A healthy diet full of lean protein, whole grains, fruits & vegetables, and healthy fats is essential to raising healthy, happy kids. With their picky, little palettes and an inundation of options at the grocery store, this can be both challenging and expensive. However, by implementing proper planning, budgeting, and focus, it is possible and actually easy to feed the whole family nutritiously without breaking the bank.
1. Buy in Bulk. Protein is an important part of a healthy, balanced diet. It is imperative for muscle building, brain development, and hormonal balance. Unfortunately, it can also be expensive. Buying meat in bulk from places like Sam’s Club, Costco, or your local butcher can cut your grocery bill drastically. Often, these places will have specials for buying upwards of forty pounds at a time, saving you as much as 68%. Yes, that seems like a lot of meat, but the simple work of packaging it into separate bags and freezing it is well worth the savings on your most expensive grocery items.
2. Buy Frozen. Produce is another staple of a healthy diet, but again they can be costly. However, frozen vegetables are considerably less expensive and last longer which means you eat all of what you pay (less) for and do not have to throw away rotten or overly ripe veggies or fruit that you did not get a chance to serve.
3. Buy in Season. One of the best parts of the changing seasons is the variety of produce that is available. Fruits and vegetables that are in season are easier for grocers to access, ship, and sell which means that the price tags on these are lower. Some favorite seasonals for Fall include apples, squash, and pumpkin, which are both delicious and versatile. Think outside of the box: pumpkin muffins, squash lasagna, baked apples; the options are only limited by the imagination.
4. Buy cheap. There are many healthy foods that are less expensive. Keeping these essentials in the pantry and refrigerator can help lower the weekly grocery expenses as well. Some of the most delicious low cost health foods include eggs, bananas, oats, beans, peanut butter, tuna, low-fat milk, brown rice, and canned tomatoes.
5. Be honest. How much do you really need it, if at all? With the growing prominence of new eating trends like gluten free, organic, raw food, Paleo, cleansing, low carb, high carb, low fat, high fat, etc., it can be overwhelmingly persuasive that specialized, and therefore, expensive foods need to be in our grocery carts. The truth is, you do not need gluten free pretzels, a cleanse kit, or carb-free bread. These are luxuries. They are indulgences. They are unnecessary. A family can eat well and thrive without any of these price-heavy, nutrient-light foods.
6. Make a Menu. Planning the week’s menu can help keep the grocery list both focused and limited. Only buying the foods that are part of the plan keep frivolous items out of the cart and off of the receipt.
7. Use apps! Technology is wonderful. We can post photos, email, and FaceTime from our handheld devices. Now, we can also use it reduce our grocery bill. Apps like Ibotta, Pushpin, and RetailMeNot highlight rebates, discount codes, and specials at both large scale and local stores. Take a few minutes with your iPhone and save more than a few dollars!
We may not be able to keep our kids from being persnickety at the dinner table, but we can control how much we spend on these picky eaters at the grocery store. Plan ahead, buy seasonal, and stock up on the right things, and you will be fully prepared to feed the whole family nutritious, delicious, and economical meals and snacks.