Feeding a family on $10 a week.

The Housewife's Guide to Frugal Food: How to Eat for $10.00 per Week by [Bontrager, Bethany]

I just picked this book up from the library and am now reading it like crazy. The idea is to feed a couple or family on $10 per person per week. I’m already a bit irritated because at the beginning of the book she mentions that they have a homestead were their meat, eggs, milk, fruit, and vegetables come from. Hello, if you are getting all that from the homestead…yes, you can have a tiny budget easily. So, inquiring minds want to know!

I’m going to devote myself to reading this book fully because it has been referred to as addicting and I like that. I love books about frugalism that you just can’t put down. Am I a dull frugal nerd? Possible. Oh well. Saving money is exciting because then you can do big things with big savings, like buy property.

She does a lot of shopping from Walmart and for some, this is the only superstore near them with decent prices. Not everyone has a WinCo, which is the ultimate saver and employee-owned, which I like.

I love any and all tips from the wise frugalistas, however, I do take the advice and tips and create my own program.

Take Dining On A Dime, I’m loving that book. It already has flour and oil on the pages and dog eared sections. It is being used fully. But now we are going organic. Who cares, we just use the recipes and switch things out from whatever brand to organic brands, regular oils to coconut oils, sugar to honey or coconut sugar…

We are saving like champs over here and partly that is due to not spending. I do splurge now and then, but I find that even a few inexpensive lunches out and you have a deficit. I enjoy thrifting and my pupils dilate when I spot a hearty garage sale. I love having lunch out with my sons, I love searching on these newly discovered sites called ThredUp and Poshmark where you get very high-end clothing for cheap discounts because they are used.

The best way to save, the biggest tip I have for myself and all of you…don’t spend, don’t go out unless it’s to a free park. Don’t look for new dresses on ThredUp. Don’t even watch those dang commercials of the flame-broiled burger or the cheese oozing off the pizza or the Wayfair.com commercials with that jingle that is playing in my head right this minute as I type!

I had a neighbor that jokingly said she was a commercial cleaner. She would clean during commercials while watching TV. It saves you some cravings and desires for items you don’t really need.

Now, as for the $10 per person per week. I have no milk cow and I gave my hens away. I do have two kitchen gardens and 20 fruit and nut trees and table grape vines. I will, if all goes according to plan (never does), have abundant baskets of free organic produce. I also have canning equipment and some experience, very little albeit, but I have high hopes to can a winter’s worth of spaghetti sauce and jelly. I suppose if we are being mostly plant-based this will work out great. We also have almond trees and someday I may collect enough to make some almond milk. But trees take time to produce. Gardens take time to master.

Now, some tips I am enjoying from this book so far are the idea that you want to create and build a pantry that is like your own home store. This is an idea shared by many homemakers. There are tips in Bethany’s book about how to store food and how long things last. This is so important. You don’t want to order too much wheat flour and have it go rancid on you.

She also talks about starting with a higher budget and trying to save each time. There is the envelope system we all know and then she has an extra envelope for “bulk foods” and another envelope I can’t remember or find right now as I skim this book. Drat.

I’m working toward this organic health food eating. It could be expensive but I’ve heard some positive feedback from other women who say they feed their families all organic food, products, and even cleaning solutions for very little.

How do they do this? How will we do this?

Hunting and scavenging I suppose. I’ll be putting in my first order with Azure Standard today. It is a large order but it will fill my pantry and begin my journey to restocking it to full capacity so that I have a “store” in my kitchen that I can shop from to do everything from whip up a cake, put together a casserole, or mix a mopping solution, even make playdough for a rainy day, and a face mask to bring back the glow.

To get quality and some savings you would shop at Azurestandard.com, Thrive.com, and Brandless.com.  Forage at Dollar stores, Grocery Outlets, Winco’s, and Aldi’s. You’ll have to shop around to find the deals. Also, look into CSA’s. These are boxes of seasonal produce from local farms. Farmers Markets can save money, but sometimes I find the prices to be about the same as a health food store.

Here is another point Bethany brings up; sometimes boxed or premade is cheaper than scratch. This is true. Overall, I’ve found the more I cook from scratch, the smaller my grocery bills get and the less often I shop. However, there are some foods that are so much cheaper to buy canned or boxed. Mac and cheese is an example. Even after adding some butter and milk the cost is many dollars less than if I made it from scratch.

Ah, but when you get used to fresh ingredients and scratch cooking, it is hard to appreciate the packaged foods. You become a food snob wanting the quality ingredients.

Making your own cleaning products is much cheaper since you only need vinegar and some dish soap for most cleaners. Beauty can be cheap too. I use Ivory soap and cornmeal as an exfoliant and coconut oil for face and body.

Good luck on your journey and remember some good books to get started: The Complete Tightwad Gazette, this book The Housewife’s Guide to Frugal Food, Dining On A Dime, and Good and Cheap (that one was created for food stamp budgets).

