How to Feed Your Family on a Tight Budget

A small bowl of seasoned potatoes.

This post explores strategies for feeding your family well on a budget, offering tips like eating at home, meal planning, cooking from scratch, simplifying your diet, loving leftovers, growing food, and stocking up on sales.

This post contains affiliate links, if you make a purchase through one of these links, we will make a small commission at no extra cost to you. See our Disclosure Policy for more information. Thank you for your support.

Follow Graceful Little Honey Bee on:
Pinterest | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube

Tips for Feeding Your Family Well on a Budget

There’s a myth that eating cheap equals ramen noodles and macaroni, but I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way. Each family’s definition of a small budget is going to differ depending on location, size of family and other determining factors.

I know inflation has hit us all pretty hard in the last couple of years and it might seem more difficult than ever to keep your food costs down, but it is possible.

According to the USDA (as of November 2023), a family of four is considered thrifty to live on $224 per week. Considering that this number is for food only and doesn’t include things like diapers, toilet paper and other toiletries, I feel that most people should be able to fall within this range if they put enough effort into it, unless maybe they live in a high cost of living area or have family members with a special needs diet.

Each family’s budget and resources will look different, but there are some things that anyone can do to feed their family well with less. I personally try to spend $175-200 per week to feed a family of six including household items and I find in my area (Arkansas) that it’s fairly easy to do.

In fact, I know if I tried harder I could get that number down even lower, but at the moment I’m comfortable with what I’m spending. The USDA says that $331 is a thrifty amount to spend on our family size per week on groceries alone, so I guess we’re doing alright.

Today I hope to share with you a few tips that you can incorporate into your week in order to get your grocery bill down. If you take the time to plan ahead and follow through then you’re sure to succeed.

Eat at Home

If you’re on a limited budget, you’re going to have to eat almost all of your meals at home, simply because it costs way less than eating out.

Did you know that the average American family spends over $300 per month eating out? This number actually seems low to me. I know that we could spend this much pretty quickly if we were eating out 2+ times per week.

But seriously, just think how much you would save by doing this one thing. If you’re not used to eating at home, then it will require planning and forethought, but you’ll save so much if you can follow through. If you need help in this area, then check out my post on How to Stop Eating Out.

Make Your Favorites at Home:

Menu Plan the Right Way

Taking the time to plan your meals for the week is one of the best ways to save money when implemented correctly. To get the most bang for your buck, you will need to plan meals around what’s already in your pantry and then around what’s on sale or in season.

This process is called reverse meal planning and will save you money every time. Menu planning won’t save you money, however if you buy steaks, out of season produce and other expensive items all the time.

If meal planning seems like a daunting task, then consider keeping it simple for breakfast such as oatmeal and eggs, plan leftovers for lunches and give each dinner night a theme such as Soup Monday and Taco Tuesday. If you need additional support then check out my post How to Meal Plan on a Tight Budget.

A paper meal plan sitting on a table with a black pen and cookbooks in the background.

Cook from Scratch

Convenience food has its place, but shouldn’t be relied upon all the time when you’re on a tight budget because it costs more and is usually unhealthy. Anything that you can learn to make at home instead of buying will save you money.

If you love cereal, try making your own granola at home. If you buy canned biscuits, learn how to make your own biscuits at home. The sky is the limit with what you can make at home. A few things that I cook from scratch and don’t buy from the store are Ranch Seasoning, Tomato Sauce, Bread, Applesauce, Bread Sticks and Chicken Broth. If you need more inspiration in this area, check out the links below.

Additional Resources for Cooking From Scratch:

Eat Simply

I’m a big fan of keeping my life simple, including meals. I think people overspend on food simply because there are too many options to choose from. Sticking to the basics and eating a simple diet will definitely save you money and also help to make your life a little easier.

Create a list of basics that your family enjoys and keep those well stocked. This way you can pull together a simple meal that everyone loves in a short time. Things like spaghetti, tacos, eggs and toast, soup and pasta are all simple, quick and fairly good for you, but won’t break the bank. If you need help in building a stockpile then check out How to Build an Old-Fashioned Frugal Pantry.

Love Your Leftovers

People that don’t eat leftovers really baffle me because I feel like they must be wasting so much food and money. I specifically cook more than we need so that we have enough for another meal. In fact, we love leftovers so much that we eat them almost everyday for lunch.

This saves me the time and hassle of having to plan/cook for lunches and also saves money. Leftovers work well for us, but if you have a large family or teenage boys then leftovers may not work quite as well for your family.

A phrase that I like is “to gather your fragments” meaning to gather all of the small bits that you have in the fridge and try to make a new meal with them. Soups and casseroles work especially well for this.

For example, if you have leftover chili, you can add some cooked macaroni, top with cheese and bake in the oven for Chili Mac Casserole. If you have leftover chicken, simply shred it and make a pot of Homemade Chicken Soup. With leftover baked potatoes you could shred them for hash browns, dice them for fried potatoes, mash them for Shepherd’s Pie or use them as a base for a breakfast casserole.

Being able to turn bits and bobs into a new meal takes skill and experience, so if you’re new to cooking it may take you a little longer, but eventually you’ll get the hang of it.

Grow Your Own

If you’ve read my blog for long enough, then you probably know by now that I think everyone should grow something even if it’s just a basil plant on your windowsill or a tomato plant on your back patio. Anything that you grow on your own will save you money and connect you to your food which our society needs in a bad way.

If you’re new to gardening, check out my list of 10 Easy to Grow Vegetables for Beginner Gardeners. If you’ve got more experience with gardening and want to level up, then consider asking yourself the following questions:

What am I buying from the store regularly that grows well in my area?

