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Feeding A Family On A Budget

Updated on May 29, 2013

Always Living on a Budget

Imagine a single mother with two growing children living in the most expensive city in the world. Well, thats' my life! I am raising two children in a city where a single apple cost ¥200 or about $2.50. It seems like I am always looking at being cost effective. My son has an appetite that I have only seen in grown men (although he is as scrawny as they come). I have to be on top of my shopping game between preparing 3 meals a day and two snacks.


My mother raised me to cook most if not all meals from scratch. She taught me that making one's own food is not only fun but healthy as well. Now that I am a mother, I avoid feeding my children processed foods. Feeding my children home made meals has so many benefits. My children are able to see what a shrimp looks like un-battered and shelled. They learn how to be self-sufficeint and prepare their own meals. And I am able to monitor what they are consuming.

At first glance

Eating processed foods seems cheaper. For example, returning to the idea of fried shrimp, a box of battered frozen shrimp cost about $5.00-$7.00. Where as fresh shrimp alone cost about the same. Then you would have to figure in the cost of flour, bread crumbs and various seasonings. And, then also count the cost of time preparing the dish. It seems to be coast and time effective just to open a box and cook.

But think again

Stocking your pantry and freezer is the best way to feed your family and amazing meal and keep cost down. Flour, sugar,salt and seasonings for example are low cost and do not spoil. Meats, butter and milk bought in bulk and frozen can last for a long time. Various ingredients can be used together to create amazing meals.

Yeah right?! What can I make?

Well there are many things you can make for your loved ones. Homemade meals are not only filling but nutritions. Homemade meals are not filled with the empty calories that are in processed foods. Any food you buy in the grocery store can be made at home. I have a fully stocked pantry of all the basic items I would need. To that I add perishable foods such as eggs and fresh fruits/vegetables. I feed a family of four ( I also cook for my mother) for only ¥40,000 or $500 a month. Here's just a sample of how I feed my family. Everything minus the fresh fruit, vegetables and milk are made at home.

One day meal in my family


  • a glass of milk
  • a boiled or scrambled egg
  • a slice of bread
  • a bowl of yogurt
  • half of a large apple



  • a glass of tea
  • a bowl of rice
  • chicken karaage
  • a salad


  • a glass of tea
  • a tangerine


  • a glass of tea
  • a bowl of ramen
  • a few gyoza


  • a glass of milk
  • a few sugar cookies


Here's what you need to do

  1. Find a few simple recipes for bread and pasta. Bread and pasta are great bases for menu preparation. A simple recipe allows you to add ingredients to alter the flavor. A simple recipe for plain pasta can be quickly trans formed with the additions of spinach or tomato. Also a simpler recipe calls for less ingriedents. I tend to try to find recipes that have many common ingredients. Then at any time I can run to my pantry an whip up anything I want.
  2. Try to plan ahead and shop with a plan. When I am shopping I already have my meal plan in mind. I shop daily so I plan for breakfast for the next morning and lunch and dinner for the current night.
  3. Buy in bulk. when I was a child my mother loved to buy big boxes of bananas form the grocery store. With that we made banana bread, banana shakes and frozen banana pops. When I buy a large roast from the local wholesale shops, I plan to use that one piece of meat for three to four meals. I box of tea bags costs about $1.50-$2.00 verses a 2-litter soda that cost the same. Tea bags can make many containers of tea.
  4. Store it. Make extra and freeze it. Always keep non perishable on hand. I never use canned of frozen vegetables but I recommend stocking on them if you do.
  5. Portion control. I do not mean starving yourself. Instead, I recommend being mindful of how much you consume. Meat should not be the focal point of the meal. In my family rice tends to hold center stage. Nonetheless, the point is observe how much your family eats. Do not waste food and do not over eat.
  6. Have fun!


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    • luvintkandtj profile image

      luvintkandtj 5 years ago from USA

      Noted. I will be sure to create a hub about gyoza

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Great information here for everyone to follow. I think portion control and buying in bulk is one of the best things we can do to help save costs. I don't know what gyoza is.. will have to look that up. Thanks for sharing.

    • luvintkandtj profile image

      luvintkandtj 5 years ago from USA

      I teach my kids to eat until they or no longer hungry. Not to eat until they are full. It helps with cost control and teach healthy habits. Many people eat until they are "stuffed" and that leads to weight gain.

    • elle64 profile image

      elle64 5 years ago from Scandinavia

      Thanks- I like the one about controlling how much we eat, because in my family I think we overeat.

    • luvintkandtj profile image

      luvintkandtj 5 years ago from USA

      Good point. I don't know if I could give up meat. We eat very little. Our diet has so much protein from tofu and soy beans. But I always a have meat or fish of some form in my meal.

    • jasmith1 profile image

      Adrian Smith 5 years ago from UK

      Great tips - thanks for sharing. It just shows what can be achieved with some creativity and fore thought. I also find not eating meat me saves a lot of money.

    • luvintkandtj profile image

      luvintkandtj 5 years ago from USA

      Good point. I tend to freeze everything. And only buy my fresh ingredients daily. And I only shop with a menu plan in mind

    • tamarawilhite profile image

      Tamara Wilhite 5 years ago from Fort Worth, Texas

      Another thought is to only buy in bulk what you can use before it goes bad, to avoid food waste.