You asked, we answered!This FAQ addresses questions regarding Dietary Guidelines, Coupon Use, dealing with picky eaters, junk food cravings and more. . . .
Do you have any dietary “guidelines” that you use when planning your menus?
We feel that it’s important to eat as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible. When planning meals we try to make sure that the meal includes vegetables and a protein of some sort, whether its meat or beans. You may have noticed from our photos that we also try to add color to our meals. I very rarely used processed/ prepackaged foods. On occasion we do get “free” item coupons and use these, but they are not the norm.
It never ceases to amaze me when the kids friends dine with us- how many of them are not familiar with “Real” food. (That is, food that does not come from a box!) A couple weeks ago one of the kids friends (age 13) was spending the day and I was cooking cabbage. I asked her if she liked cabbage and she replied that she didn’t know, she’d never had it before. This child is 13 years old and has never had cabbage! She absolutely LOVED it and 3 days later her mother called me asking how to cook it.
Do you use coupons?
While we use coupons on occasion, I do not plan our menus around them. I prefer to use Fresh Fruits, vegetables and meats. I am not a big fan of prepackaged foods laden with food colorings, artificial flavors, sweeteners and preservatives. I will NOT buy anything that contains faux sugar- nutrasweet, aspartame, etc. Many of the coupons available are for prepackaged items, although lately they’ve gotten better at offering healthy choices, such as veggie steamers (which I LOVE!).
How do you deal with picky eaters in your family?
:poke: This is a touchy subject for many families, as I was growing up, I was ALWAYS offered two choices for every mealtime, Take it or Leave it. I have no problem extending these same choices to my own children AND their friends.
Every person has an item or two that they just don’t like and when we prepare the menu we are mindful of that- but I do not now, nor have I EVER made separate meals for picky children (or Adults!!!). I am always floored by parents that are worried their kids won’t eat if they aren’t presented with chicken nuggets or boxed macaroni and cheese. That’s crazy- when they’re old enough to have a job and buy their own food, they can be as picky as they like, if they’re in my house, they’re going eat what they are given or go without. I’ve tried a lot of strange dishes in my life, including Emu Meat, rattlesnake, Frog Legs, Raccoon, Moose, Bear, alligator jerky, various odd vegetable dishes (pickled okra comes to mind), tofu (by FAR the WORST yet!!) etc.
When the kids were young our rule was that they had to TRY everything they were given. If they didn’t like it they didn’t have to eat it, but they didn’t get a special meal in it’s place. According to studies that have been conducted a persons taste preferences change every 7 years.
It’s worth it to try new dishes and cooking methods. For example, my spouse absolutely loathed sweet potatoes since birth- but recently when presented with baked sweet potato fries- devoured them and asked for more.
Natalie writes: “We spend a lot of money on drinks & soda pop, I don’t see this in your budget. I’m curious as to what your kids say and think about this?”
We very very rarely purchase soda. It’s a budget buster, it’s full of empty calories, it offers ZERO nutritional value and it contributes to a plethora of health issues including obesity. Generally speaking we make iced tea, lemonade, water, coffee and various drinks such as fruit smoothies. We buy it for occasions such as cook-outs or camping- but the kids are limited to 1 per day.
As to what they think about it, well, for the most part, they don’t, until someone points it out and then they shrug it off. There’s always something cold and tasty to drink and that’s all they care about.
Where do you live that you are able to find these kinds of prices?
In the past 15 years we have lived in 3 different states, over 1,000 miles apart. While each state had it’s own ups and downs, we still managed to keep our monthly budget under $250 successfully. It’s less important what state you live in and more important that you learn WHERE the best deals are for your own state.
Oftentimes there are deals just a few miles away that you never knew existed. Our biggest shopping challenge was living in the mid-west where the nearest grocery store was an hour and a half away. We learned quickly to purchase in bulk and freeze items. It also became a necessity to keep a small window box in the kitchen for constant fresh lettuce and tomatoes. In the winter months, fruits and vegetables would freeze before we made it home from the store! You have to learn how to adjust to where you live and what is available to you.
