It is quite an adventure to keep a family healthy even in the best of circumstances and focusing on high quality, healthy food is an essential step. Having said that, if a strict budget is in place then the adventure can turn into mission impossible at times. I have a family of four (and even though I love them dearly I am not including my three dogs and two cats in this case) and I spend between $250 and $300 a week.
I buy organic fruits and vegetables (fresh and frozen) as well as milk, milk alternatives, bread, juices and eggs. Legumes in general are usually in cans rather than dry because of the convenience factor, but also organic. I am Celiac so that means lots of GF foods as long as they do not fall into the "GF junk" category (cookies, sweets). Gf foods are, as most people know, rather expensive and most of the time unnecessary because you can achieve your GF goals by sticking to real, fresh items. Processed foods (even if they are GF) are not good for you anyway.
I have three meat eaters in the house although red meat is hardly ever on the menu. I mostly fix turkey and chicken for them. If they are clamoring for more, the occasional slice of bacon does the trick. Salmon makes it into the dinner plate at least once a week and so do sardines, anchovies and low mercury, water packed tuna. We are not big on peanut butter but love tahini and almond butter. We also eat lots of walnuts, pistachios, dried fruit and dark chocolate.
The one thing that helps me not overspend is flexibility when it comes to the menu. I buy according to the items that I find on sale. I also stock up when a good staple is on sale and I have an extra freezer with enough capacity for multiples loaves of bread, bags of frozen fruit, organic chicken and home cooked items. I love cooking for my family and friends.
I shop at different stores all the time. Sprouts has cheaper organic produce and Vitamin Cottage more affordable milk and milk substitutes. Of course I like Whole Foods but never, ever fall for the enormous deli money pit. It all looks delicious, but I can cook with my own two little hands.
We don't purchase alcohol (except organic Spanish wine for cooking) and bakery items are off limits except for birthdays and some other special occasions. I do bake at home frequently with decent (and healthier) results.
So there it is...Not a complicated strategy all in all...Respect the food. Respect the planet and do the best you can...It's a process.