Meal Planning For My Family Of 8 for $25/Week!

See how I do my meal planning for my family of 8 for $25/week - Tips from Fun Cheap or Free

Hey Freebs Nation! You guys have been begging me for a while to sit down and walk you through how I do my meal planning. You're in luck because I'm going to show you just how easy it is to feed my growing family of 8 (soon to be 10!) for just $25 a week during #Shelftember.

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See, that wasn't so bad! Meal planning on a budget sounds like a daunting task, but it's really not so terrible once you get in the habit of doing it weekly. Follow how I meal plan for my family of 8 and you'll be a pro in no time!

Quick disclaimer: having a budget of $25/week isn't the “norm” over here, just something that we do during Shelftember! I usually recommend $100/person/month, starting at $300. You can find more info on that in THIS post.


The first step when I'm doing my meal planning is to inventory my fridge, freezer and pantry. But keep in mind that you don't have to inventory your kitchen staples, since those are items that you probably always have on hand. You can make this easier on yourself by going off of your complete kitchen inventory. (Learn all about how to do that HERE.)

The fridge is the first place that you should look and try to do your meal planning around because it's the food that will go bad the quickest. I grab a notebook and my favorite erasable pens and write down what I have that's either about to expire or that is a partial container that is taking up too much space.

Inventory your fridge, freezer and pantry - Tips from Fun Cheap or Free

When I get to the freezer, I'm looking at leftovers that need to be eaten or bulky items that are taking up space. Make sure you you check out my freezer hacks post so that you're using your freezer to the best of its ability!

Once I get to the pantry, I'm really only looking at items that have been opened that need to be used. Things like open bags of chips, bread crumbs, pancake mix, you get the idea! (Since I know you're going to ask, you can see how I do my pantry organization HERE.)


My next step to meal planning for my large family is to plan meals for the week based off of what I have and need to use. This can sound scary, but it's really not that bad as long as you use my tips!


The first place that I start is by looking at what protein I have. Some meals come together really easily! Looking at my list, I see that I have sausage, spinach, pasta shells, and lots of cheese. I know that I'll be able to make spinach-stuffed shells for dinner one night without having to try too hard!

Sometimes you're left with random ingredients that you know could go together but don't necessarily know how. The next place that I look is in my recipe binder. It's where I keep ALL of my recipes that I've made and my family loves. I have it organized by meat and meal type. It's an easy place to look to get ideas.

I like to turn to (or Google) when I'm left with random items that I'm not quite sure how to put together. It's great because you can put in the items that you have and it'll bring up recipes using those exact ingredients!


As I'm doing my meal planning, I write down everything that I have and will need for each meal. This includes what I'll need to use from my inventory, what I'll need to buy from the store, and what I'll need to do for the meal (such as making rice, baking bread, and roasting veggies).

Then I'll figure out the best day to have that meal. If you'll look at the list below, you can see that I'm making rice twice this week. We're having white rice with egg rolls and Mexican rice with the taco lasagna. Instead of making two separate batches of rice for each of those meals, I chose to make the egg roll meal first.

Plan your meals around what you have - Tips from Fun Cheap or Free

I can grab my Instant Pot and make a double batch of white rice in no time. I'll serve half of it with the egg rolls meal. Then, I'll take the leftovers and transform it into Mexican rice to eat with the taco lasagna meal. When you think this way and repurpose your leftovers, it makes your life so much easier!

I always work in one or two nights for leftovers. That allows us to clean out our fridge and keeps us from being wasteful. Our world changed once I learned how to reheat and repurpose our leftovers properly! Yours will to, so make sure that you check this post out!


Once I know what meals I'm having, and the order that I need to have my meals in, I write them down on a magnetic dry erase board that we keep on the fridge. My meal planning board is a great way for the whole family to see what we're having for dinner every night.

So there you have it! If you want more details on how to meal plan, make sure that you check out THIS post. I'm curious to know what meals YOU would've made using my list of ingredients that I had to work with. Let me know in the comments!

