Low Cost Real Food Menu for Your Family
It seems I have created quite a stir on Hubpages regarding my hub Is It Cheaper To Eat Fast Food or Real Food? The response has been all over the board, much of it depending on where people live. I understand that food prices vary, but I still firmly believe that a family can eat real food for much cheaper than fast food. In the previous hub I gave a few ideas of what a family could buy at the store on $10 a day (the estimated cost of the fast food meal purchased off the dollar menu). It seems many people still don't think it is possible to actually cook decent food for that price. I am going to show you how in this hub.
Really if a family of four ate 3 meals a day from a fast food restaurant, they are probably spending $30 a day on food. But let's make this a challenge and figure $10 a day or $70 for the week. I will show you exactly what you can buy to feed your family (I will assume a family of 4 as that is the average family size in the United States) for the week. Real food at a low cost. No, it won't be possible to feed your family all organic, but real food doesn't have to be organic. Organic might be better for you, but most people can't afford it 100% of the time.
Food bought at the store (keep in mind I am in Ohio and prices might vary throughout the country)
2 lbs carrots (not baby carrots) $1.79
3 lbs bananas $1.47 (set aside 3 bananas for banana bread)
5 lb bag of potatoes $2.99
head of lettuce $1.49
1 cucumber $.99
3 lb bag of apples $2.99
1 onion $.79
2 bags of frozen veggies (I would pick green beans and peas) $2
bag of frozen broccoli $1
bag of frozen corn $1
whole chicken $5
1 lb ground beef $1.99
2 lbs pasta $2
1 tub of peanut butter $1
2 loaves of bread $2
1 large can of spaghetti sauce $1.25
8 oz block of cheddar cheese $1.88
8 oz block of mozzarella cheese $1.88
2 dozen eggs $2.50
5 lb bag of sugar $2.79
5 lb bag of flour $1.99
bag of popping corn $1.29
2 cans of tomato soup $1.38
2 boxes of corn muffin mix $.98
gallon of milk $2.29
can of OJ concentrate $1.69
organic mac n cheese $1.25
1 lb dry beans (whatever kind you like) $.89
large tub of yogurt (pick your flavor) $2.29
Total spent at this point is $52.85. I am assuming that the average family has the basic condiments and baking supplies, but I did factor in flour and sugar, as cooking from scratch is essential to eating real food on a budget. Use the remaining budget to fill in as needed with what you like or don't already have on hand. Here is the menu for the week.
banana bread, yogurt x2
toast with peanut butter, fruit x2
eggs (cook them how you like them), fruit x2
leftovers if there are any
peanut butter sandwiches, carrots, fruit x2
mac n cheese (I had to include every kid's favorite), carrots
chicken salad sandwiches, fruit
bean and cheese quesadillas
Roasted chicken with potatoes, carrots and 1/2 the onion, green beans - pick the meat off the chicken after dinner and then boil the bones in a large pot of water for chicken broth. If you have vinegar add a couple of tablespoons to leech the calcium from the bones. You can add carrot peelings and onion skins for extra nutrition. The broth will cook for a couple of hours and strained once it is cooled.
Spaghetti, salad (lettuce, cucumber and carrot) - brown the other half of the onion with the ground beef. Use half of this mixture in the spaghetti sauce to go over the pasta. After the meal set aside some of this sauce to go on your pizza.
Chicken noodle soup, corn muffins - boil the broth from the other night and add a cup or so of leftover chopped chicken (then use the rest for chicken salad sandwiches), 1/2 bag frozen corn, and 2 sliced carrots.
Grilled cheese, tomato soup, peas
Pizza with beef and cheese, salad - Make your own crust, there are recipes all over the internet and it is very easy.
Baked potatoes topped with broccoli and cheese, corn muffins
Bean and cheese quesadillas, leftover veggies from previous nights You will need to make tortillas from scratch, but they are super easy.
I realize this is where it will get hard, as so many people love soda. But it is horrible for you and one of the quickest ways to spend less on food is to cut this out. Drink water, milk or OJ.
I have 4 kids and I realize how much snacking goes on in families. You can munch on fruit, boiled eggs, toast with cheese, peanut butter, or cinnamon and sugar, or pop some popcorn.
While this menu might not please everyone, I hope it shows you exactly how feeding your family real food can be done. You still have plenty of room in the $70 budget to buy extras that you feel you can't live without. Everyone might not agree with these food choices, but all your major food groups are covered every day. This menu is full of real ingredients and lots of produce. Enjoy!