Who Doesn’t Love Grocery Shopping?!

I never knew food was so expensive until I became the SAHM who takes care of all groceries. (I also never knew packing lunches was the most miserable “mom” task ever).

We have a family of 5. I shop only at  big name stores (Publix and Kroger) and we have a $500/month grocery budget. If we break that down, that is $100/person…it seems like a lot of money but to some it will seem impossible. However,  I stay at or under my given budget most of the time. Have there been months where I have spent $800 on food? Absolutely. But there has also been months where we’re barely touching $350. But trust me, if I can do it, you can do it.

The question is how?

  • Planning-both trips and meals

I typically spend Sunday’s planning my meals for the week (Yes, I grocery shop every week). While I’m planning my meals, I also write my grocery list. Going to the store without a list is asking for trouble. You’ll most likely wind up in the candy aisle trying to decide which chocolate wrapper will be quieter when you’re trying to sneak it from your children. But no really, a list is necessary. I don’t make a fancy list with aisle numbers on where everything is but I do try to keep it organized and grouped together by food group. Also, there is an amazing app Grocery IQ that allows you to input your grocery list either via typing, barcode scanning, or voice. The app also lets you put in the quantity you need, and the aisle category it in is. It also keeps a history of past items so if you’re like me and buy most of the same stuff every month, it saves you a little bit of time. Best perk of them all, it’s free!

Now back to the meal planning, I only plan dinners. Breakfasts are usually cereal or something quick and easy for the kids before school. Lunches are typical as well so it’s easy. A typical week in our house goes something along the lines of cook, cook, leftovers, cook, out to eat, cook, cook. I also plan quick, easy (healthy) meals that I know my kids will eat. Meatloaf, homemade pizza, tacos, quiche, spaghetti, chicken fajitas, sausage and rice, and chicken fried rice are just some of our daily meals.

  • Skip the prepackaged items

Just because it’s prepackaged doesn’t mean it’s the best way to go. Companies typically hike up their prices (and preservatives) for prepackaged food because it’s convenient. People pay for convenience. When you break it down, you can roughly get more than twice as much product for generally the same price and it’s typically healthier.

For example, you can buy a box of (4) Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches for $5.44  -or- you can buy (12) English muffins for $2.28, (12) eggs for $1.98, and (12) sausage patties for $3.96. So for $8.92, you can get 12 sandwiches (that freeze and defrost perfectly)

  • Stock up on non-perishables

Especially when they’re on sale! I have enough cans of green beans in my house to survive the end of the world…twice. Seriously, there is a lot. If something is on sale, and it won’t go bad, save yourself some money (and time) and buy it. I recently just purchased 5 containers of juice as they were on sale from $3.98 to $2.00. So not only did I save myself almost $10, I saved time on shopping trips because I have juice for at least 4 weeks. Most items that you keep in your pantry, won’t go bad for quite sometime as long as they’re closed and sealed properly.

  • Buy in Bulk when practical

We have a Sams Club Membership and it’s fantastic. I typically buy bulk items there. It is definitely worth the money we spend on the membership and keep an eye out because sometimes they do free memberships or passes.

Buying in bulk is initially more expensive. Calculating it out however is more cost effective and beneficial. We typically buy non-perishables or foods we go through quickly from Sams. Buying in bulk again helps save time and money.

Believe it or not, it is cheaper to buy (1) 3lb container or peanut butter than it would be to buy the equivalent in single jars.

  • Coupons

I was the crazy coupon lady for a little while. I was getting shampoo and conditioner for $.33, toilet paper for $.10 and free toothpaste. It was fantastic! I then realized that companies rarely put out coupons for everyday food items. They’re typically for paper goods. Sure, you can find some ones for food and absolutely use the ones you find. Because essentially, cents leads to dollars.

Saving $.35 on cottage cheese two times per month is a yearly savings of $8.40…that’s almost enough to make homemade breakfast sandwiches!

I know grocery shopping isn’t the most fun thing in the world, but it’s a necessity. With a few tips and tricks you can make it almost, almost pain free.

