Seems like an impossible task! Honestly, a little planning and buying smart is all it takes. I am ALWAYS talking about how great Aldi's is and how I can go there spend $60 and feed my family for a week. My sister-in-law (who has a family of 6) doesn't believe me. I thought it might be a good idea to share some of my tips.
First let me say, I have a deep freezer and a very large walk-in pantry plus a cabinet pantry and I try to keep them fully stocked at all times. I am NOT one of those people who rush to the grocery store when bad weather is coming. I don't need to, I have everything I need at home!
Your first shopping trip will be expensive, don't think you can just go and spend $60. Why because you are not only buying groceries for the week but you are also stocking up on bonus buys and staples for future weeks.
Here are things I always try to keep in my pantry:
Cream of Mushroom Soup
Cream of Chicken Soup
Mac N Cheese
Salad Dressings: Ranch & Italian
It may sound confusing but if I buy meats and staples ONLY when they are on sale my cost per meal goes WAY down. Eventually, you will get to the point where you are buying Fresh fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and bonus buys because you have everything else.
We have two kids in evening activities and even though I am home with them after school every day our life is hectic and sometimes we need convenience foods like frozen pizza's. We can spend $30 in a drive-thru but if I find frozen pizza's and pizza rolls on sale then I spend about $4.00 on dinner and then we usually have fruit, veggies or a light snack when we get home around 8:00pm. The frozen pizza's have far less calories than a burger. The bonus is everyone in the family likes them!
LOOK at the ads for the stores you shop at ALWAYS! I shop at 3 different places, ALDI (for ALMOST everything), Hy-Vee and Rotella's Bread Store. I plan my weekly menu's based on what is on sale. When I look at the ads I make note of things my family likes and the sale price, if I have room in my budget after I buy the things I need then I grab the extras. It is not unusual for me to purchase $100 worth of meat if Roast, Steak or Ribs are on sale. On those weeks I will usually choose to stock up on meat and make my meal plan based on what I have on hand.
Meals don't have to be lavish, although sometimes that is nice! Below is a sample of what we eat on a regular basis.
2 lbs of hamburger (2 x $2.79 = $5.59)
Sour Cream ($0.99)
Shredded Cheese ($1.50)
Combine hamburger & 1 cup of salsa. Cook, drain. Peel and de-core an avocado, add salsa - viola guacamole. I wanted to mention that when I say lettuce I mean a bag of salad. There aren't man people in our house that like lettuce so instead of wasting a head or half a bag of lettuce shreds we just use a salad mix. The total cost of this meal is $12.83 (divided by 4 is $3.20 per person) Usually we have leftovers so that becomes lunch for the next day.
Grilled Cheese and Soup
2 cans of your favorite soup ($3.00 stock up when they are on sale)
Grapes or other fruit that is on sale ($2.68)
Bread ($0.99 buying bread from an outlet store like Rotella's Bread Store is a great way to cut costs)
Cheese Slices ($2.69)
Butter ($0.62 this is averaged out based on what I intend to use)
Wash the grapes, cook the soup and grill the sandwiches. Total meal cost $9.98 (2.49 per person). No leftovers hear so tomorrow's lunch will be sandwiches (lunch meat is one of those things I will buy when they are on sale and freeze).
Take & Bake Pizza's
Salad ($0.69) - left over from Taco night
2 Cheese Pizza's ($8.98) these pizzas are larger than say a Totino's pizza and is really meant for movie night usually on a Friday or Saturday.
Layered Enchilada Bake the link is the original recipe but I don't follow directions!
Tortilla's small ones ($0.89)
2lbs Hamburger ($5.59)
Salsa 1/2 Jar ($0.84)
Sour Cream ($0.99)
Cheese x 2 ($3.00)
Enchilada Sauce ($1.49)
Refried Beans ($0.89)
Italian Dressing (2 good squirts probably about a half a cup - $0.12)
Cook the hamburger the same as the Taco's. Once cooked and drained add the beans and dressing, mix well. Grease a 13x9 pan lay down a base layer of tortillas. Spread the beef mixture over the tortillas and top with a new layer of tortillas. Spread sour cream over the tortillas top with cheese. Add a thin layer of enchilada sauce. top with more tortillas. Pour remaining sauce on top and sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes. Let it sit for about 5 minutes before cutting into the layers. Peel and de-core the avocado, add salsa. Total meal cost $14.20 ($3.55 per person).
Cottage Cheese ($1.28)
Total meal cost $7.00 ($1.75 per person).
3lb Roast ($13.44)
Mashed Potatoes ($2.00)
Green Beans ($1.00)
Total meal cost $16.44 ($4.11 per person)
Hot Dogs & Mac-n-Cheese
2 packages Hot Dogs ($2.00)
2 boxes Mac-n-Cheese ($1.82)
2 packages hot dog buns ($2.00)
Total meal cost $5.82 ($1.45 per person).
I do want to say that the pricing is specific to where I live, sale prices and that some times I buy in bulk to get a better price. I am not an expert, this is what I have found works best for our family. You might be asking yourself what about breakfast? Well, one kid eats granola bars and the other likes eggs a toast or dry cereal so that is what I keep on hand. On average, I spend $80 - $125 on groceries every week. Also the amount I spend includes dog food, toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies and girly stuff.