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ADHD Diet : A Month of Groceries

This is one of our grocery trips while shopping for an adhd diet

We have been following an ADHD Diet for about 6 years and continue to see results from being gluten free, dairy free, corn free, soy free, and low sugar. In this post, I show you exactly what I purchased for an entire month to feed my family of four with two ADHD teens.

Budgeting for an ADHD elimination diet can be rough – better foods tend to cost a whole lot more money. 

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen my grocery shopping posts – I was completely transparent for an entire month of grocery spending.   In this post, I not only show you my grocery purchases and costs, but I share tips and easy ways to stay on budget. 

Related: Budgeting for an ADHD Diet

Get a sneak peak into our lives with ADHD

As a mom of two boys with ADHD, I always love to see what others are doing with their families. Whether you are just learning about an adhd elimination diet or have been following one for awhile, I hope you’ll feel some kinship with us as you take a look at what we are purchasing and learn about some of our ongoing struggles, too. 

As someone who lives within a budget, I love seeing how much others spend on groceries!  I see lots of people posting their shopping trips, but none of the numbers seem realistic for us. I just can’t feed my family on $350 a month while eating organic fruits and vegetables and mostly grass fed meats. 

So I created this post for all the people like me out there to see exactly what I purchased for an entire month while shopping for my family of 4, following an ADHD diet.

Related: ADHD Diet 101

We rely on inexpensive staples

I was so excited when our local Aldi recently got a makeover!  I love Aldi for many things – gluten free bread and pasta, pesto, and almond milk. Their produce definitely varies, but I do find I am able to supplement our weekly Imperfect Foods order(more on that below) with some very inexpensive fruit and vegetables.

 This trip started off our month @ $55.43.

The coffee and eggnog were purchased at another store. I often hit two stores when I’m out shopping in order to get the best prices.  Because I buy some of the same things all the time, I know a good price when I see it. 

Most of my cooking is super simple and I rely on inexpensive staples that I keep on hand. I tend to “assemble” rather than “cook”. Our meals consist of a lot of “bowls” filled with rice or gluten free pasta, grass fed ground beef or black beans, and as much fruit and veg as I can get my kids to eat! 

I choose about 1 or two meals to make a week from our list of favorites and always double or triple to ensure for leftovers. 

Related: 75 meals for an ADHD Diet

Peanut Butter is a  big deal around here

Peanut Butter is a staple around here. It goes into lunches, on gluten free bread and gets eaten with bananas for snacks and even just by the spoonful! I usually get Costco’s organic peanut butter, but my membership has run out and I am waiting to rejoin! : ) 

I have a picky protein eater, so peanut butter is his favorite go-to lunch or snack. We do get sunbutter and almond butter, too, just to mix it up. 

This trip at our local Jewel was $32.16, making our total $87.59 so far. 

these are our favorite snacks for adhd

I must appeal to the snackers

I’ve got a teenager who LOVES to snack. (And can be a bit rebellious when it comes to eating healthy!)  Finding snacks that fit an ADHD Diet is hard and can be really costly.  I am always looking for new snack options with good decent ingredients and love exploring Homegoods and Sierra Trading Post(Where I scored the above) for deals.  

Our snack rules are as follows: My kids pack a snack in school lunch and can have one serving after school – after any remains of their lunch has been consumed and an additional fruit or vegetable has been eaten.  This is kind of a constant battle and it’s funny to have rules about food.  But my 13 year old would go thru a bag of something a day, if I did not enforce some guidelines.

 $17.89 for two bags of snacks plus a 12 pack of Probars and a 12 pack of oatmeal bars for my son’s nut free school lunches.  Our total so far is $105.48.

how to start an adhd diet

I get a weekly box from Imperfect Foods

I get a box delivered weekly, full of organic produce and a variety of other foods from Imperfect Foods. I choose exactly what fruit and veg go into the box and pick from a variety of other foods as well. They have a nice variety of meat, dairy and snack foods available, with some options changing on a weekly basis.

Hands down, it’s the cheapest way for me to get organic produce. Also, they often carry overstocks or items from companies changing their packaging and selling off their remaining stock – for half the price it’s sold in stores. 

If you are interested, use this code to get $10 off your first order(and I’ll get $10, too) to give it a try. Buying organic food locally can be expensive, this service saves me tons of money, loads of time and I love getting a “package” every week.

$44.45 for this Imperfect foods haul brings us up to $150.03 for the month so far.

Protein is a must for ADHD Kids

When kids eat protein they are  giving their body  essential amino acids, which boost dopamine production.  When the brain has more dopamine, more connections to the receptors are made, and everything – mood, sleep, movement – works in a more organized manner. 

Protein also slows the digestion of carbohydrates, inhibiting the spike usually associated with eating too many carbs and sugar.  This keeps kids on a more even keel. 

