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How I Save on Groceries With a Houseful of Teenage Boys

How to Save Money on Groceries with a Houseful of Teenage Boys! This post is SO helpful and full of great savings tips -- especially if you have a large family with growing boys!

Guest post from Laura Heavenly Homemakers

I just watched my 18-year old son eat an entire pound of strawberries for an afternoon snack. Tonight for dinner, my family will plow through three pounds of boneless chicken, three or four pounds of potatoes, a pound of frozen green beans, several handfuls of mixed greens, and a big bowl full of grapes. They’ll be hungry again before bed, no doubt.

This is my life. Four sons, all teenagers. My table is full and so is my heart.

My grocery budget? Well, it’s not so small either.

When our four boys were little, people told me that I’d have to stock up on lots of potatoes, rice, and pasta as they got older so I could afford to feed them. I’ll admit these tricks help the grocery budget somewhat, but I’ll also tell you that I much prefer to fill my family with nourishment instead of empty calories.

That leaves me in a bit of a pickle then, doesn’t it? (Pickles? Oh yes. We go through a lot of those, too.)

So how can we afford to feed four teenage boys (and their friends!) without breaking the budget or compromising on nourishment? Well, it’s a continuous learning process, for sure, and I’ve been working at it for the past seven years. I’m excited to share some of my best grocery saving tips!

But first let me say this:

Our grocery budget isn’t small.

It can’t be – not if I want my kids to feel satisfied after a meal and to be filled with nutrients too. Did I mention all my sons are athletes and three out of four so far are over 6 feet tall?

If you’re brave, you can click here to get an idea of how much we spend on groceries for our family every month. You’ll see that I’m certainly not one of the moms who spends $50 a week to feed my family because of the huge appetites at our house and our preference for highly nourishing food. I love reading those mom’s tricks, though, because I always learn new ideas for ways to save.

So here we go!

How I save money on groceries with a house full of teenage boys:

1. We drink water.

I can’t imagine how much money this saves us (yes I can) and it’s a win-win! It’s healthier and saves money, too!

Our boys aren’t huge milk drinkers, so I buy one gallon of milk every week from local farmers, which I use for cooking and baking. If the boys want something special to drink, they buy it themselves as a treat.

2. We eat soup.

Homemade broth is extremely nourishing, and I’ve found that it really helps stretch the meat in a meal. If I cook a chicken for one meal, then use the bones to make broth for soup, we’re getting a two-for-one!

Here are our 12 Favorite Soup Recipes that help stretch our grocery budget.

3. We love meat, but still have meatless meals.

We love our cows and chickens and I’m of the opinion that my active family needs the wholesome protein and nutrients that meat provides. But I’ve learned that we don’t need meat for every single meal.

Beans and eggs and nuts and cheese help round out our menus and fill us with protein, and I’ve created many super simple recipes that are painlessly meatless.

4. We eat a lot of frozen veggies, fresh greens, and carrots.

It’s extremely important to me that I serve several veggies throughout the day. I keep frozen peas and green beans on hand at all times – veggies that are inexpensive and happen to be our favorites.

Fresh greens are a staple, and one of the most nourishing options to fill our plates. I pay $6 for a big one-pound container of greens, which lasts our family one week. I’d say that’s a pretty great price for awesome nourishment!

Fresh carrots are inexpensive year-round so we eat them often! I make homemade dips and dressings, which make it easier to get the veggies down.

5. I buy in bulk.

If you saw my storage room, you’d realize this was an understatement. I buy huge quantities of pretty much everything from meat to grains, which means I can buy when I find a sale, then use up our supply while I wait for another sale.

I’ve saved thousands through the years shopping this way – and I love that I’ve also saved time and energy since I don’t have to run to the store for single ingredients very often. I just shop my food storage room!

6. We eat at home.

While this post is about saving money on groceries, it is important to mention that eating at home saves us a great deal of money compared to eating out.