Do I have the room to grow a years worth of this food?

Do I have the skills and or space required to preserve or store a years worth of this item?

If the answer is yes to all, then you should definitely make a plan to grow a years worth of that crop. If you answered no to one or more then you either shouldn’t worry about growing that crop or should try to acquire the skills that you need to make it a success.

You don’t have to grow a years worth of something to be successful. Anything that you can grow yourself that you would have bought from the store will save money.

The crops that I focus on each year are pinto beans, green beans, winter squash, potatoes, onions, garlic and tomatoes because they grow well here, I cook with them regularly and they all store or preserve nicely.

Stock up on Sale or Buy in Bulk

A great way to get the most from your grocery money is to stock up when something is on sale or to buy it in bulk. To do this well, you will need to familiarize yourself with standard prices of different items in your area.

Then when an item goes below that price you should consider buying enough to last until the next sale. Things go on sale in cycles such as baking supplies around the holidays and grilling items in the spring/summer.

For example, around Christmas I bought 10+ lbs of butter because Aldi had it on sale for $2.49 per lb which is a great deal considering it’s normally priced around $4 per pound. Butter freezes well so now I have enough to last me for a long time.

If you take advantage of sales, then you’ll be able to build a stockpile that will save you a lot in the long run.

Alternatively, you can buy in bulk to save money as long as the price per ounce is cheaper than a smaller package of the same item. You also need to consider whether your family will use your bulk purchases before going bad.

Which of these do you think would save you the most? Do you do any of them already? I’d love to know!

A small bowl of seasoned potatoes.

Similar Posts


  1. I love, love, love these tips! The one thing that always throws off our grocery budget is not eating simply. I love to make new meals, and if I find one that I want to make I will often buy the ingredients regardless of price. But the past year or so I've been doing so much better in that department. Now we eat very simply and I make things I never thought of eating before mainly because they are much cheaper.
      1. Yes butter does freeze well, I stock up when it is on sale, the same with milk. One of our local stores here in Oregon just had butter @ 2.50 lb. and milk for 99 cents a gallon, I buy lots of milk to make yogurt. I love your site.
    1. Jessie, I highly recommend giving it a try too! Start small in pots or 5 gallon buckets on the porch so you aren't too overwhelmed. So many veggies are so super easy to grow in pots - tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, zuchini, herbs and more. Start with one or two plants or different veggies. Once you start it gets easier and addictive! lol
  2. You can also save the peelings and end pieces of carrots, onions, and potatoes to make a rich vegetable broth. It tastes better than store bought, it doesn't have the chemical additives, and it's free.
  3. appreciate the article. We live on an extremely tight budget due to the fact that my husband is the pastor of a small church plant. We are a family of six, ages ranging from 1-9. Our grocery budget is $50 a week including toiletries. So basically $200. We are debt free in all other areas but live on a very small salary. So yes, If we can live on $50 a week for food, ANYONE can eat well on a low budget.!
  4. Cheese also freezes well. Hard cheese will best be suited to grating after frozen. We also invested in a vacuum sealer and the attachments for wide mouth and regular canning jars. Vacuum seal all my chocolate chips, nuts, dried fruits etc in jars. They keep much longer that way on the shelves. I also buy my spices in bulk and freeze or vacuum seal them. They last a loooong time in the freezer and much longer in vacuum sealed jars. This way I fill smaller containers from my stored spices.
  5. Gardening is a great way to save money on groceries. Even though I only have a small yard, I have found space for a raised garden. It's only 8'x10', but I'm able to have several tomato, squash and zucchini plants along with snow peas - grown up the chicken wire fence that keeps the rabbits out of my precious veggies. I also grow potatoes in 5-gallon pails on the deck and a few peppers in pots along the side of the garage. My mom and a few friends have larger gardens. A few years ago we started sharing our extra veggies. Most of the women in this group are over retirement age and I believe that they never figured out that they aren't growing food for a large family any longer. After each has canned or frozen all the veggies they want or need - any extras are offered to the others. This past summer I was given a 5-gallon pail full of assorted bell peppers, a ton of tomatoes (my mom even canned them for me), 20# of potatoes, several large winter squash, a big bag of onions and and a box of carrots. Even with my small garden, I was able to share a few boxes full of zucchini and spaghetti squash. Our network of gardens works great since we can always find someone that is very appreciative to have some fresh produce.
  6. I would love to find feeding family on a budget with no poultry and gluten free due to family food restricts. Let me know if you have any for that please. Thank you for posting
  7. Thank you! I love these tips, especially the reminder that eating out can cost you over $200 a month. A lot of times I am really tempted to grab something on the way home, now I am going to remind myself that I could be saving that money instead. I really love to clean out my pantry every other month or so, towards the end of the month, I start making meals based on just what I have (tonight we had noodles with broccoli and cream of mushroom soup, it was great!) I love doing this because I don't spend any money and it makes me get creative with what I have. We have had some weird meals, but for the most part they turn out well. Thank you for sharing!
  8. My mom always bought butter on sale and then froze it. Sadly, we got away from eating frugally for a while when I became disabled. It's taken me some time to really get back in the kitchen but I'm in the process of figuring out how to work with my disability instead of against it. Great post!
  9. What about feeding a family of 10. 2 adults and 8 children ages ranging from 3-17 on a $100 a week budget. This budget also included things like laundry soap, toothpaste, toilet paper, medicine, socks. Etc. A family of four on that amount would be heaven.
  10. I just found your site, and we live in Arkansas too! 😊 I can’t wait to try these ideas!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.