Yesterday, I told you how you have to believe the Bible when it says children are a blessing. This is foundational to everything else I am going to say. You will continue to find fault with my suggestions if you do not first and foremost believe that each and every life brought into your family will bless your family and not lead to your family’s destruction.
So, the million dollar question…
How do you feed all of them?
Grocery prices are high right now, so it is imperative we get creative as homemakers. I will be the first one to tell you this is not an easy task. (In fact, just last night I made a very costly mistake by choosing to shop at a store in our new city that had MUCH higher prices than the usual store I shop at–thankfully, I have a very forgiving husband.) Meal planning and grocery shopping have taken more and more thought as my family has grown. Feeding a large family is not for the faint-hearted!
So, where do you start?
1. Decide how much you can spend. This has to be a logical number, but it also has to be a personal number. There have been times in our family’s life when buying a lot of fresh fruits and veggies was out of the question. We thrived on the days when we could gather apples in a friend’s orchard for cheap or grow our own in a garden. When I didn’t have a garden, I loved the summers when members of our church would bring the abundance of their gardens to church to share with everyone! Otherwise, fruits and veggies came from a can. And I’m not the least bit ashamed of that fact.
2. Let go of the guilt. Moms seem to have more than their fair share of guilt to deal with. Feeding our families is a biggie! I know you would love to feed them organically. I know you wish your meat was hormone free. I know you feel like a bad mom when you read all those great blogs about eating whole foods or only raw or mostly organic, but #1 (see above) on this list will ALWAYS trump your perfect mom dreams. Rather than live in a world of discontent, learn to be thankful for the grocery budget you do have!
3. Make priorities. This is where we get down to the nitty gritty. Perhaps you have a child who needs to eat gluten free, perhaps hormone free meat IS of the highest priority (remember my post on breastfeeding?) Most families have some sort of priorities when it comes to eating. I’m not going to ask you to change those; however, priorities almost always mean an increase in your grocery bill, so you have to take your priorities into account when buying groceries and making meal plans, and also realize no ready-made grocery list out there will be EXACTLY what you are looking for. (the only reason I have mine on here for you is so that you can see the METHOD behind my grocery list!)
4. Buy in bulk–especially the things from your Priority List. For us, that is meat. We buy a side at a time and save a mint! Yes, we do have to get creative to save up the money to buy it that way, but in the long run, we are saving money on our grocery bill. We also buy wheat berries and raw organic sugar in bulk to save long-run money because those are two other things that are a priority to us.
Companies like Azure Standard and Amazon.com sell a good variety of gluten free products (you can call Azure’s customer service line to find out if there is a drop point near you). A great way to find a rancher with meat to sell, is to frequent the farmer’s market and ask around. We shopped Sam’s for some things when we had a Sam’s card through my husband’s job, but I did not find the savings there to be substantial enough to justify buying our own membership when he no longer had a card. Yes, I loved having a larger size of product (those little cans of tomato sauce at Aldi about drive me insane!), but this is an occasion when my convenience does not override my frugality!
5. Learn the “basics.” This means a lot of different things. It means
*make your own rather than buy ready-made – Large families require more portions than what most convenience foods can offer. Learn how to make any ready-made products you buy, and you will save a lot! Baking mixes, spaghetti sauce, pizza…these are all things we used to buy ready-made, but now make ourselves.
*search out new ways of doing things – For me, this was learning about couponing through Grocery University. I also found out about Frontier coops through a friend. I asked other moms of many for their tips and tricks. Get the basics of these new ways of doing things by searching out people who have already been there ahead of you…the learning curve won’t be nearly as steep!
*have a Basic Menu & Basic Grocery List on hand – Start a document on your computer that you can easily change and begin writing up a grocery list and menu that tends to be the “usual” for your family. (Take a look at my Once-A-Month Shopping series for inspiration on how to do this!) This keeps your meal planning and grocery shopping more streamlined.
Then do a dry run at it with the lists and calculator in hand. Does your list stay within your budget? Where can you tweak it more? Do you need to budget in more bulk items or coupon sales where you stock up? Did you really need the amount of products you thought you needed? These questions and more will help you make your grocery list something liveable.
6. Share and share alike. Last summer we participated in a community garden. Other times we’ve benefited from neighbor’s gardens. My mom and my in-laws have brought us food or fed us meals from time to time. Ty’s office assumes the big family probably needs the leftovers from the office party. But we aren’t just big ole moochers! We give back. We labored in the community garden. We took our neighbor’s produce and made him a treat from it. We helped with cleanup in our family’s homes and fed them when they visited us. We took treats to Ty’s office from time to time to share with others and never expected the leftovers to always be ours. Live generously.
There are so many sites out there dedicated to helping you save money on groceries, that I won’t try to reinvent the wheel here, but keep in mind there are “deal bloggers” out there who are not necessarily frugal and many do not have the large family in mind. Be aware and focused as you search blogs for more ideas.
And never forget my #1 rule of thumb:
Something is NOT a deal if you didn’t NEED it.
There are a lot of things out there you simply do not NEED. When you have a large family, you quickly realize how unimportant certain things are in the grand scheme of things. The more unimportant things you cut out of your life, the better off your budget will be!