Feeding a family of four can be challenging. Especially when you are on a short budget. Sometimes, just feeding children can be a challenge; especially when they eat a lot depending on the age. This problem is often compounded by the inevitable picky eater that seems to make their way in a lot of families.
Feeding the Family on a Tight Budget
On a tight budget, feeding an entire family can be as much of a task as it is fun. The age of each family member can influence each meal drastically. The words Dino Nuggets will definately resonate more efficiently with parents of younger children than older ones.
As a father who enjoys cooking, I embrace the opportunity to put four chickens in the oven seasoned them well with lemon zest, lemon, salt and in slow roast for several hours to ensure the chicken peels gently off each bone easily. Primarily because I was inspired by something I saw on the Travel or Discovery channel.
More importantly though, is the cost of chicken cna be very cheap depending on where you buy it from. In this coincidence, we normally get them from Costco’s or Sams Club or a similar type cheap non-membership club style supermarket.
I digress, personally, I do not prefer to purchase meat online because of the fact that I want to see what I am buying. Although I am also concerned about temperature or cross contamination, the Dad in me just feels more comfortable walking into the store picking up and purchasing the food on with my own hands.
At least that part of the process I can see and feel what is going on.
Another food you could buy is Tortilla wraps. This is another family classic we use. You could buy wraps and in goes chicken legs, or beef, or pork, or any other type of meat you think will work. Then you can add avocado, garlic sauce, look online for some articles about this – we do ours spicy and with some parsley, and other such herbs for my other half.
After that, you can add some vegetables, salad ingredients, such as Kale, we love this. Then wrap it up well and fine and finally, you have your finished product you can then eat!
You can use a vegetarian meat alternative if your vegetarian, but for the best taste result, I recommend using meat. If you are vegetarian, this is fine as you can use vegetarian meat if you would like.
Preparing your meal is then your final thing to do because as we all know, presentation is everything when it comes to food, and then you are ready to eat.
Budget Meal Preparation & Saving Money to Eat Healthy
Other than chicken, or a meat option, there are some healthy vegetarian bean options such as Bean Salad, which my other half is a huge fan of.
Bean Salad is a very yummy salad of beans seasoned well with herbs, olive oil, and other such salad vegetables. But beans are very healthy for our diet because they have a great source of protein, and adding in other herbs and oils, adds in the carbohydrates and everything you need to guarantee you are on your way to an honest, quite great, diet.
Making Tacos is another way to do things, add some rice, meat and vegetables and you are creating handheld amazingness. Tacos are also good for adding vegetables, also rice is a good source of energy for the little ones.
We often use brown rice and make one day the week our Taco Tuesday to add a little fun festive element to the meal. Often times just hearing the name of the day as an event inspires the inner Piranha in my children as they attack the Taco shells, meats, sauces and vegitables.
But all of these eating options are not good if we are not saving money.
When I first began thinking of the various methods of saving money on food, I became overwhelmed with ideas that appeared to work for other people. But were untested for my family.
Imagine the amount of food and money that would go to waste performing trial and error taste testing with four children. Like many, I could not afford to risk it so I had to think strategically and go old school.
I remembered the phrase, “If you know your history, then you would know where you are coming from.”
I thought about what people did in the past what did people do to feed large families with very little money. Using this as my guide, I looked up a few old school cooking chefs, and heard one of them say that she learned a lot about cooking in volume from her aunt who had eight children.
Next I reached out to my friends mom. Why my friends mom, well my friend was one of five brothers and his mom was a cook for a local high school. What better source for ideas on cooking in volume.
Making Meal Plans
It was almost peotic to hear, like a short powerful Haiku from a grant master. My friends mother said simply…
“Cook lots of rice and starches, make lots of stews, and let your meals be your snacks.”
It was a moment of enlightment that thrusted me into another level of the FatherVerse almost immediately. I now had a sense of direction and a plan to implement.
Planning the meal was just as if not more important than preparing hte meal. My other half jumped on board and we began the week with a crock pot full of a nice beef stew full of vegitables and cheap beef cuts.
The croc pot of beef stew was a winner for the next three or four days in numerous iterations. That dish went from being the Sunday beef stew dinner, to being the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday day semi meal with rice dressing as a side dish to one creative youngster using the stew sauce as a dip for his bread.
In an effort to simplify things my other half and I make simple plans. During the hustle and bustle of everyday family life, finding the time to sit down and plan things out day to day can be difficult. So we have a sort of adaptive repetitive plannig system that goes like this each day the week:
- Whats for dinner?
- How will we cooked?
- What needs to be prepped?
- How long will the leftovers last?
- How can we incorporate leftovers into the next meal?
We have found that planning shopping is a lot more efficient and helpful with planning meals. From the point of purchase we already know what meal we are using each item for.
Perhaps our techniques are not as thorough and detail oriented as some television shows like Eat Well For Less. But the main thing for us was to get into the habit of knowing what meal every item of food we purchased would be applied to while monitoring our budget at the same time.
It is a comfortable non-intrusive method of eating on a budget that we all can do together as a family. Even if you never get into any of these habits, it is worth every fathers time and effort to understand what is being fed to thier children both good and bad.