How To Affordably Feed Hungry Teenage Boys!

How to Affordably Feed Hungry Teenage Boys - from

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I received the following question from frugal friend Jennifer on The Frugal Girls Facebook page.  Let’s help her out, and share some ideas!

“How do you keep your grocery budget in check, and affordably feed teenage boys?  Our family has 2 adults, twin 16-year old boys, and a three year old.  I feed 2 bottomless pits!!” 😉

So… what works for you??

Do you have any tips for stretching your budget with hungry boys?

Or do you have any thrifty recipes or snack ideas??

Leave a comment, and let us know!

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  1. Christy says

    Shopping at Aldi’s and also trying out non name brands and continue buying them if they’re as good ( or better) then the name brand. Of course, coupons!

  2. Beth says

    When I was raising my 5 children…3 teenagers and 2 younger ones, I bought in bulk to save on the grocery bill. SAMS Club was my best friend. You do have to know what the real deals are and what isn’t. For instance, cereal is NOT a deal at SAMS, pasta, lunchmeat, cheese, & some fruits and veggies ARE a deal.

    And…stay away from buying pre-packaged snacks. Buy in bulk and put in small baggies.

  3. Mary says

    My aunt raised 6 boys…. she gave them peanut butter and bread before every meal….

    I only have one but his friend like to hang out and eat at my house… I have found that having a regular meal is tough until you add pasta of some sort… make your own pasta salad (cheaper than buying the box), spaghetti, mac and cheese, chili mac….. and lots of cheese and fruit. I routinely (until they all graduated) fed 4 or more teen boys a night and managed to keep my grocery bill fairly okay.

  4. Lauren says

    I only have a little girl but my girlfriend, has 2 boys and hubby and I know she has the same issue.

    When milk is cheap stock up and freeze.

    Stock up on ground beef and make beef chili :)

    Bread is on sale, make P&J and freeze. If the boys like them?

  5. JaNell says

    Be honest about your budget. Shop walmart for price match. Also only buy the loss leaders as much as possible. Everything goes on sale sometime.

    Buy hamburger when it’s cheap and cook it into taco meat to freeze into meal size portions. Add Pinto beans and or rice to Taco meat for a cheap taco filler. Buy fruit in season and freeze, then make cobblers, breads, and muffins- they get their fruit nutrients in bulk form :). Always have cheap pasta and cheap sauce on hand to add some of that taco meat to for surprise large meals and growth spurts. Sneak veg like shredded zucchini and grated carrots to most meals for cheap bulk- bonus if the zucchini and carrots were bought cheap in season and froze in portion size freezer bags. Find friends with gardens and offer to help put up the harvest in exchange for produce (if you don’t garden-heck even if you do). You can freeze tomatoes easy and thaw latter in the year for soups, salsas, and baked dishes. Corn is also uber easy to freeze.

    • Marisa says

      My grandma raised 3 boys and 1 girl. She added diced potatoes and cooked them with ground beef for tacos filling and makes the meat stretch a bit further. Im raising three boys and i do the same!

    • katie says

      We add black beans to our taco meat. 1 can for every lb of burger. Adds protein and stretches the budget.

  6. Nancy says

    Have them eat an apple (or another piece of fruit but apple is best) before lunch and supper also if you have an ALDIS they are the best. They have a website that has recipes that go with what products you can buy at the store. We use the ground turkey from ALDIS and it makes awesome sloppy joes which are filling and cheap.

  7. says

    Shop one day for all the BOGO deals. Here’s a tip: you can FREEZE POTATO CHIPS so if it’s a BOGO deal, just stick that second bag in the freezer. No kidding. The chips stay crisp. Make a budget, stick to it, and make your grocery list AFTER you’ve checked your local markets for all the bargains and BOGO deals. Buy and plan your meals based on the buy one – get one free deals. Also, sign up online or at the customer service desk at your supermarket to make sure you are on their mailing list. Often there are local deals and you’ll get coupons and/or special deals in the (snail) mail specific to your local store.

