How I Feed Our Family of 5 for $50 Per Week

Guest post from Emily of I Have Coupons for That

I have always enjoyed getting a good bargain on just about everything. However, it wasn’t until after my husband and I married (nearly 12 years ago) that I began using coupons on a regular basis. And while coupons helped save me money when I shopped, I also noticed that sometimes I would spend more than anticipated.

By the time our third child was born, I was shopping every two weeks at the base commissary, spending $250 to $300 each time I shopped. I couldn’t help but wonder what I was doing wrong.

Fast forward to today and I am now able to shop for the same items (for my family of 5) for only $50 each week — which saves us nearly $400 per month, or $4800 per year!

How did I do it?

It took a lot of trial and error and it was definitely a learning process, but sticking to the following “rules” helps me stay on track each week:

1. Carry your grocery-shopping budget in cash.

This was my first mistake. Carrying my debit or credit card provided room for overages at the register. By restricting myself to cash, I could only spend up to my allotted budget.

2. Use a calculator.

Keep track of the amount you are spending as you shop.

3. Shop small, save big. 

Instead of shopping twice per month, I now shop every Monday. My shopping list is smaller and I spend less.

4. Know what you already have. 

This used to make me so mad! I would purchase something because I had a coupon and would return home to find I already had three more of that very same item.

5. Make advanced meal planning a financially healthy habit. 

I prepare my meal plan one week in advance, working from my family’s sensible stockpile, pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Any items I may be missing to complete a meal are placed on my shopping list the bottom of my meal planner and those are the items I shop for on Monday.

6. Build a sensible stockpile.

Creating a stockpile that was practical and would sustain my family in between store sale cycles took some time. Now, I am able to rely on the items within our stockpile and eliminate the need to shop for those items. Without even leaving the house, I have already saved money!

7. Understand smart coupon use and store sale cycles.

Learning to better match coupons to store sale cycles will offer additional savings.

I was able to conquer our new grocery budget within nine months. Since that time, I have been able to maintain a budget of $50 per week for groceries and household necessities, without having to sacrifice preferred brands.

Emily is a born and raised Virginia Southern Belle, mother of three, proud military wife, and penny saver. She has an eye for things that sparkle and a love for a good bargain. She shares her daily frugal adventures at I Have Coupons for That!

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Comments

  1. Jamie says

    I love reading articles such as these, but if this is a pic of her actual purchases, I wouldn’t feed any of that to my children. I would like to see articles from mom’s who do lots of from-scratch cooking. I almost never see coupons for flour, sugars, honey, yeast except at holiday times. So what are some good tips for saving money on ingredients rather than boxed foods??

    • says

      Jamie: shop the sales and stock up! Obviously you can’t stock up on fresh produce (unless you want to prep and freeze a lot) but shopping the sales has helped us save at least $20-$30 a week.

      • says

        When peaches and pears are in peak and on sale at their lowest prices of the year, buy several hundred pounds (I go the first day of the sale and order them with the produce manager, and then pick them up with their Friday delivery). I then can them. I have bought pears for .25 to .70 a pound this way, and I get enough for a year. Peaches usually run a bit higher.

        Oranges and grapefruit go on big sales in the winter. I have bought oranges 6 lbs for .98. They will last MONTHS (as will apples) in the fridge, or even in a cool place, such as a garage or basement (remember, the suppliers keep them for months after harvest as well). Potatoes will keep months in a cool place, too; we usually buy 300-400 pounds on sale in November at .10 a pound ($30) and eat them through February.

        • says

          What State are you in? And what type of grocery or other market are you getting these kinds of prices from?

          I don’t think we would ever get these prices here unless I buy from a local Amish farmer and then I’m not so sure.

          • says

            I live in Las Vegas, Nevada.

            I find peaches and pears lowest every year at Vons (a Safeway affliate) in August/September. Likewise, they are usually one of the lowest sources for grapefruit (November). They used to be the source of .10 potatoes, but the last 2 years they have not gone that low.

            Instead, I have found potatoes at .10 a pound the last two years at Fresh N Easy. I buy russets, and they go that cheap right before Thanksgiving.

            Oranges are usually that price at Food 4 Less (they also have onions at the same price in the fall). Oranges are usually .98 a pound on sale here, but I look for the cheaper sales and stock up then if I see them.

            One year my reciept said I saved over $1000 buy buying peaches and pears on sale. The cashier had to have a manager override the total since I had “saved too much” by buying the fruit for .50 a pound.

        • says

          I need to check out your tips on canning, Brandy. I am SO scared to try canning, for fear that I would create botulism or something! :) Although, a few months ago the three of us consumed all 150 satsuma tangerines from our little dwarf tree , so I’m not sure all the fruit would even make it to the jars :)

          • says

            Do NOT be scared. Canning is NOT difficult. When I first started canning, my mom had one question for me: “WHY!? You can buy the same exact thing at the store!”

            She remembered her mother and canning in the 60s. We’ve come a long way since then!

            Just follow guidelines on canning – I use the Ball Blue Book of Preserving – they have the most updated guidelines on their website as well. Canning isn’t rocket science. It just takes practice. :)

            And as far as what is pictured, I’m sure she’s not feeding her family cookies and fruit snacks daily, so let’s not judge, eh? I’m sure she’s giving them as occasional treats. Yes, you can coupon for ‘junk food’….but there are also tons of coupons for fresh foods as well. All too often, Kelloggs does offers where if you buy X prodcut they offer, you get $2.00 off things like milk, eggs, fruit, etc. So it makes perfect sense to buy the occasional treat…you get necessities for free or cheap as well!

        • Lisa says

          Does your grocery stores have them that cheap or do you make special deals with them for buying so much? Share with us how you can get them that cheap. This has to be such a blessing to your family.

          • says

            Lisa,
            I listed the stores above where I get them. It is an in season sales price. Peaches and pears are usually August.

            The last 2 years, pears have been on sale in both August and September. Sometimes they are .50 the first time and .25 the second time. Sometimes they are .50 the first time and .79 the second time–there is no way to know ahead of time.

            The stores don’t carry all that you will want for canning, so if you go the first day of the sale (Wed.) and then ask them to order them for you, they will get extra boxes for you. Sometimes they won’t believe you want that much, and you’ll have to explain that you do for canning. They usually get a delivery on Friday morning/midday. Ask what time you will need to pick up on Friday and then you can get the boxes of fruit. Pears usually come in a 40 lb box, and peches are usually 20 or 25 pounds.

            You need to have them write the pounds on the box, or have the produce person come up to the front to help them ring it up.

            I have bought apples for .50 a pound this way, too, and made applesauce.

    • SMS says

      Jamie – I’m with you. As an example today – pumpkin and evaporated milk. Never see a coupon in our area for that. The sale for name brand Evap milk was the same as store brand so no true savings there. No double any coupons here ever. Everything else I needed was on sale or with a store coupon. I did OK, but not able to feed my family here for $50 a week. Do people count the value of the stock pile stuff they use? In that case I could probably do the $50, but it needs to be added in there someplace.

      • Andrea says

        I was able to get organic canned pumpkin (by the case) on sale at Amazon for a great price.

      • michele says

        My stockpile comes from my $70 weekly food budget. I agree that sometimes I see that the totals people show isn’t a true amount. My total budget is $70 wkly for food, $50 monthly for household, and $70 monthly for pets. That is what I plan for without sales and coupons. If I have any leftover $$ from one area I use it for stockpile in that area.

      • Mo says

        SMS-Just as a tip, I recently started using dry nonfat milk as a substitute for evaporated canned milk in my baking. 3/4c water and 2/3c milk powder makes 80z evap. milk. It’s much cheaper and I don’t have to get frustrated not finding sales :)

        • SMS says

          Thanks for the recipe. I need to replenish the powdered milk. Just cleaned out the cabinet last week. Opened and dated 2004. thought it was time for new then forgot to put it on the list.

    • says

      Jamie-
      I just started a blog and I feed my family of 7 on $50 a week. I will be posting things like what I make from scratch (almost everything!) and my grocery trips, how much I spend, things like that. I would love for you to follow my blog! :)

      • Sarah M. says

        Kayla, I wanted to check out your blog, but the font you have chosen is very hard on the eyes! Would you consider changing it to something a little more readable?

