Now as someone who follows the 1990's book "The Tightwad Gazette" I am all for bargain grocery shopping. I also understand the Duggar need for ease in the kitchen when cooking for a large number of people--afterall did you notice that when you eat at a school cafeteria the larger the school, the worse the food? Even colleges seem to have the phenomena--private colleges don't seem to be exempt, at least mine weren't.
The Duggars published their own book "20 and Counting" and included many of their own recipes. I will say for those that haven't read it, it's mostly just opening cans and heating. There is very little "flavour" or creativity involved, which is sad considering that these people live in the south which is known for some fabulous flavours. I often wonder if the meals are so easy to prepare because it's the girls who are preparing them and it's been their job to prepare them since they were quite young (around 11 or so.) And the family just got used to simple, humble meals. It's also true that simple meals are inexpensive meals and that's part of their financial plan.
There are some things that do bother me about their financial part of shopping:
a) not any 1 source of groceries will provide the lowest cost of every item, you have to shop around and create a price book so you buy the items you need at the lowest price at the right store and they seem to only shop at 1 store---while Aldi is known for rock bottom prices, they could be missing out on loss leader specials from local markets, restaurant suppliers for bulk items (#10 cans instead of all those small cans, large bags of flour, etc), meat wholesaler's, etc. I often wonder if Jim Bob has investigated these options.
b) they don't cook from scratch which is cheaper--a lot of their recipes involved 6 or more cans of beans and a crockpot, if they soaked dried beans the night before and cooked them the next day in the crockpot they would save a HUGE amount of money and it wouldn't take any more work than opening all those cans; they do bake a lot of their own bread but they buy premade pizza when they could make their own in no time with their industrial kitchen equipment and it would cost about $1/pizza; they buy frozen burritos when they could use the crockpot beans to make their own so cheaply
c) they only recently started to garden, but it wasn't even their idea--it was a friend who wanted to garden for himself and thought he'd also teach their kids how--if they did a full-scale garden and learned how to home can and freeze their produce they would save an amazing amount of money on their food bill
d) with a family their size I often wonder if they've considered either buying beef or pork buy the whole and having it slaughtered, or even raising it themselves on their land; or even buying a side of beef or pork; they could also raise chickens for the eggs as well as the meat and let the kids take care of them--it would all be a great learning experience, but then with traveling it may be prohibitive
Many comment on the amount of processed foods they eat: the frozen burritos, pizzas, canned beans, chilli, etc. However most of their meals do include fresh veggies or fruit, or at least frozen veggies. They do love a recipe for green beans they tout often.
One thing you have to admit, with the exception of Jim Bob's middle-aged expanding waist, all the children are in great shape. None show signs of being overweight at all or even close to it. For some reason Jana joined Weight Watchers with Michelle a few years back, but she's in excellent shape. Josh did gain quite a spare tire while Anna was pregnant, but hopefully he'll lose it while she loses her pregnancy weight (no rush Anna, you're doing just fine!) So I'm not sure what the grand uproar is about other than it all comes from cans? Anyone?