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Feeding teens all summer without blowing a budget

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Shopping cart filled with snacks.

School is now officially out and I have two tweens and a teenager at home for the summer. It’s time to take a serious look at my grocery budget and make some changes. I also have to keep in mind that in only takes 5 seconds of foraging through the fridge and pantry to determine that no food is available to eat. So I am working on a plan to keep easy, healthy options available, without blowing my budget.

There’s only one grocery trip per week for snacks.
If my three kiddos eat all the popcorn and chips on the first day, they will be suffering extreme withdrawal symptoms for the remainder of the week. I have a set amount of money that I can spend each paycheck on groceries, and they need to learn that once that money is spent, it’s gone. Sorry kids!

Buying in bulk
My warehouse club membership is a lifesaver during the summer months. You can’t beat the prices of Goldfish, chips and yogurt in bulk. If I can’t make it to the club, I will try to purchase generic store brands whenever possible.

Teaching life lessons
Cookies, brownies and muffins are always available in my house. I started looking at how much I was spending in the store bakery and it was alarming. I decided that since I keep flour, sugar and butter stocked at my house, I can teach my kids how to bake. This is taking a lot of patience and I’m not ready for them to bake at home alone, but they are really enjoying learning how to make new recipes.  

I’ve also been teaching my girls how to safely use the oven burners, microwave and grill. They aren’t ready to fully prepare meals, but they can safely heat frozen snacks, make pasta and even grill a burger. Basic cooking skills aren’t taught in most schools any more, so the responsibility falls on the parents to teach the basics of cooking as well as the safety precautions when using the appliances.

Meal prepping for lunches
When I take the time to prep my lunches on the weekends, I find that I spend less, avoid the vending machine and eat healthier. I am now trying to make sure there are prepared options available for the kids to grab and heat up quickly.  I am making bigger meals at night so there are leftovers, and I’m cooking extra chicken that can be used in sandwiches and wraps for lunches. I am chopping up additional fruits and vegetables so they can grab healthier choices than cereal.

So that’s my plan for the coming weeks. I hope I have the strength, time and courage to follow through on all the steps without blowing up my food budget before September.