      • Danielle B says

        I agree about the font choice for your blog. I don’t want to hurt your feelings at all, and the font is really cute, but it hurts to read it for more than just a sentence or two. I will gladly pop over and read your posts regularly if you change the font! :-) It looks like you have a great concept for your focus, and I look forward to reading your practical advice.

        • says

          My feelings aren’t hurt :) I am glad I was told! I went ahead and changed it today, so I hope it’s better! I definitely want it to be readable!

    • says

      Flour, sugars, yeast, and honey are easy to buy in bulk, and you get a great price that way. You can try going to Sam’s, Costco, or BJ’s, or ordering through a place like Azure Standard.

    • says

      Jamie, I feed our family (8 people, plus a brand-new baby, so meals for 8) for $100 a month. It’s $3.00 per day, or .40 per person per day. I cook from scratch. I garden as well, in the desert, where we get 2″ of rain a year. I have 4 months of seasonal menus on my site if you’d like to see some meal ideas.

          • Andrea says

            Seeds are cheap, but compost is expensive, as is any type of fencing to keep animals out. Water is expensive in some areas of the country, including the desert where The Prudent Homemaker lives.

        • says

          No. Most of our water bills goes to the grass, however. Everything else is watered on drip irrigation. I would water the garden whether it was all flowers and bushes or if it was edibles. Since all of my trees are fruit trees, they give back some of that water in fruit juice :) Since I would be watering either way, I don’t count the water bill as part of my food costs.

          My garden (seeds and plants) is a seperate category for me.

      • amom says

        Wow, are those menus new. I check your website every couple of weeks and I never noticed those. They are nice.

      • anon says

        Does your $100/month include all your stocking up and bulk purchases? You talk of buying hundreds of pounds of peaches and apples, big bags of flour, sugar, etc. Is that extra? Or do you really buy all that stuff on $100/month? Or maybe I just don’t know how to stockpile? I understand that you don’t include gardening expenses, (which I’m sure is a huge savings!) but wondering if you include everything else.
        BTW, I so wish potatoes would keep…people always say they do. But I guess our home is not cool enough. Or maybe too humid? They always sprout and mold within a few weeks! : (

      • Carrie says

        Prudent Homemaker – are you counting your bulk purchases of fruit, grains, meat, etc into your $100 budget or is that separate?

    • September says

      I was thinking that exact thing when I pulled up this post. Pretty much everything there is junk food; my kids may have some of those items as very occasional treats but I wouldn’t consider it to be food for everyday consumption.

    • Kristen says

      I have to agree. I stopped using coupons for food almost entirely because I’m fairly selective about what I’ll let my daughter eat. I don’t deny her items like this if she’s at a party or some other occasion where junk food might be available, but I wouldn’t buy them, even if they were free. Of course I realize this picture is not what each weeks shopping trip would look like, but when I see grocery store coupon scenarios on various sites, it seems like most of the food is not so good.

      • amom says

        Thank you for saying this. I always feel so bad when I don’t use coupons and spend more on food. I’ve tried and tried and I just can’t get good food with coupons. I do cringe whenever I see a title like this. I hope and hope, but then it’s always has coupons in there somewhere.

    • Andrea says

      I agree with Jamie. My family of six drinks 1/2 gallon of organic milk each week and eats one loaf of bread. Other than that, I do not buy the items pictured, whether they are free or not.

    • jenn says

      Jamie, i love that yours is the first comment I read. Before I even read the post I pointed the picture out to my husband and said what you just did. Almost word for word. Kindrid spirits :)

      • says

        Too funny – I did the exact same thing! Saw the picture and told my husband what was in it! I then complained that couponing is so hard because it seems like most coupons are for prepackaged foods that we don’t eat. I rarely see coupons for fresh fruit or veggies!!

    • says

      Wow! My wife and I were just thinking the same. Yes, it’s easy to feed a family of 5 by feeding them cookies and rice krispy treats. I spend about $65 a week for two, shopping at Whole foods.

      • Sherri says

        It’s funny, because I spend about $50 per week and I rarely buy any of the items pictured (except milk and bread). Those are all considered once-in-a-blue-moon treats in my house, bought only when I can get them for free (and then they get sent to youth events or other occasions where the kids are expected to bring in food). There is a spectrum of food- it doesn’t have to be all-organic versus all-junk. We eat quite nicely in between.

        • says

          Sherri,

          I agree with you. The picture can be misleading though. I am curious how you stretch your $50. What does your average purchase of $50 look like and how many people are you feeding? Hope you don’t mind me asking. Thanks!

          • Sherri says

            There are 5 in our family- 2 adults, 2 teens, and a 5-year-old. I don’t really have an “average” week since I stockpile and shop sales. The only things I buy every week are milk (3-4 gallons), bread, and bananas (8-10 pounds). Last week I bought 4 large jars of peanut butter, which I hope will last us 2 months. I also bought 4 boxes of cereal, which won’t even last a week (but I already have 20 boxes in the pantry from a previous sale). When chicken goes on sale for under $1/lb, I’ll buy 15 pounds to last a month. We eat pasta and casseroles often- things where meat is not the main ingredient. We tried whole-wheat pasta, but did not like it. I can, however, use whole-wheat flour in baking and pancakes and everyone’s okay with that. I tend to use frozen veggies over fresh. I generally do not buy junk foods; sodas, chips, etc. are for special events, not daily consumption. Hope that gives you a little to go on.

    • Noah says

      I’m with you Jamie. So frustrating how cheap processed foods are. Plus I can’t tolerate gluten, so that makes things even more expensive!

      I come no where to spending only $50 a week on food, but I do cut corners as I can.

      I buy a lot in bulk from Azure Standard. They tend to have good prices on grains and produce depending on season. Last fall I organic juicing apples for really cheap (I’m thinking 50 cents/lb). I bought 60 lbs and made tons of applesauce to eat throughout the year.

      I also buy produce straight from the farmers in the summer and can or freeze my own to eat during the winter. I can get organic canning quality peaches for $1/lb. I canned 40lbs last year, will do more this year. I also can pears and cherries. We also go berry picking in the summer and freeze those to eat all year (WAY cheaper than buying frozen in the store). I also can my own jam (and I sweeten it with honey, so it’s healthier than most storebought as well).

      I’m still working on other ways to save, but this has helped quite a bit so far. I hope to get a pressure canner to start canning veggies or at least learn how to blanch and freeze them so I can buy them in bulk from the farmer and preserve them for the winter when things are more expensive.

      • Kristin says

        You can also look in to joining a co-op in your area or doing a vegetable delivery service.
        I am part of a local veggie/fruit service. All of the food comes from local sources and I go pick-up a box each week. Not only do I get to support local farmers but I also get to try different fruits and vegetables that I wouldn’t normally pick. Financially it works out to be less than purchasing at the grocery store and it’s definitely much better quality.

        • Noah says

          Yes, I forgot that we do a CSA in the summer. As a bonus, they do a free farm school program 1x/week for children of members, so my kids get to learn about farming and actually do a bit of harvesting as well! It ends up being a great deal!

          We also buy 1/4 beef directly from a local farm. Way cheaper than buying at the store.

      • says

        I agree with Jamie and we don’t buy much prepared food. However, there are still lots of ways to cut the grocery bill.
        I spend about $200/month on our grocery for a family of 4. I cook a lot from scratch. To save on the basics, I wait for case lot sales and stock up. Each month, I take out and save about $40-50 for the sale. The flour, sugar, evap. milk and other staples are all usually on sale. And though I spend $200/month for food, for the case lot sale, I spend about $500-600 on one shopping trip.
        We also garden to save on money. We have irrigation water, so it’s only $30/summer for all we want. We are very blessed that way.
        We also do co-ops.
        And don’t forget your local classifieds — even neighbors and friends. Each year we find people who are desperate to get rid of produce because they have too much. We found one ad for a guy who had a grape vine for privacy on his fence, but he hated grapes. So we could pick all we wanted for free.

