Monday, April 30, 2012

large family budgeting tips

Nine hungry mouths to feed every day involves a heck of a lot of food. It also involves planning, budgeting and wisdom to make it work on a one income family. Over the years I have developed some great tips and tricks on how you can afford to feed a family of nine and to make it a little easier as a large family. 

I always knew when planning a large family that it would cost a lot of money when it came to food but I really had no idea just how much of a challenge it would be to make it work. Often when I speak to people about having lots of children, one of the questions they always ask me is about food. How can you afford to feed a family of nine? Thinking about laying out nine plates every meal blows them away and they cannot understand how we can afford to feed our family and cope with the amount of cooking that is required. 

I have learnt that we need to do things differently in our house and I am constantly searching for ways to reduce our food budget. On days when I am not in a cooking mood I really have to pull myself together and just get on with it because it is way to expensive for us to go out to dinner on a regular basis. 

Some of the ideas that have stayed with me are: 
I scan the food catalogues and look out for specials and buy in bulk (about 10 at a time)
I mainly shop on the ends of the isles in the supermarket where specials are
I buy my meat in bulk from a meat market 
I divide my meat up into portion sizes, place in snap lock bags and freeze
I shop at Aldi's to save money on basic items 
I buy my fruit and vegetables on line so I avoid spending extra money at the shops
I chop vegetables up and put them in the freezer immediately 
I shop late at night to buy bread that is reduced and fill up my freezer with supplies 
I buy home brand items that I know our family likes whenever I can 
I keep several overflow or food storage cupboards to supplement supplies 
I cook most meals from scratch 
We own chickens for an egg supply
I keep a stock of basic cooking essentials so I can create any dish we feel like 
I plan ahead what meals we will cook for the month 
I keep in bulk items such as rice, flour, sugar, oats and water 
I stock up on items in season so we can enjoy them all year round 
I have a check list of all my food items that I use that I run through before I go shopping
I keep a 3 month supply of food on hand for emergencies 
I keep a few treats on hand for when things are getting tough and we need some fun! 
I normally cook the evening meal for the day in the morning to avoid the crazy hour stress
I also cook an after school snack in the morning and make a double batch for lunch boxes 
I use long life milk for baking
We eat a lot of fruit and vegetables and not very much fried food
We eat simple and often do not have a plate of seconds
Matt and I both cook to ease the pressure

This is an example of one of my overflow cupboards.

Now I know for some of you this may sound exhausting but for me it has become a way of life. It is a necessary part of my routine to make the budget work and to feed my family so that is what I do. We generally spend $300 a week on food {which is a big chunk of our budget} and that covers everything such as: food, toiletries, cleaning products and any other household product I need to purchase.

I am sure a lot of other families follow these guidelines and use them in their homes as well. There are now so many great blogs and websites out there to help families who are looking for creative ways to reduce their budget and to save some money. I enjoy looking over them to find new ideas and chatting with other families on what they are doing in their homes as well.

Do you have any other tips or tricks you follow to make budgeting easier?


  1. Sounds super organised!
    I'm one of 8 kids, so I've seen first hand how exhausting it all is.
    Now it's just my husband and I who I'm buying and cooking for. It's easy to plan and organise what we'll be eating for a week.
    Knowing what our dinner's are going to be for the next 7 days BEFORE going into the supermarket saves heaps of time and money.

  2. I live on a very limited income and have and extremely tight budget. Like you I make every thing from scratch, have a constant supply of staples in the cupboard, flour, sugar, oats, etc. the stuff that can be turned into muffins cakes slices biscuits. And I never waste anything. Bananas going brown, get put in the freezer for either smoothies or banana muffins. And I bake with milk powder. Cheaper again then long life milk.and easier to store. :)

  3. And I think *i'm* tired! Love your work xx

  4. Hi Naomi,

    You. Are. Amazing.

    That is all :)

  5. Awesome post Naomi!
    Any help and advice I can get my hands on is always appreciated.
    As a family of five, I try to keep a decent food budget, but after reading your post, there are things I can tweak and take away from your experience.
    First, I think I need an overflow cupboard - our pantry just doesn't cut it for extras storage as it is!

  6. You are a super mumma :) very inspiring indeed

  7. Great post. I think we can all learn something from this. Rachel x

  8. always in awe Naomi xxx

  9. Great post. I already do most of that but on a much much smaller scale. But you've inspired me to start cooking dinner and snacks in the morning xo

  10. Being able to shop for fruit and veg at a market is one thing I wish I could do. Supermarket produce is yuck and has no flavour. I must get onto Husband to get his veggie patch going again.