If you really feel that you are at your wits end, submit your zipcode and the names of 3 stores within 20 miles of you in the comments below and we’ll help with a menu using the weekly sales flyers across the USA.
You might be surprised to learn that a local farmer sells sides of beef for $1.20 per pound, when you purchase in bulk!
Still have questions, please feel free to submit them below!
Just from Nelsons alone, you could get the majority of your groceries under $50
4 lbs strawberries $4.99 = $5.
Pork Ribs $1.99 – 3 lbs $6.
2 lg Red Onions .59#
1 pkg Mushrooms .99 –
32 oz frozen veggies $1.99 = 2 meals per package (fam of 4)
ramen 6 /$1.
Chicken .99 lb – 5 lbs. = $5.
Imperial Margarine .79 for 1 # (cheaper at walmart, btw)
10 lbs Potatoes $2.48
Dole Salad Mix $1.68 – (using the coupon on their Site)
Shurfire Buttertop Wheat bread .88 (using coupon on their site)
Total so far: about $32.
chicken breast filets are $3.98 for 2.5 pounds- April 7-9th- which means they are only $1.59 per pound. This would be the time to purchase 15-20lbs and stock up. You might spend $100 this week and only $15 next week, but at the end of the month, the freezer is full and you’ve stayed under $200 for the month.
Here are just a few Meal ideas:
Grilled Pork Ribs, Steamed Broccoli
(Lunch) Ramen Noodles with leftover pork (diced) & Broccoli
Chicken Pot Pie (using frozen veggies & diced chicken breast, red onion)
Baked Stuffed Mushrooms
Chicken Salad Sandwiches
Grilled Chix Breast, Rosemary roasted potatoes
Italian Marinated Chicken Kebabs with Mushrooms, onions, peppers ($1.50), Baked potato
Sliced strawberries on Oatmeal
Homemade Strawberry jam on biscuits
also noticed 50 0z ERA laundry detergent (dirt cheap this week) if you buy it during the 3 day sale
For your particular location, it appears it would be easiest to make the majority of purchases on a bi-weekly or monthly basis, rather than a weekly basis.
I would highly recommend getting a Sam’s Club membership. They currently have chicken (boneless skinless chicken breast) available for $1.97 per pound. In addition, Sam’s Club offers deals on meats packaged in cases (for example a case of pork cutlets was $1.39 per pound). Granted, you must purchase a case- but that can often be divided between friends.
Chances are you know several families around you who are in the same boat, so to speak. They need to cut expenses, if you get together and split a case of meat 2- 3 – or 4 ways you can stuff your freezer with bargain priced meals.
Currently your local Walmart has the following deals:
Birds Eye Steamfresh Vegetables $1.00
Prego Spaghetti Sauce $1.49 Jar
Oven Joy Bread $1.49 loaf
Barilla Pasta 4/$5
Red, Green or Black Grapes $1.68 lb.
Green Giant or Birds Eye Vegetable 10/$10
The Steamfresh veggies are $1 use the $1/2 from the Birds Eye Steamfresh or Birds Eye C&W Vegetables, Any – Safeway Booklet: March National Frozen Food Month. to get them dirt cheap. Also, if you want to get them for .64 each and stock up the freezer there are several printable coupons in the database.
Braeburn, Fuji or Gala Apples, 99¢ lb, Club Price SAVE up to $1.00 lb.
Starkist pouches are $1
Jennie-O Turkey Store 85% Lean Fresh Ground Turkey, 3-lb. , $5 ea
Foster Farms Fresh Whole Fryer, Locally Grown, 99¢ lb
On the Vine Cluster Tomatoes, $1.99 lb
Rather than run from store to store, you may want to take the weekly flyers from each store with you to walmart, as they will price match the other stores and save you some gas money.
I would probably buy the following:
3 starkist pouches $3
3 lbs Jenny O Ground turkey – $5
2 Jars Prego Sauce $2.98
10 bags Steamer Veggies $10 (actually, I would buy 40 or so and use them against other weeks grocery budgets).
Walmart Brand Spaghetti $1
Off the cuff Meal ideas: Spaghetti, meatball subs, grilled chicken w/ steamed veggies, veggies stirfry, tuna casserole or tuna pea wiggle, grape salad.