    • Carrie says

      I’m looking at her menu plan, and seeing 4 meals with chicken, as well as bacon, hot dogs/hamburgers, lots of cold cuts and cheese, lots of milk, cereal, fresh fruit/veggies and plenty of other things that are hard to find huge deals or coupons. I don’t see how $50 for 5 people and this menu is do-able. Am I missing something?

      • says

        Carrie, I didn’t look at her exact food plan, but I have my meal plans posted weekly at my blog as well and my food budget for a family of 4 is about $150-$200 per month, without using coupons. I try to shop sales, stockpile at rock bottom prices (except that my rockbottom is nowhere near the rock bottom mentioned in other comments), and cook from scratch.

    • Kathy says

      I agree, Jamie. My first thought when I saw the picture was that there’s an awful lot of junk there. There are coupons for sugar and other scratch ingredients. If you watch for sales to match with your coupons, you can get brand name products for a lot less than the cost of generics. As for produce, buy in season, and again watch sale flyers.

    • says

      I buy a lot of those things during the holidays – they are dramatically cheaper during the holidays – so I buy them then – I also never get why someone thinks it is a ‘deal’ to get a box of pre made cookies for 50 cents – when you can make a batch for about that – and it is healthier and it eliminates a few extra coupons to cut ;-) – i cut coupons for a lot of stuff – but not stuff i know i can consistently make from scratch cheaper =-)

    • says

      Jamie, I have to admit I had the first same thought! I feed my family of 4 on $50/week with no coupons (just a personal, God-led decision that I made earlier this year, after playing the coupon game for a few years). However, you can save on good foods as well. The main way I stretch our food budget is that nearly everything is from scratch.

      Yeast–buy it in bulk!!! You will save tremendously. It’s really ridiculous how much…packets at the store are usually $1.19 for a strip of 3 packets (.75 ounces). At Sam’s, I can get 2 lbs (yes, you read that right, 2 pounds of yeast), for less than $5! It is good, preferably stored someplace cold, for 2 years and I use it up faster than that.

  2. says

    Shop the perimeter, where all the “real food” is. Not only is it far healthier food, study after study shows that those who do do spend significantly less at the register. Sure, I still use coupons for things like razors or dog food, but I am trying to cut out processed foods completely. We are getting closer to that goal with each shipping trip! And we spend so much less!

  3. Katie says

    My girlfriend who shops at the commissary scores WAY better prices there than local groceries can offer.

    • Karen says

      Very true! My husband separated from the Navy last fall and it’s been a real learning curve adjusting to shopping at a “real” store. Those who do have commissary access can get awesome deals using coupons on name brand products. Now I use many less coupons and a LOT more store brand items. Happily, most of the store brand products I’ve tried have been equal in quality to the national brands I used to be able to buy.

  4. says

    Great tips, but really bad picture to show. There is barely any real food in that picture–unfortunately, it can be almost impossible to “eat clean” for $10 a person per week, so it’d be great to have tips like that… Our family does clean eating and no way would most of the stuff in that picture ever be bought–even if there were a lot of coupons…those just aren’t healthy things to feed a family, and for those on a budget, the only foods in the cart should be the ones that give the most nutritional “bang” for the buck–not cookies (which are cheaper to make, than buy.), rice krispy treats (another thing that is cheaper to make than buy), fake juice, sugar water, and fruit snacks…

      • Wendy says

        Great post Crystal! Very helpful. I may try the barter tip this summer if I can find someone to barter something I don’t have. I am really really trying the “meat as a condiment” idea, but with a born and bred meat-and potatoes husband, this is a challenge…but I’ll keep trying. I got him to agree to try my homemade granola bars instead of buying them, but got a flat N-O on switching to homemade yogurt. Ya win some and ya lose some…lol Thanks for posting this link!

        • sarah says

          My husband is super skeptical about homemade yogurt too- i’d love to try it though!

          • Susan says

            I make my own organic yogurt – it’s pretty good and saves me a lot of money. For starter, I purchase a cup of Stoneyfield plain yogurt every few batches. In between, I use half a cup of yogurt left from the last batch as starter for the next one.
            Oh- and I don’t have a yogurt maker. I tried the crockpot method, but now I prefer to use a enameled cast iron dutch oven. After I add the starter, I put the lid on and place it in my (turned off) oven overnight.

    • peever says

      I agree. It’s a great article, but it’s an unfortunate picture to pair with it. It really gives the impression that Emily is buying all junk food for $50 each week, even if that may not be true.

  5. says

    Your base commissary must have much better deals than ours. We live off base, so we typically shop off base. The few times we have tried shopping at the commissary we always spend more. We buy lots of generic items, and they just don’t carry generics. The fruit and vegetable prices may have been a tad lower, but we don’t buy enough fresh fruits and veggies to make up for the difference in the other food & household item prices.

    Also, some have said to me “oh well you don’t pay taxes on base.” (Food is taxed in our state.) Well, that’s right, but the baggers here only work for tips, so we’re out $5 for a tip off the top and they add the convenience fee or whatever they call it that more than makes up for no taxes.

    We can’t save any money by shopping for groceries on base. We shop at Target. I watch the sales, coupon and have joined their RedCard program. It’s a Target debit card that connects to your own checking account, so it works just like your own debit card, but it gives you 5% off. Also, they have a pharmacy rewards program where for every 5 prescriptions you fill with them, they’ll send you a 5% off coupon for a whole day of shopping (even on groceries), regardless of the price of the prescriptions.

    • Christine M says

      I have to agree with you. Our commissary (which is closed on Mondays) does not always have the best deals. Even with coupons I still wind up spending $80-$120 every 2 wks and that is not getting everything we need as a family of currently 6 while hubby is overseas. I’ve learned to shop at Publix for their bogo sales and get generic at Walmart. And yes I too take $5 to tip the baggers. I know its bad but I love having a few items I need so I can go through self checkout and not tip them.

    • Emma K says

      I found out yesterday that the surcharge fee charged at commissary’s is supposed to go back towards improvements and such. That is how the new commissary that is being built where I am at is being paid for. Also if a freezer or something needs replaced it comes from the surcharge fund.
      Do you really leave a $5 tip for the baggers? I usually only do a $1 or $2. It all depends on how much I am purchasing.
      We are stationed overseas so my only choice is the commissary. Before I would randomly go but would shop at Aldis and Kroger. Now I am learning how to get deals overseas at commissaries. We have friends and relatives send us coupons, but the coupons aren’t always for the brands that are carried at the commissary. There are some things that are just expensive ($10 for watermelon, $4.29 for milk) that you learn to do without or buy occasionally. We buy milk but for cooking I use powdered milk to help with the cost of it.

      • Melissa D. says

        Hey Emma,

        I couldn’t remember what they called the surcharge fee. Thanks for that. And it makes sense they’d use it for that, but when it comes to needing to save money, it does kind of nix any tax savings. At least it does here.

        Yes, we tip them about $5 every time. I don’t know if that’s a standard thing or not. We just don’t shop there very often.

        I completely understand about not having options overseas. A friend of mine is in Japan with her husband. I clip all the paper coupons every week and send her all the ones I don’t use. It stinks because she can’t stack coupons. But one coupon per item is better than none. :-)

  6. Andrea says

    Pictures like the one at the top of this article are why people say “I don’t shop with coupons because they are all for processed junk foods.”

    Most of the coupons I clip are for things like toilet paper, light bulbs and shampoo. From reading the comments here on MSM, I know that many others focus on couponing for non-food items, too.

    • Meredith says

      I rarely coupon for food items. I’m not saying I would never eat one of those keebler cookies in the picture….I definitely would. I just don’t buy them that often (I can’t remember the last time I did). We eat mostly natural and bake scratch. That saves us the most money. Like you, I coupon for non-food items.

      • says

        I’m on the same boat as your Meredith. Do you have any tips of how you save money on natural/organic foods?

  7. Tania says

    I don’t mean to be disrespectful but the picture for this article is simply awful: sugary foods and snacks. Are you kidding me? I don’t care if it’s free, you can’t pay me to eat junk or to feed it to my child.

  8. Laura says

    I would like to see more posts on how to save money buying healthy food, not junk food!

