How to feed your family for less!

Today I’m going to share how a shift in the order and prioritization that we give to the ritual of feeding meals to our families can save us sanity, money, and time.

Most of the households in the U.S. are highly reliant on the convenience of the grocery store when it comes to making their meals. This is actually a bit sad to me because it’s a habit we should all eliminate just as proactively as a bad health habit. In the Philippines, refrigeration is a luxury in most homes and thus the families there HAVE to go to the market on a daily basis for their meat, produce, and dairy. But here, we’re quite spoiled. When we have a particular craving, we know it will be met by the local grocery store or restaurant. When we’re tired and lack the energy or time to cook, we know we’ll be saved by some unknown cook behind a cash register, so long as we are willing to pay the premium for the use of someone else’s time. When we lack the inventiveness or creativity, we can simply browse our local frozen food section for a solution, right?

I was listening to a speaker at a symposium about 6 months ago, a doctor somebody from some national bureau of health and human services. As you can tell, I wasn’t impressed with his credentials necessarily, but I sure did pay attention to a statistic he provided. “Less than 2% of the households in the U.S. have a two weeks supply of food.” This was just food he was talking about—let alone water and the fuel and knowledge necessary to prepare the food in less-than-ideal circumstances! No wonder so many people get a bit loopy or desperate when they hear of a winter storm or hurricane forecast!

Here’s the snag though. In a long-term survival scenario, we will regularly find ourselves confronted with a lack of energy, an abundance of cravings, and a lack of creativity. The scenario will also be compounded by ill-timed or unexpected events. So how we handle these scenarios now, in the days of our comfort, are actually critical to our mental and physical endurance in a time of crisis. What I’m going to share today will actually assist you, not only in preparing for a survival scenario, but it will also pad your wallet and your day with a little more luxury while ensuring that you also avoid a padded room. 😀

So what’s the solution? Make a few changes in your order and prioritization.

How To Have Healthy Meals For Your Family


Create your meal plan based on what you already have!

1.     Yes, plan a weekly menu, but don’t base it on what’s at the grocery store. Create your weekly menu based on what you already have on hand. You see, while planning a menu may give us a sense of purpose and direction during our weekly meal creations, it will actually cost us more money. Why? Because when we put something on your menu and go out and get it, we’re paying whatever the best price is on that item right then and there. If it’s not on sale we still buy it because it’s on our dang menu.  Whereas if we prepare our meals based on what we already have on hand, then our grocery budget isn’t exhausted with the “I want.” Instead it’s used on the “I need” or some really great deals. You’ll understand how this method feeds into the other method in just a moment.

2. Go shopping only once a week (and even less as soon as you are able) and only go shopping based on what you have coupons for or what’s on sale. I can tell you from experience that your shopping may actually verge on “fun” if you are only getting great deals. But more importantly, this strategy alone has the ability to save you 50-80% on your weekly grocery costs. Not only that, but when you create your menu based on what you already have on hand, you will always be getting that meal for a great price because everything you bring into your home will be obtained via a coupon or a great sale price.

mealsStrategies when planning meals:

Here are a couple more strategies to help in this effort as well. Make sure you have comfort foods on hand when planning your meals. When I say comfort, I’m talking about foods that will be great when someone is sick, but also when someone just needs a little emotional pick-me-up. Also be sure that you and your family are familiar with the preparation of the meals and that they are “easy” to all persons who may end up making them. I may not be blessed with children of my own, but if I were I’d be certain to make sure that they could all prepare at least 5 basic meals for the family. I see many moms put themselves in a precarious position of being the only one in the family who can cook. What happens when they are ill (or worse) during a disaster? How will their family eat? And last but not least, be sure that the meals you have planned require little or no physical or mental effort to make. That criteria really comes down to practice. I have a friend on Facebook who posts her dinner dish for the day. She usually has it all ready by noon so that she can just put it in the oven at dinner time. To most housewives/husbands this appears to be time intensive because she always seems to have some fabulous muffin recipe to go along with dinner that would make any professional chef drool. But the fact of the matter is, she’s “practiced” making these dishes so many times during her days of comfort that making manicotti is old hat for her now.

This past weekend I was definitely sick. Nope, it wasn’t the H1N1, and I’ll spare you the details. But suffice it to say it hurt to move or think or do anything. But…I wanted something to eat that a was a bit more advanced than my husband’s macaroni and cheese repertoire. So, I psyched myself up to handle a whopping 5 minutes in the kitchen and made some real food. All I had to do was open, dump, stir, and I had a satisfying casserole. More importantly, I had everything on hand that I needed, and I had made the dish enough times that it was a “no-brainer” to concoct. Did you pick up on those two criteria? Everything was on hand and I was experienced in making it for one of our meals. Being able to say that about anything you prepare for your family is an important preparedness strategy.

super-cook-logoI realize that in the beginning this may require expanding your horizons to come up with recipes to use based on what you already have on hand, but there are a lot of great websites to help you with that. allows you to simply input ingredients that you have on hand and it will provide you with a recipe to go along with those items.

If you employ this strategy regularly, I assure you that your supplies will increase very quickly, you’ll regularly obtain your supplies for 60-80% off of regular price, and you’ll find your mind and body more free to focus on the other ways to ensure your family’s safety and well-being.