Restaurant bills – even fast food bills – are quite large for our family. So we save eating out for special times when we are on the road (though we almost always pack food for travel too!) I wrote here about other ways our family saves money so we can afford a higher grocery bill. I bet you’ll find you save in many of these ways too!

A table full of teenagers? Bring it on!

I’ll continue to find ways to be creative and save money as I load my shopping carts and fill my fridge and freezer. Ok fine. My two fridges and three freezers. What can I say? I feed a houseful of teenagers. 🙂

family1sm

Laura is the lone female in a house full of fabulous men. She fills her days with cooking, homeschooling, and writing at Heavenly Homemakers. Her home is often full of guests and I suppose it goes without saying that with a house full of teenage boys, many of those guests are teenage girls. Please pass the coffee!

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37 Comments

  • Denise says:

    Thanks for this post!! I have {almost} 3 teenage boys. In April my twins turn 13, and their big bro will be 17 in March. Fun times!!

  • Brenda says:

    This is a great post that my audience will benefit from reading. I pinned it and saved it to post on my FB page at a later date. We also eat at home, rather than eating out. I also make our breakfasts (waffles, pancakes, etc.) to help save money too, and it’s healthier!

  • Carol says:

    Oh, I need this article! I only have two teenage boys (15 &16), but they are good eaters! I also have a husband with a decent appetite! And with braces, car insurance, and college tuition (coming soon), I’m always looking to save $$. Thanks!

  • Mireille says:

    Thanks for sharing, got 4 boys, ages 3 months to 11 and one day they will all be teenagers!

  • Mrs S says:

    Thank you for sharing! It’s refreshing to see grocery budgets from different families in different situations. I have always wanted to be one of those super low grocery budget moms, but due to our family’s location and circumstances, it’s just not going to happen for a while (if ever).

  • Rebekah says:

    As a big family (7 kids – the first five are boys!), I love seeing tips from families similar in size to ours. Our Aldi food runs always consist of 20-30 pounds of fruit & veggies, 7-8 gallons of milk & 5 loaves of bread per week – not to mention the other stuff! I appreciate her honesty (on her blog) of what they actually spend – and how she prioritizes having an open table policy rather than crunching numbers.

  • Emily F. says:

    This was so refreshing to read. My children are little but we have food restrictions that inflate our budget and we have two in diapers. I’m constantly depressed and defeated about our food spending.

    Surprisingly, I’ve found that Kroger ClickList, even though there is a charge for it, has been making a huge dent in my budget. When I can plan carefully and check my whole list and cart online, plus make sure I’ve downloaded all the coupons I want to us , it really adds up. It also keeps me from impulse buys at the store.

    • Debramarie says:

      Emily F. It sounds like you are planning and trying to shop economically. I am sorry you feel depressed and defeated. There is lots of help and support on this page. There are many easy healthy meals which help cut food spending while being nutritious. Good cheap eats and the prudent homemaker have many helpful suggestions. And of course MSM is a very good resource as well. We do not have Kroeger where I live but Aldi is a big help for us in keeping our food budget in check. A big money saver for us was no more junk food as this is a waste of nutrition and calories. And if anyone wants it they can run out and get what they crave with there money. My job is to keep my family healthy and they know I will not buy chips and cookies and soda.

  • Emily says:

    Love your blog Laura! I’ve learned so much from you over the years. Nice to see you over here on MSM!

  • Jen says:

    Oh man….our 4 boys are 7, 6, 3, and 1, and I’m terrified of how much they’ll eat in 10 years! The older two already outeat my husband regularly. I’m very much the same in not wanting to push empty calories….and meals where we have a lot of rice or starch are the ones where they’re STARVING again in an hour anyway!! Thank you for sharing!! Love to hear from other boy moms. 🙂

    • Alison says:

      I totally agree. 6 months ago my 12 year old was constantly hungry. I switched him to Paleo (for a lot of reasons) and now he is nice and content from his meals. Filling them with starches comes at a cost too.