All sounds great, until you have a kiddo who refuses most forms of protein! 

So, I try lots of protein rich foods, aiming for soy-free as much as possible. 

I try to have veggie burger options available for my son to prepare on those days he refuses to eat the meat I have prepared.  (This is the only thing I let him swap out at meal time – otherwise, what is on the table is dinner.)

My son’s aversion to meat is a little bit about taste, a little bit about texture, and a little bit about a love of animals – it’s complicated, can you relate?

To ensure my kids get enough protein, I buy collagen – either Great Lakes or Vital Proteins – to add into smoothies and stir into oatmeal to give a tasteless protein boost. 

This trip was $34.54 bringing the total to $184.57  I totally scored on a sale here! All the meat and protein sources here were 50% off…I frequent one local store that marks down meat close to the sell by date. We end up having it for dinner that night or sticking it in the freezer. 

Good gracious we eat a lot of snacks!

 Let’s be clear, ANY processed snack is not great. But with two hungry teenagers who are not always so willing to be eating healthy, I need to find snacks that look like their peers junky counterparts, but are relatively “healthy”.    

Out favorite snacks of the moment are: 

$29.52, making the total for month $214.09. I scored on the clearance rack at Homegoods – all of these snacks were $2.00 each or less!

Related: The Best Snacks for ADHD

Superfoods for an ADHD Diet

I love to use superfoods as much as possible.  I am not sneaky about it, my kids know that I add these things in.  Most of the superfoods I use add nothing to the taste, but pack in a lot of brain boosting nutrients.  

This trip represents a few of the superfoods I use on a regular basis. These will last for a few months, but I’m counting them in out total.

 Maca, an adaptogenic herb, is added to our oatmeal casserole and cowboy cookies.  It has a mildly sweet flavor that is easy to love. Maca helps boost mood, brain function, balances hormones and helps your body adapt to daily stressors!

I love collagen for many reasons…for my skin and hair! but its a good source of tasteless protein.  I mix it into instant oatmeal (I call it protein powder) Flax and chia are great protein and fiber, too. 

These items were 26.08 bringing out total to $240.17  

Related: The Best Superfoods for ADHD. 

Stick to the Clean 15 

When I’m buying conventional fruit and veg, I stick to the “Clean 15” as much as possible.  The “Clean 15” list shows you the produce grown with the least amount of pesticides so you can make smart choices for your budget.

My rule of thumb is I don’t eat the skin, I can buy conventional.  So, we eat a lot of tropical fruit here!

$38.10 ($278.27 total for month)

Budget Tip:  I love black beans!  I mix them into ground beef to make our grass-fed ground beef go further. I make sure to do them in the Instant Pot to kill all the  lectins – naturally occurring proteins that some people are VERY sensitive to. Read The Plant Paradox for more info or listen to this podcast(I love the Wellness Mama Podcast!) where I first heard about them. 

Not going for perfection

Sometimes you have to compromise.  This instant oatmeal from Aldi isn’t great, but my kids can fix it themselves and LOVE it.  They could eat three packets in one sitting, so instead I have them put a teaspoon of collagen in it and add several tablespoons of plain organic oats to make one packet go further. 

Eating healthy is about balance.  Neither of my kids have food allergies, so for us there are not serious health conditions that would go along with eating an item “off” the diet, every once in awhile. 

I find, that as my kids get older, they are more likely to follow the diet most of the time, if I give a little. This oatmeal, along with some of the snacks we eat for lunches is part of this long term strategy for me. 

$14.44 for this trip, making our monthly expenditure $292.71

I Use Amazon Subscribe and Save

This was my Amazon Subscribe and Save order.  Fairly costly now that I look at it!

 The Quest Bars are for me to bring to work and they are expensive! The Z Bars are a semi – decent, cheaper protein snack option, but they are highly sweetened – and their ingredients seem to be changing a bit for the worse, so I am not buying them as often. 

With our household having two parents who both work outside the house, anytime I can get food delivered right to my doorstep, it’s worth it! 

$52.39 for this order brings my monthly total to $345.10

Eggs Are Another Staple

We eat lots of eggs! They are a great source of protein and my boys both LOVE them. There is never a complaint when I serve eggs – no matter what meal it is.

We use eggs for : fried egg sandwiches, adding to left over rice for a quick stir fry, adding them to baked oatmeal, scramble ’em with roasted potatoes, and add extra into any gluten free baked good I make.  

Our Imperfect Foods order was $25.07. (monthly total is $370.17)

I Plan My Shopping Trips Around Sales

This trip was $69.74 which is pretty good for this haul.  I took advantage of lots of good weekly sales and a few clearance items.  

