Family of 5 here, adults included. Soccer 7 days a week. Plus other activities. So the kids are HUNGRY!
I do most of the cooking and I do most all the grocery shopping. We spend about $150 a week on groceries, 99% fruit, veggies, and meat. Granted not organic as it is unobtanium and expensive.
I shop at Aldi for the basics, no kidding. And then head to the latino/asian grocery for the rest. Yes, you will be the lone gringo and have language barrier issues sometimes. But the produce is soooo good and cheeeeeap! My 6 yo is now addicted to mangoes.
Also fajitas are so easy and the kids love them. Simple to make fast and if you must have a wrapper you can grab corn tortillas for cheap. We just eat the meat with avacado salsa and whatever. Plus you can dump all this on a salad for more quantity.
Raw veggies and fruit are all 5 minute meals. No dips no BS just food.
Almond butter and bananas are easy treats. Some dark chocolate squares. easy
It is almost grilling season and that is great for everything! Meats and fish yum! Plus grill stir fry veggies, yum!
I do not crock pot or slow cook anything (besides ribs occasionally and soups). No white potatoes. No rice. once you let them go they taste horrible since they are so bland.
Grow a garden! A book called The Square Foot Garden is excellent and I highly recommend it for an efficient small home setup.
You also have older kids... Put them to work! All our children from the age of 5 could feed and cloth themselves without us having to coddle them. Be creative there is plenty they can do.
Good luck and stick with it! It will change your life and your childrens life. make hard choices, like do I need cable or some other luxury item? That is up to you, but if you are on the grind think about it.
I know this is an old thread, but imma jump in here with some real, workable advice for a big family on a budget.
Just concentrate on going high protein/low processed foods. When I first started out I was eating the hell out of those grocery store roasted chickens. Get the best hamburger you can afford and make cheeseburgers without buns. Get frozen veggies, no matter what kind - peas & carrots, whatever this kids like, steam them with butter and serve that. If you try and do grass fed beef on a budget - I mean, it's $9 a pound here in San Diego! There is no way. There is a brand of organic sausages - Aidelle's. It's in Ralphs, Von's etc - chicken & apple is AMAZING cut up in scrambled eggs. They also make little ones, like those little smokeys, that I take along in a baggie for snacking - chicken & pineapple is great too.
Look - starting out is HARD. Changes are hard. Go easy on yourself. Concentrate on shopping on the outside isles of the grocery store, stay out of the middle. Leave out bread and tortillas entirely. Make taco night - make it with packaged taco seasoning, just serve it in a bowl with cheese, maybe salsa, buy good avocado to go on top. DO WHAT YOU CAN.
Get your kids used to water or orange juice instead of soda, for instance. Slowly cut out dairy. Start buying full fat yogurt. Steps, it's all steps.
I totally understand the budget vs. the TOTAL PRIMAL ZOMG ONLY ORGANIC GAH! It's frustrating. If you need more ideas, let me know.
Rice, lentils, mung beans are cheap, easy to make, and can provide variety.
Rice: Rice w/ curry one day, fried rice the next day.
Lentils: dal curry, lentils w/ veg
Mung: mung curry, sprout
Add bone broth to everything to make tasty.
Soak everything overnight.
Tubers are also cheap and filling. We're asian we so eat a lot more rice than potatoes.
Along with above, cheap cuts of meat in slow cooker can go a long way.
Cooking at home saves so much money. It's just more effort sometimes.. It helps to have a week's worth of meals planned in advance. Like rice cooked today can be used today (steamed) and tomorrow (fried). Fried rice can always be different with different ingredients. Large quantity of lentils/beans can be cooked in slow cooker at one time and used throughout the week in different dishes. Large quantity of meat can also be cooked in slow cooker at one time and used throughout the week. (can you tell the slow cooker is my best friend? :))