How I feed my family of 8 for $25/week - Tips from Fun Cheap or Free

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  1. AvatarKayla says

    I would have made Broccoli Cheddar Soup with Turkey and Ham rollups (using broccoli, cheese, cream, ham, turkey, flour tortillas)

    Nacho Bar Night- using the steak and ground beef, shredded cheese, avocado, cilantro, onions, corn tortillas or make your own corn tortilla bowls and make it a taco salad bar

    Stuffed shells- using ground sausage, pepperoni, bell pepper, tomato puree, onion, carrot, bell peppers and make your own sauce

    Oven Backed lemon pepper talapia with a steamed white rice and edamame side or make that a fried rice and use the soy sauce in it, a little egg, onion, carrot

    (i’m the worst at side dishes though lol)

  2. AvatarTamie says

    Baked chicken Parmesan with green beans and pasta

    Mexican Bar with taco, nacho and quesadilla fixings and Spanish rice

    Grilled vegetables with Tilapia

    For kids lunches, mini bagel pizzas, ham and cheese roll ups, and chicken salad on croissants served with raw veggies and fruit

    And if you need one more breakfast casserole with sausage, spinach, onion, egg and cheese

  3. AvatarMegan says

    These are great tips! So thinking there are 7 nights in a week and you only meal planned for 4 with one night of events you mentioned. The other two nights are leftovers? Or like cereal lol

    • AvatarJordan Page says

      Leftovers for sure! And I always have a freezer meal that’s ready to go into the oven. So if we were to somehow blow through all of this food and leftovers, I’d just throw a freezer meal in the oven and we’d have the last meal that we needed.

  4. AvatarElisa says

    Pepperoni Lasagna with the pasta, spaghetti sauce, cottage cheese, mozzarella cheese, and parmesan cheese (sounds weird, but it’s delicious, lol)

    Cheeseburger pie with the ground beef, eggs, cheddar cheese, and pancake mix, and green beans on the side

    Steak and zoodles with the the zucchini, uncooked steak, garlic, soy sauce, lemon, and rice, but I would probably just dive up the zucchini instead of turning into zoodles, lol, and would supplement with a few spices I always have on hand and some sesame oil (or olive oil if on hand)

  5. AvatarErin says

    Breakfast pancakes with home canned pears with sweet spiced cottage cheese e.g. honey, cinnamon, nutmeg

    Teriyaki meatballs with edamame and cilantro rice,

    Stuffed croissants- fill with scrambled egg, ham and shredded brick cheese

    Philly cheese steak inspired egg rolls- cooked steak, onion, bell peppers, cheese

    Crusted salmon and green beans- crust salmon with breadcrumbs and parmesan

    Yard fruit crumble- use spiced cake mix and chopped pistachios to make crumble. combine dry cake mix with chopped pistachios and rub in cold cubed butter sprinkle over fruit and bake. Serve with cream (not totally sure what yard fruit you have but nearky all fruit is nice as a crumble)

    Tilapia with a lemon cream sauce and sauteed spinach

    Homemade pizzas- use naan bread as pizza base- thin out tomato puree slightly with a touch of water add some olive oil and some dried herbs if you have any on hand makes delicious pizza sauce- use pepperoni, cooked bell pepper, cooked ground sausage, red onion.

    Homemade chicken nuggets- cut chicken breast into pieces put in freezer bag add enough plain yoghurt to coat chicken pieces well. Set aside. Yoghurt will tenderise chicken and also is what makes coating adhere rather than the whole flour, eggs, breadcrumbs saga. Blitz up tortilla chips until resembles breadcrumbs take pieces of chicken out of freezer bag and roll in tortilla chip crumbs. Put if fridge for little 15-20mins to help coating stick. Bake, shallow fry or deep fry.

    Okay, I should probably stop now.