Vicki · November 2, 2009 at 10:31 pm

Kellene! What brilliant ideas! It never occured to me to cook with what’s on hand, and shop ONLY for what’s on sale. I’ve been trying to do the cuponing thing more diligently, but keep falling back on old habits. Perhaps using this idea for menu planning will make it easier.

I also love the idea for teaching the kids how to cook five meals. It will not only make life easier in an emergency, but is an essential life skill!

I’d considered sending my children to you for fostering. I’ve since changed my mind… I’m coming instead. They’d never appreciate the fabulous opportunity they’d been given as well as I would!

Thank you, and keep up the great work. 🙂 You’re in my prayers! ~Vicki

Marie · November 3, 2009 at 2:24 am

Thanks for the tips–they all make sense, and among other things they remind me to get my children even more involved. They have been taught some things, but in the case of information and practice, more is better.
Thanks also for the super cook link–that is fantastic! Have already found some things I would like to try–then going to put the "keeper" recipes into the old emergency notebook. Great post.

Jackie · November 3, 2009 at 10:37 am

Great info……wow I would like to be friends on her face book just to she what she is having each day!!! I am on a burn out on what to fix!!
Great ideal about the children learning to cook 5 meals!!
When doing the eggs in mineral oil dyou let the eggs get to room temp. befpre dipping in mineral oil?
What temp. do they have to be stored at?

    preparednesspro · November 3, 2009 at 11:19 am

    Store the eggs in a cool dry place. 70 degrees or lower is ideal. So long as you coat the eggs with warm mineral oil, you will be fine.

jamie · November 3, 2009 at 2:24 pm

I think the 5 minute limit is tops for waiting for food to cook. The egg thing I am very into cause my family raises chickens and give me eggs. So I'm preserving eggs. I got 3 bunnies that they started and got overwhelmed. Now I have 12 bunnies 9 new born bunnies ready to ween this week. Yeah it's got some costs,cages, feed, water at some time. But a heck of a lot less work than a pig or cattle.

Todd · November 3, 2009 at 7:18 pm

I think this is appropriate due to the 2% statistic..

In a society where less than 2% of people will have any preps, even short term. What are the chances of being able to stay in your home in an emergency? I'm starting to think that I need to have better plans to bug out, unfortunately I don't have a dozen reliable people to provide defense.

Seriously, how are we suppose to avoid being over run by hungry, desparate neighbors?

If it progresses to violence or threats of violence it is only a matter of time till someone snipes us when we go outside.

I'm having a hard time visualizing how it can possibly work. Sometimes that aspect makes me wonder if its worth putting all this effort in, just to lose it.

    preparednesspro · November 3, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    Todd, I think you have a great question, one that needs to be answered thoroughly. Tune in to tomorrow’s article for my answer.

Julie · November 3, 2009 at 10:44 pm

Kellene- Loved this post since we have been putting many of these ideas into place the past couple of weeks. My 10-year-old makes the best grilled cheese sandwiches and we have started assigning each child (we have 4) a dinner day. They choose from a list of meals and then choose what side dishes they want with the meal (we are trying to encourage our kids to eat more vegetables and fruits and this is our way of getting them involved). They are learning to cook and plan well-balanced meals. It is harder for me to have a sous chef, but I know it will pay off in the long term. I am definitely making efforts to step up our food storage and I truly appreciate all your advice to get us on the right road.

Believer · November 4, 2009 at 8:27 am

I have been using an abbreviated version of this method for a number of years. It works quite well. Not only does it save money, but you get used to the foods as well, and helps keep things rotated. After reading your article, I plan to go even further with it. Thank you for all of your ideas.

When I was a little girl, my mother let me “help” her cook. When I got in grade school, she started teaching me easy dishes that I could cook myself. She also taught me how to read recipes. If I wanted to make cookies, she let me. If I wanted to try a new recipe, she let me do that as well. She was always there if I needed help. Sometimes I even made up my own recipes, and they tasted quite good—at least I thought so. When children are little, they love to cook, and help mom. I know it is easier to do it yourself, but when the learning is fun, it lasts a lifetime.

Thank you for all of your help.

Michael · November 5, 2009 at 12:01 am

My wife has been doing a great job planning our meals. She started a couple of months ago, and she always tries to plan it for meals we have on hand. This is especially nice, since I leave for work before my family even thinks about waking up, so I can just look at the menu and quickly prepare my own breakfast. It also has silenced some of the whining from the kids when we tell them that this meal is on the menu, and we aren't making an alternat meal just for them.

    preparednesspro · November 5, 2009 at 12:11 am

    Great idea with silencing the kids as well. J Can’t wait til they are old enough to learn how to do some of the cooking too.

amber · November 5, 2009 at 4:29 am

Great article…that supercook website is DA BOMB! I'm going to use it all the time now!

Hey and I got a solar oven yesterday for my birthday Kellene! WOOHOO!!! 🙂

    preparednesspro · November 5, 2009 at 4:41 am

    Wohoo! Good for you!!! That’s the BLING that I’m talkin’ about!

Fruitfulvine2 · November 9, 2009 at 6:46 pm

I kind of drifted away from menu planning for a little bit but yesterday my husband and I had a little chat and it came up and then here I am reading this post by you. Result – I'm going back to menu planning. I'd just been procrastinating. Also that way I can ensure that my family is getting all the nutrients they need.

Comments are closed.