  8. Martha says

    I have 4 teenage boys at home. I’ve made friends with the local grocery store Meat clerk. He tells me what time to come in for manager specials.. I usually can pick up italian sausage or chicken pieces for 59 cents/lb.. We go to a nearby fruit/vegetable market for our fresh items. Milk is sold at the nearby market for $2.69/gal and we drink water, milk or powdered iced tea. If anyone wants soda, they can pick up a liter or two to share with their money.

  9. says

    I have a teenage son and a daughter that was put on steroids for a blood disorder and between the two of them their going to eat me out of my house… Great ideas above, thank you for sharing:)

  10. Norma says

    One crowd-pleasing recipe that I like to use is a Mexican Dip:
    1 lb. ground beef
    1 lb. bulk sausage (like to use a spicy kind)
    16 oz. salsa –)I like medium or hot)
    2 lb. Velveeta cheese (off-brand from Aldi works well in here)
    Brown the meats together and drain. Add the salsa, and cut up the chees into chunks and add to the mixture. Warm and allow flavors to blend (a crock pot works great for this!). Serve with tortilla chips.

  11. says

    air-popped popcorn and in-season fruits are great for snacks. While bread-machine bread doesn’t go over well for sandwiches in my house, the kids love it for snacks. I avoid serving meat or fish alone as an entree, and when I do I tell them how much they can have so there’s enough to go around.

  12. Karen says

    I have 3 teenagers including boy/girl twins. We also have a tight budget and bottomless appetites, so I feel your pain.
    I used to use coupons in an organizer, and this is effective if you are a very organized person. Coupons were making me crazy, so I just swore them off. I shop the sales and plan meals around them and any markdowns I find. Meat and bread freeze well in my deep freeze. I cook with boxed dry milk. I scan the refridgerated section for markdown stickers and stock up if its something we use already. I buy store brands unless the national brand is cheaper. I leave food they like in the fridge like taco meat and shredded cheese so they can make quesadillas or tacos.

  13. Rebecca Levings says

    ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS buy meats on markdown/clearance (about to expire) and deep freeze. That is the ONLY meat I buy. I get brats, ground turkey (we prefer turkey to beef), chops, steaks, every type of meat this way, I buy as much as they have (or as much as I have room for) and deep freeze.

  14. Cris says

    Dry cereal as after school snacks. Add raisins, cranberries or other dried fruit for sweetness. Even mini marshmallows to the less than desirable yet filler fiber kinds. Great for kids of all ages.

  15. DD says

    I have a house full of teenage girls between my daughters and my nieces and their friends. I always joke that I can’t bring it in as fast as they PUT IT AWAY! I buy the loss leaders,use coupons and make things like beef and bean burritos, quesedillas , in season fruits and veggies. I have found Tawra Kellam’s Dining on a Dime cookbook to be a good resource. I also have a rule if they think they are hungry, then they need to try a glass of water first. Many times when the body thinks its hungry, it is dehydrated. Drink the water and wait a few minutes. Sometimes that will fix the “hungries” .

  16. Emily says

    ADD EGGS! We’re allergic to dairy (all of us), so getting the extra fat in is tough. #1 breakfast: chorizo scrambled eggs. I buy soft chorizo from my local ethnic market, plus their super-cheap 2.5-dozen-small-for-the-price-of-1-dozen-large eggs. I brown the chorizo (it’s a spicy Spanish sausage) in a skillet while beating up the eggs, add in the egg mixture, let it set for a minute or two, then stir up and keep cooking until they’re done.

    Another tip from someone’s Italian (“ooh, you’re too skinny!”) grandmother: when you make hot cocoa, crack an egg into it and stir it in. It adds richness and helps it stick to the ribs a little. She also used whole cream – wow.

    When you’re baking an entree, often it’s quite nice to pour some beaten eggs over whatever else is in there to make it a sort-of frittata (just make sure everything in there is boneless!). It’s almost like filling in the gaps with a flavor sponge – still tastes great, and fills the corners!

    Eggs are the best thing to get us through those painful (and expensive!) growth spurts. That and, as DD mentioned, drinking WATER before they start scarfing. It’s surprising how much that helps.