You can be healthy and eat well on a budget. It’s a game and can be fun once you master it. I find we have such good meals, even if it is sometimes a couple boxes of mac and cheese with a bag of frozen vegetables. The trick is to saute and the ample use of onions and garlic. I am often disappointed when we go out to eat because the food tastes old and reheated. We are spoiled.

 

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22 thoughts on “Feeding a family on $10 a week.

  1. It’s true about being a food snob and not caring about the packaged foods. I never baked anything before a year ago, and now I’m never tempted to buy stuff from the bakery section at the grocery store because I can make it myself. Now that’s empowering!

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  2. Particular books I could not put down were:

    “Money Secrets of the Amish” by Lorilee Craker. What a wonderful book along with The Millionaire Mind by Thomas J. Stanley. While not necessarily frugal in all respects, they both teach you how to respect the money you have.

    By the way love your website, blog, you tube videos, family, etc., I wish I could be more like you, however, prices here in winter, believe it or not the cost of water in Michigan, and car insurance (I have to drive 26 miles round-trip just to be employed) take their toll……………………………….

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    1. That is a bummer about the cost of water and insurance. I think I’ve tried to find both books at the library. I like that, just be wise with the money…not necessarily cheap or too frugal. Quality, not quantity.

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  3. I have been becoming more of a food snob as the weeks go by. I love homemade anything. Yes there are some packaged foods that whip up quick but if you really timed yourself. Most basic meals only take 30 minutes to put together. I know I have been saving on the grocery bill since I started cooking more because I always have money left over now when the next pay day comes up.
    Thanks for sharing your post Gives me lots to think about and improve on.
    Cheers

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  4. I’m trying to go organic too, I’m convinced we’ll hear in the future just how harmful a lot of non-organic food is. I don’t think we know the true extent yet.

    I’ve been making some of the recipes from your book and YouTube channel. Kate, I would love it if you put together a recipe book! The books you recommend aren’t easily available in the UK and your food is always yummy.

    I’m new to living frugal and I’ve never saved before. I managed to save an emergency fund but was tempted to blow some of it on Clinique skincare today. I’ve been using Shea on my face but it’s made my rosacea flare up. But I wasn’t a house one day and I need to remember this.

    Anyway, I love your posts and I’m always so inspired by them. Thank you for sharing ♥️

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    1. I’m working on a book now and I am adding some recipes. It will start out an ebook and then we will put together a paperback. I’m dragging on the recipe part. It’s like folding laundry. I love starting the wash but I don’t enjoy folding and putting away. That is interesting with Shea. I wonder if coconut butter would do the same? I agree that we probably don’t know the full extent of harm from the pesticides, just as we are only now learning about GMO’s.

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    2. Rachael, I have ruddy skin (not rosacea but my cheeks are always red) and I’ve been using plain jojoba oil as a daily moisturizer. It seems to be working well – doesn’t take away the red but is soothing and doesn’t make it worse.

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  5. Thank you so much Kate for this information. I am a senior, on a limited budget. I have been eating only organic food for years. I use to spend almost $500 on food when I was working and now have it down to $150. Food is more expensive in Canada. I read the weekly flyers and buy in bulk. Writing up a menu and keeping track of what I have in my pantry, fridge and freezer are very helpful. Thank you for these ideas. I enjoy reading your blogs and watching you on you tube. Take care and keep up the umpiring work.

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  6. Hi,
    I enjoy your blog, thanks for bringing it back to life 😉
    Theprudenthomemaker.com is my favorite site and she feeds her very large family for not much money. She has a garden at her home in the suburbs. I believe she was feeding eight people for $100 a month, and based on the years I have read her blog, I believe it. She has lots of information and suggestions.
    Good luck with your quest! I read the book you mention and found it not so helpful but I am happy to learn anything and there were a few good ideas.

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  7. Hi, Kate! I have read all of your books and have them on my “to buy” list for paperback so I can add them to my physical library (love to hold books more than read on the Kindle!) I’ve also been enjoying your YouTube channel. You have motivated and inspired me to embrace my true calling of being a homemaker and housewife!

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  8. You said a mouthful about just not spending. I get into these thrift store frenzies and buy stuff because it’s such a great price. Before I know it, I’ve bought 60-80 dollars worth of good deals….that I really didn’t need!!

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    1. Yes, I agree. It is so easy to spend loads of money in a thrift store. I always read labels and choose only natural fabrics. Before I go to the check out, I rethink everything in my cart and keep only the items that I really love and want to take home. I learned this from my beautiful daughter.

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  9. I’m glad I found this blog. We are unexpectedly expecting our fourth child. A number of years ago I began meal planning and discovered I saved around $200 a month, I think it was, shopping with a plan. My husband is an electrical apprentice and I’m a SAHM, so with another mouth to feed in a year and a half-ish hopefully I can learn some good tips and tricks from you. Speaking of, is the Good and Cheap book you refer to by Leanne Brown?

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    1. It is. There are good dishes in there, some very funky. The $10 per person book turned out to be not helpful at all unless you have a full farm and forage. With a baby they eat very little for a lonnnngg time…as you know. I nursed mine forever.:)

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