  9. Andrea says

    Most people used packaged foods on occasion and it sounds like you’ve found a good balance for your family, Anna.

    Unfortunately, the picture doesn’t show balance.

    • says

      It’s an EXAMPLE. It isn’t indicative of her weekly shopping – if I showed you a picture of what I got last week, the picture would have sunscreen, laundry detergent, some Teddy Grahams, razors, lots of cheese, diapers, some cold cereal, and a head of romaine lettuce.

      Sometimes, we need to lighten up a bit, and extend grace to people who are doing their best for their families, no?

  10. says

    Please don’t judge so quickly. Not one of us reading this post knows the story behind that picture except Emily. It’s possible that Emily didn’t submit the picture herself. Or if she did, maybe the picture of what she bought was only PART of her shopping trip. Maybe it’s a picture of things that she scored for free or cheap. We try to eat healthy around here too, but if the junk food is on sale and I have a coupon, that’s when I buy it…to use sparingly, as treats! Let’s focus on all the great tips that she gave, not on one picture that we don’t know the background on :)
    Thanks for the great tips, Emily!
    Lisa

    • Dana says

      Thanks Lisa! I am glad not everyone takes the picture so seriously.

      Emily I appreciated your article as well!

      • says

        I strive to feed my family healthy foods – I don’t do the whole “clean eating” trend. Why? because frankly, that’s not how I roll. I like to eat certain foods, and am not willing to give them up. So go ahead and judge, but I’ll be sitting here with my homebrewed beer and a snack of artisan cheeses anyway.

        But things like what were pictured? Those are not daily staples. I buy things like that during really great sales, but the kids don’t get them every day – they’re a “sometimes food”. People need to extend more grace and understanding, and less judgment. Not everyone can be “perfect” and eat clean, organic, etc. Some of us just want to feed our families good food, and if that means the occasional Rice Krispie treat, so what!? Oy.

    • says

      I thought perhaps it was an example of when she “would spend more than anticipated” due to using coupons (since the pictured items are things that usually have coupons).

  11. Wendy says

    I get frustrated when I see that people can feed their families on $50 a week, but when i looked at that pic, it looked like almost all junk, so to me, a waste of $50. I rarely can find coupons that I can use for healthy things, so I try my best to use the coupons I do find on personal care items and then shop seasonally and grow what I can. I am planning on canning this summer as the crops come in for me and from the farmer’s markets and making or baking as much from scratch as possible. I find my baking staples at Sams for less. We’ve also recently (withing the last 3 years) planted our own fruit trees, so in a couple of years I’ll be canning from our own harvest and selling the overflow at the farmer’s market to put toward grocery money. My hubby raises bees, so we don’t have to buy honey and it’s organic, inexpensive to raise them and we can sell the excess as well to put back into groceries. I used to get really upset at not being a successful couponer like I’ve read in so many blogs, but because of how we eat and the small town we live in, I’ve had to find other ways to work around the system. And I know we’re eating healthy foods, so that makes me feel good. Now if only I had a root cellar…lol..next project maybe.

  12. Shelah says

    I’m sure the pic is only one little part of the overall shopping.

    Yet, a deal is NOT a deal if it is not good for our bodies. Cheap cookies now will have a cost in one form or another later.

    • says

      Shelah,
      Thank you for saying what I had been thinking…..cheap food now will hurt you later. I think people think in the moment and not toward the future much, especially with food.
      While I understand that some of us have time constraints, feeding your family real food does NOT have to be time consuming nor expensive. While you might have to pay more than $50 a week (might, depends on your family size & where you live), the investment in your future health is worth it.
      As far as the ones who are saying that people are being too critical, I don’t agree. People are showing Crystal exactly the kind of content they want to see. And personally for me, if someone is critical of my choices it does not bother me. I do what I do for my family because its the best for THEM, not everyone else. I don’t expect everyone to get what I do. ;)

  13. Jennifer says

    I hate to say this because I really enjoy reading your stuff and I have saved a LOT based on what you send (especially Target stuff) but the reason you save so much is because you feed your family JUNK! I would never feed my family any of that stuff. You are filling them with garbage food-anyone can eat these things for pennies on the dollar.

    • Danielle says

      This is a guest post–this isn’t Crystal’s post or picture. From her menus and recipes, etc. she feeds her family healthy, balanced meals.

  14. Katel says

    I think there’s been an awful lot of judgemental comments (guess that statement is a judgement, too :) )
    I have drastically reduced high carb, heavily processed foods in our home – but I am an older mom with a little wiggle room in our grocery budget. I also have some age related health problems that make high quality food a necessity.
    When a family is young, healthy and on a very tight budget, it’s a different situation. I have some friends who struggle to put any food on the table, and friends who are working moms who use a lot of convenience foods to preserve their sanity. Getting enough calories into their kids is the main priority; perfect nutrition takes a distant second.
    There are seasons for everything in life, and sometimes we moms are in different seasons, even if we all have children at home.

  15. Andrea says

    I think you misunderstood what I meant by balance. I was not saying anything negative about your choices; I was complimenting you for finding a good mix of foods for your family.

  16. says

    I think tip#2 (use a calculator) is really helpful. I sometimes get to the register and think I know how much I spent, but then with a few things added in, suddenly I’m over budget.

    That said, I had to smile when I saw this post because I just got back from a grocery trip where I spent over $100. I don’t expect to spend that much every week, and we do have a family of five, but I really felt okay with my purchases. While I love to save money on groceries, I also realize that food is something we encounter at least three times a day, 365 days a year, and I don’t want to try to get the balance too low and do without some items that really help us time-wise, emotion-wise, and health-wise just for the sake of saving money. I’d much rather save money by buying less new clothes for myself or making my own curtains, fitted sheets, etc.

  17. Jul says

    I am totally shocked at the disrespect I see in these comments to others. How someone raises and feeds a family is a personal decision – not right or wrong.

    Emily, I think it is fantastic that you are able to save so much, and I got a renewed interest in lowering my budget after reading your post and implementing some of your ideas.

    Anna, I applaud you for being such an amazing mom for all that you do. Keep up the good work!!

    What ever happened to “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” and, as the Bible says, “love one another”?

    • Andrea says

      Disagreeing is not disrespectful; it is not disrespectful to say “my family doesn’t eat these types of foods”.

      • Kristin says

        Agreed. Loving one another doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything they say.

        Of course these things are personal decision but if you aren’t to hear comments from both sides of the argument then you probably shouldn’t put your decisions out there for other people to read. I think that we, as adults, should all be able to politely and respectfully disagree with people and have discussions regarding this.

        • Danielle says

          That’s true, but many of these comments are not politely disagreeing–some are clearly rude and could be hurtful. Crystal is always so respectful and kind to her readers. I would hope the people commenting would show the same kindness to those she features in guest posts.

      • Julie says

        I agree, disagreeing can be good, done in the right way. I guess disrespectful was not really what I meant. I feel that some of these posts are just plain rude.

        • Staci says

          I agree. There is a difference between saying that you prefer not to buy those types of food and saying that the author is filling her family up with junk.

      • says

        I agree, especially since as a blogger you put yourself out there for all to see by choice. When you post something on your blog or write a guest post you are inviting people into your life- if you don’t want them to provide feedback then don’t invite said people into your life. It’s like reality tv- don’t go on and then wonder why people would dare comment on how you live your life.

        Whenever I post anything I know that it is possible to get negative comments but it doesn’t bother me. I do what I feel is right for my family and I and hope that everyone else does what they feel is right for their families. If someone decides to call me out because I bought fruit snacks for my kids, so be it. My kids eat healthy and treats are something that I occationally let them have. Besides, I hide all of the good stuff for myself : )

    • Lyn says

      Yes, and also – “if you don’t have anything good to say, then don’t say anything at all”. I’m all for eating healthy, but it gets tiring to hear from those who police comments about eating clean, eating only organic, never eating junk food, etc. Great, that is good for anyone who can afford to do such things. But not everyone can.

      I personally don’t eat much in the way of junk food (but I’m not perfect in my eating either). However, I’m just not going to disrespect anyone who does. We all make our own choices. Better to just keep one’s opinion to themselves, instead of hurting a person’s feelings. Like Crystal has often said, “do what is best for your family and your situation”.

