We all know that going to the grocery store can be a challenge. You might feel overwhelmed, stressed, or nervous about picking the right foods for your kids. While it is important to try to get the best nutritional value out of your foods, they need to be realistic as well as wallet-friendly! Some of the prices of nutritious food these days are outrageous, so it is all about finding a balance that works best for you and your family.
I have found some of the best deals and grocery swaps for you to look out for on your next grocery run in order to make healthier decisions for all your loved ones that will not break the bank. I have also done some math for these items to help you decide if buying in bulk is actually saving you money or not.
Cereal is an easy and convenient on-the-go breakfast to feed your kids in the mornings. But, did you know some of their favorites, such as Cap’n Crunch, Fruity Pebbles, or Trix, have as much sugar as candy? A single serving of these cereals has about 12-16 grams of sugar and is equivalent to eating almost 4 sugar packets. Nutritionist and author Dawn Undurraga said in her recent book, “When you exclude obviously sugar-heavy foods like candy, cookies, ice cream, soft and fruit drinks, breakfast cereals are the single greatest source of added sugars in the diets of children under the age of eight.”
By picking out more nutritional cereals (that have 7 grams of sugar or less, around 5 grams of fiber, and minimal artificial colors and dyes) and pairing them with other breakfast items packed with fiber and protein, you can keep kids full for longer and provide more nutritional value for them!
Some great cereals to start with are Kashi Cinnamon Oat Cereal and Rice Chex. Here is a longer list of better-choice cereals to find at your grocery store. These are comparable in price to other sugary cereals you may be buying and have more nutritional benefits.
Remember, cereal is just one part of a nutritious breakfast; try pairing cereal with items such as eggs, sausage, or a protein smoothie. Making these simple adjustments can make a big impact!
Add In The Veggies!
Do you ever struggle adding sides to meals you feed your children? Does it seem like all they ask for is french fries, breadsticks, or other carbs rather than vegetables? While these foods are delicious, why not get the same great taste while also adding in a whole serving of veggies? The Veggie Line from Green Giant is an awesome way to disguise vegetables in your children’s food! Even your picky eaters will like these.
They come in a variety of forms such as Broccoli and Cheddar Tots, Cauliflower Onion Rings, Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes, and even Veggie French Fries. These range from about $4.00-$5.00 a bag, which is comparable to normal tater tots, french fries, or onion rings being about $3.50-$4.00 a bag, plus you get lots of added vegetables and nutrients (aka, worth the extra $$!). Here is a full list of the Green Giant “Veggie Swap-In” Products. There are also generic brands such as Good & Gather from Target that make similar products that are even more affordable! Check them out next time you are in the freezer section at the grocery store and looking for a fast, nutritious, and delicious side to pair with a meal.
Snack time can be another one of those hard times to find a balance between quick and easy and also nourishing and filling. I’m sure some of your kids’ go-tos include Cheez-Its, chips, or something else salty. Making a few switches at the grocery store can help snack time remain easy and also be a little more nutritious.
Instead of choosing chips that are high in trans fat and calories, try popcorn! You can buy a 24-pack of microwavable popcorn for $5.99 at Target, or get an 8 oz bag of already popped SkinnyPop popcorn for $5.29. Plain, air-popped popcorn is nutritious and delicious for kids without lots of added butter or toppings. (Warning: be careful with younger kids and popcorn as it can be a choking hazard!)
Plain popcorn is a good swap for chips, because you can eat a higher volume of popcorn without as many calories or fat and will essentially feel fuller for longer. Sounds like a win-win to me!
Buying In Bulk
Another problem at the grocery store can be deciding if buying in bulk is actually cheaper. For example, if you and your family eat a lot of soups or canned vegetables for meals, you might consider buying them in bulk at the store in order to save money in the long run. Well, I have done some calculations for you to see if that is really true!
If you are in need of some S&W Black Beans, you can buy an 8-pack of 15 oz cans for $9.79 at Costco. The Math: price ÷ number of items = price per item, for example $9.79 ÷ 8 = $1.22.
After the math, this would mean that you are paying about $1.22 per soup can in this package. If you were to buy an individual can of S&W Black Beans off the shelves at a traditional grocery store, that one can would be $2.49. Therefore, this means that buying the bulk version would end up saving you about $10 overall in this case. ($2.49 x 8 = $19.92. $19.92 – $9.79 = $10.13.)
So, try to monitor your household in the next couple days/weeks, and see what you go through the most. Milk, eggs, soup, nuts, chips, yogurt? Consider buying these items in bulk in order to save a little bit of money on them.
You can also do this math equation for determining the best price per volume: price ÷ volume of item = price per ounce, or whatever unit the item is measured in. This is helpful when you have two items that are comparable, but slightly different sizes and prices. With this equation you can plug into your phone, you can find out which item is more bang for your buck.
What Will You Swap at the Grocery Store?
These grocery swaps that I have talked about today are fairly simple, but can make a big change in your children’s overall health and wellness. It is important to educate them on the best foods for them, all while staying on a budget!