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How to save money on feeding kids over the summer

On this Money Saving Monday, we’re talking about a great way for parents to save money, time and hassle with meal prepping for their kids.

PHOENIX — You’re not alone if you spend a lot of money on food in your household. Americans spend more on food than on just about any other line item in the household budget, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Nationally, Americans fork out more than $7,700 yearly on groceries and dining out.

On this Money Saving Monday, we’re talking about a great way for parents to save money, time and hassle with meal prepping for their kids as they head to summer camp or when kids head back to school. 

One local chef has become so popular among parents with kids in sports, a couple of Valley moms took his advice and started meal prepping one day a week, all to save time and money, ahead of the busy rush to summer camp or sports camp drop off. 

Ask just about any parent and they’ll tell you: Kids like to eat. More if they’re always on the go or involved in sports where they’re burning lots of calories. 

Moms Azizah Dzugas and Amber Smith speak from experience. 

“Well, my son likes to eat a lot,” said Dzugas. “He played football at Higley High School.” 

And of course, food is essential for energy. 

“My son was in fall ball and played baseball all year round,” said Amber Smith. “…so, we needed meals that were good, that taste good, that he could eat throughout the day.” 

But yes, healthy food can be costly. 

“Food prices are very expensive, especially going out to eat,” said Dzugas, who eventually realized she was spending too much money on food. 

“We would always go through the Chick-fil-A drive-thru or some of the other common restaurants… at least $20 dollars if not more,” Dzugas said. 

“Remember, they still want a snack, they want their breakfast and then they want an afternoon snack,” said Smith. 

‘I like being able to help people figure it out’

It wasn’t until Duzgas and Smith connected with Valley chef Ronald Young, also known as Chef Ron, that they started saving more and spending less. 

“You want to go see who has the best deals, and you want to look at all of them because Arizona has a lot of grocery stores,” said Young. 

Chef Ron is an expert when it comes to meal prepping. 

“I like being able to help people figure it out,” Young said. 

Chef Ron says it’s best if you can stay away from preservatives. 

“Look for proteins and carbs, that kind of spread… chicken, chicken breast, chicken thighs, chicken skewers,” he said. “I’ve never met a kid that would turn down a meatball.” 

“Rice is one of those things where you can possibly eat it warm or hot, so it will still be good to eat if you don’t have a microwave to warm up the food,” said Young. 

He said sandwiches and wraps are also great options. 

By taking some of Chef Ron’s pointers, Dzugas and Smith were able to change the way they prepped food for their kids for summer camps and school. 

Dzugas says buying ahead of time in bulk is a good way to start. 

“Protein, chicken, I use ground beef, hamburger patties,” she said. 

“Getting a bag of the skewers, getting a bag of the meatballs, even getting a bag of the cooked shrimp and you know, adding it on some fresh veggies,” added Smith. 

She says planning a menu ahead of time is also a must-do when meal prepping. 

“Mondays was chicken skewers, Tuesdays was meatballs,” said Smith. 

She recommends clipping coupons before you head to the grocery store to maximize your savings. 

Prepping kids’ meals, or even your own ahead of time, with small food storage containers is best. 

“I got like seven or eight of them, and I would pack them during the week,” said Smith. “All he had to do was just grab and go… we saved so much more money.” 

By taking these steps, Azizah and Smith noticed a change in their budget. 

“I’ve noticed a drastic change in saving money,” said Azizah. 

“You literally are going to save at least, and I kid you not, at least $75 to $100 bucks a week,” said Smith. “It’s 50 times easier and you’re going to save so much more money.

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