By Contributing Writer Candace at Sacred Mommyhood
So what exactly constitutes healthy eating? I realize that we will all define healthy eating a bit differently. Some may define it as homemade meals rather than fast food or convenience meals, and some may define eating healthy as an all raw and organic diet. Whatever your definition is, there are always ways to squeeze more healthful foods into your budget.
For our family, eating healthy is fairly simple, and perhaps a little old-school. It includes homemade meals, lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, and watching our sugar intake. We stick to the natural fats (BUTTER, Olive Oil, and Coconut Oil) and believe that red meat, dairy, and pasta are good for you when eaten in moderation.
So how do we feed our large family healthy meals on a budget? Here’s some of how we do it…..
*Start with a menu plan: Anyone who has already read my blog knows what a stickler I am for having a menu plan. For a family on a budget, planning your meals will help you stay on target financially and healthfully. When you place nutritious meals on your menu, and then shop accordingly, you save time and money…and, end up with a healthy meal.
*Join a fruit and veggie co-op: This may depend upon where you live, but if you have access to a veggie co-op, this is the way to go. I have found that incorporating organic fruits and veggies has been easier and more budget friendly through the co-op. Usually, you can get a huge basket or box full of in-season fruits and veggies for a fraction on the cost. You’re also helping to support your local farmers as well. (A small caveat: It is more difficult to plan a menu around a co-op. You don’t always know what you’ll get in your basket, so it’s hard to create a menu around it. How I handled this….I stuck with my normal menus and added what I could to my meals. I froze a lot of stuff, and gave away foods we wouldn’t use. I also had to be very creative with those uncommon-to-us veggies so they wouldn’t go to waste.)
*Buy what’s in season: If you don’t have access to a co-op, try to cater your menus around the seasons. You will always get the best deals on fruits and veggies when they are in season. Stock up on things that freeze well so that you save in off seasons.
*Shop those sales: Make a habit of checking store ads and stock up on meat and produce when they are on sale. At my local store, chicken goes on sale often, so I stock up my freezer. When red bell peppers go on sale, I buy tons and freeze what I can’t use fresh. When good apples and other fruits go on sale, that’s what the kids eat for their snacks, etc.
*Buy the cow: If you enjoy beef like we do, go in with with a few other families and buy a cow from a butcher. The price per pound is significantly cheaper, and you can determine the cuts of meat you’d like. If you can afford to do this on your own, and have a large deep freezer, you’ll be stocked forever! You also have the option of buying a half cow or just a quarter. It’s quite the experience! ; )
*If not the cow, go for the case: Buying meat by the case yields huge savings over the long run. We usually buy 80 lbs of very lean ground beef and split it with two other families. The price per pound is grossly less than buying a traditional sized package. Create your own little meat co-op and save big.
*Homemade is always best: If you’re prone to buying a lot of convenience type foods, invest more time in the kitchen and make fresh at home. Not only is this better for the budget, but better for YOU. Pre-packaged, convenience foods are packed with additives, preservatives, and things I can’t pronounce. (Just a note here…we do buy convenience foods on occasion, so don’t want to give a false impression. We just try not to buy them often.) If you want to eat healthy and cut back on the grocery budget, making food at home will probably make the biggest difference to the budget. Keep in mind, you’re paying extra for that convenience!
*Find coupons online that you can print out and bring to the store with you at coupons.answers.com.
What would you add to this list? What changes have you made in your family to eat healthier on a budget?
Visit the other High Five Moms to see how they feed their families at: