Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Feeding a Family on a Budget in an RV

As you can imagine, feeding a family of 6 that includes teenagers involves an awful lot of food. For example, one package of spaghetti noodles weighing approx 900g plus meat or sausage and a litre of sauce makes one meal. Plus dessert. That works out to be about 1 pound of food per person. And that's just one meal. There are also snacks and lunches to prepare and breakfast which is usually oatmeal or cold cereal.

Now I'm cheap, sorry...'thrifty' and so I like to know where my money is going. Consequently we raise a lot of our own food and buy in bulk using coupons where possible. Buying items when they are on sale and having a well stocked pantry are things that I've taken for granted but living in a little motorhome doesn't leave much room for food storage.

When faced with the dilemma of how to do this, I found out that most families like ours living on the road have to shop for groceries every couple of days and some eat a lot more pre-packaged food. So to balance it out we are still buying our basics, you know, the items found around the outside edges of the store such as veggies, milk and bread a few times per week but we are also trying to use up hundreds of pounds of meat too. So we have the luxury of having the deep freeze plugged in and located behind our motorhome right now. That's definitely something we won't have once we hit the road.

The temptation is for us to use paper plates, fast or prepared food, and individual drinks such as pop or juice boxes. But the downside would be a huge amount of garbage and way too much sodium in our diets. It's easier...but not healthier.

So we're getting the hang of cooking one pot meals on the stove, using the crock pot to cook, cooking on the BBQ etc. Having a meal plan would really help us too. It's going to be implemented this week actually so that it makes grocery shopping more efficient and also because we are trying to use up our food storage items. That's one of the only drawbacks of being LDS, when you move house you have food storage to move too.

The USDA tracks food prices and based upon their guidelines for healthy eating calculatrs the cost of food for variouss age groups month by month. They have 4 menu types, thrifty, low-cost, moderate cost, and liberal. The thrifty plan is the basis for the US's food stamps program and the liberal plan would include more meat, snacks and possibly alcohol. Here are the latest numbers for April 2011. Go see how you compare but bear these things in mind:
-groceries are cheaper in the US than other countries and vary by region.
-this is food only not laundry or pet supplies
-this is the total amount spent including eating out.

So how do you stack up? According to this we should be spending about $389 per week on the low cost plan, about $1260 per month or a little over $15,000 per year for food alone. Is it just me, or does that seem awfully high? Even with lunches at Subway and other occasional meals out we're still only spending about half that. And it's often lower. Even factoring in the cost of feeding livestock we're ahead. So I'm feeling good about our food budget. Of course there is always room for improvement and that's why I'm working on a meal plan today. You'll notice that snacks are not listed and of course the kids eat a lot of snacks. Carrots, fruit, cold cereal, oatmeal cookies and juice or milk to drink, that's our selection of snack foods.

Day 1. Breakfast- Oatmeal and a piece of fruit. toast. juice or water
Lunch- leek and potato soup with fresh bread water
Dinner- Roast chicken with roasted seasoned potatoes and caesar salad, lemonade

Day 2. Breakfast- Cold cereal or toast
Lunch- sandwiches, fruit, granola bar
Dinner- Pork chops, rice, seasonal veggies

Day 3. Breakfast- Cold cereal or toast
Lunch- sandwiches, fruit, granola bar
Diner- Spaghetti with meat sauce. caesar salad

Day 4. Breakfast- Oatmeal or toast.
Lunch- sandwiches, fruit, granola bar
Dinner- Toad in the Hole, gravy, mashed potatoes and peas

Day 5. Breakfast-Oatmeal or toast
Lunch- leftovers.
Dinner- Shepherds pie

Day 6. Breakfast- cold cereal or toast
Lunch- soup du jour (whatever I have to make soup that day)
Dinner- Irish stew and dumplings.

Day 7. Breakfast- pancakes, syrup, fruit salad
Lunch- grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup
Dinner- Tacos. handmade tortillas, ground meat, veggies.

Day 8. Breakfast- pancakes, fruit salad
Lunch- Macaroni and Cheese veggies and dip
Dinner- Baked potatoes, pork chops, asparagus, dilled carrots

Day 9. Breakfast- cold cereal
Lunch- sausage and potato casserole
Dinner- meat and veggie chili and fresh bread

Day 10.Breakfast- sausages, eggs and toast.
Lunch- sandwiches and veggies and dip
Dinner- chicken pot pie. seasonal veggies.

That's 10 days to get us started. Gotta run!

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