Grocery Shopping for a large family

With such a large family it takes a lot of planning and preparation to feed everyone. I never thought I could get behind a meal planning calendar but for budget’s sake it needed to be done. I had the kids sit down with me and plan a 2 week rotating calendar. We do this in the fall for a winter meals and again in the spring for summer meals. If I or the kids decide a particular meal isn’t working we just change it.
I have the menu on a clip board in the pantry to whomever has the kitchen for their chore that month can get out the ingredients and possibly prep. Under the menu I have the recipes for those meals clipped as well.

imageBelow that clipboard hangs another one. This is the special ‘shopping’ clipboard that has a lovely spreadsheet clipped into it. (Yea, there are probably a few post-it’s on there too so I don’t forget to add things) The spreadsheet includes items we typically buy in alphabetical order as well as a separate list of what I call the ‘target’ items (toothpaste, diapers, etc.). I don’t buy all of those things at Target (after all we are talking cheap) but that seems to sum up the contents of the list for our family budgeting purposes. As we run out of things we can simply mark it on the spreadsheet or add it to the bottom. So each month when we go shopping (yes, it’s a monthly trip) I bring along a clipboard with the items needed highlighted in yellow and as they get tossed into the carts (yup, we require at least 2 carts) I can cross them off with a blue marker.

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I am a BIG FAN of Aldi although most folks think we shop at Sam’s Club or Cosco. The reality is those stores are great for some items but the vast majority of the grocery items are cheaper at Aldi and I can get the family in and out quicker because it’s a smaller store. (They carry all but a couple items on my list it’s just that they don’t carry a bunch of different brands of the same product) What works best for us is bringing 2-3 quarters for carts, 6 laundry baskets and a baby carrier. I can do all the shopping on my own if I put the little one on my back and the toddler in a cart and have one of the older kiddos push the second cart. The Kids are great at helping put items in the cart and have gotten accustomed to how this operation works. We discuss our budget with them and how that whole process works in hopes that they will be fiscally responsible adults. They have fun trying to estimate the cost at the register.

We purchase most of our groceries at Aldi, a few at Walmart and Sam’s club. I try to get most ‘Target’ budget items at the Dollar Store or Walmart. I also LOVE the thrift stores. I have a big selection of thrift stores to shop at and love that I can find treasures at a great price and the little ones can always find a toy of $1 or less.

After pushing 2 or 3 full carts out to the suburban the real fun begins ;). Those laundry baskets I referred to early come into play. I load the groceries up into the baskets in a manner which my hubby calls “Tetrus” but really I just put the cold stuff in 2 baskets, heavy stuff on the bottom and the lighter stuff on top with one basket reserved for chips, breads, etc. This process can be a quick one depending upon the weather and how the kids are behaving. On one occasion I did have a lady sit and watch me load the whole thing because she said she didn’t believe I could fit it all in. (I kinda enjoyed I proving her wrong .)

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When we get home those baskets then get unloaded one at a time placed in a super cool wagon and wheeled up into the kitchen. To get up into the house through the service door I use a ramp my hubby made for the kids to ride their bikes over but it works just fine for my needs. I can get the whole suburban unloaded fairly quickly this way and the organization helps so I can get the cold stuff put away and take my time getting the rest put away.

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I’d love ideas from other large families. How do you do it? Any tips for me?

Guest Post: Creative Ways To Enjoy Your Summer And Make Money

Creative Ways To Enjoy Your Summer And Make Moneymoney

In the middle of the summer, you might find your mind wandering toward thoughts of sunny beaches and get-away vacation spots. For most families, the price of leaving town and booking a hotel isn’t always easy when there’s business to attend to and bills to be paid. However, there are ways to have fun and make some money during these dog days of summer. Whether you’re managing the family at home or working at your office, see how these four creative tips can improve your life and your bank account while the sun is still in full force!

Sell Your Photos
Do you love snapping pictures with your camera? Don’t let those gorgeous photos you’re taking go to waste! If you’ve taken hundreds of photos that only a few people have seen, you could be missing out on a great opportunity. Make some extra bucks by selling your beautiful images as stock photos. There are several sites online that let you sign up for free which allow your photos to be sold to their users. It’s a good way to build your portfolio and make some money at the same time!

Become a Dog Boarding House

If you enjoy animals like I do, then you will love this idea! A great way to make a pet-owner feel at ease while they’re out of town is dog boarding through a service such as DogVacay. It’s a fantastic way to make some extra cash in your free time! Some people feel uneasy about the idea of leaving their furry friend in a kennel. This way, you give the pup some much needed attention while their owner is gone and you get paid to let them stay with you. It’s a win-win for everyone involved!

Switch Off Your Air Conditioner
Your home doesn’t have to be an icebox in the summertime! If you’re not living in an area where the temperatures rise to 100 degrees in the warmer months, chances are you could turn off the air conditioner more times than you think. Buy yourself a few portable fans that can move from room to room. Open the window and let the fans push the air around your house. It’s easy to lay off the air conditioner when the cooler evening hours set in. It’s a great way to lower the electric bill that has a way of rising a little on the high side around the middle of the year! 

Go on – Double Your Recipe

This idea might sound a little bit out there, but it could really save you some cash! Next time you’re cooking, go on and double the ingredients in your recipe! It might seem a little odd staying out of the kitchen too long, but having food for longer than you planned goes a long way. Doubling your recipe means fewer trips to the store and less time leaving the oven on. All in all you’ll save time, decrease your electric bill and have energy left to relax!

The summer season is the perfect time to find small ways to enhance your life. Take some time to soak up the sun and increase your savings. Let your creative side and your budget skills collide by trying some of these tips for yourself!

Shaye is a single mom that has a passion for family, budgeting, healthy living, fitness, and travel. She loves finding new ways to cook healthier and stay fit, all while doing it on a budget. She has a beautiful son and one eccentric dog, but wouldn’t have it any other way.. Follow her blog athttp://simplyshaye.wordpress.com!  

Simply Shaye