My dh went from an outside sales job to a job inside an office last year. It was a hard transition for him, and one of the keys was (and is) getting out of the office every day at lunch. He takes a full hour every single day. Honestly, if that was me, that would mean that I'd eat out.
But, he has been faithful to take his lunch every day, and he gets creative about where he goes at lunch. Luckily, we live where there is pretty nice weather most of the time, so often he goes to a park he found near his office. In the rain, sometimes he eats in his car, then walks around a nearby bookstore or Walmart. But, he definitely leaves. And, I'll hand it to him--he's been very creative about finding ways to leave work, without resorting to a restaurant.
My MIL also says that she learned from her MIL (mama to 4 sons) the importance of having a filler starch on the table for every meal when you have big eaters and you're trying to stretch a food buck. Every meal is served with grits, rice, pasta, or potatoes. Every meal. So, it's never eggs for breakfast. It's eggs, grits, and toast. With grits being the biggest portion, and if someone needs seconds, it's encouraged that it's grits. Or oatmeal. Same thing. If you are serving chili, it's served over rice, spaghetti, or a baked potato. And, any seconds come with the corresponding starch. So, it's not hurry through the first serving and get a big pile of meat on the second serving, you know? And bread and butter with every meal, too.
In my budget, meat isn't our biggest expense. That belongs to cheese and other dairy.
WIC helps with that, right? Snacks are always a killer, too. So, in tight months, I just announce that it's tight, expect everyone to understand (as my mother before me did), and we have saltines, popcorn, bananas, cinnamon toast, and raisins for snacks. People get over it
, and we all survive.
So, if your budget needs to be around $600 a month ($429 FS, $80 WIC, then $91 of your cash), that'd be $150/week. I think you could do that.
$12 average x 7 suppers (with at least 4 of them giving leftovers for lunch)=$84
4 gallons milk=$10
$5 average x 7 breakfasts=$35
$5 average x 3 lunches =$15
$6 for anything else (like that huge thing of popcorn for snacks!)
For 16 servings (supper + breakfast) at $12, I'm thinking things like chili over rice, red beans and rice with sausage, spaghetti, homemade hamburger helper, homemade pizza (with boboli or with a packaged crust mix; not majorly homemade), sloppy joes, pot roast, chicken and stuffing (where the chicken is cooked in it, like a casserole), tator tot casserole (hey, if it's good enough for the Duggars...), beef stroganoff over noodles, etc, etc, etc.
I like to bulk up meals with frozen veggies. Unlike the pp, we aren't wild about canned veggies, but we like frozen. Especially if it's mixed into a meal. So, if I'm making, say, hamburger helper, I'll add 2 packages of frozen spinach to bulk up the meal. It tastes good, but it does bulk it up for less money.
Sometimes I start a meal with a soup. Sounds all crazy fancy, but it's a good way to use up what I have, especially when we have a veggie and milk on the verge of going bad. They really like potato soup (just thin mashed potatoes, topped with cheese) and broccoli cheddar soup (just pureed broc with a thin white sauce and cheese added). My dh seems to think I'm "gourmet" when I make this. LOL. But, it's really a way to get another side dish in the meal, and it's served first.