5 On Your Side

How to feed a family of four on $5

Posted June 3, 2009 5:55 p.m. EDT
Updated June 3, 2009 7:26 p.m. EDT

— Feeding your family can be expensive. But what if you could make dinner for a family of four for less than $5 a night? You can, with a strategy called "Meal Planning."

With more than nine years of meal planning, Faye Prosser is a pro. She said the key is overstocking. When Prosser finds deals on items that keep, she stocks up.

"I start with my overstock: fridge, freezer, pantry," she said.

Prosser has a master meal plan list.

"It's basically just a list of the favorite foods, the favorite dinners that we like to eat as a family," she said.

Prosser then selects meals from the list, based on her overstock.

"Realistically, I make about 80 percent of my meal plan based on what I already have in the house," Prosser said.

The remaining 20 percent is anything fresh she needs to complete the meals. She says the system ends dinnertime stress.

"I always know what we're going to have. There's no guessing. There’s none of that at 5:30 p.m. the kids’ saying, 'Mom, what's for dinner?' And I'm thinking, 'Hmm, I have no idea,'" Prosser said.

Because Prosser uses her overstock that she bought deeply discounted through sales and coupons, or even got for free, and then supplements with fresh items on sale that week, the meals are also low cost.

"The great thing is you can actually provide meals for $5, or less per meal. That is my goal every night," Prosser said.

Prosser said all you have to do to save is get started.

"You need to give yourself a good 10 to 12 weeks to get your couponing in line, to understand what the different store promotions are and to start your meal planning. And this is where it all starts," she said.

Prosser has so much overstock that she often donates it to area charities.