Fact: You can go to the grocery store and buy 1 pack of chicken breast tenderloins for about 5.00, 1 pack whole wheat tortilla wraps 2.00, 1 bag salad mix 1.50 this is around 8.50…. for at least 4 meals. That is approximately 2.12 per meal, because water is free! I know firsthand how difficult it is to eat on a budget.
I am a single mother of one very hungry little man, it gets hard. I am lucky to have my parents to help me, they have an amazing garden, I know everyone is not as blessed. So how can you make better choices in what you feed your kids without killing your wallet? Here are two things to eliminate from your diet that will save you over a thousand dollars a year.
1. Sodas – this is the number one No-No on most lists. If you haven’t read my post “What the hell are we doing?” You should go do that right now! The healthy alternative to soda is very simple. Water. But my kids won’t drink water! That is because you haven’t taught them to drink water. It is or job as parents to make sure that our kids are consuming the right food and drinks to keep them healthy. YOU are the boss. I assure you that they will not thirst to death. Juicing at home is another option… but should not replace water. In this category I am going to also place Hugs, Capri Sun, Sunny D, and 95% of juices you buy at the grocery store. The average American drinks 44 gallons of soda per year. Let’s do some math: There are (approximately) 3.79 liters per gallon = 166.76 Liters or 83 (ish) 2 liters at 1.50 per bottle = 124.50 per year in savings. What could you do with an extra 124.50? And that is just for sodas, other drinks targeted for children are more expensive. Buying soda at restaurants is more expensive. See where I am going? One small change in your diet can give you more money towards healthy foods for your family.
2. Fast Food- Super easy, Super fast, Super cheap! It is killing you! I do not think I need to tell you why fast food is so bad for you; it is pretty common knowledge these days. There is virtually no nutrition. It is over processed and filled with fat. You and your family DO NOT NEED IT! I know you are busy and I know it is hard to find the time to cook but it is vital to you and your family’s health that you MAKE the time. So let’s talk money, statistics show that the average American family eats fast food at LEAST once a week. We are going to round it out to about 20.00 per meal out for a family of four. That is 1040.00! Let that sink in, the average American family spends over 1000.00 on terrible food that is making us sick. I assure you for that much money you could come up with well over 52 nutritious dinners for your family, that are not only yummy but easy and fast to prepare.
I know how easy it is to swing by McDonalds in order to stuff something in the mouth of a screaming child. I’ve done it with my nephew & niece. It wasn’t until I had my own child that I really started thinking about it. Sorry Sis! There are a lot of ways that you can eat low cost and still eat healthy.
>Have meatless meal nights. Meat is EXPENSIVE. We all know this. Try taking one of your favorite recipes and replacing the meat with beans. See my Black Bean Fajitas or Veggie Chili for some ideas. When I was cooking meat every night I spent about on average 50.00 a week on meat alone. I could buy 50 cans of beans for that price… that is enough beans for about 25-30 dinners. I am not trying to push anyone into being a vegetarian. Nobody pushed me, I am returning the favor. But by cutting back on your meat consumption you leave more money open to buy healthier foods.
> Buy frozen or canned produce. Fresh produce can be pricey, especially when you get in to the organic stuff. Studies have proven that frozen veggies in particular are just as nutritious as fresh. My advice: buy frozen to cook, and fresh to consume raw. However, please do yourself a favor, if you buy canned fruit get the kind canned with NO syrup.
> Cut out the junk. I think that kids deserve treats, but is it really a treat if it is in the house all of the time. Think about how much money you spend on:
-High Sugar Cereal
Like I said I don’t believe we should deprive our kids of treats, but they shouldn't be getting “treats” daily or perhaps even weekly. Next time you want to give your kids a treat try baking something together. Not only do they get the sweets they love but they get time with you, which you can’t put a price on. Baking at home also allows you control over the ingredients. And let’s face it, who doesn't want a little more control?
>Target the produce that is on sale and in season. Simple economics tells us how supply and demand affect prices. If it is out of season it is going to be hard to come by ( and genetically modified) and the price is going to be higher. When something is in season there is more of it so they are going to drop the price to make sure it is moved off the self before it goes bad. Check sales weekly. Don’t buy more then you can eat or they will go bad and you wasted money.
>Buy good for you cheap foods.
-Whole Grain Pasta
For fast meals cook large batches of food at a time, freeze half of it for another dinner. Use your crock pot! This is by far the best time saver in the world. Make simple meals, get back to the basics. Every meal does not have to me a culinary masterpiece. Buy ingredients already cut up. Frozen onions, peppers, fruit, veggies can all be purchased pre chopped. Get the family involved if possible. Older kids can help with prep work easily.
Okay so what is the bottom line? Is eating healthy more expensive then not? It doesn’t have to be. It is going to take some effort and some research but you can do it. Don’t try to change everything all at once you might end up frustrated. Try just replacing one item at a time. Like always please feel free to Email me or get in touch with me on Facebook if you need any help of advice.