      It’s discouraging to see women being critical of other women. We all try to do our best to help our families – let’s leave it at that.

      Thank you for your article, Emily. :)

  18. Erica W says

    I am glad to know I am NOT the only one who cringed & gasped… I am pretty close to retiring my couponing… we have gone gluten free, & the stuff that is not homemade from scratch that we can technically eat from the stores, I don’t buy except for maybe when we need a sport treat for a team game. We each so little of this stuff that I will “splurge” on it for the sport snacks as we have BTDT bringing in fruit & maybe 1-2 kids besides MY kids eating it… so many, I don’t like whatever fruit it is… :(. I do try my very best though to at least buy the stuff w/out HFCS, artificial sweeteners, etc. though because I can’t resolve myself to using them even as a “splurge.”

    Even if this picture is not representative of what she buys each week, it IS a very good representation of what couponing amounts to… frozen pizzas, TV dinners, kool-aid boxes, gummy snacks, etc. I keep wanting to cancel my coupon/newspaper subscription, but I still like to use it for the few toiletries, household misc, etc. that I will actually use from a mainstream store. A month or so ago I saved $100+ on games alone, which more than pays for 4 subscriptions for a year… I feel I am way beyond the break even point so every other useful coupon is “free” at this point.

    I am glad to know I am not the only one wondering if couponing is even worth it anymore… I started to feel like I was a bit silly! LOL

    • says

      That is so not true about couponing. Do you use toilet paper? Do you eat organic salad? What about orange juice, almonds, breakfast sausages, frozen fruits and veggies, yogurt, and even baking products.

      Lumping all coupons into the “junk” category is unfair to the coupons. ;) I get TP for free, all my HBA for free, diapers for cheap, laundry detergent for free, cleaners for free…and I still get to buy Organic Girl brand foods, as well as good fruits and veggies, as well as meats, with my overage. It’s all about strategic shopping. :)

      • says

        When I did couponing here in South Florida overages are NOT allowed, period. Please keep in mind how your store lets you coupon is not the reality for all of us. We also get no of the buy this and get $3 off meat/dairy/etc coupons and no doubles.

      • says

        I agree 100%. I haven’t paid for toiletries and paper products in a year thanks to coupons. And I am able to buy fruits and vegetables with coupons often, just email the companies and politely ask for coupons. I also buy lots of frozen veges, on sale and with a coupon usually makes them free.

  19. Anna says

    Thank you but I am only doing what any mother, dad, grandparent, foster parent would do–provide and care for their family. Everyone here who reads MSM is doing what they think is the best for their families.

    Emily shares my financial goals so I appreciated her tips too.

  20. michele says

    You are not alone! I feel the same way! We shouldn’t feel bad for providing for our families the best we can. I think I am going to start a blog and focus on working single moms trying to do the best we can. Thank you!

    • Patty says

      Michele, let us know when you start that blog. I’ll be your first reader! There is SUCH a void of inspiring, creative, practical information our there for single working moms.

  21. Kristin says

    I understand that not everybody is going to agree with every tip or opinion that is posted on the site but I really think that’s a good thing! We can discuss these things honestly and see how other people view things.

    This is the 2nd article that has been posted this week where some people have disagreed with something that was said or pictured and it’s interesting to me that not only were many comments deleted but the actual articles or pictures were changed as well. I am just wondering why differing opinions are being deleted, not everything is going to be positive but we should still be able to see what people think.

  22. Heather says

    A LOT of people really think that there is nothing wrong with eating those foods. This is more common than many people realize.

    • sandra says

      youre right, and I buy them as well. just notice what others are also buying in the store when youre ther. so many downright rude comments this post has stirred up! it always amazes me how people become ” better than thou” food snobs when it comes to a post where someon is “real”.

      • Bon says

        You are so right. Also, did anybody else notice the title does not say ‘How I Feed Our Family an Organic, Clean, Allergy Sensitive, Junk-free, 100% Scratch-Only Diet on $50/wk’?

        I tend to lean towards the cleaner, organic diet, but I occasionally eat some of the foods in the picture and you better believe if my family was on a REALLY tight budget, we would be eating as much free/cheap food that we could afford to keep our bellies full. Carbs are carbs, not matter if it is homemade or not. And unless you are organic/natural in other areas of your life, you are constantly being exposed to pesticides, preservatives, artificial colors, and harmful chemicals. There is no way around it.

  23. Danielle B says

    Our grocery budget has continually vanished over the last year. Some of it has been purposeful, some of it has been circumstantial or poor decisions on our part, but either way, it’s been tight.

    The most important thing I started doing was menu planning. Plan your work and work your plan. That has made all the difference in the world.

    The second most important thing is estimating what every single item I’m going to buy will cost. I’ve shopped so many times I just have that running list in my head. I write down every grocery item I need to complete my menu plan and then the estimated cost next to it. I keep a running tally as I’m planning the menu so I know if I need to choose more simplistic meals, less or no meat meals, or rearrange things around. I make sure my total estimation is within my grocery budget for the week, that way there are no doubts about how much I’m spending.

    Then, when I’m in the store, whatever the item is has to fit within my estimated budget. So, if I budget $2 for salad dressing, I can’t choose the salad dressing that’s $2.58, I have to pick the one that’s $1.98. The only exception is if I already have estimated overage. For instance, if I budgeted $3 for peanut butter, but was able to get one for $2.50, I have a $0.50 overage. Now I know I can get the $2.58 dressing if it’s a better cost per ounce value. If it’s not, I just keep my overage to maybe use on a different product.

    I’ve done this for the last four weeks, and I can’t believe how we’ve not only survived, but thrived. I always used to go over my budget, and never have any real idea of where the money went. Now I know exactly. I come under my budget each week by $0.13-$10.00. It adds up amazingly. I know this won’t work for everyone, but it has made a huge difference for me!

    • Christy Carden says

      Do you shop with kids? I shop with 2 kids 95% of the time. I stick to my list but it is impossible to calculate each item and know that I have 50 cents overage for another item. At least I tend to stick to my list because I grab and go and try to get done in the shortest amount of time possible!

      • says

        I rarely shop with my 4 kids because when I do I find that it is difficult to stick with the budget. If you can find someone to watch your kids while you shop than it will save you money in the end. I often sacrifice my sleep to shop at night (I am talking 12am shopping trips) This way my husband can be home while the kids are sleeping. This saves me money and helps me avoid one of those dreaded scenes that small children are so wonderful at.

        Another thing I do is head to a local grocery store that offers Free in-store child care while I shop! This store is my go-to on a rainy day! Un-interrupted shopping for me and playtime for the boys! Win-Win!

      • Danielle B says

        I do shop with my children, ages 6, 4 and 2, but I work it different ways. Sometimes I only take one with me. Sometimes I’ll take two. I rarely take all three because we’re in “training mode” right now, and I don’t think I could focus as carefully on my list and budget, and train them properly.
        If I do have to take all three, my 2 year old sits in the front buggy and my 4 year old sits in the larger part. I take several different things to keep them occupied. My 4 and 6 year old have a small list that I make up for them with a simply drawn picture and a check box (grapes, bananas, oranges, bread, chicken, flour, etc.) Their job is to keep an eye out for when we come across that item, and then help put it in the buggy, and check it off of their list.
        I just started putting the budgeted price next to the items on my 6 year old’s list. He helps me weigh bananas, tomatoes, check eggs in their carton, etc. By doing this I can keep my children busy, learning, involved and focus on my budget at the same time.
        For right now, however, we mostly shop as family. My husband and I love being together, especially with our children. It’s a fun time to be together, and my husband feels like he knows where his hard-earned money is going when he sees all the things we purchase. My husband is wonderful and helps keep the children occupied, talking and singing to them, holding them if they get fussy or fidgety.
        There have been times when he couldn’t accompany me, when his work was too tiring, too long or no days off. During those times, since our children were all so little, I would get up at 5 a.m. and do my shopping. Then I was back home in time to get him up for work and I could take care of our children.
        I hope that helps! :-)

  24. sarah says

    I was thinking that same thing about the negativity :( I usually love reading the posts AND comments here, the atmosphere is usually so pleasant and uplifting, but the past couple posts people have just been really harsh on the guest writers. It kind of makes me feel embarrassed for us all as readers.

