Sometimes you give in and just let your kids eat whatever their hearts desire because the fight isn’t worth it. But most days parents fight the good fight, trying to feed the whole family a healthy, well-balanced diet.
But it’s a tough pill to swallow every time you’re at the supermarket and watch the total rise when you grab another piece of organic produce or go for the grass-fed ground beef.
Just how do you feed your family well-rounded meals and still keep to a budget? Read on for a few of our tips for buying food you can feel good about, that won’t have you up at night worrying about how you’ll pay for it.
Planning ahead is the key to saving money on groceries, as well as keeping your food intake on the healthier end. Last minute, rushed or take away food isn’t going to often fall in the good for you category.
Start each week with a game plan. Look through your pantry and figure out what you can use from the staples to create a meal — whether it’s brown rice, wholemeal pasta or potatoes.
Think about what you already have in the fridge – half a broccoli head, a few carrots left in the bag and frozen chicken has the makings of a stir fry or sheet pan meal. This is where social media or a good app can be a lifesaver when menu planning, especially Pinterest. Plug in a few ingredients in the search box, and then happy recipe browsing!
Check out the sales at your local store and figure out what you could incorporate from those to make the most of your money. Could you use each half of a red pepper in two meals this week?
Then create the grocery list, and don’t forget to factor in breakfast, snacks and packing lunches for school and work. (Hint: Leftovers are key for making healthy, budget-friendly lunches!)
Get your staples and stock up
Whenever one of the main staples in your house for healthy meals goes on sale, it’s a good time to stock up. Get two or three of the old fashioned oats, nab a big box of rice when there’s a coupon and be sure to look for things that last a long time on sale, such olive oil and soy sauce.
Plus, when you’re stocking up, check the price of the sale item with the generic or store brand. Sometimes a brand name is on sale, but the store version is still cheaper than even the sale price. You’ll feel like a winner when you get an even better deal!
Watch for meat sales and use less
Another major budget saver is purchasing meat when it’s on sale. You should break up the meat when you get home into freezer-safe packaging and date it so you know how long it’s been in there.
Another way to save on meat is look for the economy meats, such as sausages, chicken wings and drumsticks (sometimes thighs are cheaper too!) and casserole meat. Take these meats and combine them with vegetables and a starch to bulk up your meal.
Another great way to stretch the meat is make it in meals that really gives you the most food–this includes soups, bakes, casseroles and stews. Not only will this feed the whole family a good, healthy meal, but often it means leftovers for lunches.
Eat cheap protein
When planning your meals, always try to consider using a cheap protein like eggs, lentils or tofu. Eggs are an excellent way to tick the protein box without spending much money at all.
Plus, eggs are so versatile that you’re bound to find some good recipes that the whole family likes from scrambled eggs for weekend breakfasts, to poached eggs over stir fry vegetables. Lentils can also help bulk up a soup or stew. Just check out Pinterest and start planning away!
Another super simple way to save money and eat healthily is to cut out meat for one or more meals every week. This is an easy way to stretch your groceries and find new ways to incorporate more vegetables into your family’s diet. Think vegetarian lasagna, black bean and sweet potato tacos or a veggie pizza.
If you make it a weekly ritual, then you’re more likely to do it rather than have a one-off. Plus, there’s the added bonus that your kids might even come to like these meatless nights!
Make your own
Yet another tip for saving money and helping your family eat healthy food is trying your hand at making your own — favourite breads, muffins and more. Making your own bread, for example, allows you to keep from putting in any weird chemicals to help preserve it and instead just use regular real ingredients.
Once you start getting more confident in your skills as a baker and/or cook, then you’ll find yourself adding to what you want to make yourself rather than buy. When you get comfortable, you’d be surprised about what you decide to make yourself. Even some spices — like taco seasoning — which is surprisingly easy to make.
Favour in Season Veggies & Fruit
One final tip is to focus on produce that is in season. You might need to get creative if you buy a lot of broccoli, but you can find a use for almost anything. Get berries when they are in season and then make jam for use throughout the year. Snag several large pumpkins when they are in season AND on sale, and you’ll have some great starts to some delicious and healthy meals!
But always remember that should things get tough, there are ways to get help. Check out Swoosh Financial’s personal loans. The online loans are easy to apply for and approval is very fast. It can be hard to keep your head above water when you’re trying to support kids, a spouse and sometimes even a pet or two. Jump online and get approved today!