In a recent reader survey I asked you guys what kinds of issues you face on a day to day basis. One of the responses I got was a cry from a mom who has a house of teenage boys that were eating her out of house and home. Given that I currently ONLY have a picky 4 year old boy who basically eats yogurt, oranges, raisin bread, raw spinach and pizza I don’t exactly have that problem…yet. So I decided to reach out to my friend Shelly who has 3 teenage boys for advice on the matter! She gave me some great tips and I added a few of my own that I wanted to pass along to any moms out there who have a few bottomless pit type kids to feed!
Food for Thought: Something interesting to consider is the number of calories most teenage boys need. You can find a quick breakdown of these numbers on EatRight.org. Depending on just how active your kid is, they could be burning through 3,500 calories in a day! That’s some serious fuel requirements that might be making your grocery bill a little out of control.
Shelly’s Top Survival Tips:
1. Shop at Aldi- First of all I do the majority of my shopping at Aldi! I have compared their prices to everyone else and no one comes close! These stores are quickly expanding so if you haven’t heard of them, you should Google it to see if one is your area. Just remember to bring your own reusable shopping bags and bring a quarter with you to use a shopping cart (you get the quarter back when you return the cart).
2. Make it Hearty- Pick meals that are easy but abundant, because boys are always hungry! In my house tacos, spaghetti or chili are huge hits because you can make a ton for probably less than $10!
Other ideas: Hamburger Helper type meals, chicken wings, enchiladas & homemade pizza.
3. Little Caesars is a gift from God! $20 feeds all 5 of us!
4. Take Them Shopping- Try to get them to shop with you and let them decide what they want to eat. If they help you plan meals you can rest assured that they will eat them and not complain! My boys are so good at this, that now I just push the cart and pay!
5. Serve Leftovers As Snacks- Make sure you have enough for them to eat the leftovers the next day. My boys ALWAYS come home from school starving! I found that if they have something to eat when they get home, then they don’t eat like a horse at dinner!
Thrifty Little Mom Tips:
6. Take Advantage of BOGO Sales- Now typically I tell people NOT to buy-one-get-one free and to simply grab stuff at half price instead. BUT if you’ve got teen boys in your house that have particular go-to kinds of foods, you should definitely stock up on them when they are BOGO. It’s especially important if your teens have a survival of the fittest or competitive eating mentality and they burn through snacks as soon as they come in the door for fear if they don’t get some now, there won’t be any.
7. Consider Shopping in Bulk- If your kids burn through large quantities of food consider doing all your shopping at Warehouse Club stores like Costco, Sams or BJ’s. Stock up on the stuff your kids eat a lot of. When my husband and I started dating he was 17 and his younger brother was 15. His parents made sure they had bulk-sized containers of milk, sandwich meat, cheese, tortilla chips, salsa, bread, peanut butter, jelly, soda and other snack foods. It saved money and kept them from running to the store multiple times per week.
8. Create a Store-Brand Stash For When Friends Come Over- It’s been my experience that most guys aren’t really that picky when it comes to brands. Food is food. It’s totally possible that you are also feeding their bottomless pit friends when they come over. If that’s the case, keeping store brand snacks around in ready supply can save your regular food stash for your family.
One of the best places that I’ve found to get super cheap store brands (other than Aldi’s) is Super Target. If you use the Cartwheel app you can almost always get an extra 5% Market Pantry brand items, Up & Up items and Simply Balanced Items. Don’t forget to use your Target Red Debit card for an extra 5% your entire purchase.
9. Make Them Buy Their Own- One way to tame some appetites might be that you stop buying snacks and tell your kids to buy their own with their allowances or money from their own jobs. It’s good practice in preparing them for the real world. Give each of them a storage bin with a permanent marker and let each kid buy their own snacks, mark them and store them in their own container.
10. Create a menu packed with lots of whole grains- Most nutritionists agree, choosing whole grains and brown rice tends to leave us feeling fuller, longer. So as you make your weekly menu plan, consider planning meals that you can sneak in hearty pasta options, whole grain breads, wheat and crusts. Throw oatmeal in your cookies. Make sweet potato dishes to keep them feeling fueled a little longer.
If you typically use white pasta or white rice and are making a switch, find a way to drown out the texture or color difference with sauce, cheese or some other kind of ingredient.
I hope that a few of these tips have helped you consider a few new ways to feed your house full of boys on a budget. Please feel free to leave your own tips in the comments section below as they might just help another mom out there keep her small army fed!
Kim Anderson is the organized chaos loving author behind the Thrifty Little Mom Blog. She helps other people who thrive in organized chaos to stress less, remember more and feel in control of their time, money, and home. Kim is the author of: Live, Save, Spend, Repeat: The Life You Want with the Money You Have. She’s been featured on Time.com, Money.com, Good Housekeeping, Women’s Day, and more!