  • Alli says:

    GREAT post!!! I, too, often beat myself up over grocery prices and failing my family at this. I am at a phase in my life with shopping with littles , where I can’t be running to three different grocery stores per week. I want to go to one store where I am promised that it will have “almost” everything I need. And buying nourishing food is a top priority for me also!! (I also avoid rice (as a side dish alone) at all costs…what a nightmare to clean up after four little people–hahahahah!!!)

    • Jen says:

      So true about the rice!!!!! 😂

    • Beth says:

      Lol about cleaning up rice! Unfortunately we’ve spent too much time living in Asia and my littles prefer rice as a starch hands down! My oldest won’t touch most white potato dishes if he can he can help it. Thankfully they both like sweet potatoes.

    • Lea says:

      When my son was little, one night we told him he couldn’t get down from the table until he ate three more spoonfuls of rice (long story – we rarely did something like that). Instead, he spooned it into his bib overall pocket for later! I had a hard time keeping a straight face!

      Every time we eat rice now, we laugh.
      🙂
      Lea

  • Jessica says:

    I am interested in the cost/benefit of maintaining those extra fridges/freezers and the space it takes to store large quantities of food. The appliances would add considerably to your electricity bill, no? Wouldn’t it be easier to do two visits to the store per week so that you did not have to run extra appliances- what are the numbers on that? For me, I live close to a lot of stores – I can drive one mile to Aldi or Kroger, three miles to Target, Sam’s Club, Cosco, Walmart or Save-a-lot, or five miles to Meijer.

    • Good question! Thankfully, we have not seen a big jump in our electric bill as a result of our extra appliances. And because our lives are so full of activities, homeschool, work, and ministry I have found that just one visit to the store each week is about all I have time for. We have a large area for food storage, so that helps me keep a big stash of food on hand so I can avoid frequent trips. Plus it helps keep our cost down so I can stock up when I find good deals!

  • Aarti says:

    So helpful, thank you! Drinking water is such a cost-saver. Frozen fruits and veggies are also a great idea, and they retain many of their nutrients. Thanks for the tips!

  • Katie Richards says:

    Just before Christmas, we found out we’re expecting our third baby boy and I had visions of what the teenage years will look like when they’re 18, 16, and 13. Thank you for sharing!

  • Dave says:

    Such a great advise. Thanks for the article.

  • JJ says:

    This is so encouraging!!! I have 3 Littles(we had 3 kids in 3 years) who eat like Bigs–ha! We eat A LOT of produce. My husband didn’t understand why our grocery budget tripled in a short time. But when I work and he feeds them, he sees they actually eat a lot of food. Each of my kids eats a whole apple every day. So one bag of apples goes so fast! And the chicken!?! I teach online early and come out to see them finishing their first breakfast he gave them. They see me eating and join along. They refer to their previous meal as a snack. 😂 I am convinced I live with hobbits. And we eat a lot of carrots, too! We have saved a lot by using Walmart Grocery Pickup. And if we don’t like something or something wasn’t fresh, a simple call refunds money for that product. Thank you for this encouraging post!

  • Ruth says:

    This is the first time I have ever read a post about feeding a family that is most similar to my experience.

    Not only do we have some feed allergies, we don’t eat processed food and eat organic and local.

    My kids are so robust and healthy and I can’t imagine feeding them poor quality food or empty calories in an effort just to fill them up.

    I spend 2K a month for food for a family of five.
    My husband and two sons have voracious appetites!

  • Robin Y says:

    What a well-written, candid post. “My table is full and so is my heart.” It would be easy to begrudge such a responsibility, but she has got the right perspective. Thanks for sharing!

  • I just love your family picture! Your family looks so happy!

  • Beth says:

    Does anyone have ideas of how they manage food prep for big hungry boys? My boys are still small but I joke that once they are teens I’m going to farm them out to work at local restaurants and tell the owner to forget paying them: just feed them and teach them to cook! I’m planning to teach my boys how to cook but I can’t imagine how much cooking it takes to keep up with teens. We eat almost entirely from home and mostly from scratch. Do you expect your boys to fix their own food? Help shop? What should I start teaching now?