  25. says

    I love the meal planning in advance from the fridge/freezer/pantry tip!

    Often, when I am meal planning from my own storage, I only have to purchase a few fresh items to round out the meal. I try to make simple, low ingredient meals, especially simple side dishes. You really don’t need more than a steamed fresh veggie on sale or a simple salad to go along with your meals. I usually get all the side dishes I need for the entire week for $4 total. (Two heads of lettuce and couple pounds of carrots and potatoes go a long way!) Simplicity in meal planning is your frugal friend!

    Simple eating doesn’t have to be boring, either. We don’t eat the same meal more than once a month, and I’m always making new recipes. When I’m really looking for inspiration, I will look at the menus from my favorite restaurants, and find recipes to make the same things less expensive and healthier at home :)

    • Wendy says

      The meal planning tip is probably the #1 tip I think, although I seem to get so overwhelmed when I sit down and try to plan based on what’s on sale, what I have and what few coupons I might find. I don’t know if anyone else finds it so overwhelming…I’ve been scouring blogs for freezable meals and inexpensive meals and I can never seem to find things that sound tasty enough…most are things that I’m not sure I could convince my family to eat…lol. The bloggers make it look so easy. I bet I could save a whole lot more if I didn’t have such picky eaters on my hands and special needs (allergies, etc). I almost feel pressured in that “if they can do it for $50 I should be able to as well”, but I guess if I have to spend a little more for special needs and healthier meals I guess i shouldn’t feel guilty. Every year grocery prices seem to go up and up and I know I must be able to cut down my budget somehow…but the overwhelming feeling sets in and I end up spending more than I should. I’m going to keep following along this blog and Emily’s blog and see if their inspiration can boost my confidence. We all don’t have to buy and serve the same kinds of foods, every family is different, but there must be common ways of saving $$$ no matter what type of food you serve your family.

      • says

        I agree with you, Menu Planning can be overwhelming. I think that even though it is the #1 tip for feeding you family on a budget, it should be the 2nd or 3rd step when actually going about it. It is often better to know what you have on hand first.

        Take some time to go through your pantry, fridge, and freezer- Throw away any expired food and donate any unopened unexpired canned goods that you haven’t used in the past 3-6 mo. and don’t think you will use in the future. Make an inventory list that you keep in your kitchen- preferably on your fridge. When you are close to running out of an item place it on your grocery list.

        Next take a look at your “inventory” Are there any recipes that you can make and freeze with the ingredients you have on hand? Ex. Do you have eggs, cheese, and tortillas? Whip up a batch of breakfast burritos to throw in your freezer. Once you start having items in your freezer for meals it is easier to began meal planning. Simple homemade premade items are the true recipe for menu-planning success.

        • Wendy says

          Great tip on having a list visible…my home is set up to where my pantry is not close to the kitchen (ugh) and it’s a difficult area to keep everything where you can see it…but a list on the side of the fridge is a GREAT idea.

          Now to get over the mental block when it comes to thinking up what to make based on what I have and what’s on sale…I know it’s just a quirk or some weird sort of perfectionism that makes me overwhelmed, but I plan to conquer it! I’ll start with baby steps and one day I’ll get to the place where I don’t start getting anxious at 4pm…lol

          Thanks for the suggestions! :)

      • Katel says

        Wendy, thank you for raising the point of picky eaters and special diets. We have both.

        • Wendy says

          Oye…it’s so hard to cut down the bill when you are restricted to certain prepackaged foods , certain brands and what I would eat wouldn’t satisfy my husband who eats twice as much as I do (he’s tall and very active) and won’t work for the allergies in the family. It’s a LOT of work trying to plan, prepare and make it a goal to cut down the budget because we just have to right now…I’m not turning my nose up, I’m not creating an “idol” out of it….it’s just a tough thing I do gladly for my family. I just wish I could do it on $50 a week, but that will never be possible for us, I guess I just have to accept that. A gallon of organic milk is over $5 alone and we go through at least 3 a week. I’ve never been able to score free toilet paper (and if I did someone would have some sort of reaction to it knowing my luck lol) This is how we choose to eat and I will continue to scour the blogs and articles and recipes and all to find ways to do it better. I’m so glad there is such a thing as blogs to come to for tips like these good ones shared here….10 years ago I had no resources like that…so I’m grateful. Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone out here :)

      • Kathy says

        Meal planning can be overwhelming, but you can start small and work up to it. Plan only a week, or even a few days at a time. Plan only one of the meals (dinner if that’s your main meal of the day). Once you see how meal planning frees you, you’ll want to do it more often and for longer periods of time.

        As for freezer meals, start with what your family likes. You don’t have to use someone else’s recipe, and you don’t have to have a big freezer cooking day. For example, does your family like tacos? Next time you make them, double the amount of meat, and freeze half. You now have the beginnings of another meal. Soups freeze beautifully, except for cream soups. Make a double batch and again, freeze half.

        Baby steps are all you need.

  26. says

    Maybe I should really start keep track of how much it is just for food. My food budget usually includes any dog/cat food, kitty litter and anything else I pick up at the grocery store. I wonder now how much just on food we are spending. We do garden but the cost of the seeds is very low. We make our own compost for the garden out of food scraps also.
    I like seeing how much others are spending on groceries. I know we have to eat dairy free so the soy milk can get expensive. Also my kids and husband can eat goat or sheep cheese but not cow so that can run anywhere from $8 to $14 a pound but it is something my husband really enjoys so we won’t be giving it up.
    I usually plan our meals on month in advance maybe I should try just weekly menu planning and see if that saves us more. I am always looking for new ways to save.

    • Wendy says

      I have a milk allergy in the family too and the soy substitutes and things really add up. On rare occasions I might find a coupon for Silk, but otherwise I have to pay regular price. I am happy though that our local grocery store (we live in a small town) is starting to stock non-dairy items and that is a relief to be able to find them without traveling and spending more money on gas! :)

      • Wendy says

        good for you on composting too! We do that and it’s wonderful for the garden!

    • Andrea says

      One thing that has saved me a lot of money is shopping by what’s on sale, which means I plan one week at a time. If eggs are on sale (rarely), I might buy four dozen and have scrambled eggs a couple of days. Most weeks, eggs aren’t on sale, so plain eggs wouldn’t be part of our menu.

      • says

        I was reading recently that eggs will last in the fridge a very long time. It may be worth buying them in large quantities and stretching them for two or three weeks instead of just one. I bought 3 containers of 18 count eggs because they were on sale for $1.49. I used some to make breakfast burritos for my DH but most are there for baking and meals and should easily last us the next 3 weeks.

  27. J.S. says

    I agree with most of you other moms. I too noticed that this picture was mostly junk food. I never buy rice krispie treats, but sometime do buy the cereal bars when I get a good deal. My oldest daughter likes them. I also must say that i am not at all judging Emily as she may just have used this picture as an example of a good deal, not as a an example of her usual food purchases.

  28. Meredith says

    Can I say something here about the food pictured. I too eat mostly natural and cook from scratch BUT…..my husband works for one of the companies that makes a food pictured above. Please not that these food items are AMERCIAN made and the company employees many Americans. He wouldn’t have a paycheck and be able to put those wholesome vegetables on our dinner table. He brings us home treats all of the time (because we can get them cheaper than couponing) and it’s nice to sit back and relax and not to have to worry about baking sometimes. I had them growing up and I turned out fine!!!!

  29. says

    While some of us may not feed this food to our families at all, I am pretty sure that most of us feed our families this stuff at least sometimes.
    The picture is just supposed to be representative of a single shopping trip, not what they are eating in a week. She keeps a stockpile of foods that she gets cheap, so she just replenishes with what is on sale.

  30. Julie says

    Emily, I can’t tell what is written on the envelope, but are you writing what store you spent what amount? I need to do that. Would be an eye opener for me for sure!