Unfortunately in your particular area, you’re looking at closer to $75 per week due to the increase in basic pantry supplies at your local stores. You can still find great deals though! Have you looked for scratch & dent stores in your area?
zip code: 14025 🙂
Based on that zipcode provided you have 2 Aldi’s Stores within 10 Miles of you.
ALDI Hamburg, NY
5999 South Park Ave
Hamburg, NY 14075
ALDI Springville, NY
175 South Cascade Drive
Springville, NY 14141
In order to get groceries based on this price, simply follow the $50 Menu’s available here. I recommend following the tips within each week listed as they explain how/when we purchase meats/veggies as well as replenish the pantry. Many of our menu’s are based off Aldi’s & Walmart. Also, check your zipcode in the grocery guide as you have a Large number of stores available to you at very decent prices (Ham for $1.19 lb, Ground turkey $1.16 lb, etc)
this might be alittle late but i would love for you to figure out for where i live…..
also nearest super walmart that has groceries is hour away
Unfortunately, you didn’t provide me with any store names of where you Prefer to shop, so I put this together using what I could find based on the zip code you provided:
The following store is 6.4 miles from your Zip Code:
Morrisville Price Chopper
Rt. 15 and Munson Ave. Morrisville, VT 05661
Here is their current weekly sales ad: Good through 1/7/12
Boneless Skinless chix is on sale $1.99 pound-
Pork chops- sale for $1.78 lb
Raw Frozen Shrimp- $2.99 pound
Empire Apples $1lb (5#/$5)
Price Chopper Whole Frying Chicken $1.29 lb
Fresh Sweet Potatoes 3#/$2
Fresh Price Chopper Russet Potatoes 15#/$6.99
Birds Eye Steam Fresh veggies 4/$5
From their Co Gan Crazy Ad:
Tuttorosso Crushed Tomatoes 28 Oz can .78
Maxwell House coffee 2/$5
Bumblebee solid white tuna .99
Another Store is 7.3 Miles away:
80 Fairground Plaza, Morrisville, VT 05661
Boneless Pork Sirloin Steak- $1.69 pound
Elbow Macaroni .97
12 ct Navel Oranges $2.99
Hannaford Split Chicken Breast $1.79 lb (pg8)
black Beans .89
Whole Kernal Corn .69
diced tomatoes .79
Country Kitchen bread 2/$4
Chunk Light Tuna .79
Cream of Chicken Soup 1.00 can
Generally speaking, this is why it’s best to divide up your grocery amount to $250 per month, rather than on a weekly basis- If these were my stores, and I didn’t have access to Wholesale/case price meat market, I would probably buy a large amount of chicken and pork to freeze for later.
However, Here is a brief rundown of menu ideas based on the following groceries:
(H) Boneless Pork Sirloin Steak-3# $1.69 = $5.07
(PC) BS. chix Breast- 4# at $1.99 – $8.00
(PC) Raw Shrimp- 1# at $2.99 – $3.
(PC) Empire Apples 3# for $3.
(PC) Russet Potatoes 15# $6.99
(PC) Crushed/diced tomatoes .78
(H) Tuna 2 cans at .79 each – $1.58
(H) Elbow Macaroni box .97
(H) Gallon Milk $3.
(PC) Coffee 1 can at $2.50
(PC) Sweet Potatoes 3# $2
(H) 5 pkgs Frozen veggies (various) – $5.00 (whole kernal corn, peas/carrots mix/ broccoli/green beans)
Cream of Chicken Soup 1.00 can (Make your own for .28)
(H) black Beans .89
(H) 12 ct Navel Oranges $2.99
(PC) 1 pkg store brand cream cheese $1.49
(H) Loaf Bread $2.
7th Heaven Chicken, Baked Potatoes
Tuna Casserole (elbow mac, tuna, cream of chix soup, seasoning) (Leftovers for lunch)
Pork Chop Scalloped Potato Casserole, broccoli
Beast Wraps- Chix, corn, black beans, tomatoes, homemade taco seasoning in a tortilla (Leftovers for lunch)
Shrimp Wiggle over Biscuits (Leftovers for lunch) (Use shrimp, chopped, instead of tuna)
Grilled Pork Steaks, Sweet Potato Fries, Green Beans
Italian Potato Porta(using half of that Giant can of crushed tomatoes!)
