My mom is a serious bargain hunter, so it is in my genes, right? I have always loved a good deal but it wasn’t until I became a mom myself that I realized just how important it is to save a little money and save a LOT on time. I would like to think that I have aced my grocery shopping game but I am sure I will always be tweaking it. In fact, you should take advantage of my FREE Meal Planning Worksheet for yourself. This worksheet, in essence, is my cheat sheet to quick and healthy meal planning on budget.
But I know you aren’t here just for my free worksheet. Although it really is that awesome. But you here to know – how does a dietitian mom really save money and time while still balancing nutrition and health when it comes to shopping!? To simplify things, I have broken down my process in five easy tips.
1. Shop your cabinets first.
Okay and also shop your fridge and freezer too! I like to keep a running inventory of what I have in my deep freezer or else things may just go missing forever in there. Finding and incorporating those foods you already have on hand can help you from buying duplicates. Perhaps, you may even be able to reinvent some of the leftovers you have in the fridge or pantry in one of your next meals.
- Start by making a list of what you have on hand
- Brainstorm if there are any ways you may be able to reuse or repurpose these items
- This is also a great time to check expiration dates and wipe down the fridge
- Finally, toss what foods are no longer good
In a perfect world you would be stocking your kitchen every month or so with some staple items. I like to keep whole wheat pasta, pasta sauce, canned tuna, brown rice, peanut butter, beans, rotel, chicken broth, canned and frozen fruits and veggies, tortillas, bread, eggs, cheese, and milk. I can make several different meals with these items in a pinch and still be confident in the nutrition in my meals.
2. Come up with a Grocery Game Plan.
Plan your meals for the week. I usually find a week to work best. Anything less and I feel like I am shopping all the time, anything longer and my fresh items go bad. Now hear me out… just because you are planning for the entire week does not mean that you have to cook every single day. But we will plan for those nights that you may have to grab something to-go or maybe it is brunch after church. Here are just a few ways I tackle planning my meals for the week.
- Start with dinners. I like to get suggestions from my husband on what he wants during the week. This can help you with meal planning fatigue.
- Once dinners are penciled in add in the sides. I like to add a vegetable at every meal then maybe a grain if my main dish doesn’t already have one. Fruit is usually saved for dessert at my house.
- Next up, I plan my lunches. I usually plan one or two work lunches that I can use the entire week. Weekend lunches for us I know are a bit more chaotic depending on what is going on so I always keep items on hand like frozen fish or sandwich fixings.
- Since I usually eat my Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Lactation Bites for breakfast and fruit and quick protein foods for snacks I save these as one of my last steps in my meal planning process.
- Finally, I add anything I need to prep for my daughter for the week that she can’t have from our plate and anything my husband needs. Yup, I let him plan his own breakfasts, lunches, and snacks.
3. Pick up Convenience Items
Yup, you heard me right. Pick up those convenience items mama. No, I am not talking about boxed dinners or processed chips and crackers. What I am really talking about are these nutrient-dense items that require little prep work on your part. Time is money!
- Pre-cut fresh fruit or veggies
- Frozen fruit and veggies
- Canned fruit (100% juice) and veggies (low sodium)
- Pre-made hummus
- Rotisserie chicken
- Canned fish
- Frozen brown rice
- Whole wheat or nut bars (KIND bars, Nature’s Bakery Fig Bars)
4. Shop Online
The grocery game is really changing and boy is it changing fast. Technology has really changed the way we shop and you should totally be taking advantage of it as a mom! Admittedly, I really enjoyed shopping before baby but I tried out online shopping once my daughter was born so I didn’t have to drag her into the store during cold and flu season. I am kicking myself now for not taking advantage of it while I was pregnant! I won’t be going back because it really has worked out that well. Some of my favorite reasons online shopping has saved me:
- I add items to the shopping app on my phone as I think of them because with mom brain if I try to remember it just won’t happen.
- I am not tempted by displays, end caps, or checkouts to buy things I don’t need.
- I can order groceries after my daughter goes to bed while laying in bed or heck even when I am pumping at lunch. Multitasking moms for the win!
- I don’t have to do the physical shopping (which obviously saves me time)! I was skeptical that they wouldn’t be able to pick out my produce to my specifications. Guys, they have done a great job every single time.
I hope some of my grocery hacks can help you save too. What do you plan to do with your extra time?