How should I cut back on grocery bills?
I use a few coupons for things I would normally buy anyway, and I buy when things are on sale. But you are correct that most coupons these days are for highly processed, high profit items that are best left on the shelf at the grocery store, in my opinion.
You don't say whether or not you work outside of the home, but I assume that with six kids you don't. I saved money when my kids were young by packing lunches for both my kids and my husband every day they ate out of the house. We almost never ate out or brought home takeout. If we did buy something like pizza to bring home, we would get one pizza and supplement it with salad made at home.
I make most baked goods, such as muffins, cookies, cupcakes and pies from scratch at home. They are much cheaper to bake than to buy, and the ingredients are much better and healthier. We get most of our fruits and vegetables at orchards and farm stores or raise them ourselves in our yard. Just this week, my husband picked sour cherries at a pick-your-own orchard for me to can at home for use this winter(I made him a cherry pie, too, for his efforts) and he picked fresh blueberries for me to freeze and make blueberry jam. I taught my children how to bake and cook food, and also gave each of them a small vegetable garden(four to six feet square is big enough for a child's garden). This taught them to appreciate vegetables, which they eat with enthusiasm.
There is a cheaper and better substitute for almost every expensive food at the grocery store. We eat popcorn popped in a big pot on the stove instead of bagged pre-popped or microwave popcorn. You can learn to make pizza at home, with a biscuit type crust rolled out and topped with olive oil, spaghetti sauce, cheese and vegetables like chopped onions and peppers.
We eat cooked oatmeal or eggs for breakfast, instead of cold cereal, instant hot cereal or things like Pop Tarts or breakfast bars. I buy plain yogurt in the largest containers and add fresh fruit, with maybe a spoonful of homemade jam. We make homemade pancakes and waffles on weekends, topped with things like homemade applesauce and cottage cheese, or fresh fruit with a bit of real homemade whipped cream, for a treat.
Never, ever buy sodas or sweetened drinks for your children, since they are not healthy and a needless expense. You can make your own iced tea with tea bags(I like Red Rose the best) and boiling water. Sweeten with a little simple syrup(half and half sugar and water, boiled and cooled) and add some bottled lemon juice, if you like. Store after it is fully cooled in gallon orange juice jugs in the refrigerator. If you wait until it is cool before you refrigerate it, it will not turn cloudy.
When kids don't get snacks and treats all of the time, they appreciate what they do get more. You can give your children turns to pick out something they really want but don't often get.
Eggs are cheap and nutritious, so is peanut butter. Make good use of your food budget and buy the best quality food you can afford, such as whole grain bread instead of the cheapest white bread. Eat less meat and don't buy lunch meat. Tuna salad, egg salad, grilled cheese and peanut butter sandwiches are perfectly fine. Crackers are high in sodium and often sugar. Feed your little kids plain Cheerios, small cubes of cheese and sliced bananas instead.
Make meat loaf and learn how to cut up a whole chicken. Make soup, lots of different kinds. Put fruit in sweet things and vegetables in almost everything else, like omelets and casseroles. Kids who grow up eating lots of vegetables are much less picky and easier to feed. Don't make special meals for picky eaters. I have never known a child who voluntarily starved to death, although I have known lots of anxious mothers were were certain they might. I am ashamed to say that with my first child, I was one of them.
You will need a supportive husband, too. Remember that cheap food is not "bad" food. Lots of times processed or junk foods are the most expensive and the worst for you. Whole, natural foods are the best for your health and for your pocketbook.