GUEST POST: Healthy Meal Planning On A Budget

The following is a guest post by Cindy Hamilton from Family Health and Nutrition.

With so much processed and pre-packaged foods lining the grocery store shelves these days, it’s hard to know how to truly prepare healthy meals for your family, especially on a budget! But, it can be done. With a little effort and some planning, you can have healthy meals without breaking the bank.

IT ALL STARTS AT THE GROCERY STORE:

1. The best way to keep your family from eating unhealthy foods like candy, soda, chips, and cookies that include things like high fructose corn syrup and tran fats  is to NOT BUY THEM! Not only will it not be available for munching around the house, it will also save room in your food budget for healthier items!

2. Never go to the store hungry or with your children! Both your hunger and your children are easily tempted. (Easier said than done. But, well worth the effort if possible!)

3. Make your meal plan at the beginning of each week. Start by deciding your meals for the entire week including breakfast, lunch, dinner AND snacks. If you don’t have a plan for everything you will eat, you will be tempted to grab unhealthy food from the vending machine or from a fast food restaurant. (I have added a meal planning tab to the right that offers a few great sites to help you plan meals, create a grocery list and even match coupons.)

4. Make your grocery list before leaving your house. I often use coupons for things like whole grain pasta, olive oil, almonds, frozen vegetables and organic dairy products. Try to spend half your budget on fruits and vegetables and the other half on whole grain bread & pasta, lean meat, dairy and beans.

*Money-Saving Tip: Buy organic meat and produce when it is on sale to freeze and use later. Things like berries and peaches can be used in smoothies or over whole grain pancakes and frozen veggies can be used in a variety of dishes like soups and sauces.

IT ENDS IN THE KITCHEN:

1. Decide NOT to prepare processed or pre-packaged food for your family. Most pre-packaged foods are high in sodium and other chemicals. There are hundreds of healthy and easy recipes that don’t require much work. Try putting chicken in the crock pot with some broth, onion, garlic and lemon juice. At dinnertime, boil some brown rice and steam a few veggies for a quick and healthy dinner in minutes!

2. Make once a week your prep day. Use that day to make broth (boil leftover organic veggies or organic chicken to make your own FREE organic broth!), soak and cook dried beans so they will be ready for use, roast a turkey for sandwiches instead of deli meat, prepare and freeze healthy meals for the week, etc. This will make healthy eating during a busy week much easier to manage.

3. Put healthy snacks like raisins, trail mix, washed fruit, and string cheese on low shelves in your pantry and refrigerator to make healthy snacking easy for your kids.

4. Set the family dinner table. Eating as a family is one of the healthiest things you can do! Kids who have family dinners tend to do better in school, have a better self-image and have healthier eating habits.

With a little planning, healthy eating can be affordable and easy!

Cindy writes at Family Health and Nutrition, where you can find ideas for healthy meal planning, healthy grocery shopping on a budget, ideas for an environmentally-friendly home and more! (She is also the editor of this blog.)

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1 Comment

  1. 8oz said,

    April 7, 2011 at 2:22 am

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