You may think you have to sacrifice healthy eating while maintaining your food budget. I know it is difficult to eat healthfully with young children, but I can assure you it is possible. Let me share with you how my family does it.
Eat whole foods, and fresh fruits and vegetables – Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. Avoid processed foods, cookies, crackers, chips, soda, soups and prepackaged meals that tend to be packed with sugar and sodium. We plant a garden and join a summer CSA so we get an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables from May to September, so much so that we can’t eat all of it fresh, so we freeze our bounty to enjoy throughout the winter months. When fresh fruits and vegetables are out of season, buy frozen rather than canned. The price comparison is minimal, but you’ll notice the difference in taste.
Meal Plan – Create a monthly food menu to avoid redundancy, last minute runs to the store and calls for food delivery. Only go to the grocery store weekly or bi-weekly if possible. Stay on budget by only buying what’s on your shopping list. It will also allow you to buy in bulk when you plan ahead. I like to cook a meal, double the recipe and throw one in the freezer. On busy weeknights, we have homemade freezer meals or crock-pot dinners. We’ve used “1 Chicken, 17 Healthy Meals, $26 Bucks, No Mayo” to stretch leftovers from a rotisserie chicken dinner.
Stop Eating Out – Convenience meals tend to have shockingly high levels of sodium, which is bad for your health. Skip the alcoholic and/or fountain drink. They are expensive and are full of empty calories. Not to mention restaurant tax and tips also take a bite out of your budget. Don’t read me wrong, we still go out to eat, but only 2-3 times a month and I avoid the drive-thru by making my kids lunches in the morning.
As a family of four, we average about $125 a week on groceries. According to the Official USDA Food Plans: Cost of Food, my family’s cost of food at home would fall under the thrifty plan at $138.70 a week. I’ve noticed that since my husband has taken over grocery shopping and meal planning that we spend less. He manages to get in and out of the store quickly without having the kids in tow and he doesn’t stray from what’s on the shopping list.
By planning meals (snacks, too!), you are taking the stress out of “What’s for dinner?” and the constant “I’m hungry, Mommy!” You’ll eat better, you’ll spend less, and your children will come to expect healthy snacks and meals — a win for the whole family.
Nikki Ducas is a thrifty Fredericksburg mom teaching her two young sons that she isn’t a short order cook – eat what’s served or you’re not hungry!
Local Food & Produce Markets:
Fredericksburg Farmers Market: http://fredericksburgfarmersmarket.com
Spotsylvania Farmers Market: http://www.thefarmersmarket.co
C & T Produce: http://www.candtproduce.com
Kickshaw’s Downtown Market: http://www.kickshawsdowntownmarket.com
Braehead Farm: http://braeheadfarm.com
North Stafford Farmers Market: http://www.northstaffordfm.com