondering if you will be posting more menus? I am eager to make some of the changes in our home. Do you plan meals ahead? How do you decide on coupons or get the best of them? We spent way too much on food last month and things need to change. Can you offer any long term tips? Thank you again. I look forward to learning more from you.

  2. by Lydia Beiler

    On January 5, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    Brandy, I do hope to plan more menus in the future, although it will probably be a couple of months. We’re getting ready to be away for 6 weeks at a small school where we will get all of our meals provided so that kind of eliminates the need for a menu plan. :) In the meantime, if you want to see some more of my recipes that I’ve posted that may not have been on my menu plans look under the Tasty Tuesday category.

    I would say that I semi menu plan. What I mean is that I don’t sit down and do a full fledged menu but at the beginning of the week I do often jot down a few main dishes that I’d like to have that week. Some weeks I end up deviating for various reasons but it still helps me at least have a plan in place and not face that “what should I make for dinner” panic that hits around 4pm so often! I try to plan my menu around either what I have in my fridge/freezer/cupboards or else items that are on sale. One of the ways that I have saved significantly is by stockpiling items that I use regularly. Of course you have to have wiggle room in your budget for it but if you can, it does help! For instance, if chicken is on sale for a really amazing price I’ll buy several packages of it and throw whatever we won’t eat fresh into the freezer for some meals later. Or if mayonnaise, crackers, pasta etc. are on sale for rock bottom prices I’ll get extra so that the next time I need more I don’t have to pay full price.

    As for the coupons, I’m not entirely sure what your question is but I’m guessing you are wondering when and how I decide to use them. I’ve found two blogs that do coupon match-ups for the stores that I shop at. (You can do the same…just go to Google Blog Search and google the store name and something like coupon match-ups and you should be able to find a blog that covers your store.) Before I go shopping each week I check those match-ups to see if there are any coupons to use on the sale items. And the more I coupon I also have learned what items I can often get for really cheap with coupons so when I see a coupon for that product I’ll print it right away and then have it handy for when I need it.

    I’m short on time right now, but I’ll try to see if I can find some other posts that will help you out some more and I’ll email them to you. And I’ll keep thinking about it too and try to come up with more tips. So much of what I do is second nature anymore and I almost forget how I go about saving as much as I do!

    Thanks so much for asking your questions and if something doesn’t make sense, please let me know! Blessings!