Many of you have asked to see what we buy and eat on a $400 grocery budget for our family of seven. This year I’ve been sharing everything we buy and how much it costs, both in YouTube videos and blog posts, which you’ve said is helpful.
But there’s one component missing. I’ve been listening, and today I’m sharing what we make and eat out of the groceries we buy!
Nearly every time we sat down to dinner for a month, I took pictures of what we ate. I’ve stopped now, but my kids still ask if their plate looks picture-worthy and want me to snap a shot before they start eating.
I’m not a photographer (especially not a food photographer), so they’re not glamorous. Plus, there’s a hungry family behind every photo (“Hurry up and take the picture Mom so we can eat!”).
But there are LOTS of pictures in this post!
I feel a little vulnerable sharing this, but you are kind and understanding. I know you don’t expect perfection in photography or perfectly balanced meals, so here goes!
I’ll start with dinner since that’s what stumps most people. Then I’ll move onto breakfast and lunch.
In no special order, here’s what we’ve had for dinner lately. I’ll post each dinner with a short description below.
One of our go-to meals is mock lasagna. We usually make it with macaroni pasta, but this time we tried it with spiral pasta which was even better! We had a relatively boring salad on the side consisting of just lettuce and spinach. We usually always drink water at meals, but this night I made strawberry lemonade with some of our frozen berries, so that was a special treat!
This was one of our more random meals. We’re not usually seafood eaters, but I picked up some tilapia a while back and had it in the deep freezer. I baked it according to basic instructions I found online. It wasn’t a big hit. At all. We had some chips and salsa, cilantro lime rice, and salad to go with it. An odd meal indeed!
We’re big fans of breakfast for dinner. On this occassion we had scrambled eggs with cheese, fruit salad, pancakes, and bacon. No one ever complains about breakfast for dinner. We had friends over for dinner to share this with.
Remember when I bought the dehydrated potato slices in bulk? I used them to make a cheesy potato broccoli freezer meal. I made three pans for the freezer and we ate one the night I assembled them. This night we cooked and enjoyed one of the frozen pans. I think it’s actually best when it’s frozen, thawed, and cooked. We had a green salad on the side.
Years ago I would have prefered to go to bed hungry than eat something like this. It makes me feel kind of grown up that I actually like this red cabbage slaw. After trying some that a lady from church made, I was inspired to buy a red cabbage for the first time in my life. We had a plain green salad on the side. It turns out a great way to get kids to eat salad is to pair it with something that’s even “scarier” than the salad. Suddenly green salad sounds pretty easy to manage.
I made some egg rolls both to eat and to freeze. I put together some sweet and sour sauce and brown rice to go along with them. The egg rolls weren’t as good as I had hoped. Hubby ate them like a champ (he eats anything I make and never complains), as did my vegetarian daughter. No one else, including me, was really a fan.
One night we had grilled cheese sandwiches made with homemade bread (they’re so much better that way) with leftover red cabbage slaw. That’s crunched up ramen noodle you see in the cabbage.
Hawaiian haystacks is another favorite staple. Our toppings vary depending on what we have on hand. It looks like we had chicken sauce, green onions, tomatoes, raisins, and chow mein noodles (we call them “crunchies”). I know we also had pineapple, but apparently it didn’t make it to my plate for the picture. We enjoyed salad and sweet potatoes on the side.
One night we ate a homemade lasagna that I had frozen previously. It tasted much better than it looks in this picture. You can see how I frugalize my lasagna here in one of my archived Instagram stories videos. There was green salad with parmesan on the side.
We had mock lasagna again with another shape of pasta. This time it was penne. We had a yummy salad on the side with strawberries, raisins, seeds, and parmesan.
On this night, we had pan-seared pork loin and green salad, with a delicious berry smoothie.
Salad, mashed potatoes with sour cream, and leftover pork loin.
Quinoa is another ingredient that is still pretty new to us. I found a recipe for a quinoa/kale salad to try. It was pretty good thanks to all the mix-ins. And the waffle was made of cornbread batter, so it’s a cornbread waffle, not your typical breakfast strain. I’m not sure that cornbread goes with quinoa/kale salad, but it worked for us!