I often plan my trips around sales – visiting a few different stores and targeting only what is on sale. Stores usually have a few ridiculously great deals a week and if you can skip the impulse buys, you can save a lot!

We are up to $439.91 for the month.

Stock Up when you find a good price

A stop at Homegoods for coffee and I found some great snacks on clearance!  We do not need anymore for the month — we already have plenty.  But, when I find items deeply discounted that will last awhile, I purchase them.  These were $2.00 and under and will be fine for next month.

Some of these brands are new to me, but I just read the ingredients to see if it is acceptable.  I stay away from dyes, corn products and hydrogenated oils.  

This trip was $27.78, taking us to $467.69 for the month. 

We Rarely Eat Out

Eating out can a budget buster…and one thing we have never gotten into the habit of doing. The average American family spends about 5% of their budget eating out. WOW, that seems like a lot!  

I spent $13.00 eating out during a work conference.  YES, $13.00 was our entire eating out bill for the month!  

But really it comes down to choice…..primarily eating at home is a way our family can save money. Other families may find eliminating eating out from their budget as non-negotiable and find other areas to cut back.

This haul was $19.74 and I also purchased coffee and coconut oil($12.82)

We are getting down to the end of our month! My husband spent about $40.00 extra on his own food.  He buys corn chips, ginger ale, and ice cream for his personal stash.

Our total is about $550.00 for the month!  I am very pleased, to say the least!!   

Please follow me on Instagram for updates! Would you like to see more of my shopping trips? Send me a quick note!

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  1. Hi there! I love your blog. Thanks for always sharing tips and food ideas! I have 4 kiddos, 2 have adhd and 1 has add. I try to be hyper aware of what we are consuming as well as buying organic, etc. I’ve considered cutting out dairy but worry about them not getting enough calcium for their growing bodies. What’s your best tip for making sure your kiddos are getting enough? (I have 3 teenage boys and a little girl.)

    1. Hi Dayna! There are so many good plant sources of calcium, like spinach, broccoli, pumpkin seeds and chia seeds!! I am a crazy baker with chia seeds and add them into smoothies, too. Check Pinterest for a nice chart listing the plants and the mg of calcium…surprisingly many have more than milk. Thanks for reading!! My son LOVES cheese so much, it was a hard thing to break him – he has it about once a month now!

  2. Very helpful , thank you. I was wondering about portions. We are a larger family and portions are not abided by . Not sure if it is the “not wanting to waste” or still hungry .

    1. Hi Anna! Thanks for writing. Do you mean that your kids eat more than a normal portion? Any item that has an amount listed for portions is looked at by myself and my kids….I try to abide by the portions for items that are slightly processed or sweet. My kids are hungry and can easily eat two portions or more! I try to have fillers for them, like extra rice or veggies. Does this answer your question?

  3. This is the best information that I have been able to find in over a week of searching for help with my child’s ADHD. Thank you so much for all of this information!

    1. Hi Samantha! So glad you found us!! Shoot me a message on Instagram @heyfuzzymama, if you have any questions. Happy to help.

  4. Wow, this is great – I spend more than twice this in a month feeding our family of four – kudos to you Mama! I think maybe the prices are different in the U.S. vs. here in Canada, but still, that’s an amazing haul for that price!

    1. Hi Shawna! You may be right about Canadian pricing. I say no to a lot of things, like drinks and prepared foods and I only buy what is on sale. Do you have stores that have a good clearance section? Our local store has these big red tags on things, so I literally walk around the store and look for those, first.

  5. I just discovered your blog and dove in head first. My 5yo was just very recently diagnosed with ADHD as well as sensory processing disorder and anxiety. It’s been a lot to deal with and I know that diet plays a HUGE roll in mood and behaviour. My struggles lie in the fact that because of his SPD we have such a limit on “safe foods” because of things like texture, the shape of a noodle, the wrong colour packaging etc. Do you have any suggestions on where to start? We are working with a pretty limited diet as it is, I can’t imagine cutting out entire categories.

    1. Hi Kamarie, Glad you found us! Have you worked with an OT to see if there is something to help with the sensory processing? I’d work with what your kiddo does eat and build on that. Is there a base meal you can add in pureed fruit or veg? Smoothies, baked goods, oatmeal casserole, blended soups? A great supplement is probably a good idea, as well. Katie Kimball has a great picky eating series to check out, too. Hope that helps…let me know how it’s going.

  6. Thank you for helping me take a big relaxing breath. I was Googling how to shop with an ADHD child and came across this. Other articles helped to remind me to stick to the list, make a plan (for my own sake), but this is helping me figure out what goes on the list!
    Without getting too publicly personal, thank you for the relatable content that goes beyond the dinner table and lunch box.

    1. Shayes, thanks so much for your thoughts! Let us know what your kiddo’s favorite foods are.