Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday Momisms: Feeding Your Minions

One of the things I get asked about the most by people who don't have kids, or are new parents, or generally feel like they can't get out of the grocery store without spending 200 bucks on food, is 
"How much do you spend on groceries for you and the kids?"
Before I answer that question I will say that being the only breadwinner in the house, and not getting child support, my budget is super important to me.
From years of having low paying jobs, and at times no job at all, but still having two kids who were just as hungry as they were when I made good money, I've learned to feed us all pretty well, on very very little.
I spend about $100 a week on food for the three of us, and that includes dinner every single night, breakfast, lunches and snacks on weekends, and lunches during the week for me.
Lainie and Jack eat breakfast and lunch at school during the week because of how early they get dropped off.
This budget comes out to about $4.76 to feed each person, each day of the week.

One thing I've learned about not blowing hundreds of dollars on food {which I could easily do if I wasn't paying attention-I love food} is that you have to make a list, and fucking stick to it.
Once you get the hang of shopping on a budget and maintaining a list, you can vary here and there, getting a couple extra little goodies that weren't on the list, or picking stuff up that is insanely discounted, but until you're a seasoned pro, stick to the Goddamn list.
I know you've all heard that before, and I had too, but for a long time it didn't make a difference. 
Then I realized I didn't know how to make a list.
I know, that sounds ridiculous, but it's true.
I genuinely didn't know how to make a shopping list for a weeks worth of meals-not food, MEALS.
That's an important distinction.
You need to know that what you're getting will make as many whole meals as you need it to this week, not just fill your pantry or your fridge.
How do you do that?
Plan a menu.
The morning I get paid {which is the day I usually do my budgeting and grocery shopping} I sit down and plan out dinners, work lunches and weekend meals for me and the kids for each day between then and my next grocery trip. 
I get paid twice a month, so I pull out two weeks of grocery money, and make 1 weeks menu, then a week later make another one and use the last of our grocery money. By the next payday, it's time to plan and shop again. The cycle continues.
Anyhow, I write it down like this:

Say I get paid on a Monday.
Monday: homemade chicken fingers, salad and noodles
Tuesday: Spaghetti with sausage and garlic bread
Wednesday: chicken burritos
Thursday: Black bean salad and grilled chicken
Friday: homemade white pizza
Saturday: Salmon patties, mashed potatoes and broccoli
Sunday: Grilled chicken breast, cold veggies and hummus
Cereal and fruit for breakfast Saturday and Sunday
Saturday lunch: tuna salad sandwiches, carrots and applesauce
Sunday lunch: fish sticks, tater tots and fruit

With the way I cook, I usually have just enough leftovers from each dinner to take to work with me the next day.

Now that I know what we're eating, I know what we need.
I make a list of all the shit we need for our dinners.
Notice that chicken is in 4 of the 7 meals. 
That means I can buy a big pack of chicken breast, separate them and freeze them for each meal, and it's much cheaper than buying small packs of all different meats. 
Now add the miscellaneous shit you need, like milk, juice or tea for drinking, things your kids snack on like bread and peanut butter, jelly, string cheese, yogurt or whatever your family eats between meals.
And now you're ready.

Another thing I've learned is to walk the perimeter of the store as much as possible, staying out of the boxed or frozen "convenience food" sections, and staying away from the isles with cookies and chips, which are way more expensive than they seem, and add a lot to your grocery bill in very little time.
I do buy bags of frozen veggies sometimes though, especially things like broccoli or mixed veggies because they're cheap and always good to have on hand for a night that you need to haphazardly throw a somewhat healthy meal together.

After you've gotten the shit on your list, get the fuck out of the store. 
Run to the check out counter, don't walk. 
You will inevitably see more and more shit that looks good or is on sale, and the next thing you know you blew your whole budget.

Once you're home, put your weeks menu on the fridge for you to see.
This keeps you focused on your planned meals, reminds you of what you were going to make, and keeps you from eating out as much.
Plus it reminds me as I'm leaving for work "Oh we're having chicken tonight, I need to take some out of the freezer to thaw".

Anyway, that's how I do it, and that's a small example of how we eat.
Good luck feeding your minions.


  1. Papa johns...says the single Dad. ;)

  2. Oh goodnedd...I HATE grocery shopping!!! Ugh lol