This cheater stroganoff doesn’t look very delicious in this picture, but it was actually quite yummy. The pasta is radiatori which I had never bought before, so that made it extra fun. I’m noticing a theme here with different shaped pasta. Our salad was pretty low key with just lettuce and parmesan.
Spaghetti and salad. A quick, easy, and frugal meal! I made it a little more exciting by making some French bread to go with it. The kids would have been happy to just have the bread. It’s so soft and delicious!
I’m not sure if this was day two of the spaghetti previously mentioned or if this is another single incidence of spaghetti and salad. This time I used my homemade French bread to make garlic bread. The salad had strawberries, raisins, cheese, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and parmesan.
With the bagels that I bought on a whim, we made egg/cheese/spinach sandwiches. It may look like breakfast or lunch, but it was actually dinner. 🙂
My kids love tacos/burritos. We have both meat and beans available along with lots of other colorful toppings. It’s a fast meal to pull together, especially when the ground beef is already browned (and maybe even seasoned) and frozen.
The breaded zucchini fries I made were a hit with most of the family. I tried a few different seasonings. With apples, strawberries, and walnuts, I obviously put a little more effort into the salad than some other nights. 🙂 We had a some leftover pork loin (this was an itty bitty piece, but I ate more).
I didn’t always take pictures of breakfast because honestly it would be the same pictures all the time (list of our go-to breakfast foods below).
The times I took pictures were when we had something a little fancier which was usually when my hubby was working from home and we had a late breakfast after the kids were at school.
One of my breakfast favs is fried eggs with cheese, salsa, and avocado (or sour cream). And some apples and strawberries on the side!
Oatmeal is much more exciting with some interesting mix-ins. On this morning we added in strawberries, frozen blueberries, and homemade strawberry yogurt. We also had some fried eggs on the side.
These eggs were going to be an omelette, but they turned out more scrambled instead. They’re topped with cheese, peppers, salsa, and avocado. The homemade strawberry yogurt has sliced strawberries and almonds.
But like I said, our breakfasts are often much more boring. Our breakfasts rotate between the following (all with fuit on the side):
Cream of Wheat— I buy this in bulk at Winco, where it’s called “farina.” Hubby and the kids call it “bear mush.” We cook it on the stovetop and usually add in some brown sugar. We also often add in some milk and frozen berries or fresh banana to cool it down.
Oatmeal— We have lots of big eaters in our family so we usually make oatmeal on the stovetop rather than in the microwave. Brown sugar and raisins are normal oatmeal add-ins for us. We add in milk and frozen berries.
Whole wheat pancakes— I make 24 cups of homemade pancake mix at a time, usually when I’m grinding wheat for bread and we’re low on pancake mix. That way it’s available for making pancakes anytime. My 8-year-old (who is often the first one awake) loves to make them himself. For every cup of mix, you add 3/4 c. of milk and an egg. We make a batch of 4-6 cups of mix. Depending on if Dad is home or not, we may have some left over.
Eggs— Often fried, but sometimes scrambled, I usually put salsa, sour cream, and cheese on mine. I add avocado if we have some. I like to sautee some peppers and onions before I put the eggs in.
We’re pretty boring and predictable for lunch. We have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches probably 90% of the time.
Seriously. I send three PBJs in my husband’s lunch each day, make one for myself, and make one for each of the four big kids.
Sometimes I’ll pull out leftovers for one of us, but we eat PBJ most of the time. I didn’t take any lunch pictures because I’m pretty sure you’ve got a pretty accurate mental image of what a PBJ looks like. 🙂
Well friends, there you have it! That’s what we’re eating with the grocery hauls I’ve been showing you. I hope it gives you some ideas for frugal meals to feed your family, or at least some insight as to what I’m doing with the groceries I buy.
Without even thinking very hard, I know that some of our favorite meals didn’t get photographed. We eat taco soup pretty regularly as well as homemade pizza. We just didn’t have them during the month I took these pictures. We don’t really go out to eat or get fast food, but we will grab some cheap Little Ceasar’s pizzas once or twice a month on a busy night.
What do you think?
- Is this what you expected? What surprised you?
- What are you favorite frugal meals? I would love to hear your go-to meals so we can add them to our repertoire!