I also wanted to share a little about how we SERVE the meals I make.. this is a very important part of saving money around here too.
I try to waste as little food as possible. To do that I have to know my kids! I have to know how much they will eat, what they will eat, and whether or not they have had a big day or are suddenly eating more then usual. I also serve everyone! This prevents a child from filling a plate with a food they will take one bite of and say they are full! My kids are allowed to choose one or two foods that they absolutely HATE, such as brussel sprouts, this one food I never make them eat, but everything else is not up for debate. We all have foods we don’t eat, even as adults, so I can’t expect them to not have a hated food item too!
For the toddler I serve about 1 TBS of each food item. For the Mini’s (boys that are 5 and 7) they get about 2 TBS of each food item, for the older kids, I do 3-4 TBS of each food item. I just eyeball, I don’t actually get out measuring spoons. If they eat EVERYTHING on their plate and want more then they can have seconds. Leftovers get put in containers and saved for lunches for another day. Two or three times a week we have smorgasborg lunches… every leftover in the fridge get’s brought out and eaten up. If it’s all gone and someone is still hungry, they can make a sandwich.
I also do a One A Day rule… Once a day I serve milk, and once a day I serve juice. If you don’t want the milk or juice when I serve it, you don’t get it until tomorrow. I had kids saying they wanted milk or juice and haven’t had any yet, when I was sure they had, so I established that rule. We buy good quality 100% juice, frozen juice, usually calcium fortified, and organic whole milk. When both are about $5 a gallon, I can’t afford for them to drink a gallon each a day, and they would if I let them! For the rest of the day they get water. I recently got them each a good quality stainless water bottle. I found them on sale for $3 each because they had little dings in them. I even managed to find the Mini’s some with flip lids, they just push a button and the lid flips up. They play with the lids so much they wind up drinking an entire two to three bottles of water a day. Very important for little guys that spend a lot of time playing and using up their water supply!
I serve a fruit for one meal and a snack every day, and a veggie for two meals and a snack every day, so they get plenty of fruits and veggies, and don’t need the fruit juice to supply a serving for them, so now juice becomes an extra goodie not a necessity! Since the juice I serve is usually calcium fortified, I don’t have to worry about them getting enough calcium in only one cup of milk a day. We also eat a lot of Mexican, Italian and Indian foods, so I cook with a lot of cheese and milk products. They get calcium in most meals too that way. Plus those foods are cheap, fast and easy to to make.
I also require my kids to eat everything I serve them the first time. I don’t give them much to start with so asking them to finish it is not asking a lot. If I know one child hasn’t been feeling well, I put very little on their plate the first time around.
Most of what I make is from scratch, even items like taco seasoning etc. Not only does this save money, I know that there are no allergens that will cause problems if I make it myself. I take about half an hour at the beginning of the week to make any items like this that we will need, and then it’s ready to go when I need it.
And that is pretty much how I feed my family of 8 on $40 a day. If I missed something you are wondering about, feel free to ask, and I will do my best to answer!