Sunday, August 16, 2015

Meal Planning & Grocery Shopping

I don't know about you, but meal planning and grocery shopping just isn't my most favorite task.  My sweet husband is actually a big help here because he doesn't mind running to the grocery store for the necessities.  We try to meal plan for about two weeks ahead and make about two big grocery trips a month and just weekly trips to our local grocery store for the necessities, mainly milk because we drink a lot of it around here.  No lactose intolerance for us!  While some people may not mind shopping around at a bunch of different stores to try to get the best deals, I just don't ever have the time (or energy) for that.  My goal is to try to do a one stop shop and save as much money as I can while buying the healthiest options for my family.  For us, we have found that Target works best for us utilizing their Red Card savings and Cartwheel app for discounts.  The bigger the shopping trip the more you save, and we average about $20.00 in savings with those options.  I am not a coupon-er.  I think couponing usually means you buy a lot of stuff you don't need.  Meal planning also gets a little tough when the kids' schedules are very busy with sports and other activities.  Both Evan and Brody are starting a new soccer season so that means weekly practices and games on different nights of the week.  Sometimes, that will mean the necessity of eating out more than I would like, but we try to go to places that offer healthier options as well as discounts such as kids' eat free specials.

Here is what our meal schedule will look like for the next two weeks:

Week 1
Monday - gluten free pasta
Tuesday - taco bake
Wednesday - Evan's soccer practice and dinner after at Zaxby's for $1.00 kids' meals and some free fun for kids
Thursday - Brody's soccer clinic and dinner at Smithfield's Chicken & BBQ
Friday - Steaks and potatoes on the grill

Week 2
Monday - crock pot stew beef and rice
Tuesday - Evan's soccer practice and dinner at Moe's Southwest Grill for kids' eat free
Wednesday - pork chops and potatoes
Thursday - Brody's soccer clinic and dinner at Chick-fil-a
Friday - Hamburgers and Hot Dogs on the grill

I hate that there are so many eat out days, but we can feed our family of four (not counting Mattox yet) reasonably healthy meals for around $20.00 at those places thanks to the special deals.  Sometimes, it is just necessary.

I thought I would share some of the grocery items we are loving lately as I know I love finding and trying new options that may work for our family.

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I am always on the look out for healthier snack options.  I am also trying to go gluten free to see if it helps my hypothyroid condition.  I did get to lower my dose of medication recently so maybe it is helping.  The boys like these Cascadian Farms Organic granola bars that have the added bonus of having boxtops for education on them.  We do collect those for Evan's school.  I love the Luna protein bars which are gluten free, and I usually eat mine in the car while waiting in the carpool line at Evan's school.  Annie's Homegrown is another great brand, and Cheddar Bunnies are a healthier option to Goldfish cheese crackers.  Evan used to be addicted to Goldfish.  He also likes Pirate's Booty.  He actually takes a snack to school since he is in school until almost 4:00 p.m.  Both boys love Stonyfield Organic yogurt in Smooth & Creamy Banilla flavor, and I usually add some strawberries and chocolate chips to it for an extra special treat.  It is almost as good as Pinkberry frozen yogurt.   

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I love this great brand at Target that is very reasonably priced.  They have just about anything you could want in this brand.  Some of the products are organic, but they are all made without artificial colors, flavors and preservatives.  I love their gluten free corn tortilla chips and salsa for a snack.  The boys like the fruit snacks.  They have some very healthy and yummy options for soups, and we have started buying gluten free pasta as well.  Their organic eggs are also a very good deal and not much more than regular eggs.  I buy their organic milk sometimes, but we usually pick that up at our local grocery store where we can buy it by the gallon.  Instead of paying over $8.00 for two half gallons, we can pay $6.00 for a gallon.  Brody's beverage of choice besides milk and water is apple juice so he likes their organic apple juice. 

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Feeding a toddler can be tricky.  I am lucky that Brody is not too picky and will eat almost anything.  Sometimes, it just boils down to me not having time to fix an elaborate lunch for us between caring for an infant and housework.  Brody likes Annie's Homegrown organic mac & cheese, organic nitrate/nitrite free hot dogs, and nitrate/nitrite free turkey sandwiches.  I usually fix him some cherry or roma tomatoes and a fruit of choice such as strawberries or apples.  That usually makes for a decent toddler/preschooler meal at home.  

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Target is also a pretty decent spot for getting those baby essentials.  We use Target brand Up & Up diapers and wipes and have been very happy with them.  Mattox also gets a bottle of formula a day, and he has done well with Earth's Best Organic Infant Formula with DHA and Iron.  It is usually the same price as the Enfamil we have used in the past.  Mattox is also eating two servings of baby food a day, and we use the Baby Bullet Feeding System to make his food.  I love making him fresh foods like bananas, apples, pears, squash, avocados, and sweet potatoes.  Baby food that even I would eat.  

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Cereals are also a pretty big staple in our house for breakfast.  I know it would be nice to feed my kids a hot breakfast every morning, but unfortunately, that just isn't always possible.  They do get pancakes frequently, and Brody loves to eat sausage biscuits.  I love these gluten free options from Chex and also get the box tops from them.  The boys and I also love these options from Mom's Best with no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives and some gluten free.  They really do taste as good if not better than the junkier cereals.  

Happy shopping and eating!  What are you loving to eat lately?  By the way, I write all of this while eating take out pizza.  That's our usual Sunday evening fare.  Ha!


  1. This might be the ONE area in which we differ. But not by much. I actually agree with a ton of what you said. I am also not a couponer. I don't see the value in buying something you don't need or buying more than what you need to save a few bucks. Probably the biggest area where we differ is that I don't mind shopping more often and I don't mind going to a bunch of different stores. It's harder in the summer just because walking across the parking lot is so awful. But I enjoy bringing home food and having a bunch of different things to choose from for dinner. A full refrigerator and a full tank of gas make me feel happy and relaxed.

    Oh, and we love the Simply Balanced brand at Target. They have fruit strips that are made with only fruit. They are Elliott's favorite.

  2. I wish we had access to the Target brands you do. I used to love price comparing (I would just price match at Wal-Mart) but, since I stopped delivering flyers, we don't get them anymore. It sucks :(

    I mostly just shop at Zehr's, with the occasional pick up at Wal-Mart, and of course, Costco trips as necessary. And we have our CSA in the summer. We don't have extreme couponing in Canada so that's not an option.

    I actually don't mind menu planning and I LOVE grocery shopping, especially if I can do it on my own. It's like a fun little me time and I'm getting something done -- it's a win-win.

  3. I always like knowing how other moms do these sorts of things. We do most of our shopping at Aldi's now, but we do still go to Wal-Mart from time to time.


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