Healthier Groceries from Target on a Budget

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:

Saving Money

+ 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. 

Produce

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?

Meat

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. 

Pantry Staples

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. 

Breakfast

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.

Snacks 

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.  

Summary

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?

ideas for staying healthy as a busy mom

health for busy moms

Ladies.

Mamas.

We're notorious for putting everyone else's needs before our own. It feels self-sacrificial and noble in the moment, but often ends up backfiring because we're exhausted, dehydrated, and cranky. You've heard the old sayings:

happy wife, happy life 

and

if mama's not happy, nobody's happy.

 And let me tell you, they aren't just jokes dads make at weddings. We truly set the tone in our homes with our behavior and attitude and mood. I learned this the hard way when my toddler kept asking "Mama, are you happy, sad, or mad?" Talk about a wake-up call to adjust my mood!

So much of my mood depends on my spiritual life. If I'm in God's Word on a daily basis, talking to Him through prayer, and trusting in him to provide, I'm a happier person. This is priority número uno (and also a blog post topic for next week).

It's also very evident to me that if I'm not taking care of my body, my mood suffers as well. Who among us has not stood in tears over a pile of clothes we've discarded on the floor because they just don't fit the way we want them to? Then there's the 3 p.m. slump where your kids are tugging at your sleeves to

come play mommy!

 and it's all you can do to peel yourself off the couch. Mentally you feel disappointed and angry because you know you could be doing better, but you're frustrated because you just can't seem to fit it into your day. Physically you're drained, crabby, and spread too thin. Tell me

that

 doesn't affect those around you!

So what's a busy mom to do? Believe me, I have lived and completely understand every excuse in the book. Your kids wake up at the crack of dawn, so there's no way you can work out first thing in the morning. Your small 2nd floor apartment isn't conducive to a fitness routine. You can't afford healthy food. Healthy food takes too long to prepare. You don't have time to exercise or meal plan. I know, I know. I totally get it.

But I'll tell you what I used to tell my volleyball players. If it's important to you, you'll find a way. If it's not, you'll find an excuse. So let me give you some ideas to get the creative juices flowing. Remember, I'm not a certified fitness expert or nutrition expert - just a mom who has a passion for health and wellness, and who is speaking from her own experience.

Ideas to Stay Healthy as a Busy Mom:

Working Out

• Set the alarm for an hour before your children get up if they have a consistent waking time that isn't 5 a.m. Go for a jog, take the dog for a walk, look up circuits on Pinterest, or buy a workout DVD.

• Find an affordable gym membership with a reliable daycare and use it guilt-free. Preferably one with classes so you can meet other women with the same interests. It's more fun with a community, and they will hold you accountable.

• Work out after the kids go to bed. Presumably your husband is home by this time, and you can leave the house to run, go to the gym, or lock yourself somewhere to avoid interruption.

• Work out with your children in the room. My daughter used to love doing the Jillian Michael's Cardio Kickboxing dvd with me. Find ways to involve them, like Mommy and Me yoga videos or show them how to do the exercises you're doing.

• Take the whole family for a long walk.

• Whatever workout you decide to do, write it on the calendar at the beginning of the week. Make it a non-negotiable. Set the appointment for yourself and you'll be far more likely to do it.

Nutrition

• Meal plan on the weekend with your husband. Write down every ingredient you need from the store, and stick to the list. My affordable and healthy meals are not original by any means. Whole wheat pasta and meat sauce made with ground turkey and chopped up veggies. Burrito bowls with chicken, quinoa, veggies, salsa, and greek yogurt as a substitute for sour cream. Turkey burgers. Baked potatoes. Chicken, rice, and a vegetable.

• Try a smoothie or shake for one meal. You can jam pack fruits and vegetables into a smoothie, just be careful of the sugar content (Don't use fruit juice as a base...water is best!) Plus there are so many add-in options to up the nutrition factor: coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, flax seed, chia seeds, and protein powder to name a few. I do 1 or 2 meal replacement shakes each day, because they're the perfect balance of carbs, fat, and protein you need each meal, full of vitamins and minerals, and super convenient.

• Carry your water bottle with you wherever you go. Have one in each room of the house. Set a timer every 30 minutes and you and your kids can chug water. Drink all the water.

• Stash healthy snacks in your purse. My students used to make fun of me because I was always eating apple slices like a little kid. But it's a fruit I know I like, no mess, and it's easy to transport. Clementines, bananas, baby carrots, and almonds are other great options.

• Serve vegetables first at lunch and dinner. This is as much for me as it is for my children. I don't always remember to do this, but when I do the kids gobble up their broccoli or salad. If they have the option of crackers vs. broccoli, I think we all know what's going to win. I can't blame them. I would also choose the crackers.

• Don't buy chips or cookies or junk food. Just don't keep them in the house at all. If you want a dessert, bake some cookies or banana bread. If you have kids who "need" snacks, lead by example and show them healthier options. Listen, I'm human. I give my kids Goldfish or Annie's Cheddar Bunnies just like the next gal. But I also know that if Sun Chips are in the house, that bag is going to be gone by sun down. Bad example for the kids, junk for hangover for mama. Plus, now you have more money to put toward expensive produce (why are there never coupons for health food?)