-Kirstyn

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Making Your Own Baby Food- Way Easier, Way Faster Than You Think!

happybaby-organic-frozen-baby-food

Seriously, it is I promise! When I was about 5 months pregnant I decided that I needed to create enough baby food to last my child her entire life. I really went a little nuts with how much I made, but when the time came for solids, I was so glad I had everything prepped and ready to go! One less thing for my new mom brain to worry about.

I am really not a crazy organic/all natural person. Will I choose something that is GMO-free and all natural ingredients 9 times out of 10? Sure. But I’m not shopping at Whole Foods on the regular. I’m a sahm and military spouse, ain’t nobody got funds for that. I buy what is reasonably priced and what works for my family. When it came to my LO, I looked at all the prepackaged options out there and was just disgusted. It looked nasty, it sounded nasty and the price was outrageous. I started doing some research (thank you Pinterest) and realized that it is super easy to make your own baby food that can sustain freshness for months in the freezer. So I decided to get to work…

STEP ONE: Buy Food

Fruits, veggies, grains, you can even get a little wild and try meats. Fresh, frozen, canned…it doesn’t matter. Here are some recommended starter foods that most babies generally like (until they become toddlers of course) and are safe for baby tummies:

  • STAGE 1 (4-6 months old): Carrots, Avocados, Sweet Potatoes, Bananas, Peas, Apples, Pears
  • STAGE 2 (6+ months or when you and your pediatrician think your LO is ready for thicker purees and textures): Squash, Brown Rice, Blueberries, Chicken, Spinach, Lentils, Yogurt, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Rice, Mango

STEP TWO: Prep and Blend

Pick an afternoon (really you could do it in an hour) and gather a couple things together:

  • All your fruits, veggies and grains
  • Ice cube trays
  • Freezer Bags
  • Sharpie
  • Blender

Steam any fresh or frozen fruits or veggies so they are good and soft. Obviously canned goods are ready as is. Make sure everything has cooled before you start blending.

baby-bulletWhen I did my foods, I used a Baby Bullet. I registered and received one as a gift at my baby shower. Loved it. All of the accessories and storage containers are super helpful. I especially love the grinder attachment that allows you to grind grains, nuts, etc. to add to your baby foods (read: make your own rice cereal!). Is a Baby Bullet completely necessary? Not at all. Any good quality blender will do.baby food trays

Now you’re ready to blend all of your ingredients. I started simple. Carrots and sweet potatoes together, bananas, and peas and avocados together. You can also blend in rice cereal, yogurt, oatmeal, whatever other additives you want to your mixtures. I was too scared to try meat but I know you can easily blend meat and freeze as well. After everything is blended to a very smooth texture, pour the mixture into ice cube trays.

STEP THREE: Freeze, Label and Store

Pretty self explanatory. Once everything is frozen, pop them out, place into freezer bags and clearly label and date. If you have a deep freezer, this is optimal to ensure your baby food stays the freshest for the longest amount of time. Different foods vary in how long they keep while frozen. A simple google search will tell you how long each food you chose will keep.

STEP FOUR: Serve

To defrost, I simply place one frozen piece into a microwave safe bowl and put it in for about 15 seconds at a time until it was completely thawed but not too hot.

That’s it! I told you, simple! Not only is making your own baby food wayyyy cheaper, but you also have the peace of mind in knowing exactly what is going into your LO’s belly. This is also a very effective way to track any allergies or sensitivities your child might have. Starting with one food at a time for a few meals before introducing a new one will help you pinpoint the cause of any reaction very easily.

Now I’m no doctor, but I swear making my own baby food helped my LO be a more tolerant eater as she grew into toddlerdom. Her favorite food is still peas. She is much more likely to try new things as finger foods because she is used to eating all sorts of colors and textures as baby foods. We were also very lucky that she has had minimal food sensitivities throughout her transition into solid foods. Every child is different. In my opinion, what do you have to lose? Do yourself a favor, save the future new-baby-no-sleep-going-crazy you a little sanity and plan ahead.Especially if you are planning to return to work, this will be a lifesaver. It’s not rocket science and trust me, you’ll be so thankful you did!

-Chelsea