I’ve found that I seem to buy a lot of the same things over and over at the grocery store. Almost every shopping trip renders the same food; ground beef, chicken, fresh fruit, fresh veggies, milk, eggs, butter, deli meat and cheese. Then I throw in a few boxed items, frozen items and packaged snacks. The type of fruit I buy might be different, the veggies might vary depending on the season, but otherwise I’m buying, making and eating the same stuff.

Last month I had an opportunity to go on a grocery store tour with Martha Rardin, Director of Nutrition and Dietetics at Hendricks Regional Health. Her wisdom taught me more about the food I’m eating and the food I should be eating. If you live in Hendricks County, you can contact Martha and schedule a grocery store tour of your own, free of charge.

I’m buying a lot of the right things but to be completely transparent here, I end up with a lot of waste. I’m not really great at planning out meals in advance and I pay for my good intentions with wasted food and wasted money. A lot of my friends are really into eating organic produce, other friends just want it to be local, others (like me) purchase what is on sale and in season. Organic, local or not, just do whatever it takes to eat the recommended serving of fruits and vegetables. Your budget can be the biggest negotiator for what types of fruit and veggies you eat: fresh, frozen, canned, organic, local.

Fats and oils aren’t bad for you, they are necessary for a well balanced diet. Learn what oils you prefer, which ones are better for your body and how different oils work best with different types of meal preparation. I know that we overuse the olive oil in our family, I need to work on that or find other areas to cut oil usage to be more balanced.

At least Three grams of fiber and 100% whole wheat in the bread isle. farmsmatter #food @indairy

A photo posted by IndyWithKids.com (@indywithkids) on

Sometimes we make of decisions based on looks and color. Look at the content of the label more than the style of the label. This goes for all areas of food. There’s nothing wrong with eating packaged or prepared food, just be sure you balance your meals out and everything in moderation. Here are some other great money saving tips from Cherie, the Queen of Free.

I’ll be making a menu plan from here on out and matching it up to my real life schedule that includes outings, meetings, school lunches and more. This will help me maximize my shopping budget and not have waste when it happens to be a week that we’ll be out of town, or eating meals in restaurants.

What are you doing to bring a more healthy and nutritious meal to the table this school year? Show and tell on Instagram and Twitter @indywithkids