8 Tips for Feeding Your Family on Next to Nothing -- From Moms Who Know How

grocery shopping budget

How do you feed a family on just $29 a week? Gwyneth Paltrow answered that question with a lot of limes when she accepted the Food Bank New York City challenge to eat on a food stamps budget. No huge surprise there -- what does she know about budget living, anyway? Well, we know who could have helped her make better choices.

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In addition to seven limes, Paltrow spent her budget on a dozen eggs, a package of corn tortillas, a bag of dried beans, a bag of rice, an onion, a head of garlic, a tomato, an avocado, a bag of frozen peas, a head of kale, a head of green lettuce, scallions, a sweet potato, an ear of corn, and a bunch of cilantro. How far would that go for your family?

We polled several moms for cost-cutting advice for living on a $29-a-week food budget, and here's what they suggested. 

1. Cut back on fresh produce. It may not be the most ideal, healthy choice, but if you're trying to keep bellies full this is one of the first places moms cut. "I would have swapped the herbs for some peanut butter," said one mom.

2. Buy dense, filling vegetables. When you do buy produce, instead of getting light, non-filling foods like lettuce and herbs, choose root vegetables like carrots and beets, starches like potatoes, and even broccoli.

3. Grow your own herbs. And while you're at it, you can grow your own sprouts in a jar and your own seasonal veggies if you have room for a garden.

4. Shop sales and weekly deals. Everyone knows that! Also, you can buy staples at dollar stores.

More from The Stir: 5 Simple Tips to Save Money When Grocery Shopping

5. Buy bulk staples, like oats. "I'd spend $9 stocking up on four tubs of oatmeal," says one mom. "Use the oatmeal for breakfasts, homemade granola bars and cookies, a lot of leftover oatmeal for future use."

6. Plan out your meals. Before you go shopping, figure out what you're cooking that week -- rather than shopping haphazardly and picking up whatever looks good. When you do that, you can buy staples that will carry you through a few days' meals instead of just one.

7. Make foods from scratch. Learn how to bake bread, pizza crust, and tortillas. A bag of flour is a lot cheaper than a loaf of bread.

8. Use those bones. You can often justify buying a whole chicken if you stretch the meat out through the week and then use the bones to make chicken stock.

Now that we have all those helpful suggestions, we have to share this funny comment from a mom of one: "I just keep wondering what she [Gwyneth Paltrow] plans to do with the limes. Is she living on margaritas the whole week?" After all the harsh backlash this "poor" celeb got this week, maybe that's not such a bad idea.

What's your best tip for grocery shopping on a tight budget?

feeding family on budget

Image © l i g h t p o e t/Shutterstock and © Lapina Maria/Shutterstock

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