Family of Four Taking Flight to Financial Independence

How To Feed A Family Of Four On $75 Per Week

Before we get to our food post, I am going to provide a quick summary on FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early).  As we get closer to FIRE, I've had some people ask me ... well, what about work?  What about a job?  (You can also see our recent post here on the What Abouts).  

1) FIRE stands for Financial Independence Retire Early: Once you reach financial independence you are able to retire early if you choose to do so (of course you do not have to stop working!).
2) We plan to stop working full-time, but that does NOT mean we will probably never work (make money) in some way ever again.
3) We plan to try to get Non-Lucrative Visas (NLV), and move to Spain for at least a school year (or more).  If we are able to obtain Non-Lucrative Visas, this means we can't work / take a job from a Spaniard.  But a NLV would allow us to stay for up to a year in Spain (versus an American Passport would only let us stay for 90 days).
4)  How do you achieve FIRE?  Short answer ...

Pay off all of your debt!
Budget, and decrease your spending rate (and increase your savings rate!).
Invest, invest, invest.
Figure out your FI (financial independence) number.
Be prepared, and have back up plans (your safety margins).
Reach your FI number!  Now you can live off your investments (4% or less), and there are other ways you can pull from your retirement early (here and here).
Enjoy FIRE.  Done!


How To Feed A Family Of Four On $75 Per Week

The hummus wraps and salad are mentioned below.

One of the numbers that seems to jump out to people when they read our blog and look at our budget is the amount we spend on groceries.  (It is also a fairly common topic amongst the FIRE (financial independence retire early) community).  We try to keep this between $70 - $75 per week or about $300 per month.  What?!  Yep, you heard that correctly.  This includes our food, toiletries, cleaning supplies (hello, baking soda and vinegar!), etc.  

Today we wanted to give you an inside look at what a typical week looks like for us.  

We will also include the meals that we plan to cook (because planning your meals ahead of time is key to sticking with your budget (and a time saver)) AND some of the recipes we use.  (At this point I don’t really use recipes, and I certainly never measure seasonings.  The cooking is more based on feel.  The below recipe ideas are almost impossible to mess up -- really quick and easy to make and adjust to your own tastes).

As of right now, we mainly shop at HEB and Aldi (of course prices vary depending on the market you are in and where you shop).  Both of these places are pretty popular amongst the FI community / local FI community.  Where do you shop?  We've also shopped at Sprouts (which is like a smaller version of Whole Foods) when they've had sales.  And if we lived closer to Trader Joe's (there are some in Houston, but we are in the burbs), we would probably frequent there too (we even noticed when we have visited NYC the prices at Trader Joe's are similar to the prices in Houston which was surprising!).

Note, any eating out (meals, even grabbing ice cream, or Starbucks, etc.) comes from our extra spending budget not our grocery budget.  And I am guessing we "eat out" less than a typical American family because that has not been a priority for us.  It also helps that any eating out is usually because it is a treat not because we weren't prepared / or in a pinch.

The Grocery List

The sample lists above were actual lists we used within the last month.

As you can see we try to shop the sales for our fruits as much as possible.  Another thing to note is that I have my list written according to the store layout.  We start in the produce section.  Then we hit the condiments (Peanut Butter, Salsa, etc.) ... next up, rice, beans, etc.  This helps me stick to my list and gets us in and out of the grocery store as quickly as possible (the less time you’re wandering around in there, the less likely you are to spend on unnecessary items).  

Speaking of the list, it is in my hand EVERY time I am in the store.  It includes obviously the items I am going to buy but also each item's price (an estimate) so that I have a good idea of how much I’m spending before I check out.  My son and I sometimes play a game where I tell him how much the bill is going to be (give or take $1), and my estimate is always right (this blows his mind!)  My list also contains the meals I have planned to cook for the week (which helps me make sure that I’m not forgetting any ingredients).  (Sample of that below).

The Meals

This exact meal isn't mentioned in this post, but basically it is baked tofu, kale, rice, and white sauce / hot sauce!  Yum!

I’m guessing most people who cook at home have some “go to” meals that they make most weeks that are quick / easy, and that everyone in the family likes (depending on the day or mood if you have a 6 and 8 year old).  These are just some of our “go to” meals.  Note, they are all plant-based.  What are your "go to" meals?

Pasta with Garlic & Walnut Sauce and Spinach Salad with Sliced Apple and Garlic & Walnut Sauce

To make the garlic & walnut sauce - blend about 1 cup of walnuts with as much or as little fresh garlic as you want (I usually use 4 - 5 pieces) and ½ - 1 cup of water (depending on the consistency you want the sauce to be).  This stuff is good on just about anything, but we like it over rice, pasta, homemade tortilla chips, and steamed kale.

Burrito Bowl

This is one of the wife’s favorites, and it's also good for kids because they can come and build their own bowl (think Chipotle at home).  For this I usually make a big batch of rice.  Then just set out bowls of beans, garlic sauce (same as above), corn, cilantro, sautéed onion, salsa, hot sauce, homemade tortilla chips, etc.

To make the homemade tortilla chips, preheat oven to 400.  Put some parchment paper on a baking sheets, and cut tortillas into chips or strips ( you can use corn or flour tortillas).  Bake for about 10 minutes.  (Start watching them around 8 or so.)
Breakfast Scramble

Onion, garlic, frozen hashbrowns, spinach, leftover beans, and leftover corn in a non-stick skillet.  Top with hot sauce, cilantro, or salsa.  Done!

Hummus Wrap

Fill a tortilla with homemade hummus, sliced cucumber, sautéed onion / garlic, diced tomatoes, spinach, cilantro, beans, etc.

To make the homemade hummus, simply blend 1 - 2 cups of cooked chickpeas with fresh garlic (again I use 4 - 5 pieces), a couple squirts of mustard, lemon juice, and about a ½ cup of water (alter depending on the consistency you want for your hummus). 


Make tortilla chips (as mentioned above).  Put some homemade hummus in the middle of the plate, and lay chips around hummus.  Then cover chips with the garlic sauce, cilantro, salsa, hot sauce, beans, onion, jalapeno, spinach, etc.

Big Pot of Beans / Rice

What plant-based menu is complete without a recipe for a BIG OL’ POT of rice and beans (plus we are Texans ... we love rice and beans)!?  This is one of my personal favorites, and I typically eat a variation of it at dinner every night.  This is a great meal for leftovers, and it is good to eat by itself (or you can use it as filling to make tacos with).  

Saute onion / garlic in non-stick skillet.  Next add 4 cups of vegetable broth, 1 - 2 cups of water, 1 cup uncooked rice, 3 cups of cooked beans OR lentils, and seasonings of choice (my favorites are smoked paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder).  Bring everything to a boil, and then simmer on medium / low until rice is cooked (and most of the liquid has been absorbed).  

There you have it!  This is just one example of our grocery list / meals in a week.  

What do you think?  How much do you spend on groceries?  What kind of food do you cook?  Do you shop with a grocery list, and plan your meals ahead of time? 


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