• I'm not perfect with this, and still follow the 80/20 rule (80% of the time we eat healthy, 20% we enjoy whatever we want), but try to listen to how your body feels after eating certain foods. I always feel parched and tired after eating salty foods like chips or crackers. I feel sluggish after eating sugar cereal. I have found that thinking about how a food will make me feel immediately is an easier way to say no to junk food than thinking "Oh, that might cause me to gain a pound or two if I keep doing this every night."

Other

• Set an alarm for bedtime. 10:00 p.m. hits, my iPhone alarm rings, and I start the bedtime routine.

• Surround yourself with people who will support you. There are so many people who feel guilty about their own habits, so they'll try to tear you down subtly. An eye roll here, a sarcastic remark there. No bueno.

• Remember you're setting a great example for your kids about how to take care of the one body they are given. Not just to look and feel good, but because we are good stewards of the gifts God has given us.

* * *

Check out the products I use to stay healthy

here

or shoot me an email at emilymaureen13@gmail.com for more info!

30 days to better health

30 day health challenge

My Story

I was never one to take supplements or protein shakes. I knew my nutrition was not up to par, but was convinced I could out-exercise my bad diet. That is, until I had a baby. Suddenly I didn't recognize my body, and I didn't have as much free time to do long uninterrupted workouts. I didn't love how I looked, especially the inflammation in my face, and I needed an energy boost if I wanted to get anything done during my daughter's naps. I knew I needed a change, but didn't know what I was missing.

Quite by accident, I stumbled upon an organic standard system that seemed to fit seamlessly into our family's lifestyle. I had seen so many friends have incredible transformations, and was ready to experience my own. In that first month, it felt like I was lit up inside, I gained energy and mental clarity, and I felt less bloated. I watched my husband drop 20 pounds, and I saw my own abs for the first time ever. And we were able to do all this while still enjoying the foods we love. It seems natural to replace the smoothies I used to make with a superfood shake, or have one post-workout, and I love how it cuts down on meal-prep time now that I'm a busy mom of 2.

Everyone should feel this good. 

What do you do when you find something you love? You share it! You tell your family and friends, so they can experience it, too!

That's what I want to do. I want to see you reach your weight loss goals. I want to show you how to fuel your workouts and take them to the next level. I want to see you feel confident in your clothes, lose your guilt, and have energy to do what you're passionate about.

So what is it?

This proven nutritional system and health program is the perfect compliment to your busy, healthy lifestyle. The cleansing and fat burning starter pack assists the body in it's natural process of removing impurities, while flooding it with essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. It is perfect for those want to lose weight or feel more energetic using a long-term, flexible program.

The cleanse days aren't as scary as they sound. I'm consuming something once an hour on a cleanse day, so my body is still receiving nutritional support, while giving my digestive system a break. The first day is meant to aid the body in removing impurities, while the second day targets visceral fat. Pretty cool! Plus any cleanse day that allows for coffee and chocolate is a win in my book!

safe cleanse schedule

You may experience:

+ more energy

+ consistent weight loss over time

+ improved muscle tone

+ balanced digestion

+ better sleep

+ increased mental clarity.

What you get

+ A 30 day supply of targeted health solutions

+ 2 meal replacements/day, saving on groceries

+ Access to a private Facebook page with product support and healthy lifestyle tips

+ A community of supportive, likeminded people with similar goals

+ Wholesale prices on your own online health food store

Is this for me?

It may not be for everyone, but if you are:

+ ready for a change

+ looking for a healthy lifestyle that's convenient and manageable long term

+ searching for support and a community

+ committed to making a change for 30 days

this might be your solution!

How Can You Get Started?

  • Serious inquiries can find out more here
  • If you want a sneak peek into our private Facebook community to learn more, send me a private Facebook message and I'll add you! 

Testimonials

"The 30-Day System was not only extremely beneficial for me physically, but it also was even beneficial for me mentally. Physically, I was able to lose 25 pounds and felt much better working out and doing more physical activity. I had much more energy as well during the 30-Day system and that helped with my family's busy lifestyle. Mentally, I realized just how important it is to eat healthy and had a different mindset on what we should and should not be eating. Overall, I just felt so much better in many ways after doing the 30-Day System. I'm also excited about continuing to use Isagenix products in the future." - Justin
"I began using this program about a year and half ago, beginning with the 30 day system. Before I began using the products I felt complacent with my weight and health. I figured that it was just okay to continue in my unhealthy lifestyle as long as I wasn’t super overweight. After using the 30-day system, I realized that taking the time to focus on my health allowed me to be a better person both mentally and physically. I was able to release over ten pounds, drop two pants sizes, and have a mental mindset that I CAN forgo being complacent and truly be healthy and happy. These products allowed me to achieve so much more than losing a few pounds, they have changed my outlook on my health and everyday being."  -Maggie
My amazing parents dropped weight and sizes, dropped the Diet Coke addiction, and feel and look amazing!

I have seen these products change so many lives, including my own. I know you can do it, too!  Email me for a consultation to find the right products and system for you. Let's do this together!

Wishing you health and wellness,

Emily