Saving Money on Real Food for National Nutrition Month


“You are what you eat.”

We moms know this. We work really hard on balancing out our coffee and doughnut for breakfast with a salad for lunch. Most of us know we should be getting in more vegetables and less processed junk. We know we should be meal-prepping on the weekend instead of going through the drive-thru yet again. And many of us do, because we know we feel better and can “mom” better when we are eating better. But somehow all that “knowing” often gets lost in translation when it comes to our kids, due to hectic schedules or when we’re just “mom tired”. Here’s an even scarier version:

“Our kids are what they eat.” 

Yikes. Left to themselves (or when I’m not paying good attention), my kids would be made up of sugar, french fries and maybe an apple or a carrot stick…if I’m lucky. Yes, even the kids who know how to read an FDA Nutrition Label before they are 5 tend to go for that stuff (if it’s available) unless they get a (gentle) reminder or a stomach ache. As March is National Nutrition Month sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, it’s a great time for us to take a look at what our families are consuming.

Go Further with Food

“Go Further with Food”, the motto for this year’s National Nutrition Month, promotes the goal of increasing the nutritional level of our foods while saving money. Often I hear other moms, and have even done so myself at times, that it’s just too expensive to eat healthy. Coupons and store sales are typically promoted for ready-made processed foods, instead of pure produce and proteins. While this may be true, there are a few grocery shopping hacks I’ve learned in the past few years that do save money (and time as well!).

Saving Money on Real Food

Here are some of the ways I’ve learned to cut our grocery budget and still buy healthier foods:

  1. Buy raw, fresh or frozen meats at membership clubs (Costco, BJ’s or Sam’s Club). Yes, sometimes you have to buy a larger amount, but the savings is worth it. Often I will make a large batch and freeze the extra for easy meals later. For example, I buy a 3 lb. container of ground chicken or turkey and I will cook it up all at once and freeze half to quickly throw in a soup or sauce or even tacos on another night.
  2. Consider frozen sources for berries and vegetables. I love fresh fruits and vegetables, but sometimes it is just less expensive and just as nutritional to purchase frozen ones. I buy huge bags of frozen broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, and spinach each time I go to the membership clubs but other stores can have great deals on them as well. My kids and I are crazy about frozen berries. We put them in yogurt, oatmeal or even make this quick and easy delicious dessert with them.
  3. If you haven’t already, get to know (and love) Aldi. Believe me ladies, this place is where it’s at for many of your whole food items. Yes, it’s a little odd at first (bring a quarter for your shopping cart and your own reusable bags), but you can really score some good deals here! A huge canister of old fashioned oats is $2.39. Eggs are usually around 57 cents a dozen at the Royal Palm Beach store! Organic milk is less than $3, and a block of sharp cheddar cheese is $1.79. My favorite sprouted bread (Knock Your Sprouts Off!) is $2.89, and I do buy organic, grass-fed ground beef here for about $5/lb. Another thing, I’ve been to Aldi stores in other parts of Florida, and honestly, our produce here in the Palm Beach County Aldi stores is much better. You can score some really great fresh produce deals here as well, so check the flyer once you walk in the store for the weekly produce specials. One word of caution: The processed snacks are also very inexpensive here, so try to close your eyes while you walk in those aisles! 
  4. Utilize free store pickup programs where available. These programs have made my life at least 100 times easier in the past year! I’ve mostly used the Walmart Grocery Pickup so far, and what a difference it’s made in my sanity, time, and budget. I just go on the website or use the app, make my order and choose a pickup time and voila! Someone shops for me, and brings the items right out to my van, without having to unbuckle four kids out of carseats. It’s literally like magic! You can order anything in the store except alcohol, firearms or tobacco, so you are not just limited to groceries. It also saves money because we aren’t tempted by impulse items as we walk through the store.
  5. Read ingredient lists! Typically, the shorter the ingredient list on a packaged food, the better it is for you. If you’ve never done this, check your labels to see how many products contain added sugar. It’s in everything from ketchup to spaghetti sauce to even the “healthy” cereals.
  6. Find some easy snack/meal recipes to have ready for your kids. As much as I’ve learned about food in the past few years, there are seasons in which I go back to grabbing the big bags of processed snacks because there’s a sale or it just seems too easy. But I have to remind myself that most of those “foods” are full of ingredients that I just don’t want my family eating on a regular basis. Plus, it’s less temptation for me if they are not sitting in my pantry at 11 PM! I try to have my kids snack on fruits and veggies, nuts, plain Greek yogurt with berries, cheese, fresh popped-popcorn (it takes less than 10 minutes to make at home). I try to make a big batch of homemade chicken tenders and freeze some so I’m not buying the big bag of processed ones. This is the goal. There are times when you will see me at the playground with the processed junk or at the drive-thru because life happens, and feel free to smile and laugh because you’ve probably been there too. We’re all in this mom thing together, nutrition included! Here’s a recipe for my kid’s favorite chocolate protein balls:
    Chocolate Protein Balls
    Serves 24
    An easy snack to grab and go!
    Write a review
    63 calories
    4 g
    0 g
    5 g
    2 g
    2 g
    12 g
    5 g
    2 g
    0 g
    3 g
    Nutrition Facts
    Serving Size
    Amount Per Serving
    Calories 63
    Calories from Fat 42
    % Daily Value *
    Total Fat 5g
    Saturated Fat 2g
    Trans Fat 0g
    Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
    Monounsaturated Fat 2g
    Cholesterol 0mg
    Sodium 5mg
    Total Carbohydrates 4g
    Dietary Fiber 2g
    Sugars 2g
    Protein 2g
    Vitamin A
    Vitamin C
    * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
    1. 6 TBSP nut butter (I usually use no sugar added peanut butter)
    2. 6 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder
    3. 1 scoop protein powder (I use unflavored whey protein isolate)
    4. 1/4 cup raw honey (or stevia to taste if keeping it lower glycemic)
    5. 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)
    1. Stir first 4 ingredients together and then roll into small balls. Roll in the coconut flakes if desired.
    Palm Beach Mom Collective

What are some things you do to save money on real food for your family? I’d love to hear your tips!

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Jennifer Marseille
Jennifer came from the Outer Banks of North Carolina to Palm Beach County in 2002, seeking a college degree near the beach (with a much more mild winter). She fell in love with both the area and her now-husband Jean at Palm Beach Atlantic University, and the rest is history. Jennifer and her husband have four (yes 4!) young daughters ages 9, 7, 5 and 2, whom she homeschools. She has always had a love for baking and reading, the former of which was not doing her waistline any favors. After her fourth daughter was born, she decided to learn a new way to indulge in her hobby and has since dropped over 50 pounds. Jennifer is now very passionate about helping other moms and dads achieve their own health goals, while at the same time encouraging them in their journey to feed their families well. Follow Jennifer on Instagram, Family Fuels, and Facebook, Family Fuels.


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