Sometimes it feels like grocery shopping in the modern world has become a confusing and exhausting scavenger hunt. Instead of walking into a grocery story, choosing the items you need for the week, and purchasing them, many of us are traveling to multiple locations with stacks of coupons it took hours to cut out. While these strategies can certainly save money, I find them to be inconvenient and time consuming. With two children under 3 (and a third on the way), a part time teaching job, managing this blog, a health and wellness business, and keeping up with normal household chores, I simply don't want to spend my time cutting out coupons and driving all over the city.
The other issue I have with using traditional coupons is that they are usually for processed and unhealthy foods. I don't mind a snack or treat every now and again, but they're not something our household stocks up on. I certainly don't want to buy something I wouldn't normally buy just because I have a coupon for it! Where, oh where, are the coupons for produce, meat, and dairy products?
For convenience and cost, we generally stick to grocery shopping at Super Target. (This is not a sponsored post - I just love my Target groceries!) As our family has grown, and I've gotten more interested in saving money, I have picked up a few tips for keeping healthy groceries fairly affordable. For the sake of full disclosure, we spend about $130=$150/week at Target, which includes food and toiletries for a family of four. So here we go! My favorite healthier finds and tips for saving money at Target:
+ Red Card: I love the cash or envelope system for grocery shopping, but I also love the 5% off that comes from the Red Card. We cut credit cards out of our lives a few months ago, so I switched to the Debit Red Card.
+ Cartwheel: If you're not already using the Cartwheel app at Target, download it ASAP! It's Target's electronic coupon system, and it's so much better than clipping and organizing paper ones! It's convenient because you can add items to your list ahead of time that you know you'll be buying, or you can scan items as you go to see if a coupon exists for it. My favorite part, though, is that unlike traditional coupons, you will often find discounts for produce, meat, and other healthy foods. (I've been using it since 2014, and have saved $441.81 total!)
+ Electronic Coupons: Each week Target posts signs around the store to alert customers of awesome deals, such as $5 off if you spend $20 on meat, or a free $10 gift card if you spend $50 on groceries. You used to have to text Target for the coupon, but now they've added it on to the Checkout Tab of your Cartwheel app. So awesome!
+ Paper Coupons: every few weeks I get personalized coupons from Target in the mail (with perforated edges so I don't even have to break out the scissors). Again, I appreciate that these are often for produce, dairy, or meat, not just junk food! When I can stack a coupon with my Red Card and Cartwheel, I feel like I've just won the lottery. Dramatic, perhaps. But we'll take our wins where we can get them.
I've been consistently impressed with the quality of produce at Target. I love the bulk bags of apples - especially the Honeycrisp! For fruit we generally buy apples and bananas in bulk, and add in blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, grapes or oranges depending on season and prices. For vegetables we eat a lot of bell peppers and green salads, and add in carrot sticks, celery, and the occasional green bean. There are often sales or Cartwheel discounts for certain produce, so my grocery list may vary week to week depending on that. I'll be honest - I don't spend a lot on organic produce. Any suggestions for a good spray or cleaner to remove the pesticides from produce?
When our family eats meat, it's usually chicken, ground beef or turkey, or the occasional tilapia. I love Target's Simply Balanced brand, as it boasts no added hormones, GMOs, or antibiotics. Just Bare is another brand I love for chicken breasts, but generally only buy it if there's a digital coupon on Cartwheel. One of my favorite things about shopping at Target is that they often run deals on categories of food. For example, one week you might find a deal for $5 off if you spend $25 on meat, poultry, and seafood. On those weeks I stock up, or choose a more expensive brand.
Dairy and Frozen
I favor Annie's brand yogurt for my kids because it's lower in sugar than a lot of the other brands you'll find. I tend to stick with Oikos Triple Zero vanilla for a midmorning snack. Flavored yogurt is never perfect because of the added sugar, but I'm still struggling to choke down plain Greek yogurt. The good news is that there are often coupons on Cartwheel for Annie's brand and Greek yogurt, no matter what brand you choose. Simply Balanced is my go-to for almond milk, and we always keep a giant bag of frozen fruit in the freezer for smoothies. If you prefer organic frozen fruit, the Simply Balanced brand sits right next to Market Pantry! Not pictured are the SteamFresh veggie bags we often buy. Some nights, convenience wins over fresh food.
We we always keep a giant bag of Simply Balanced organic quinoa in our pantry, and it usually lasts us about a month! We use it for stuffed peppers, burrito bowls, and meatless tacos - all healthy dinners the kids will eat. I also like to keep a jar of organic salsa on hand for crockpot salsa chicken (use in salads, burrito bowls, or tacos). Simply Balanced brand EVOO and coconut oil are staples for cooking, baking, and even skincare! (I wash my makeup off with coconut oil). I always stick with organic virgin unrefined coconut oil.
We are cereal people. I'm surprised my kids didn't come out half cereal, since it's my go-to pregnancy food. I have replaced my morning bowl of cereal with a nutrient dense shake, but still come back to it time and time again in the afternoons and evenings as a snack when pregnant or nursing. I keep Cheerios and usually one other "fun" cereal on hand for the kids to snack on throughout the morning. Kashi is by far my favorite brand of cereal. The Go Lean is often higher in calories, but it doesn't bother me because of the high protein content. Just make sure to watch your portion sizes! For pancakes, we make slightly better decisions than we used to by swapping out sugary artificial syrups for maple syrup, and Kodiak Cakes for other pre-made mixes for its high protein and better ingredients overall.
In a perfect world they kids would only snack on carrot sticks and bell peppers, but unfortunately for us, that's not reality. As often as possible, I bake my own mini muffins with healthy swaps and no sugar for school snacks. However, ever since the first trimester of this pregnancy when I barely had the energy to make my bed, I have relied on healthier versions of processed treats to pack in my purse or in school lunches. I love Annie's Cheddar Bunnies in place of Goldfish, and these Fig Bars serve as a good emergency backup snack. Again, not perfect, but I like the ingredients a lot better than most of the other snack bars out there. La Croix is a staple in our home for obvious reasons, and these Cacao Nibs have been fun to experiment with in my shakes, oatmeal, or yogurt. Finally, I can't stop singing the praises of these organic apple pouches. I keep them on the bottom shelf in the fridge so the kids can just go grab one.
As you can see, we are not 100% perfectly clean eaters. We don't buy exclusively organic or whole foods, as much as I would like to. We do our best to incorporate lots of fruits and veggies where we can, decrease our meat consumption whenever possible, and include quality proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Snacks still happen, and I am ok with that. Health and nutrition are a continuous conversation about balance that I have with my kids. I don't indulge them every time they want sweets, but I don't want to go in the opposite direction, either, and keep them in a bubble. I believe that would result in them overindulging when they aren't at home, or exposed to treats and candy at parties or someone else's house. My philosophy is to make a better decision than I used to when it comes to grocery shopping, all while staying within budget.
So tell me - do you have any healthier favorites from Target you would add to the list?