How I Plan to Feed My Family of 7 on $400 a Month

How I Plan to Feed a Family of 7 on $400 a Month

During the first half of our marriage, my husband and I struggled financially. There were periods of unemployment. We traveled multiple times across the country to find work. Those were tough years. Even though we don’t live quite paycheck to paycheck now like we used to, I adopted some frugal habits back then that still serve us well.

How I Plan to Feed My Family of 7 on $400 a Month

A Small Budget

We have a small budget living on less than $3,000 a month for seven people, but I am dedicated to stick to it and not stress over it.  I know many people live on less. We have had nothing at times to even budget  so I get the whole pinching pennies – trust me!

I am using my budgeting tools from The Homemaker’s Companion: Financial Planning Edition which you can find this HERE.  Get this one and 9 other planners for FREE during the month of January 2015 ONLY!  Download them all HERE.

We are paid weekly with my husband’s new job so I will take out $100 a week and put it in an envelope to carry with me for groceries only.  Once it is gone – it is GONE!   I will have to practice some serious self discipline not to pull from any other areas but I know its possible!

You can do the same whether you are paid weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Just take out your designated amount and stick to it.

Get Creative with Your Pantry

During our harder financial times I have learned that making due with what you have in the cabinets is sometimes just how things go.  Sometimes you make a meal that has no meat, or a meal that is a hodge podge of a few different random items.  If you have it in your pantry you need to use it, so try to make sense of it somewhere in some meal and work on using what you have on hand on weeks where funds are low.

We once went three weeks without going to the grocery store.  Our cabinets were cleaned out by the end of that dry spell but I truly learned a valuable lesson in using what I had.  My husband knew I had become desperate when chopped hot dogs from the back of the freezer started showing up in some of our meals (I am not a hot dog fan).

Sometimes we collect odds and ends that we forget about or just don’t know how to use in a meal.  Get creative and Google recipes for those odds and ends or make up your own!

If you are a real foodie like me, just remember that sometimes you cannot always afford all that you want.  You still need to eat, so be thankful for what you can eat and try to fit the healthy stuff in where you can.  Surprisingly healthy food can be a lot cheaper than processed.  I try to make many things from scratch including my cream of soup mixes.  GET THE RECIPE HERE.

Keeping your own garden as well as chickens can be another source of saving money and healthy eating, this is if you live in an area where this is possible.

Menu Plan

I am planning to create a menu plan every Thursday for the following week.  This will help me stay organized and spread my money further.  I can create meals that make sense both for our family and our finances.  I am looking forward to doing more freezer meals as well to save me both time and money!

You can use an premade menu plan from somewhere like $5 Dinners (a budget friendly choice).

You can create your own menu plan from scratch by downloading these FREE Menu Planning Templates from The Homemaker’s Companion: DOWNLOAD NOW.

If you are interested in a hybrid meal planning option I love what  BuildaMenu.com has to offer. At BuildaMenu.com you can take from their already family approved recipes, build your own menu for the week, and print your shopping lists. My favorite feature at Build A Menu is if you choose to shop at certain stores Build A Menu will tell you how much it should cost you for that meal when you shop at that store (like Wal-Mart)!  Talk about a significant help for sticking to a budget!

Grab Your Subscription to Build a Menu HERE for as Low as $6.30 a month!

Simple Couponing

Have you ever watched one of those extreme couponing shows on television?  Yeah, I did that at one point.  I had a whole closet dedicated to my growing FREE stash and I found that it took too much of my time and also was a source of ungodly pride for me.  Our diet also has changed quite a bit since I did the extreme couponing two years ago and so many coupons are for food with not so great ingredients.

I plan on couponing, but with a twist …

Many extreme couponers just try to collect whenever and whatever they can with their savings methods.  I plan on only buying what I need and what we will use.

I will stick to only a couple of stores to help me be more efficient with my time.

I will not print every coupon I come across *in case* I might use it.  I will only print what I know I would use or need.

Some of these might sound a bit common sense, but trust me if you have ever done extreme couponing these are some very necessary tenants to not become carried away.

Tips for Couponing from a Recovering Extreme Couponer
  • Begin with only one store to start your couponing at.  Master that store and then expand if you feel you can.
  • Don’t expect to get everything for free.  This will only serve to frustrate you if you do not.
  • Expect that learning the process of proper couponing is a bit of a marathon, not a sprint.  It might take you a couple of months to see any big savings rolling in.
  • Set a shopping budget!  If you do not, you might just overspend, and couponing is just not worth breaking the budget (yes! that can happen!)
  • Make shopping lists that correspond with your coupons!  If you do not, it will take you FOREVER to get through a store.
  • Set a shopping day and stick to it!  Otherwise you will find yourself shopping every day to get every single deal that comes across online.  Remember that gas money might cancel out your savings!
  • Get familiar with your local stores.  I live in a more rural area and just do not have any grocery stores listed on the big websites.  Find out your stores coupon policies and get their weekly flyers.
  • Make a coupon binder. I bought a zipper binder and added baseball card holder sleeves.  These make handy pockets to organize coupons by type.
Where Do I Get My Coupons?

