What worked for us was to make a list of every bill that was due, including all bank overdrafts, credit card payments, mortgage, groceries, electric, phone, medications, doc visits, EVERYTHING HAS TO BE ON PAPER!!!
I took a look at the money that was coming in. ALL OF IT, including birthday, Christmas, and any other gifts in kind.
I made a list of everything that was being paid and the amount I was going to be able to pay. Some of the bills were not even going to be paid that month, or the next, or the next...incurring more interest and late fees. The mortgage, electric, water, car had to come first. The car needs oil changes, tires, maintenance and the kids need to eat.
Feeding the kids....this is always a challenge. My kids were told back then that they had to eat what was given to them. My girls will tell you that they still remember and knew that they had to eat what was given to them, or they were going to be hungry. It's a terrible feeling to open the fridge and find that the milk was gone. But they did not go to bed hungry, they had three meals a day.
I shop produce clearance racks, marked down meat racks, discount bread stores, and local discount places such as Sharp Shopper and Aldi. We eat dinner every night. All left overs get placed in the ridge or freezer (depending on the item). We try to work hard not to throw food away. My girls are learning to cook from scratch (a basic skill that helps in maintaining a home).