    • Emily F says:

      I’m the oldest in a family with 8 children. All of my brothers learned how to cook some things and they definitely learned how to grill. My Dad knowing how to cook kept our family alive through my mom’s rough pregnancies and she wanted to pass that down to her sons. I would take a favorite meal and start there. One brother became the pa cake expert!

      My aunt had trouble with the leftovers disappearing when her teenage son had his turn to clean the kitchen 🙂

    • I started teaching my boys to cook at a young age, keeping them in the kitchen with me as frequently as possible. I can’t say enough good about this!!! There’s no way I could keep up with their huge appetites now if they didn’t help me in the kitchen. My boys know all the basics so they can make entire meals on their own if need be. Typically, I do the bulk of the cooking while handing out jobs like, “please grate the cheese,” “open the jars,” “crack the eggs into this bowl,” “get out the blender and make XYZ,” “mix up a jar of ranch dressing,” and on it goes. Their help makes our kitchen life SO much faster/easier. Plus I’ve learned to make simple recipes with very few steps. Nothing fancy here, just good real food and all hands on deck while preparing it! (They all help with clean up too. Phew!)

  • Emily says:

    I love this post so much! It can be discouraging for me when I see advice for bulking up on pasta and rice. While this absolutely works for some, it doesn’t work well for us. I thought these were very practical, applicable tips. Thank you!

  • Pamela says:

    Potatoes, rice, and pasta are empty calories?

    • They are certainly beneficial in some ways, but don’t offer much in the way of nutrients overall. We definitely still eat these foods, but generally not as the bulk of our meals. When we eat them, we try to eat brown rice, yukon gold potatoes, and whole grain pasta as more nourishing options. 🙂

  • Sarah says:

    I have an 8 year old daughter who eats like a linebacker! Obviously I’m nowhere near 4 teenage boy level grocery bill lol, but I did notice in the last year or so we’ve increased or grocery budget significantly, but same as you I don’t want to fill her up with “filler food.” One question though- do you ever get burned out with food prep and everything and if so how to make it easier? I love cooking but it does wear me out and there are days I’m just over it and need a break!

    • I hear ya!! The best thing I do is get my boys into the kitchen to help with all the prep. They appreciate the food more that way, we have fun together, and I feel it’s helping to prepare them to be helpful husbands some day. Also, I’ve really learned to pare down the prep work. I only make very simple recipes with very little prep needed and very few ingredients. I also always make large quantities so that if I’m dirtying up a dish, I make it well worth it (so we can freeze leftovers or make two meals out of one prep time). 🙂

  • Kim says:

    I love seeing Laura here!! So many of our favorite recipes have come from Heavenly Homemakers! We have 3 young boys and our grocery budget is already ridiculous! Question- what are your thoughts on TVP (https://www.amazon.com/Bobs-Red-Mill-Vegetable-10-ounces/dp/B001KUSKH4/ref=sr_1_3_s_it?s=grocery&ie=UTF8&qid=1518194766&sr=1-3&keywords=tvp)? I read somewhere that it’s a great filler to add to ground beef, etc, to make tummies fuller. However it’s made from soy and our pediatrician does not recommend a lot of soy products for boys. Do you ever use it to stretch your meat?

  • Jennifer says:

    I get stressed about feeding one teenage boy and hosting sleepovers $$$$!. This post has been so helpful for me. Thanks for writing it!

  • Gale says:

    Thank you for your realistic numbers! I thought I was crazy for not being able to fit into the $50 a week category.
    We are grandparents raising grandkids (14, 12, and 13) 2 boys and 1 girl, all are also in sports. My oldest is 5’11”, 172 pounds. Last summer, I bought 12 gallons of milk a week. Your post has some good ideas. There is an Aldi 25 miles away that may be worth the drive. Something has to get structured before school is out!
    Will save all your recipes you post!

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