  17. says

    I have a hungry teen too, but I think some general guidelines apply here. So much of what is sold in supermarkets (and featured in coupons) is highly-processed, EXPENSIVE rubbish. We’re not big snackers, and we’re not big on desserts and sweets (don’t ask me why, we’re just not), so that helps keep costs down. I keep to simple ingredients as much as possible, cooking and baking from scratch, allowing unadorned fruits and vegetables to prove themselves delicious. More effort and time involved in preparation, but so much more wholesome and less expensive. Here in Northern California, it’s hard to resist the siren call of organic specialty boutiques, but you can’t feed a family on a tight budget at those places; at least not yet. I have organic meats and fish delivered to the house (not as expensive as you might think if you serve moderate portions); I buy local, organic produce at our town’s farmer’s market (vendors drop prices during the last 30 minutes); and I shop sales/coupons/loss leaders/BOGO like crazy at the local supermarket. I think I’ve found a good balance between “inexpensive” and “high quality” and it has helped our family survive an extended layoff during this recession. Meantime, our “bottomless-pit” teen keeps the tummy full with simple, basic, high-nutrition foods. And … I buy a bag of gummy bears whenever I can afford one. A girl has to have her vices.

  18. marisa says

    I buy cheese by the horn. You may pay $30 up frount but you wont have to buy cheese for months. Just unwrap it a little bit at a time and it stays fresh till the end (I keep the opened end covered with plastic wrap and a rubber band. I found the easiest way to get slices off is with a tupperware cheese slicer. My husbands grandma always keeps a crockpot of beans on the counter, hungry boys help yourself, cheap, easy and filling. Healthy too.

  19. debbie says

    I also am the mother of a teen-aged boy. With 3 hours a day of football practice, it seems to increase the normal growing boy appetite! I do many of the things that people have already said, but my big secret is soup. I buy the chicken pieces on sale for less than $.50 a pound, then throw them in a pot to make stock. A large pot of stock for under $3. Then I just add whatever is on hand or on sale. Some carrots and noodles for chicken noodle. Spinach, pasta and tiny meatballs for Italian wedding. Rue/milk, corn and potatoes for corn chowder. You can use little to no additional meat in the soup, or add any kind of beans for a more hearty meal. As the weather cools we eat it all the time, weekend lunch, after school snack, or dinner!

    • Kim G. says

      I can’t even imagine paying less than .50 cents per pound for chicken. It never gets below .79 per pound here, and that’s only rarely. Our “markdown” meat is rarely a good price either, usually 30 percent off regular price. I guess where you live makes a big difference in cost of food.

  20. Melissa says

    I have a 7yr old son that is a bottomless pit. As soon as he gets home from school he is eating nonstop till dinner. (he even gobbles that up!) I’ve really enjoyed reading all the suggestions. I also have a 5yr old son so I need to start preparing for the next couple years. :oD Thanks everyone!

  21. Melodee says

    Great suggestions- definitely put some of these into play around here. I have two teens- one boy, one girl- as well as two preschool boys. My older two help with the food/meal planning and so they (sort of) realize what it takes to feed a family on a budget. I keep healthy snacks that they have requested in the house. They drink one glass of milk in the a.m. and water the rest of the day- keeping a cup on the counter. For in between meals/snacks, we have found chewing gum to be a grazing stopper. If they really need more filling- they are welcome to the fruit on the counter anytime. Seems to be working!

  22. Sheryl says

    I have really enjoyed reading these ideas. I have a 14 and 9 year old sons and twin girls 4 and they all eat all day!! I can’t keep up with what I have or don’t because they eat it as fast as I bring it in the house! I hate saying don’t eat that I feel like such a bad mother but goodness they need to take a break. Thanks for some ideas!!

  23. Seana says

    How do you remove the adhesive from price stickers? Tried a couple products that were TOO strong. Also, does anyone know where I can buy Rubber Cement THINNER? They sell the cement but no thinner & it used to be PERFECT for removing price sticker adhesive. Maybe there’s even a homemade solution?? THANKS, love your site. :)

    • Chrissy Black says

      lighter fluid on a cotton ball and it will also take tar or chewing gum out of clothes or on your hands. Just put the lighter fluid on straight no cotton ball.