  31. Beth says

    I posted on the FB post, but can’t find it now! Here’s what I haven’t seen addresses: My husband is not average size. He is 6’5″, built like a football player, not a basketball player. What satisfies me (salad with a little chicken on top, etc) is just an appetizer to him. Also, I have 3 kids, 2 are teens. One is going through a growth spurt, and eats so much right now. So I can see it would be easier to spend significantly less if I had a smaller husband and younger kids!!!

    • Jen says

      I would love tips on this too! My kids are pre-teens and I can’t believe the difference in how much they are eating!!! They never seem to be full and I’m trying to come up with creative ways to keep them fed while not breaking the bank.
      Emily-great job on your savings!

    • Kristine says

      I know what you mean. My hubby is 6’11” and eats probably three times the amount of food that an average-sized man would eat. Our three kids are still pre-teens/tweens, so I’m sure that our food needs will increase even more in the next few years. I don’t use many coupons; I shop primarily at Aldi. Also, I don’t have enough storage space to stockpile or buy things in bulk, and I cook most things from scratch and don’t buy much processed food. I think we’re doing pretty well if we can limit our food budget to about $180 per week.

  32. Shannon says

    Excellent idea and spreadsheet on meal planning. I also do this and if some of the critical readers complaining about the photo would have taken the time to read your meal planning, they would have also complimented you. You have provided a healthy and well rounded diet for your family but most of all, you have been able to provide food for your family which is the biggest blessing of all. There are people in third world countries who do not have all of the choices and abundance that we have here and I’m sure they would be perfectly happy with all of the items in your photo. Keep up the great work and I know your family appreciates all that you do.

  33. Nancy says

    I think Crystal will be deleting these negative comments. They are very mean and surprising. I looked at Emily’s website and she has meal plans that are not junk food. Also, if you want to make a point, be nice and encouraging not judgmental and righteous.

    • Andrea says

      Earlier today, a bunch of the comments were deleted, but almost all of them have since returned.

  34. Lynn says

    I think sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the “competition” of feeding my family for $1 a month or whatever. I think it is important to remember that, as with everything in life, you should find the right balance for your family. I am sure her photo was just a pic she took, she may have just grabbed some stuff for a photo from her stockpile or what have you, honestly it doesn’t really impact the article. She gave some tips, you may use them or you may not – that’s all. Everyone has to do whatever is right for them, if you prefer to spend your $2.50 on apples instead of a box of cookies then you should. If someone else does not, it doesn’t really impact you – you should find the balance to feed your family the best kinds of foods you want to feed them for the best price you can. Everyone has their own financial goals and you should honor those.

    • Andrea says

      I personally feel that the picture ruins the article, because it implies that these are the types of foods that the author is buying for $50/week. From reading the comments on this post and on many other posts here on MSM, it seems that many readers are trying to find ways to spend less on more healthful foods.

  35. Mary says

    Emily thank you so much for your lovely post your guidelines are very helpful I especially like the one about making a menu, that has worked nicely for me. Less cost and stress. One extra thing I do is include a bean dish of some sort, nutritious and cheap or stretch a meat with a vegetable that’s on sale, I also make lots of egg dishes when those go on sale as well.
    Thanks again!
    P.S. I noticed on your blog you are a military spouse, thank you to you and your husband for your supreme sacrifice and service to our country.

  36. shannon says

    The thing I probably appreciated most about this post was when you said it took you 9 months to get your stockpile, etc to where you could do $50 a week. I have yet to get the whole planning your menus based on sales and what is in your cupboard. We have a pretty basic menu but I can’t seem to time it with sales, etc.

  37. Amanda says

    I think the cash envelope system is wonderful, and understanding the sales cycles is so key, great tips Emily! And I think you did a great job on your savings, way to go!!!

  38. says

    I have a family of 3 (going to be 4 in a few weeks) but we have been able to keep our food budget to about $160 per month. I can usually get our toiletries for free from cvs or walgreens. I do most of our shopping at Aldi (some of the produce is the same that they sell at the health food store!) – I coupon at Publix, Bi-Lo, Walmart, Earth Fare and Whole Foods. I also just started using Vitacost for gluten free flours, flax seeds, coconut oil, lots of gluten free cereal and more for under $20. (They have a referral program so I have used $30 in free money they gave me!)

    We are starting to “eat clean” and I am still seeing that I can keep our budget at least under $200 per month. I also garden – spent less than $30 for all my plants plus my in laws have a huge garden that I will be able to eat from and we purchased a CSA box this year with another family. This is about $33 per month but since I will not have to buy veggies from the grocery store I can still stay within budget.

    Keeping your food budget around $50 per week is very doable even if you are trying to eat really healthy. I have been able to help all my friends who are healthy eaters to save money by getting creative, using coupons, price matching and cooking/baking from scratch.

    Thank you Emily for the inspiring post. You help me to know that I can still stay under $200 per month with a growing family. :D

  39. says

    I am shocked by the judgmental holier-than-thou attitudes of some as well. Not everyone can afford to feed their families a certain way. Who are we to judge what her and her family eats? Some of the readers took absolutely nothing from the great post and focused too much on a photo.

    • says

      Nor do some of us WANT to feed our families a certain way – while I don’t feel a cookie with real chocolate chips and white sugar is a necessity per se, it is one of those things that make life a little sweeter. I’ve tried using whole wheat in proportions in my baking – the only way I like it is in bread or rolls. The rest of my baking is white flour, and I’m cool with that.

      Some of the other commenters here, I’m sure, would judge me harshly as well. We brew our own beer and wine…and frankly, I don’t feel overly compelled to eat organic everything. I stick to the dirty dozen, and that’s it…but sometimes, the budget doesn’t allow for organics. I’d rather just feed my children healthy fruits and veggies, healthy meats, etc then at that point rather than go into debt attempting to be “clean”. When something takes a hold of your life like I think I may be seeing in some comments here – it becomes an idol. We all need to remember here that everyone comes from different walks of life – and everyone is in a different place in their lives.

      Saying that you will pay for a prepackaged cookie in the long run seems a bit harsh to me – we are surrounded by chemicals, pollutants, etc. One stinkin’ Keebler cookie won’t give me poor health, heart disease, or cancer. That’s up to my genetics. ;)

      In the mean time, I’ll just continue to balance my choices (whether it’s a beer and some artisan cheese, or a few Oreos with milk) with salads, lean meats, etc, and exercise. And I don’t give a flying squirrel what anyone thinks of how I feed my family. Like I said previously – judge away. The Pharisees did the same. ;)

  40. Catherine says

    I love how all the comments about the food indicate its all junk but, I also see two gallons of milk, a loaf of bread, nutrigrain bars and a vitamin water in the same photo. I guess we all see what we choose to see to validate our personal beliefs. To each his own. Some people won’t feed their families processed foods, some won’t use sugar, some won’t use artificial sweeteners, some won’t use butter, some won’t use coconut oil – lets just be happy that our families have food and worry a little bit less about the nutritional value of what someone else is putting in their families’ mouths. Aren’t we all just doing our best for those we love with the resources available to us?

  41. ann says

    Emily, its great that you are saving so much money. What you choose to buy is totally your decision and I respect that. I wouldn’t buy the products pictured above for my family but I like the tips you’ve given. Shopping sales, having a decent stockpile, knowing what you already have, etc have helped me save a good chunk of money.

  42. Toni says

    Well, I’ve been reading MSM’s blog since the basement apartment days and I have been noticing a trend with the snarky comments lately on how healthy this and that is. A hungry child is HUNGRY. They don’t care if the item you are about to feed them has preservatives in it or not. A mother trying to feed her children on 25.00 a week because that’s all she has because her husband is unemployed or underemployed is blessed to find any helpful information on how to do so. Double blessed if she an afford a newspaper to get the coupons in it. I feed my family the best I can. My husband couldn’t care less if his keebler cookies were glowing green from radiation… the man WANTS his coconut dreams! I can only try to incorporate healthier items (without his knowledge). I personally LOVED this article! (I also know that most commissaries had the treats on sale for 1.00 a box and the .50 coupon made them .. .50! I bought 10 boxes. My grandaughter thought I was the best grandma ever.. her mother can’t afford to buy them.. even with coupoons. Please don’t turn you nose up so high… if it rains.. you’re in trouble.

