Pinch A Penny: Building A Budget For Kid-Friendly Groceries

Every family manages their finances a little bit differently. Some families really need that Friday night pizza, and others decide it's more important to save up for vacation. There's really no right or wrong here. Again, like so many of the things I mention, it's what works for your family and how you can make your money line up to your priorities.

Before I started writing for BabyGaga, I worked in a full-time job and made decent money. However, since we've moved, my income has dropped pretty drastically as a work-at-home mom. Of course, so have my expenses! One of the ways I make sure our family stays afloat is by managing our grocery budget. Now, there are several tricks I've found to help save a little bit at the checkout line. I'll share a few with you - keeping in mind, of course, that we're feeding picky toddlers here. Most of my attention today will focus on the practice of making a meal plan.

But first: a few easy ways to stretch that grocery dollar!

Try Online Shopping

Oh, honey! This poor guy doesn't even have a cart! via Mashed

It seems that just about every major store now has some sort of "shop online, pick up at the store" option. This isn't food delivery - like Peapod, Instacart, or AmazonFresh. Because the groceries aren't being delivered to you, prices are a little more competitive. What do I like best about grocery pickup options? I can't make impulse purchases when I'm shopping online! Even better, adding food to my cart from my couch saves me time and energy (oh my poor feet!). Time is money! Best of all - I don't have to drag my kids through the store. (Insert praise hands emoji here!)

Use Everything Nose To Tail

Doesn't that look amazing? You can totally cook like this! via The Balance

This one can be a little bit harder because it does require some semblance of skill with cooking, but I promise you: if I can pull it off, so can you. Here's a good example of minimizing waste and using up every last bit. It's actually a really easy recipe to try if you're worried about not being a Master Chef. Pick up a rotisserie chicken from your grocery store. They should run you between $5 and $7 and they're downright delicious! Have some of the chicken for one of your meals, and shred the remaining meat off of the bones. Turn that meat into chicken salad for tomorrow's lunch, and toss the bones and any leftover skin into your crockpot. Fill with water to the brim, and turn that bad boy on low overnight. Voila! Chicken stock you can use in any recipe (and you can name all the ingredients!). I recommend freezing it in 2-cup portions to extend shelf life.

Meal Plan Like A Master

Cooking with fresh fruits and veggies isn't just healthier - it's also cheaper! via Better Is The New Perfect

This is the real star of the show. I'm starting a new meal plan for my family - Aldi Meals from Mashup Mom (go follow her on Facebook!). It couldn't be easier! She creates recipes from food you can find at Aldi and prices everything out for you according to her weekly Aldi ad. Every week includes six dinners and loads of leftovers for only about $60! I like that this helps me keep a stable grocery budget, without going stale on the same-old same-old. Mashup Mom makes sure to change it up and never copies the same meal twice in one month. Sign up to get these meal plans and grocery lists sent directly to your inbox!

In short, we're not rolling in the dough - and that's ok with me! Mostly because I feel really good about being able to control our food costs while keeping our toddler happy. Who can say no to Pepperoni Pizza Soup?


If you've ever used a pickup service, or you swear by your meal plan - tell me about it! Share your tips and tricks with the BabyGaga community on Twitter - @pi3sugarpi3.

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