Frugal Living: How I Shop For Groceries

How I Shop For Groceries On A Budget As A Large Family
I am blessed with a husband who fully supports me being a stay-at-home-mom, but this means we live on one income, which varies monthly.
We are a family of 9 and by today’s standards, we have a large family! Though I am not an expert and still have a lot to learn about raising a large family, I do have some ways I’ve been able to simplify our life.

I have learned to organize every little thing, including grocery shopping! We must live an organized life, to make the most of our income and a small home. Organized chaos, is better than just chaos! 😉 Besides, we thrive on routine and simplicity at our house!

How I Shop For Groceries On A Budget As A Large Family

We have a monthly budget and need a minimum amount that we must bring home to pay the (necessary) bills going out. We are on set monthly payments for our garbage/recycling, water/sewer, electricity/natural gas, phone/internet, cell phones, auto/rental insurance, and our house rent, so we are doing the best we can there to be frugal. My husband only drives his car to work and back, so we are pretty set on fuel costs for him. That leaves our groceries (food, toiletries, etc.).

So, every month, my goal challenge is to be as frugal as possible with our grocery shopping. According to the USDA calculations, we are below what a “thrifty” family of 9 in the USA spends on only food per month, which works out to about $1093/month (I calculated using their chart and our ages and gender).

Remember the USDA is counting the cost of FOOD only, not toiletries, etc. Our food budget for a family of 9 is usually $900 each month. Our toiletries such as diapers and baby wipes for 4 kids are in addition to this amount. I realize that there are families that live on even less than us. I’d love it if others shared their tricks to making do with less!

On a budget? See how this family of 9 shops for groceries on a budget!
  • Shop Around. We go to Fred Meyer (Kroger) and Walmart on the same day as Costco and buy everything else we can stock up on for one month at a time. Then every weekend, I pick up fresh produce from Fred Meyer.
  • And online. I also spend a couple of hours every month shopping online. I compare prices between 2 stores: Amazon and Swanson. I buy hard-to-find-cheap organic foods, special foods for our allergy kids, and baking products. These items are bought in bulk and most of them are bought alternatively every few months, so once again the cost is split up.
  • Use Coupons. I am not an extreme couponer, but I do take advantage of the coupon book from Costco every month, along with coupons/rewards from Fred Meyer that I get via snail mail, email, or online, and discount codes for Swanson. We also receive 2% back on what we spend at Costco which almost covers our yearly membership fee. I only use coupons for things that are already on my list, though!
  • Compare Prices. I keep an up-to-date list of prices right next to the item on my grocery list. I use a notepad type app on my smartphone for my grocery list and simply update the lowest price found and where I found it each month. This month I found that organic apples were much cheaper at Costco than at Fred Meyer, so we bought a big bag of them.
For eating mostly organic and whole foods, I think I am doing pretty near close to the best I can on spending. I simplify my meal planning. I have a “master grocery list” and I rarely change anything on it. We live comfortably this way.
Please share your frugal tips in the comments!

10 thoughts on “Frugal Living: How I Shop For Groceries

  1. Very interesting! I honestly have no idea how you do it! Guess God gave you the brain for it! 🙂 I wish I could figure out hot to grocery shop cheaper etc. I just don't seem to have the brain for it.. 🙁 Thanks for sharing!!

  2. I guess I like figuring numbers and budgets and paying bills, etc… so it works out… 🙂
    Joey doesn't like figuring up budgets… but if he did, I'm sure he'd be doing it!

  3. I don't know how you shop for a family of 9 on 900 a month. I have a family of 5 and I do the monthly trip to Costco, and then alternate between Aldi and Shop Rite and im usually around 900.00 a month, and I coupon! I am including everything in that total, (toiletries etc) would you be willing to post some menus for your meals for a large family? I would love to see how you cook to stretch your grocery bill< my next question is I don't know the ages of your children, but how do oyou rarely leave the house? I have 3 school age children and feel like a revolving door and both my husband and I fill up our gas tanks once a week.

    1. Hi, as I wrote in the article, our budget does NOT include toiletries. Also, I do have a link above to our grocery list and simple menu plan using the foods we buy. Things do vary slightly sometimes, but otherwise they are quite an accurate picture as to what we do.
      We leave our home on the weekends as a family and live right in town, so besides my husband's daily work commute, we have no reason to drive much, except when we go out of town. We are homebodies by nature and have no issues staying home most of the week. Of course, we spend time outside of the house (everyday, actually), but we just don't need to drive often.

  4. As a family of 7 we usually spend around $500 per month on groceries including toiletries. I think you have ti learn how to make the best of it when its what you have to work with.

  5. We are a family of seven and we budget $400 for food and household items (we have three in diapers). The only thing I didn’t see on your list that I would add, is make from scratch. I make my own cleaners, bread, tortillas, soup, etc. I try to make as many things myself as possible which cuts costs a LOT!

  6. Thank you so much for this…I so happy that you spend $900 month!! I feel like this is a real. All others I don’t really believe or they are family of 4. We are family of 8 and spend about $1000 a month. Thank you for being real.

  7. I grow a garden for a lot of veggies…I started a Berrie garden, strawberries and raspberries, fall berries. I became a member of a local garden club and we exchange seeds and started plants. It’s hard with four in diapers, but you wait, mine are older and they don’t want kids foods, they eat. What I am trying to say is the pay off on growing your own veggies, herbs, and fruits is soooo rewarding. Try to indoor from seed then transplant and plant your veggies that root. What I meant by that is, plant foods that come back yearly. It takes time but you will have saved sooo much money. Oh and save seeds from clippings and drying them out in basement. In your basement get a work area for your supplies… Go to thrift stores for supplies, get free lumber for raised beds… And I receive deep freezer to store tomatoes and chopped peppers, berries, etc.. purchase gallon and quart sized freezer bags for all of this, even your meats. Buy in supper bulk and divide. Add rice or instead of all those unwanted carbs add dried zucchini. Zucchini is so easy to grow from seed. Purchase a dehydrator, ask for these things as Christmas presents when you think you have it all, because you will need theses things eventually. I have taken local celantro, from the store and dehydrated it. Fresh herbs go bad fast, but I believe in dehydrated. Save your spice containers, but if you really get into this you will need to save your koolaid containers and make your own seasoning from your fresh herbs. Good luck and God bless

  8. I love how realistic your post is. While I’ve heard of super couponers who spend seemingly pennies a month on food, I felt that your post was much more balanced, healthy, and sustainable. We have a family of 6 and spend about the same amount you do, but I think I can do better by doing more food prep at home, especially when it comes to snacks. We do have one child that has to be gluten free (Celiac Disease), which might raise our budget a tad, but I’m inspired to see if I can reasonably trim down without sacrificing healthy options!

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