Feeding your family healthy, whole foods can help give children a good start in life and doesn’t have to break the bank.
It may be tempting to turn to packaged foods or to the drive-thru when life gets busy. However, not only are those foods low in nutrients and high in sodium, unhealthy trans fats and added sugars, they often cost more than healthy, whole foods.
If you want to save money and keep your family on the right dietary track, take the following steps:
1. Make a plan. “If you want to get a healthy meal on the table and save money doing it, you’re going to have to plan,” says Tara Todd, RD, LD, a dietitian with St. Louis Children’s Hospital and mother of two. “Sit down, look at the calendar and work out meals ahead of time.”
2. Keep it whole. A 2012 study from the U.S. Department of Agriculture found that, per serving, vegetables, fruits, grains and dairy products cost less than meats and packaged or pre-made foods.
“It’s a common misconception that it’s more expensive to eat healthy foods than it is to eat unhealthy foods,” says Christian Miller, executive chef at St. Louis Children’s Hospital and father of three. “If you’re smart about it, you can find really good deals at small markets—it just takes a little more time and effort.”
Buy fruits and vegetables in season when they cost less or buy frozen versions, which last longer and require less time to prepare.
3. Limit the meat. Plan a few meatless meals per week, and use your savings to buy organic or pastured meats, which are higher in healthy omega-3 fatty acids and certain vitamins. You can find them at your local farmers markets or at most major grocery stores.
4. Get creative. Introduce healthier options into meals, such as mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes or dark leafy greens instead of iceberg lettuce. Rather than spending a lot on sugary fruit juices, buy whole fruits instead, and stick with drinking water—after all, it’s virtually free!
For more help with healthy eating, download our “Nutrition and Healthy Habits” brochure.