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?

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Still Learning with Baby #6

Baby #6While pregnant with our 6th child I was a bit shocked at how much I still had to learn about pregnancy, babies, etc. As a former FACS teacher and mother of 5 already I felt I had a firm knowledge base but oh-my-word-big-bird there are still some things to learn.  Here are a few things I have found…

  • The post postpartum uterine contractions (you know, the ones that hurt like heck while you are nursing). Those get worse with each baby. And I can confirm this is so true.
  • Just as the postpartum pains are worse so are the pregnancy pains. Those lovely ligament pains as your muscles stretch for the baby…yeah they hurt far worse with each pregnancy. The Braxton Hicks pains may feel a bit stronger too. (I am not a medical professional-just figured this out on my own)
  • Most of the pregnancy websites and apps are focused on first time Moms, etc. That is totally cool with me but trying to search for anything on the 4th, 5th or 6th pregnancy-yeah, I came up empty handed. Unless I wanted to scroll through some discussion threads I couldn’t find anything.  So, I guess it is learning along the way.
  • Some people are mean or just don’t know what to say when discussing your pregnancy status. I have often pondered if I should just lie to people when they ask me if this is my first because good-golly you should see/hear their reactions when I told them, “Nope, it’s my 6th.” In fact when I was pregnant with my 5th I had someone ask me if I had ever considered the impact my large family is having on the environment and if I thought about the carbon footprint I am creating. – I think I would have settled for a ‘congrats’ and left it at that. I certainly wasn’t prepared to respond to such a comment.

On a lighter note there are some funnier tidbits too.

  • My eldest child has been paying attention to each pregnancy. He came to me with a very serious face and began with “Mom I don’t want to sound mean” and proceeded to ask why I don’t just get a big belly. He wanted to know why my butt gets so big too. HILARIOUS! I may have felt bad about his question if he wasn’t so sincere and kind about the way he asked. I laughed and was a bit shocked. I explained how the hormones of pregnancy cause the fat to store up for a variety of reasons. My husband didn’t flinch and said it’s to balance out the weight of my big belly. (Because we don’t want Mom to fall over) Nice huh?
  • We all have heard of memory foam. Well I am convinced our bodies are similar. With each additional pregnancy your body knows just what to do. The baby bump seems to ‘pop’ a bit sooner with each one. I swear this time I peed on a stick and had a baby bump. What does one do when they have a noticeable baby bump at 6-8 weeks??? Working in administration at an elementary school while pregnant with #6 I was in my office usually but when I was with the students they noticed. I tried telling them I had a large burger and fries for lunch…they weren’t buying it. 🙂
  • Also on the note of kids…If I was ever to forget that I was getting bigger I had plenty of kids to remind me. They tell me as if I really didn’t notice! “Mrs. Menne, your belly is really getting big!” It’s pretty funny. Ya just have to laugh.

And finally some “Menne Mama” tidbits

  • I no longer care about what people think about my belly, or my cloths. I wear what is comfortable. SO, I totally broke out the maternity clothes as soon as my regular jeans were a bit tight. Who needs to feel uncomfortable?? Not me!
  • People ask how I am feeling and how my energy level is. HA! With 5 other children I don’t have time to feel ill, or nap, etc. I just keep on truckin’. There are no sick days when it comes to being a mom. Frankly I think if I slow down I may fall asleep. 🙂
  • The stomach flu whilst pregnant absolutely sucks!!! (yes it’s worthy of 3 exclamation points-probably more) I’m sure we can all agree the stomach flu isn’t a fun thing but lemme’ tell ya’ when you are 6 months pregnant holy-moly it’s awful! I swear I was not in control of my body and hurt worse than anything I could have ever imagined.
  • Trust your gut. I am very aware that I don’t know everything but there is something to be said about women’s intuition. If you think something is wrong call your Dr. If you don’t agree with something regarding your pregnancy or child get a second opinion. In the end, trust your instincts. Baby’s don’t come with a manual and you have to do what is right for your child and your family.