Hey Mama,

I see you – taking on the burden of what to cook each week for your busy family.

Times are tough now; every dollar counts, and your grocery shopping is one of the few things that you can control how much you spend.

As a Mum of 2 babes myself - I also know that you want to make sure you are providing the best possible meals for your little ones, where the food ends up in their tummies and not on the floor!

I have put together some useful tips that I use myself and recommend to my Nutrition clients that will help take away some of the mental fatigue you are currently carrying.

  1. Check what you already have in your cupboards.

It seems simple but you might already have meat in the freezer you could make a meal out of, or a meal base or pasta sauce in your pantry. If you can utilise some of these ingredients into your week then you will take away from the amount you need to purchase in your food shop.


  1. Meal plan.

Now I know you are probably thinking that this will take hours and my family will change their minds during the week, but if you can come up with a loose plan about what to eat then you will only need to shop for the things you need. If you find this too overwhelming, then perhaps start with 3 days at a time – write down what you will have for breakfast, snacks, lunch, and dinner. Check what you already have at home, then make your shopping list of what is missing. I can almost guarantee that this would be a smaller food bill that if you were to just wing it! I have also found that online click and collect shopping will save you money or allocate time each week where you can go alone if you prefer to shop in person. My kids always seem to add extra items into our trolley if I take them with me!


  1. Buy seasonal fruit and vegetables & check your weekly catalogues.

If your kids are like mine, you will know that every winter berries are out of season. I cannot justify paying $6+ for a punnet of strawberries or blueberries. Choose fruit and vegetables that are in season to help bring your weekly shop down. You can easily check your supermarket catalogue online or in your letterbox drop to see what is on sale that week.


  1. Buy frozen fruit and vegetables or canned food items.

There is a misconception that if you buy frozen or tinned foods that you are sacrificing the nutrients in the food. However, food processing techniques have come along way to ensure that nutrients are maintained within the food item so you can shop with confidence. These types of foods will save you money and you will only use what you need.


  1. Don’t underestimate legumes.

So many clients I speak to tell me that they struggle to get enough protein into their days. Tinned beans, lentils and other varieties of legumes can be a simple solution. They are cheap (normally around $1 per tin), it will add to your daily protein and vegetable intake and can make a meal go further by bulking it out more. Think of dishes like pasta sauce, soups, chilli con carne (or almost anything Mexican) or even burger patties.


  1. Buy in bulk where possible.

If you know that you use something regularly each week then perhaps you could consider buying in bulk. These items generally can be cheaper per unit when you buy in a larger amount and every saving counts. Whether its meat that you can freeze for later or nappies/baby wipes that will eventually get used. Start to get more intentional about your spending habits and know that you are doing the best you can to make your hard-earned money stretch that bit further.


  1. Buy store brand items where possible.

Last year I started buying home brand bin bags, spices, oils, hand wash, pasta, rice, and other pantry essentials and noticed a difference straight away in our food bill.

I think because I had always bought brands that my mum bought when I was younger that I was afraid to try other brands. I am converted now – I don’t notice a difference in taste for things like rice or pasta, but it’s allowed me to put that money towards other items that have gone up with inflation. Give it a go – you won’t know until you try!


  1. Use your slow cooker.

It is such an underrated tool in your kitchen! You can use cheaper cuts of meat, bulk it out with legumes and vegetables plus it will almost always give you leftovers to have the next day or put in the freezer for a rainy day where you might be strapped on time.

Work out which day is your busiest with commitments and have that as your weekly slow cooker day.


  1. Eat leftovers.

Speaking of leftovers it is an excellent meal option. We are all busy, so this is one way to cut down time in the kitchen and decision fatigue about what you eat for lunch. Choose meals that will give you leftovers and put some aside when you are dishing it out. If you are in the newborn phase and spending long amounts of time feeding you need to make sure you are getting in food when you can. Something that just needs to be heated up means that you never go without because let’s face it Mama, we are always the last ones to eat. You could also look to make breakfasts that lasts a few days; things like overnight oats, chia puddings, smoothie ingredients in snap lock bags in the freezer so you only need to add in milk or water.


I have mentioned a lot and in no way am I encouraging you to do all of these at once Mama.

You already have a lot of your plate and so many things to think about.

If you can try just one or two so it doesn’t feel so overwhelming I promise that it will make a difference in time.

You’ve got this Mama!

If you need someone to chat to, please send me a DM and I would love to hear from you.


Steph McInnes

Mum of 2 kids and Nutritionist of 12 years based in Adelaide.


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