    For seven of us I can get it down to $150 on a really tight week with only shopping at Aldi, although toilet paper, washing powder and cat food I will go to coles for. The only downside to the hard weeks with not much for the food budget is not being able to eat healthy enough. But it does put food in our stomachs :)

    I have to say I was silently "Yay'ing" to myself last week when I notice Aldi has S.R.Flour down 10c a pack now lol We go through so much and it's the cheapest price for it anywhere!

    Great post Naomi xxx

  11. The best thing I ever learnt from having 5 kids is to meal plan, otherwise known in my house as what the heck is for dinner. I work out in advance what I have on for the next week, who will be here, or out, how much time I have to make dinner, then shop for it. I make a list, I check it twice and I don't buy anything that is not on the list. I really don't remember how to shop any other way after doing this for umpteen years.

  12. I need an overflow cupboard. We live week by week at the moment, have 3 kids, and thinking of more! Definitely need an overflow cupboard - not even my normal cupboard is stocked like yours! Awesome job you are doing!

  13. I am one of 9 kids and you shop how my mum did and as a result it is how I have always shopped too. I only have 2 kids, but I think buying in bulk when on special ensures you never pay full price for anything and your tips can be applied by everyone.
    Thanks for sharing Naomi! x

  14. I meal plan, but I need to start shopping far smarter than I do. I'm amazed at the budget you're able to stick to. I'm scared to tell you what our weekly shop costs now. I'd make the excuse that I have 2 sons, one of whom can out-eat his father at just 9. But you have far more boys than I have!!!!

    May I ask, where do you get your fruit and veg? Do you have a link to the site you use? I'm looking for one. Since I got sick and lost my license, I've been shopping online at It's convenient, but it's raised our shopping costs by easily 30-40%.

    1. I order my fruit and veg through it costs a little bit more but I find the quality is better than the supermarket and I get it delivered on the free day in my area. I just shop at Big Gun for meat as it is not too far away from me.

  15. I love having a budget to stick to. I see it as a challenge but sometimes have to go over if its a bulk nappy buying week as I have two kids in nappies.
    We buy our meat at the butcher, much cheaper than coles.. And we buy whatever is on special. Once we have our meat for the week we then plan our dinners for the week, writea shopping list and go to coles.
    It is so good with a list, I don't know how people can go without one. I'd be lost without a list and calculator at the super market. I believe in store cupboards too, they're amazing. We've had times when we didn't have enough money one week or had family members come visit and we've been able to use food from our storage.

  16. Naomi, would love to see you post an example of your one month meal plan if you have the inclination.

    1. I may have to do a blog post on that :)

  17. There is an Aldi being built up the street from us and I can't wait!!! With only six of us at home, we manage on about $135 a week for groceries, but looking at your overflow cupboard, I see a lot of brands which simply aren't in our budget - do you buy your overflow out of the $300 each week and did you build the three months of back up food from the $300? You're amazing! I do budget for $200 a week but we don't use it - I try to spend as little as possible because leftovers can be used to pay for school excursions etc. I probably need to bake more, especially for school lunches. At the end of each fortnight our cupboards and fridge/freezer are bare, we have absolutely no overflow.

    1. I built up my overflow cupboard slowly. A couple of cans or a couple of packets of flour extra each fortnight and it all adds up. I try not to use stuff from there unless I really have to and the kids know it is not there to just pig out from :)

  18. Fantastic post, Naomi. While there are only five of us, I know I'm going to have to be very aware of having plenty of food in the house when my three boys reach teenager-dom! I consider myself a pretty good shopper, but your tips are great and give me some ideas of how I'm going to cope.

    Meat is the biggest killer of our budget, so I try to buy cheap cuts to slow cook, or buy whatever is on special. I also make sure we eat at least two vegetarian meals per week. The boys might not love it, but they're going to have to get used to it!

  19. It sounds like you have it all together, thanks for sharing your tips!

  20. great post Naomi, this is something I have been posting about and working on for the last month. I didn't realise it til now but I do an overflow shop too. I try to buy things in bulk and on special . Do you do a turn around of your overflow to avoid out of date. I find that can be wasteful. I only buy plain flour and use baking powder with it as SR doesn't keep as well. Do you worry about weevils or keep your flour in the freezer?

