Back-to-school season is upon us and there are countless things you need to keep track of—sports, schedules, homework, activities, and so much more. One thing that shouldn’t add more stress to your plate is food shopping, preparing, and packing. But with so much to consider and so little time, these tasks can easily get away from you. Follow these back-to-school grocery tips to keep your routine running smoothly.
Make a Grocery Plan
Wandering into the grocery store without a clear plan of what you’re getting can cause issues—including spending much more money than you intended. Creating a grocery game plan ahead of time can help save you money, time, and stress!
- Take inventory: Don’t waste money rebuying something you already have.
- Plan your meals: This will make it easy for you to buy exactly what you need when you get to the grocery store. Plus, it reduces stress during your shopping trip.
- Make a list: And stick to it! Don’t be tempted by the bright-colored snacks and juices—if it’s not on your list, it shouldn’t come home with you.
- Figure out your budget: Break down what you should be spending on groceries each month. While shopping, choose the generic or store brand product over the name brand.
While sending your child to school with a few dollars to buy school lunch may be the easiest and quickest option, it might not be the best. In addition to often being overpriced, some school-supplied lunches like cheeseburgers, pizza, and nachos are extremely high in sodium, saturated fat, and cholesterol. Eating these kinds of meals every day can cause your child to feel sluggish and unmotivated.
By packing your child’s lunch, you have control over what they eat. Pick healthy options that are low in sugar and high in vitamins and nutrients. Include these foods in your child’s meal or snacks:
- Fruits like berries, apples, bananas, melons, pears, grapes, and oranges
- Vegetables including celery sticks, cucumber slices, bell peppers, carrot sticks, and grape tomatoes
- Low-fat dairy, such as cheese sticks or slices and low-sugar yogurt
- Whole grains like whole-wheat bread or crackers, popcorn, and oatmeal
- Proteins like hard-boiled eggs or nuts
Avoid packing these foods:
- Processed snacks that are high in fat and sodium such as potato chips
- Sugar-sweetened beverages like juice boxes, soda, energy drinks, and sports drinks
- Candy like chocolate bars or fruit gummies
- ‘Kid-friendly’ yogurt, like those with crazy flavors and cartoons on the labels that are packed with sugar
Here are a few delicious and nutritious meal ideas for your child’s lunch:
- Turkey and cheese pinwheels bento box with celery, blueberries, and popcorn
- Rainbow veggie wraps with hummus, green goddess dressing, and a variety of vegetables
- Taco salad box with low-fat ground beef, lettuce, salsa, guacamole, and corn
- Breakfast for lunch including whole-wheat waffles, a hard-boiled egg, and a side of fruit
- Chicken quinoa burrito bowl with beans, lettuce, chicken, quinoa, and a chipotle glaze
- Turkey apple cheddar sandwich made with whole-wheat bread
Take Advantage of Local Produce
Shopping locally doesn’t have to break the bank—in fact, it can be a lot cheaper than buying processed, pre-made foods from the grocery store. In Frederick County, there are many ways to shop locally and save money.
- Visit the Common Market Co-op, a partner of LiveWell Frederick. They offer organic, gluten-free, and hormone-free foods at competitive prices through various bundle deals.
- Visit a farmers market, orchard, or CSA. You’ll always get the freshest products and support local farmers and producers.
- Join SHARE Food Network. Choose from a new menu of food packages each month and pay a fraction of grocery store prices. Packages include four to six pounds of frozen proteins and eight to 12 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables.