Let’s face it, moms need meal planning. It is the key to running a smooth week and getting dinner on the table. When dinner time goes bad (no planning, missing ingredients, eating late), we end up giving up and just heading out for drive thru.
I have a large family of eight at home. Our large family meal planning routines are in place and I know exactly what needs to happen so dinner is on the table and we are not eating out.
Here is how we have healthy kid friendly meals on a budget.
Meal Planning on a Budget
Let me say this, if you are on a budget and need to cut costs, fast food is a money pit. What you are spending on food needs to be streamlined. Especially if you are a large family, but this applies to any family.
I can tell you, there was a time when I bought Starbucks multiple times a week.
We would drive thru our favorite chicken sandwich place a couple of times a week.
Anytime our family eats lunch or dinner thru the drive through the bill is easily $55. Easy!
That adds up. You can easily toss $150 out the window by just eating three meals out.
Or, you can buy almost an entire week of groceries for a family of eight on $150.
That does not even count the cost of high end lattes!
I will be honest. When we moved from our 1,800 square foot house to our almost 4,000 square foot house (yay!! room for everyone… finally!!) I worried about the cost of our mortgage. We had never paid a house payment like this before. Never!
Drive thru was the first place that I knew we had to cut costs.
Limit the sit down restaurants to only date nights. Taking this large family to a restaurant is easy $100 and half the time I leave knowing I could have prepared a better meal at home. And, half the time you pay for food the kids do not eat. That has stopped!
Sit down. Make a plan. Make a grocery list. Shop. Cook dinner. Every night! You can use our meal planning pack to help you.
Don’t get me wrong, we still have our favorite chicken sandwich from time to time. It is incredibly limited.
Online Grocery Pickup
One of my biggest pieces of advice for you is to use online grocery pickup services or home delivery grocery services. (Get $10 off your first order of $50 or more!)
I am here to tell you it is the best way to streamline your to do list. And do not for one minute think this is you being lazy. That is bologna.
You cannot do everything. People want to talk about finding balance in our lives as a mom, grocery pickup is one way to do that. Grocery shopping is at last one hour of tour time each week. Add taking kids to the store with you and you can tack on another thirty minutes. You are wise to outsource things that save you time, money and sanity.
It keeps you from overspending- you don’t click checkout until your cart is at a dollar amount that meets your budget.
You won’t impulse shop because you are literally buying what is on your list and your eye is drawn to nothing else.
Your kids are not pulling you from the grocery list you walked into the store with. You only put in your online shopping cart what is on the list.
Worried you will buy a product not knowing what the ingredients are? Maybe you have special dietary restrictions to consider?
Maybe you’re a mom wanting to avoid high fructose corn syrup?
Maybe you’re on a special diet and need to pay attention to sugar intake, calories etc.
Walmart tells you all of the ingredients of each item as well as nutritional information.
No crowds. No impulse shopping. No over spending.
Fast Dinner Recipes using the Instant Pot
I am the first the encourage you to utilize resources that will help you get dinner done quickly.
With a lot of children at home I do not want to spend two hours of my evening cooking. I have a lot going on.
But, I do want to serve my family a delicious meal that is good for them.
A couple of things I have in my kitchen that I suggest every large family (or any busy family for that matter) has in their kitchen as well are; electric skillet, electric griddle, programable slow cooker and an electric pressure cooker. Because our family is large I have an 8 qt pressure cooker. I also have 6 qt and 7 qt slow cookers.
Healthy Kid Friendly Meals on a Budget
Here is what I am feeding my large family this week. The majority of them are Whole30 compliant meals. That said, my kids still eat rice and noodles. For myself and my husband we will eat cauli-rice or zucchini or sweet potato noodles. Eating well can still be done in a budget friendly way. The great thing is all of these recipes are clean eating but your kids won’t think they are “good for them” food. These friendly dinner recipes are all full of flavor. Remember, kid friendly does not have to mean mac and cheese. (Although we do love our mac and cheese!)
Whole30 Instant Pot Pulled Pork– I will use orange juice and a few other ingredients for the base when cooking the pork roast. I am going to serve it with power veggie slaw my for myself and my husband. For the kids I will serve it on Hawaiian rolls like sliders. You can get this recipe and twenty-one others in our e-cookbook that is all Instant Pot and all Whole30. Understand that you do not have to do Whole30 at the most restricted level. It is a great way to just begin with cleaner eating.
Instant Pot Whole30 Chicken Soup– full of flavor. Full of veggies; carrots, potatoes, onion, celery. I could eat this multiple nights a week it is that good. I ate my just as it was. The kids had crackers with theirs. And it’s quick and easy!
Mongolian Beef Stir Fry– this is another recipe from our downloadable cookbook. It uses orange and red bell peppers and fresh broccoli. For the meat you slice up a three pound roast. You add in some red pepper flakes too. This is one of the handful of recipes that uses coconut aminos (instead of soy sauce) and date paste (instead of sugar). Honestly, I think you will be pleasantly surprised. One of my readers told me she has been using coconut aminos for years instead of soy sauce. It is a pantry staple for her. I can understand why. I served this to my kids like rice bowls, for myself I used cauli-rice (buy it frozen or you simply take a head of cauliflower and run it through the food processor. I sauté it in olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Super good. Set the Instant Pot for 20 minutes and boom- you have dinner!
Instant Pot Street Tacos– these were amazing! I linked to the video where I showed you how I made them. So good! Full of flavor!! And they are part of our January freezer meal pack. Good food can be in the form of freezer meals!! (Sour cream is not Whole30 but if your kiddos want some just use a small amount.)
Balsamic Pork Chops– this is another Whole30 recipe that is cooked in the pressure cooker. It also uses date paste for a sweeter. I am going to serve this with asparagus and baked sweet potatoes.
Leftover Buffet– use ’em up!
I want you to remember good Whole30 and clean eating recipes allow you to eat chicken breasts and thighs, ground beef and pork, you can roast chicken and you have access to fruits and vegetables galore!
What is on your meal plan this week? Would love to know what some of your favorite healthy kid friendly meals are when you’re on a budget.