When you make the decision to eat healthy and change your family’s diet, finding the motivation to cut out sugary sodas and unhealthy snacks is only half the battle. The largest, and most difficult, part for many people is finding ways to afford everything that comes along with a healthier lifestyle. Let’s face it, affording healthy foods can be near difficult for one person, let alone an entire family of picky eaters and growing children.
Buying “regular” food when you’re on a tight budget can be a challenge, but that challenge definitely becomes more difficult when that “regular” food becomes healthy food. The cost of fresh vegetables, high-end protein, and healthy snacks can add up astronomically. Luckily, there are a more than a few ways to feed your family well and maintain a healthy diet when you’re trying to stretch your dollars. These are a few of my personal favorites!
1. Plan and Prep Your Meals Ahead Of Time
In all honesty, meal planning and prep is great even when you aren’t on a budget or necessarily trying to eat healthily. But when you are, it can be a total lifesaver. Creating weekly meal plans for everything from dinner to daily snacks will save you time in both the grocery store and the kitchen.
It will also help cut down the amount of groceries that you buy, but don’t really need. You should try your hardest to organize your grocery lists and only stick to the things you know you need. Having a set plan for your weekly meals will cut splurging and impulse buys down by a ton.
2. Don’t Be Afraid To Go Frozen
It may be hard to believe, but frozen fruits and vegetables are almost always just as healthy as fresh ones. If your family is anything like countless others out there, you may have a tendency to accidentally let fresh produce go bad. Many of them are brought ripe and quickly turn if not completely used in a few days. Frozen fruits and vegetables are not only much cheaper than fresh ones, but they also keep you from needlessly wasting food. While there’s nothing wrong with still getting your favorites in the produce aisle, consider searching for the rest in frozen foods.
3. Stop Buying Junk Food
I know, I know. This tip is much easier said than done, but it definitely does help. In addition to being generally unhealthy, most junk foods are also super expensive. The amount of money you spend on chips, sodas, and those delicious but awful little snack cakes can be better utilized elsewhere.
Since snacking shouldn’t be cut out of your family’s diet completely. Try nibbling on things like fruit, vegetables, nuts, popcorn, and other hunger-staving but healthy items instead of wasting money on junk.
4. Utilize Your Leftovers In Smart Ways
As cost effective as it may be, no one wants to eat the same meal multiple nights in a row. Which is why leftovers typically end up being eaten for lunch the next day or thrown out altogether. Instead of throwing money and food in the garbage, use elements of your last meal in your next one. Depending on what you’re cooking, your leftovers can be turned into tacos, stir-frys, stews, and soups. Be creative while staying healthy and saving money at the same time!
5. Buy Generic
Repeat. After. Me. There is nothing wrong with store-brand items. Sure, there are some things that I absolutely refuse buy generic, but that’s more preference than anything else. As time passes grocery stores are improving the quality and quantity of their in-store brand items more and more. All generic brands have to follow the same food-safety standards as big names. With a little bit of work, these items can also taste just as great but cost a fraction of the price.
6. Reduce Your Meat Consumption
Meat is expensive. This is especially true when it comes to good cuts. Even if you don’t decide to include a little less meat in your family’s diet, I recommend buying it in bulk and freezing it for later use. If you are open to the idea, you don’t have to go full vegetarian or quit cold turkey. Even introducing one or two meatless meals a week can save you some serious money and introduce your kids to fun new foods.