Orange french toast
Cinnamon Apple Breakfast Quesadillas
Other Lunch Ideas– Black Bean Sweet Potatoes
Twice Baked Potatoes or Baked Potato Soup
A note about the Black Beans- a single can of black beans is .89- you can buy a Pound of Dried black beans for the same price, soak them overnight and you will have more than enough to make the smothered sweet potatoes And the beast wraps.
:note: The $50 menu is a guideline- when I started the series last year, I did so with the idea that many people had a rather bare pantry and freezer. Over the course of the year, we continually added to both the freezer and pantry until it’s thoroughly stocked. Because of this, you will not see the basics, flour, sugar, etc every week. It’s not necessary to restock them every week.
It is considerably easier to set aside $250 for a month- use $75-90 of that on Meat Deals, stock the freezer with them, and then divide the remaining up into loss leaders, Fresh produce, pantry items.
You can also check out the Winter Morrisville Farmers Market to see if you can find deals on veggies: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Morrisville-Farmers-Market-Saturday-9-100/119012151447742
I’ve found that farmers markets are hit or miss… some areas have wonderful markets, some areas are utterly ridiculous with their prices.
The only stores in our town are IGA and Save A Lot. Grocery stores that is!
I really love that I found this site and really need help getting our grocery budget down! I totally think we could be happy and full with the menus you have provided us with BUT when I look at what you purchased and what you say you are spending it does kind of seem unrealistic. What size packages, boxes, bags, quantities are you buying? Do you ever show us your receipts?
Hi Debbey! Welcome to the site 🙂 When we first started sharing our $50 weekly menu plans (3 years ago!) on the site, we did actually try to photograph our receipts and include them. Since the receipts were long, we had to “stitch” the photos together, or they were unreadable and it was entirely too time consuming.
We also used to photograph the weeks groceries so people could literally see the quantities (examples: week 13, week 6 ) of the groceries, but by the time you get home from grocery shopping and the stuff has already sat out of the fridge for an hour, you get it stacked on the countertop to take a photo and then you have to put it all away before it spoils or the veggies wilt, it was just an appalling waste of time that could be better spent sharing new recipes.
We do on occasion still share receipts, when time allows, but with our full time jobs, 2 busy teens (1 who also works & needs rides) both in beta club, key club and another in sports, band, and part of duke university’s TIP program- we’re literally all over the state all the time.
In 3 years of sharing our menus you are the first to request that info, so now that we know there is some actual interest in it, it’s something that we’ll definitely consider adding in the future as time permits! :thumbup1: Thank you so much for your feedback, we’re always trying to find new ways to enhance our hobby site here and help other families get ahead too.
My gosh I LOVE your website! My husband (my 6 dogs and 3 cats) and I are just starting life off together, married Aug of last year and just purchased our house same day, we’re hardly out of our teens (Shawn 20 me 21) and this website might just save our pocketbook! Or maybe it will if we ever start setting budgets for things lol :rolleyes1: MY personal problem is that im SOOOO picky :/ …… Im not opposed to trying new things but idk its just a pain to hunt for food around me.
I’ll get over it im sure haha. My zipcode is 34293 and im just trying to see if im catching what you see or if u know of any coupons that work with sale items? Theres really only Walmart, Publix, and Target all within a mile of me to shop at. Theres a flea dome right across the street from me that sells fresh fruits and veggies I’ll be checking out once i can get an idea on a menu.
Theres also a market thing up the road but they have fresh meat I dont recall what its called right off the top of my head but people have talked highly of their meat. Its hard when youve had no life experience and didnt really cook too much with mom (def wish i had now!), she had to set the menus around my dads health diabetes and heart problems.