  43. says

    I’d encourage everyone to remember that Emily is seeking to do the best she can with the resources she has. Her family is living on a very tight budget and I think she’s doing a fabulous job of feeding them well with the limited resources she has (did you check out her menu that I posted?)

    We have a large variety of readers here from many different walks of life. While I can’t please everyone, I want to provide a broad base of suggestions and ideas.

    We’ve had many posts recently on natural and organic eating on a budget. If you’re looking for posts on that topic, do a quick search for natural and organic in the search feature on the sidebar. It will pull up a bunch of great posts and ideas.

    However, for those of you who were upset by this post, please remember that not all of my readers are ready to take a leap to go all natural and organic nor are some in the financial position to do so. This was a post that was geared more for beginners, those who are brand-new to bargain-shopping, and those who are on a really tight budget… and there were hundreds (thousands?) of people who really appreciated and were inspired by it, even if everyone wasn’t.

    My aim is not to please everyone all of the time, but to inspire many people most of the time. Not everything you read here is always going to be something that you’ll find personally helpful for you, but remember that it might be life-changing for someone else who is in a different position.

    Thanks for reading here — and for continuing to read even when you don’t always like or agree with me or with what is posted here! :)

    • sandra says

      very well said! I dont eat all natural, but still love your blog. To everything ther must be balance, right? thanks for still posting for everyone and not just a select few.

    • Lyn says

      Unfortunately it’s easier to be judgmental if one doesn’t have any restrictions with their money or grocery budget. I applaud every woman or man who does their best to provide what they can for their family. It’s not easy these days for a lot of people who have lost their jobs, are under-employed, disabled, living on social security, etc.

      Unless one walks in someone’s shoes, it’s best to reserve judgment and remember your blessings. I think the poster is doing the best that she can with a tight budget (of which I understand and am living with too). With my husband recently losing his job, it’s just not easy.

      If people don’t agree with a poster, maybe it’s better to stay tight-lipped and say nothing at all, rather than to hurt their feelings.

      Emily, I hope you’ll be encouraged with all of your efforts. :)

      • says

        I totally agree that we shouldn’t be judgmental, but for those who want to, you can feed your family healthier choices on less. We’ve been on a really tight budget for a while now (about $150/month for groceries and other household items), and one of the first things to go for me was junk food. Not saying I never buy any because I do, but it’s a rare treat here. And the reason is because even with coupons I found that I didn’t want to pay $.50/box for cookies with coupons when I could put that $.50 toward “real” food for my family.

        For me it’s not a judgmental thing, it’s a necessity thing. Our budget is so tight that I don’t want to waste a cent of it on “empty calories” when we need every penny to be spent on real nutritious food instead.

        I would encourage everyone that you absolutely can feed your family on a tight budget, and feed them real food. Maybe not organic, but you can feed them real food.

        • Lyn says

          Crystal,
          Yes, it is possible to eat healthy food on less money. I try to do the same.

          I went to Emily’s site and her menus look balanced and healthy. I don’t think many of the people leaving comments have bothered to look at her menus and site. Instead of giving her the benefit of the doubt some have jumped the gun, leaving critical comments. That is what I was referring to in my prior comment.

  44. Joyce says

    For several years I was a single mother starting when I was 2 months pregnant, working and going to nursing school full time. I didn’t coupon because I didn’t have time or money for a newspaper, I didn’t cook (at all) unless there was a break in school semesters, and my son ate processed junk all the time. And you know what? I didn’t feel bad about it because I was doing the best I could at the time.
    Now, I’m married, I stay at home full time, and I make almost everything (including cleaners, shampoo, laundry soap, dishwasher detergent, etc) from scratch, so I don’t coupon much if at all, I garden and preserve most of our food. I’m blessed to have this opportunity and it suits my priorities for right now, but the way I feed my family now doesn’t diminish the decisions I made or the intentions I had previously. Everyone is at a different place in their lives with different priorities and different needs. I think it is wonderful for Emily that she can feed her family on $50 a week, I think it’s wonderful that the people out there who choose to feed their families a certain way can do so, I think it’s wonderful that the single mothers out there are doing a hard, hard, hard thing and making the best of it, and I think everyone else is wonderful and true for making the best decisions they can for their families every day.

    But the point is, peeps — we’re all in this together. Life isn’t easy for anyone, regardless of your circumstances. So let’s be grateful that everyone who subscribes or guest posts or runs this blog is doing it because they love their families and want to do good in the world, whether it’s limited to your own family or more widespread. There’s not enough love in the world to begin with. Let’s all focus to pump just a little bit more love in where we can, eh?

  45. Erin says

    Most of us have eaten this type of stuff or fed it to our kids at least occasionally as a “sometimes” treat. I think the issue here is that there is so much of it–and all in one shopping trip. This isn’t stockpile food that lasts indefinitely, and the writer states that she now shops weekly using coupons (and coupons for the healthy shown are rare), which leads the reader to believe that this is representative of their diet/budget. Remember, she chose the photo to illustrate the article; unfortunately it undermines her point.

    • Anna says

      I politely disagree. When a person shops regularly with coupons, judging by the couponing blogs run by many women, their “bragging” photos show a huge variety and diversity of products which do not seem connected to a “normal” grocery shopping list. In other words, look at Crystal’s shopping photos there is a variety of items, rice milk, tomatoes, kiwis, onions–is she going to just feed that to her family for the week. I would not ASSUME so based on the one picture she posted. Crystal shops the ways she advises. I think many readers are making a “giant leap” regarding Emily’s posting and some of the comments are not gracious or kind. I personally find that really, really sad for those people. Life is too short to waste so much negative energy on one picture but I am an “old” mom and have had some significant life altering experiences that keep me humble. Many of these readers sound very young and have much to learn about life. I wish each of you the best and hope you make the best decisions for your family. Me, I will keep giving my kids junk food on occasion. Happy couponing or organic food buying to each of you. :)

      • Tammy says

        Good comment.Loved what you said but I am an “old” mom and have had some significant life altering experiences that keep me humble.

        • Veronica says

          Me too! I appreciate the range of articles covering budget meals, as well as how to buy healthy and organic. Depending on where you are in your life – young kids, teens, empty nester, etc. some articles may help more than others. And I have found that what article may not help me in one phase of my life may help in another. I do find myself going back to older articles here to get ideas, but when they were first written may not have been helpful to me. The helpful comments and great tips left by posters have really been wonderful. Trying to be positive and offer tips, rather than just be critical, is more valuable to everyone, I think.

  46. Asmith says

    Thanks for the post all the tips were great.
    I am so thankful that the Lord judges my heart and not the outward appearance. Let’s stop comparing ourselves to one another and be at peace within ourselves and do what is best for you and your family. Be encouraged on your journey to save and feed your family . You can’t take it with you when you leave this earth. I have enjoyed MSM the last couple of years. I read the for deals and ideas . Reading the comments on some of the post have left me a little sad. Not because of my choices but I am sad for those that read and begin to feel bad about what they are doing. Please stop comparing youselves.
    Those that only feed there family what they see as “good” food may have some other areas of their life that they are dealing with. Be Encouraged and do the best you can .
    Please read the actual tips.

  47. Sally says

    I love point number 3: Shop small, save big. As part of my desire to add “accidental exercise” to my week, I walk to the store several times a week for fresh produce. Because I’m on foot, I’m very selective about what I’m going to carry home. As I prepare my list, I try to estimate the price. My typical shopping trip will cost $6-8. As an example, yesterday I bought and carried home: grapes, 2 bunches of spinach, 1 pack gyoza wrappers, bean sprouts (all items were prepared and served for dinner) and eggs.

    This method saves our family money because there is *no waste*. Our menues are based on sale produce for the week. Also there is no opportunity for impulse buys because I’ve got to be able to carry everything I choose for that trip. And finally, this method works hand in hand with menu planning–I really do need to know what I’m serving before I start making my choices for the day’s shopping “excursion”.

    I’m so glad Emily made this point. I’ve never read it in anyone’s tips for saving on groceries. Typically I read to shop fewer times throughout the month, not more.

    Thanks!