    1. I do worry about bugs in the flour and rice and put all flour and rice in the freezer for 2 weeks to kill them before it goes in my cupboard. I also write the dates of when I put bagged items in the freezer so I can see how long I have had it in there for and write the dates on cans of when they expire. I rotate it like a supermarket shelf - new stuff at the back. N x

    2. from your photo you seem to use a lot of prepackaged stuff like cake mix, fancy cereal and casserole mixes. Are they just for your 'emergency' stock or every day items? would it be cheaper from scratch?

    3. They are my emergency stock and not my everyday items. Way too expensive to use every day. I try to buy good name brand stock for my emergency/overflow cupboard. I also save it for when we have people over for dinner. You know bring out the good stuff :) We normally eat a lot of homebrand/cheaper brand food. I keep some of them for when I am really in a rush but I do make most stuff from scratch. Like all of my baking and most of my mail meals. Matt does a lot of bread/roll making from scratch. I also use a heck of a lot of diced tomatoes in my house.

  21. Wow!!! We have 2 less children than you and our budget is more than you. Will have to start tweaking a bit more and would love to read a blog about your meal plans! You do an amazing job!

  22. Totally amazing Naomi. You do a fabulous job. Love hearing about how people make their $ go further. It inspires me to do better!

  23. thanks for posting this, i totally luv it,i also inspired by the duggers family too on foxtel.
    do you have a vegetable garden? what kind of meals do you mke from stratch, is it out of ur head or u hve a cook book?

  24. That sure is a lot of mouths to feed Naomi. You're doing a fabulous job, I'm sure. One thing I just can't stand, personally, is packet mixes and bottles and jars of sauces and ready made meals. I have quite a few ideas for basic muffins, bulk pikelet mixes and cake mixes on my web site. That will save you a bit more money I'm sure each week. I cook everything from scratch and have got quite a few recipes and tips/hints on my web site. I only have 2 children though but I plan the same as you. Best wishes, Anne @ Domesblissity

  25. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G!

    You are filled with so many practical and terrific ideas Naomi and I want to share this with Captain V - particularly the fact that your grocery bill is the same as ours and we only have three children...hmmmm.

    Looking forward to reading the comments left by others too and will be bookmarking this post,

    Happy day!xxx

  26. WOW! I'm really impressed. I have two children and we are spending about $200 a week on food for the 4 of us at the moment so I'm going to try some of those tips.

    Could you please tell me more about freezing the vegetables? How you label, what you do to them before putting them in the freezer and how long they last. I really hate wasting food but it's an issue for us.

    I would also love to know your routine for cooking in the morning (what you make how you store it). My toddler has just dropped her day sleep and she tired in the afternoon and dinner, even when I start cooking at 4pm is really stressful.

    I think you should do a series on this topic!

  27. Wow Naomi - We had my cousins (another family of 5) live with us for 6 months , I was astounded at the amount of food we went through and the washing up and helping cook drove me crazy as the only older girl , 4 of us were teenagers 3 boys .
    Their kids were so spoiled they wouldn't eat chops but when it was crumbed and fried as schnitzel you couldn't stop them. You seem to have it well managed.

  28. I meal plan for the month, and then do one big shop for everything except milk, bread, and fruit, which I top up once a week. Our big shop usually ends up being one cart full at Aldi, and one at Woolworths. If we forget something we generally do without if possible (can't do without toilet paper!) Being so far from town certainly helps us to not spend so much money.
    Our vegetable patch is also huge so the only veges I have bought since January have been onions (they are now growing too). I have 2 freezers which I have put our excess vegetables into so that I can use them through the winter. I have also made our own jam from the figs and berries we have picked on the farm.
    We have chickens for eggs, and recently got one our pigs slaughtered - plenty of pork on the menu at the moment. With 5 in our house we spend about $150 per week (but our kids are still small) for all our food, toiletries etc. I do buy disposable nappies, which are not included in that budget.

  29. We are now working on a set menu every dinner for a week and have found that our food bill is not as high! We are also trying not to pop down to the store for little things - we either make do with what we have or forget it :)
    We are feeding four of our five boys and try to cook lots of food that fills them up! great tips you have on how you feed your family of nine children!

  30. Thanks for sharing Naomi, I think I need to start an overflow cupboard (if I can find the space, that is). Do you have a list of exactly what you keep in there?

  31. Great ideas... even though I only have 2 children so far, there are still things in there that we could do which would help our budget too :)

  32. Wow, you are amazing!! $300 sounds pretty good to me considering our bill is usually around $200 (excluding my husband's lunches which he buys) and we only have a household of four (one who's not yet on solids!!) I can see how you would have to plan well and be efficient in terms of grocery buying in order for things to run smoothly with a large family. It sounds like you have a great system that works for you but which we all can take tips from :)


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