Being a parent is challenging, but keeping your family happy, healthy, and fed well is another challenge altogether. While frugal shopping tricks and coupons are helpful to saving money, here are some tips that focus on how to eat healthy on a budget by planning ahead and choosing the right things.
Eating Healthy On A Budget
One of the major expenditures each week for a family is the grocery shop, but it’s also one of the easiest bills to reduce. It’s still possible to buy yummy, nutritious food, even if you are feeding the family on a budget; you just need to know how to work the supermarket to get what you want, for less.
Cook From Scratch
Making your own meals from scratch is beneficial in numerous ways. First if you look at frozen meals, you’ll find that they’re completely processed and far from nutritious. Frozen food is cheap simply because companies are using the worst ingredients out there to make their food taste better.
If you’re worried about money and feel that processed is the only way to go, measure out a few other options. Children love potato chips. Why not make your own? It’s simple! Grab a bunch of potatoes, slice ‘em, season ‘em, and throw them in the oven- they’re healthy and a fraction of the cost of large bags. There are many recipes for easy, inexpensive and healthy snacks online! Cooking from scratch is always healthier and a cheaper option when comparing similar meal options that could be home cooked, processed or from a restaurant.
Use Meal Planning
As a parent, it’s common to struggle with planning food for the week to feed your family. When you come home from work, it’s often the last thing on your mind after a long and stressful day. A great way to go about this is planning your meals ahead of time. You can find some great weekly meal plans for families on a budget if you search google, like this one. Make a shopping list when you go the market so you’ll be aware of exactly what you need for a week of great meals.
Consider including foods that provide a lot of nutritional value for the money such as:
- dried beans
- brown rice
- old fashioned oats
- russet potatoes
- chicken thighs
- and try Healthline’s list of cheap healthy foods
After cooking your meals, don’t throw them away! Most food will be safe to store for 2-3 days (besides fish!). When you know a certain meal will be perfect for leftovers, just double the recipe and freeze half of it. You can even eat this later in the month on a night you have no time to cook. Rather than covering your leftovers with cling wrap, store them in Tupperware to keep them the freshest possible. Another excellent money saving trick is that if you only have a little bit of extra food, think about ways you would be able to use it for a snack or sandwich. Oftentimes, leftover chicken or other meat can be used towards a sandwich or in a stir-fry.
While shopping for groceries, be weary of certain things when you’re headed to the supermarket. First off, never go to the market when you’re hungry! You’ll end up with loads of food you don’t need or even want. Second, allow a large chunk of time so you’re not rushing through the aisles grabbing whatever you want without looking at prices. If it’s possible to leave your little ones at home, do it. Kids will ask for things time and time again, and eventually you’ll get worn down, allowing them to throw their favorite junk food in the cart just to get them to quiet down.
Buying individually wrapped packages of chips and cereal can really add up! Make sure you buy in bulk when it offers additional saving and most of the time it does!
Frozen berries are far cheaper than the ones in the fresh fruit aisle and make fantastic smoothies. Alternatively, head for the local farmer’s market for quality produce, for less money.
Don’t forget your grocery store coupons! Lastly, try shopping online! If you’ve tried this before, you’ll see that doing so exponentially helps with sticking to a list of exactly what you need.
More Tips for Eating Healthy
Now, let’s discuss the obvious. Eating right is far more important than ‘dieting’, in my opinion, mainly because it’s a change in lifestyle. And, a change in lifestyle is the only way you are going to maintain your goal once you reach it.
Here are some additional ideas for eating healthier:
•Diversify. By preparing a variety of foods, you won’t get bored with your meals.
•Vegetables. Add vegetables to your soups and meals, to fill you up quicker and add nutrients.
•Whole Grains. Switch to whole grains for breads and cereals.
•Downsize. Take small portions in the beginning of the meal, and eat slowly.
•Moderation. Don’t completely eliminate all your favorites. Just eat less of it, and less often.
•Spices. Add a variety of spices to your cooking to add great flavor without calories.
Feeding your family doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Stick to a shopping list and plan your meals each week – it’ll surprise you, how much this one step can save you.
The key to be able to eat healthy on budget is to hone your cooking skills and get down some basic recipes with low ingredient costs that still have plenty of protein and vegetables. What are your favorite tips for how to eat healthy on a budget?