Omg I LOVE your website with my husband (6 dogs 3 cats) and I all beginning our life together hardly out of our teen years (Shawn 20 and me 21), just married last Aug and purchased our house same day, its def a struggle to curb those teen splurging junk fast food ways and honestly this could save our pocketbook! If we were ever to sit down and set up a budget lol.. I would love to get all these home cooked/ prepared foods into us instead of all the junk he crams down himself haha. Skinny as a rail after eating his box of 12 tacos and a few other “choice” (EXPENSIVE) *cough crap cough * im still not sure how he can look like that (guess hes still only 20 too haha) butttttttttttt its time to begin our transition to family instead of our normal out to eat-ers.
I want to see if Im picking up what you see from these locations around me. Im also a failed coupon-er (well more like not educated on where to find them/how to combine to make best purchases) My zip is 34293, and around me theres a walmart, target and publix all carrying groceries. There is also a flea dome right across the street open 3 days a week carrying fruits and veggies, once I have a scheduled meals or know what to make i will be visiting there more. Along with the meat market down the way 4-5 miles down.
Heard good things about them so if i ever figure out what to make I’ll be set!
Thank you so much for all your time with your website and your response to me!
save a lot
i have a household of 12 people
Thank you for your time and sharing your knowledge.
Fresh and Easy
21218 Johns Hopkins university
im a college student- the cheaper the better!
please help !
There are no stores within 20 miles of me other than Wal-mart and Save-a-lot.
I drive to the next town in the next state (about 30 miles) to purchase groceries because there are more stores and they don’t charge sales tax on food (sales tax is 10%) in my town even on food.
Zip for town I actually shop in…
Stop and Shop
Yesterday i went to the store and spent $100.00 and didn’t get any meat. 🙁 I bought dried fruits (4 pkgs) to make granola, milk (1/2 gal whole and 1/2 gal whole organic to make home made kefir), cream, chia seeds, green peppers, canned chili beans, canned green chilis, 4 bags chocolate chips (they were on sale) 3 bags sliced almonds (for granola and refrig oatmeal), sliced cheese, cream cheese (3), that was a slurge because i want to make an apple cream cheese dessert for sunday. Anyways, I used up this week and next week’s budget. I do haveseveral packages of frozen chicken legs, rice, a couple packages of frozen hamburger, dried beans, dried lentils, homemade frozen tomato juice (5-3 cup containers) and a pretty good stocked pantry.
My zipcode is 50158 and the stores i shop at are Hyvee, Walmart and Fairway.
Thanks for any input. :0smile:
We tell out kids if they don’t like it, there’s always the next meal. I’d be nuts if I had to cater to their desires. I am mindful to include things I know they enjoy during the week. My little one began telling us she hated onions.
Mind you I have cooked with onions her entire life. I just told her that she hadn’t developed a taste for them yet and she needed to keep trying them until she did. It took a month or two and now she will tell you that she likes them. Go figure.
Edward Cash Saver
Super One Foods
Pic N Save
Thanks 🙂 my bf won’t eat onions or mushrooms
Also, a quick question. I do deal with a picky eater that literally would rather STARVE than eat most things. He hates any type of seafood/shellfish and hardly will touch chicken or turkey. He also pretty much only wants to eat the more expensive lean red meats.
This causes quite the problem. I know you say take it or leave it, but I’ve witnessed him starve himself and I’d rather not feel like a twit for him doing so. Any tips? Maybe alternatives?
I mainly shop at WinCo and Safeway, and am not too keen on having to go anywhere else as I have one car, two children and a husband who works close to 65 hours a week. I need to spend as little time grocery shopping/driving around as possible.
We are a family of 4: my husband, myself, almost 4 year old son and 7 month old son who is breastfed and just now starting solid food purees. My older son has peanut and tree nut allergies, the only nut he is can eat is almonds, which we eat almost every day in the form of either raw almonds or almond butter. Otherwise we are not a picky family!
Dinners usually look like:
roast chicken with veggies, pork chops and rice, pot roast, stuffed squash or peppers, chilli and corn bread.
Breakfast is usually: oatmeal, cereal, eggs and toast
Our main problem area is snacks which I know we need to cut back on, or approach in a more intelligent way. My son is huge on snack throughout the day and not so big on having an actual lunch.
Any help at all would be appreciated, we currently spend about $585 on groceries (yikes!!!)