If you to see what deals are available at your favorite chain stores or online I highly recommend subscribing to any or all of these popular websites:

The Krazy Coupon Lady

Southern Savers

Motherhood on a Dime

The Krazy Coupon Lady does have some very helpful tutorials on how to begin couponing that I recommend reading.  CLICK HERE for beginners.

My Favorite FREE Savings Mobile Apps
  • Ibotta (JOIN MY TEAM!  My referral code: wbbttcw)
  • Checkout 51
  • Shopimium (JOIN MY TEAM!  My referral code: FGKAGHPA)
  • Savings Star

I have to admit that the savings apps are my new favorite thing!  A few friends of mine recommended them to me after they had received some big payouts.

Why do I like my savings mobile apps?

  • No couponing necessary to grab some savings.
  • Savings are on common purchases you buy like milk, bread, bananas, juice, and MORE!
  • You can use all the apps at once!  Did you purchase one gallon of milk? Well you can get the savings on both iBotta and Checkout 51 at the same time for the same purchase!
  • Super easy to use. On some you scan the barcode directly from your phone on the product you bought.  You also just take a simple picture of your receipt on your phone.  That’s it and you get anywhere from $0.25 to a few $$ back on your purchases!  Can you see why I love it?
  • Did I mention they are FREE?  Yep totally free apps for mobile.  You just need to be connected to wi-fi to use them.
  • Build your personal team of friends and earn more!  I have a couple of referral codes that I listed above.  If you feel led I would so appreciate you inserting those if you sign up and I will earn a little bit of cash.  You can do the same by inviting your own friends to join under you!

Think Outside the Box to Generate More Income

We are doing quite a few things to help us generate new income.  My husband works a normal job but is able to get overtime hours which he takes advantage of.  He also donates plasma weekly which we receive an extra $200 a month for.  You might be able to do this in your area too.  It is not for everyone but my husband is a champ at it!

I run an online business doing website design and of course my blogging generates income (thanks to you!).  I dabble in sewing to sell and my husband is considering using his woodworking skills to make and sell furniture locally.

I have also started taking advantage of local garage sale groups on Facebook.   This has given us a few extra bucks here and there when we needed it, as well as keeping my home de-cluttered.

Think about what you have to offer in order to generate a little bit of income.  Could you babysit?  Do you sew?  Could you make food to sell?

There are a lot of ways to generate income that we just don’t think about.  This is a great way as a wife to aid the family income in a small (or big!) way.

Get creative.  Get organized. Get to Saving.

Lindsey S

Lindsey is a stay at home, work from home mom to six children eight years and younger. She homeschools and enjoys large family living. When Lindsey is not changing diapers, cleaning, and cooking meals in her awesome Instant Pot, she is DIY-ing her way around the house. Where she loves learning new skills, her heart is in sharing with other women the message of the Gospel and showing them how to instill those truths in the hearts of their children.

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17 thoughts on “How I Plan to Feed a Family of 7 on $400 a Month

  1. Great suggestions! I need to look more into ibotta and other apps. Paying in cash has been very helpful for our budget as well! Or at the least, using a debit card so the money comes right out of your account, instead of a credit card where it’s easy to rack up charges.

    • Yes, I think that paying in cash keeps you even more accountable than the debit card. I also LOVE my mobile apps! I made over $20 in the first month on ibotta! If you sign up join my team 🙂

  2. Congratulations on a house!! Hope all is well with your family of 7 🙂
    Looks like you have a great budget plan, a well thought out plan makes budgeting a success!! Love from Oregon!

  3. I would love to find a blogger who has teenage children on special diets discuss budgeting. Small children eat small quantities of food. I have 3 teenage boys and we’re trying to eat gluten free and GAPS, and they never stop eating. Any ideas?

    • Definitely with hungry teenage boys it would be difficult to do a budget of $400, but I do have friends with teenage boys and they manage for around $600 a month. The biggest expense is meat usually. I think keeping the diet high in protein would be where I would start to keep them full for longer and fill in the nutrients with high fiber vegetables. Is that allowed on GAPS? I only know a little bit about it, but I know it is basically to reset the gut.

  4. What good ideas! We always try to keep our grocery costs low as well. I’ve tried couponing but it wasn’t as successful for us- I generally found that shopping at a low cost store like Aldis was usually still cheaper than buying a brand name product with a coupon. One exception would be somewhere like target that let’s you stack store and manufacturer coupons- that’s always nice! Meat is always our costliest item so we bought a quarter of a cow- and that saved us quite a bit although it is a large initial investment. We also try to save produce from our garden- we do a little canning but also freeze spaghetti sauce and sweet corn for later on. I hope your $100 a week journey goes well- I’ll pray this morning that god will give you preserverance, wisdom, and good sales!

  5. Thanks for all the awesome tips!

    In regards to the different ways to make extra money, please be careful when making food to sell. In most locations, you will be breaking the law if you sell food from an unlicensed, uninspected home kitchen. That may not sound too scary, but I know several cake decorating enthusiasts who have paid hefty fines for selling their baked goods out of their homes.

    • Yes, thank you for mentioning that about selling food. I have never done it but I have a friend who does and she does have to abide by quite a few laws. It is so important to know the business you are starting! Lots of research is involved.

  6. Join a CSA if you cannot garden, and a meat share, look into bountifulbaskets.org. That has really helped with the teenage boy eating thing.

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