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Mom with 13 kids reveals her secrets to making $1 meals


By: Mike Timmermann,

Sam Fatzinger doesn’t run a restaurant, but you might think she does by looking at her kitchen.

There are two refrigerators, two ovens, two dishwashers and a huge pantry that this lifelong Maryland resident says she couldn’t live without.

That’s because Sam and her husband, Rob, have 13 children!

How a mother of 13 feeds her family on a budget

The story of this frugal family recently went viral after the Washington Post learned how they’ve managed to live debt-free on just one income. Now, is getting an exclusive look inside the family’s kitchen.

Here’s the pantry where Sam stores budget-friendly staples like pasta, rice, beans and so much more.

Mother of 13 reveals the secrets to making $1 meals

Sam says Rob, who works in the computer software field, used to do most of the shopping and cooking, but she does now. The busy mother says she spends about an hour preparing meals every day.

Here you can see the two refrigerators and two ovens, but not Sam’s favorite appliances — the dishwashers!

Mother of 13 reveals the secrets to making $1 meals

Married for 27 years, several of the couple’s 13 children are grown up. But there’s still quite a crowd at dinner time. Sam says about nine people sit around this table every night.

Mom will make a plate for the younger children, but it’s serve yourself for everyone else!

Mother of 13 reveals the secrets to making $1 meals

Meals for less than $1 a serving

When Sam told us that she feeds her family for $1 per serving, we wanted to know exactly how she saves money on groceries. Here are Sam’s top four tips to eat well on a budget:

Know where to shop

Sam says she spends about $300 a week on groceries, but it used to be even more before Aldi came to town a few years ago. She does 90% of her shopping at Aldi and 10% at Giant, a regional grocery store.

After asking the butcher when he marks down meat, Sam knows exactly what time to shop to stock up on inexpensive cuts of meat for 33% off.

As for club stores? The Fatzingers canceled their membership to avoid buying unnecessary items. They prefer Aldi.

Stockpile strategically

Sam plans her weekly menu based on three things: what’s in the freezer, what’s in the pantry and what’s on sale at the two grocery stores she goes to.

“The better the sale, the more we get,” Sam told

And if there’s a “limit one” on some food items, that’s no problem for this family. She just brings along some of her kids to buy more!

Always be prepared

Can you imagine going to a drive-thru with so many children? That’s not this family’s style.

Sam says she makes sure to pack snacks and water bottles in the car to be prepared for those times when fast food may seem like a tempting option.

And with a pantry like hers, there’s never a shortage of food!

Keep it simple

Sam says her children, who are homeschooled, fix their own breakfast and lunch, and their menu choices are posted on the side of the refrigerator.

Her secret to getting it all done? Keep it easy, easy, easy!


  1. Cereal
  2. Yogurt
  3. Toast
  4. Oatmeal
  5. Fruit


  1. Leftovers
  2. Nachos
  3. Sandwiches
  4. Fruit and vegetables

Mother of 13 reveals the secrets to making $1 meals


As for dinner, Sam loves her slow cooker! She whips up a lot of simple meals like tacos, spaghetti, chili and “many, many chicken dishes.” Rice, potatoes or noodles are served nightly.

Sam has posted some of her favorite recipes on her blog, including these:

While they typically eat at home, the family goes out to a restaurant about four times a year.

Meanwhile, Rob and Sam sneak out for a date night about once a month, using restaurant gift cards that they receive as birthday and holiday presents.

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