First Person: We're Shopping for 9, on a Budget

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Over the course of the last 13 weeks, our family merged with another. We now live in a household of nine people, with four children 16 and under. There are so many more expenses now, some I never even thought about when we lived on our own. We combine the grocery shopping and the total now is triple what we would spend in a month. These are some things we are implementing in our lives when it comes to grocery shopping for a huge family.

Plan out each meal

For us, there is a lot of preparation that goes into meal planning. We start by having everyone sit around the kitchen table and participating in the conversation. Seven dinners are chosen, and then the side dishes to go with it. Lunches are mostly sandwiches or salad throughout the week, especially with two school-aged children and three adults that work outside of the home. Breakfast is usually cereal, with the occasional eggs or toaster strudel thrown in. Once the meals are all in order, the list is prepared.

Preparing the list

Each item we need is written down regardless if we have it in the house or not. After the list is completed, the fridge and pantry are checked. We then cross off the items we have in the household already, leaving little room to overbuy. This small action saves us around $15 a week because it prevents us from having doubles of things that we will not need over the course of the week.

Buy generic

Almost everything we buy is off-brand. From cereal to cheese, whatever is cheapest we buy. There is one store in particular that has nearly everything we need for a fraction of what a private or chain grocery store would charge. There are items that we will never substitute, but the majority of our list is fair game. This saves us close to $50 a week on average.

Bulk buying

With the amount of people sitting down to eat, we need to make sure everyone gets enough to fill their bellies. In order to ensure this happens, we buy things in bulk. Ground beef is bought five pounds at a time, pork loins are bought weighing at least three pounds, and chicken is bought by the bag with at least nine pieces. Things like toilet paper, paper plates, and napkins are also bought in large quantities. This helps to keep us from running out of basic needs, and allows us to know there is enough for everyone.

At the end of the month, we are spending roughly $600 a month on groceries for the nine of us. This includes my in-laws and my family. There are five adults and four children, the majority of which are male. Grocery shopping is a chore, but one that can save us money with a little planning.

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