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Monday, January 4, 2010

Family Feasts for $75 a Week by Mary Ostyn - Book Review

Title: Family Feasts for $75 a Week

Author: Mary Ostyn

Publisher: Oxmoor House, Inc.

Published Date: September 2009

ISBN#: 978-0-8487-3296-7

Paperback, 304 pages

From the Cover: "A Penny-Wise Mom Shares Her Recipe for Cutting Hundreds from Your Monthly Food Bill."

Written by the author of the popular Owlhaven blog, Family Feasts for $75 a Week addresses the subject of how to save money on your food bill while still feeding your family good meals. As a mother of 10 children ranging from 5 years to newly married, six of whom are adopted from Korea and Ethiopia, Mary Ostyn has plenty of real-world experience to share with readers.

I've read a few books about saving money on groceries in the past and I learned a lot from them. The biggest difference between those books and
Family Feasts is survival- Mary knows what works best because she's had to learn it. Some of the tips she shares I was familiar with from past reading, but a large number of them were both new and very useful to me.

At the end of the first few chapters the author shares "Action Points" that summarize the directions and suggestions she gives throughout the chapters. Included in one of these early chapters is a quiz to help the reader determine what area of the book would be most useful to them. Scattered throughout the first section of the book are handy charts containing information such as what fruits & veges are in season during what months to allow for the most frugal produce purchases, a list of pantry staples, meat cost per serving, how long produce stays fresh, and more.

Mary also shares instructions on starting a price book and how to create a basic meal plan with "two times five"meal planning. The recipe section begins on page 78 of the book. I thought the tips and advice would end at this point, but I was pleasantly surprised to discover the money saving ideas and preparation tips continue to appear with each recipe. And there are a lot of recipes- the kind you would actually feed your family.

What worked for me: I found the various information charts very useful, as well as the "action points" at the end of the first chapters. I really like the "two times five" meal plan idea and I can't wait to give it a try, especially since meal planning at my house lately consists of standing in front of the fridge at 5 PM and saying, "Hmmmm." I've also learned a few handy cooking tips from the recipe section.

What didn't work for me: Taking Family Feasts back to the library!

Doubling our children from two to four in less than two years has left me scrambling to regain the footing I used to have at meal time. I appreciate the advice and experience Mary shares in
Family Feasts for $75 a Week. One might assume that the information in this book is directed only at those with large families, but it can actually be applied to any size family. Even a single person could adapt and use the advice offered in this book.

Rating: 4 out of 5 (I really liked it)
Would I read it again? Absolutely. Not only would I read it again, but it's going on my "books to buy" list.
Do I recommend this book? Definitely, especially to busy moms with kids
Would I read more of Mary's books? Yes! In fact, I plan on reading her previous book, A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family.

FTC FYI: The copy of this book that I reviewed was borrowed from my local library.


  1. sounds like a book I absolutely need!

  2. Hey Julie- Thanks for the comment! I hope you find the book as useful as I did.

    Shanda :)