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Feeding 5 teenage boys...ugh

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We are a family of 7. Myself, my hubby and our sons are 18, 18, 17, 15 & 13. They are bottomless pits! Recently we've had a ton of unexpected medical expenses and I've lost half of my income. Its very frustrating. I try very hard to be creative and come up with meals with what we have but I run out of ideas so I thought I'd see if other people have suggestions. I'm not exaggerating when I say I feed all of us on $300 or less per month until we can get my health back on track & that includes breakfast, packing hubbys lunch and dinners. I generally use meat sparingly because of its cost so no meals where everyone gets their own serving of meat. Most so called cheap meal recipes are for families of 4 or less so once I double it they're no where close to cheap! So any suggestions for super cheap but good meals for large families??
by on Jan. 7, 2014 at 3:03 AM
Replies (31-40):
michiganmom116
by Rhonda on Jan. 7, 2014 at 7:48 AM

Find ALDI or Save A Lot near you if there is one....and check out the dollar stores for spices and other food items.

oddfox
by Bronze Member on Jan. 7, 2014 at 10:24 AM
2 moms liked this

MichiganMom is a whiz. She has tons of great ideas and is very genrous with her help. If there's an archive function on CM she posted a bunch of recipes a while back that might work for you.

Not sure if this will get through as it's recommending another site, but Hillbilly Housewife has a really cheap "emergency menu plan" as well.  She uses a lot of beans.  Also Donna Freeman, writer for Huffington Post, is a huge encouragement. There used to be a site, perhaps you can find archives, on $4 menus. It may be a bit beyond your means but does give ideas you could modify.

A couple things have helped us too, gleaned from The Tightwad Gazette. Think in terms of price per serving./ Start a price book and stock up when items are at their lowest price. /Seek out cheaper sources. We recently found a lady who has chickens. She sells eggs at $1 a flat./ What happens to meat at the grocery store at the end of the day? Or vegetables past their prime but perfectly good for soups and stir fries? Talk to the manager and see what can be done for you. We knew of a pastor with a large family who would stock up on meat at half price by buying it just before the store closed on a certain day.  

In another book, "Possum Living", the author mentions she got wheat from a feed mill and told the dealer it was for human use.So he made sure it was good for people. From that she ground the wheat and used it for baked goods and cooked cereal. 

Personally I like breakfasts for dinners. So our egg lady's offerings come in really handy. We like strata. Mix 8 eggs with a couple cups of milk, bits of this and that (vegetables, bits of meat, salt, pepper, spices, chopped onion) with chunked bread (dry is fine), put it into a greased 9x13 pan overnight in the fridge. Then bake it covered  for about 45 minutes to an hour at 350 until done.  Another is quiche. Another is pancakes.

Freezer soup. Put leftover bits into a container in the freezer, add buillion broth as needed, and make soup when it's full. Season to taste. I usually bake a quick bread on the side, like biscuits or muffins. We also like lentil soup.

Baked stuffed potatoes. Slice them open and top with homemade cheese sauce and various chopped cooked vegetables.

I've also dabbled with a bit of backyard foraging. This may not be your speed. "Stalking the Wild Asparagus" is the standard. We found we like pesto made with purslane. We've tried cooked dandelion, plantain. Both best when very young and seasoned with salt, garlic and a bit of vinegar.

And small scale gardening. Mel Bartholomew's "Square Foot Gardening". We use a lot of tomato sauce so can our own from our crop. This would only work if you have the energy for it and can find a cheaper way to make the raised beds as the initial investment takes time to recoup. We make our own compost and use it to amend the soil. So now our only expenses are supplemental nutrition and the plants and seeds.

Another book we've used quite a bit is the "More with Less" cookbook.  You might find all the books mentioned through interlibrary loan.

Sometimes just knowing others have survived helps. Hope we can be an encouragement to you.

3boys1girl32
by Member on Jan. 7, 2014 at 7:18 PM
Pull apart pizza bread

Take small pieces of pizza dough,layer it with a little olive oil ,cheese any other pizza topping you want. I use a bunt pan.Serve with sauce and a green salad.
GrandmaSherry
by Gold Member on Jan. 7, 2014 at 7:38 PM
1 mom liked this

Obviously these are some fantasic ideas.....and MichiganMom is the best I have ever known at stretching the dollar with delicious meals for little money.

My thoughts go along the lines of other types of assistance.  Any chance you could receive some food stamps during your challenging time?  Do you have a church home?  If so, they probably would be willing to help with a food box....and do so discreetly, without telling anyone.  Is there a local ministry that offers food boxes?  We have one here in our small town....all the local churches contribute financially. They also receive some county funding, etc.  They give away food to help families going through some difficult times.  It sounds like things will soon get better for you guys if you could just catch a break here and there.

Another idea....I don't know the situation with your boys, but could the older ones find small jobs?  This might help your family too.  We had 4 children (2 boys, 2 girls) and there is only 5 years difference from the oldest to the youngest.  There is no doubt that feeding and providing for them all is a big and expensive task.  Its almost killed us.

lajenny3
by on Jan. 7, 2014 at 7:49 PM
Following post
TheBabyFactory4
by Catherine on Jan. 7, 2014 at 8:29 PM
Good luck!! And can the 18yo get a pt job and help at all?
pinkcoffeecup
by Silver Member on Jan. 7, 2014 at 10:14 PM

I will skimp on meat too at times.   I buy pasta sauce on sale. I will add stuff to it.  Like tomato, spinach or even zuchhini or egg plant.  Stuff I pick up at Pete's Produce this cheap high quality produce market.   I do a lot of casseroles, chili or soups.   I know about kids eating a lot. When our son was living at home.  He ate like Jethro on the Hillbillies.  I don't know where he put it all.  

sharon6345
by on Jan. 7, 2014 at 10:40 PM

I shop at the dollar tree and deals for food and it stretches for me. I make good money on bubblews.com to help with the rest. and swagbucks you can earn gift cards to shop with. good luck,

incheck4real
by Member on Jan. 7, 2014 at 11:58 PM
Black eyed peas with cabbage is very filling you can use a small amount of ham or ham hock for flavoring. I sometimes use packed ham seasoning.

15 bean soup is very good and filling you would probably need to buy 2 bags. It is next to the dried beans at the store. Add some tomatoes to it even corn is good added in. we eat ours with cornbread. We like the cajun flavored one it isn't spicy just good.

Fried Bologna is always a hit in my house.

Also aldi or save a lot will really help to lower your costs. Where do you live?
btherese
by Member on Jan. 8, 2014 at 9:53 AM

We have 4 boys, aged 21, 20, 18, and 16, two girls 13 and 10, and I know what you mean about feeding them all! Luckily, the two oldest work and really only pop in and out occasionally now, and the two younger will be graduating before long, lol!

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