    You are an inspiration and an absolute rockstar at life Jordan Page

  6. AvatarJackie Tucker says

    My kids are grown with families, but I’ve told them (and their friends) about your websites, videos etc. I’m trying very hard to keep my “one person budget” low. I haven’t mastered the $25 a week yet
    I love learning new ways to save money and not waste food- even at this stage of life. I do not cook on Sunday, that’s morning church and fun afternoon day. Leftovers are huge for me on Sunday.
    Love the emails I get too. Keeps me on my toes.

    • AvatarJordan Page says

      Awww, thanks for sharing the love with your family! I love to hear when people pass my site and videos on to others, I love helping as many people as I can 🙂 The $25/week is really only for Shelftember whenever you’re using up your stockpiles. But if you do a good job of not having too much food and staying on budget, then it’s hard to spend that little at the store if you don’t have a lot of food to use up at home! As long as you’re keeping a reasonable budget and not being wasteful (which is sounds like you’re doing great!), then that’s all that matters. XOXO

  7. AvatarSara says

    Thanks so much for sharing, your content is so helpful for me and my family!
    I would love to see a quick glance inside your recipe binder. Are the recipes all printed on uniform-size cards, or is it literally all different sizes/shapes/media? How is it organized?

    Also, what do you use the *two* calendars for on the wall of your kitchen? I’ve been curious for awhile now 🙂
    Thanks Jordan!

    • AvatarFun Cheap or Free says

      I print recipes off on my computer and then add them to the binder, so they’re all 8.5×11 sized pages. The recipes are sorted by appetizers, soups, desserts, and main ingredient (ground beef, chicken, pasta). I got the 2 wall calendars from TJMaxx and they’re just how we keep up with our family’s activities for 2 months at a time! 🙂

  8. AvatarKimber says

    Jordan. This was the first of your videos I watched on YouTube. Yesterday. I am now addicted. I e watched no less than a dozen videos and now I’m reading your blog.
    I’m 53.
    2 of my 5 adult children live with me.
    I work full time.
    But you have wisdom even for me. Working on my envelope today.

  9. AvatarMandy @ Making Home Simple says

    Jordan, what a wonderfully helpful post and video! I was so inspired I started my own pantry challenge with a group of friends. Life has been a chaotic whirlwind and I was once an organized mama, things fell apart, and now with my 6th baby I need to get it back together. Your post was so informative and helpful. For the first time in years I made a loose meal plan based on what’s in my fridge and freezer. Bummed I missed shelftember, but looking forward to checking out your new site. A quick glance and it looks awesome!

    • AvatarFun Cheap or Free says

      I’m so glad that it was inspiring for you! I feel you, I definitely have my ups and downs of being more organized and less organized depending on the season of life. I’m bummed that you missed Shelftember, but you can definitely still try to do it on your own now! 🙂

  10. AvatarLb says

    Congratulations on your twins! I just found your channel and just a constructive comment (not trying to be negative)… would love to know your portion sizes and how much your kids eat. We have 2 boys with appetites of grown men, and we prioritize eating clean and organic, so that budget wouldn’t even work for our family of 4. I kind of get sad to see people compare their budgets to others without taking into account the quality of ingredients and appetites of family members. Gluten or dairy free and allergies increases cost even more. Just something for others to think about if they are feeling defeated with a higher grocery bill. Thank you. 🙂

    • AvatarFun Cheap or Free says

      Thank you! You definitely have to make your grocery budget based off of what works best for YOUR family, I just suggest $100/person/month as a starting point. The $25 for this week was because we were shelf cooking and using mainly what we already had in our house to help save some extra money for the month. Our kids ages range from 1-9 and our older ones are really active, so they can put away the food! But we make sure that they have a well-rounded meal so that they’re not just filling up on the expensive protein. If they’re still starving after they eat the appropriate amount of protein, veggies and fruit, then they get some bread or whole grains that help to fill them up the rest of the way. 🙂

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