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Healthy eating on a budget

Do you have a problem serving healthy foods for your family because you feel that they are more expensive? Find out how to find healthy foods on a budget.

Here are some ways you can improve your family’s health by serving healthy foods without ruining your budget:

Eliminate junk food

You may have to do your grocery shopping alone, since children (and sometimes spouses!) are often the ones who request the junk foods. A trip to my local supermarket showed these prices for typical junk foods and beverages:

  • Case of name brand soft drinks $5.99
  • 20 ounce bag of potato chips – $4.19
  • Box of snack cakes – $1.99
    Package of 8 toaster-tarts $2. 39 (each one contains 20 grams of sugar)
  • Package of chocolate chip cookies – $3.59
  • Half-gallon of ice cream – $3.99
  • Box of pre-sweetened cereal – $3.19
  • 8 juice boxes – $2.94 (each contains 26 grams of sugar)
  • 1 box of 12 glazed doughnuts – $3.99

The total amount for the above items was $32.26

Healthy and affordable food alternatives

  • Water or skim milk instead of soft drinks. (You can still enjoy your favorite beverage when you go out to a sporting event, movie, etc. Just stick with the smallest size to save money AND calories! ) Children AND adults need milk or milk products every day. Milk also helps fill you up and provides needed calcium for strong bones and healthy teeth.
  • Eat yogurt instead of ice cream for snacks. I know that Wal-Mart, Target, K-Mart and Kroger superstores frequently have low prices for yogurt. Stock up with enough to last several days. To save even more, buy large cartons of plain yogurt and add your own fresh fruit.
  • Skip the pre-sweetened cereal and replace with oatmeal or other hot cereal. A large box of 1-minute oatmeal contains 30 servings and costs $1.99 for the generic kind (oatmeal is oatmeal!). Each serving contains 4 grams of fiber. Add fresh/frozen fruit or a teaspoon of natural jelly (100 percent fruit) for sweetener.
  • Whole wheat bread is normally more expensive than white bread, but since white bread usually has little, if any fiber or nutritional value, it is worth the extra money. If you have a bakery outlet nearby, stock up on day-old bread and freeze. I live near a Wonder Bread outlet store, and a loaf of whole wheat bread costs 99 cents. If your family doesn’t like the coarse texture of most whole wheat breads, try different brands until you find one you find acceptable. Make sure they label says 100 percent whole grain and lists the first ingredient as whole wheat flour.
  • How to save money on fruits and vegetables

  • Buy fresh vegetables in season, grow your own (tomatoes can be grown in pots on the patio if you don’t have a yard or garden), or purchase frozen vegetables. Vegetables are frozen at the peak of ripeness and contain as many vitamins and minerals as fresh. Instead of using rich sauces, steam your veggies and season with fresh herbs-which you can also grow easily in pots on your window sill or patio. Stock up on frozen vegetables when your grocery has a sale. 
  • Fill up with foods that have a high water content. Salad greens, watermelon, and sugar free gelatin are some good examples. Serve a green salad at the beginning of each dinner, topped with a small amount of low-calorie dressing, vinegar and oil, or a squeeze of lemon juice.
  • Buy whole fruit instead of potato chips, cookies, doughnuts or snack cakes. One large banana equals 2 servings; 1 pound of grapes equals several servings; other fruit should be purchased in season in your area. Apples are less expensive in the fall. If you live in the south, oranges, lemons and grapefruit may be plentiful in your area, so use lots of them. Melons are usually less expensive in the summer months.
  • Limit fruit juice to 1/2 cup per day. Instead of juice boxes or bottles, look for natural juice in half gallon cartons or bottles. If your kids want to drink their juice from individual serving bottles, buy your own plastic bottles and straws at the dollar store and wash them out at night.
  • Buy fruits in quantity when they are in season and freeze extras. When strawberries and blueberries are plentiful in my area, I always buy several pounds and freeze in plastic zipper bags. Wash the fruit well; remove any spoiled pieces, dry thoroughly on paper towels, and freeze. Be sure to squeeze as much air out of the bag as possible to prevent freezer burn. You can also purchase frozen fruits out-of-season. Just check the labels to make sure they were not dowsed in sugar prior to freezing.
  • Look for pick-your-own farms that allow you to pick your own fruit for less. Take the whole family and enjoy some fresh air and exercise!
  • Next page: How to save money on meat and protein foods

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