  24. Cheryle Ann Roberts says

    I have two teen aged boys and one girl. I agree pasta is filling and cheap. I tried shopping at Wal Mart, but personally, do not think Aldi’s can be beat. I use a webiste that gives you recipies plus ingredients for 7 days. This e-mealz site has been a huge help. I don’t know what I would do without it.

  25. Angela says

    I have 4 boys (12, 11, 9, & 7) who are starting to scare me! My 12-yr-old ate 7 cups of popcorn by himself as a snack, that I made on the stove the other day! Any leftovers, I portion into snack-size containers. It helps for now, but …. OMG! I made 2 batches of pancakes tonight for dinner. There aren’t many leftovers. They will be gone tomorrow. Learning to cook & bake from scratch has helped me do $10/day to feed my family of 6. I’m just wondering how long I’ll be able to do this @ $10/day…. I’m just grateful we are debt free!

    • ashley says

      I have 4 boys the same age as yours, they are eating me out of house and home….. I was surprised to see that you have leftovers!!!!!! We average a galloon of milk and a loaf of bread every 2 days, and never ever have left overs at dinner!!!

  26. Sherelyn says

    I used dry milk for things like potato soup, gravies etc. Then, the the regular milk for drinking and limited the kids to amount recommended for them. Dry milk does taste funny for drinking, but mixing it with other foods, helps to stretch the dollars! L

  27. says

    Growing up with 7 of us kids at home. And still now there’s 6 of us.
    We kids have been cooking for years. I’ve been feeding my 2 teenage brothers for 7 years, the one is 20 now.
    We’ve done heavy lunches as a rule (always with beans or pasta- both heavy strachy fillers).
    And as the boy’s know how to cook so they’re allowed to come in at anytime and cook some potatoes, but only potatoes as we ration everything. :)

  28. Hillary Hilton says

    Top Ramen was always a stand by in our home.
    I had a girlfriend with 8 kids. She always had company for dinner. I saw her save her milk jugs and when she got a new gallon of milk, she would pour 1/3 into two empty jugs, add powdered milk and water. Her kids were none the wiser and she always had plenty. She made a lot of things from scratch. Always had bread in the bread machine and food in the crockpot for dinner. She worked two jobs and so did her hubby, hosted foreign exchange students and picked up kids off the streets. Chili was a standby meal. Buy cans of chili and add veggies, black olives, corn and bacon. It makes a ton of super filling and healthy food.
    She always made twice as much food as needed and kids ate leftovers for lunch or snacks.

  29. Jeff Crane says

    Buy milk when it is on sale and freeze it. You just have to let it thaw and then shake it up if it separates. It will not explode when freezing like water will. My Sister in law taught me this when she was getting WIC and had way to much milk at times. I can not tell you how many times this saved me when we forgot to buy it and ran out of milk for cereal or meals.

  30. says

    Coupon!!! My son is 13 and he knows if its not on sale or I dont have a coupon for it he doesnt get it. Check Clearance and stack coupons on top of Clearance Prices. Dont be afraid of Discount Food Stores. Dont think that 99c Only store only sells junk, they have one of the best produce/fridge items. The also luck out with Brand Name Items…yesterday I got 5 packages of 16oz Kraft Parmesan 3 Cheese Mix, 2 boxes of Honey Nut Bunches of Oats regular boxes of Cereal, Hostess Muffin Snack packs, Spongebob BC Fruit Snacks, 3pck of Portabello Mushrooms, Spinach, 3lb bag of potatoes, Ore Ida Hashbrowns and some creamer for me they had the Girl Scouts Thin Mint flavor for $17 with tx. I buy lots of ground beef and my son makes mac and beef for his friends, i buy at WINCO in bulk pastas and rices. Stock up on meats when on sale.

  31. Sophia says

    Wow! Great ideas! I’m fold of polenta which you can do lots of things with (God bless you, Italy!) but recently discovered that it can be made with chestnut flour – I have to watch my cholesterol and have discovered chestnuts have no cholesterol. Maybe an ingredient for the store cupboard. :)

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