today are more concerned than ever with getting their kids to eat healthy, nutritious
foods. It's always been a struggle to make veggies appealing and keep junk food off the family menu. Now,
as money gets tighter and food prices continue to rise, many parents are left
wondering how to provide healthy food options while shopping on a budget.
confusion about what is healthy doesn't help.
dutiful parents buy organic to avoid possible pesticides or hormones?
the family suffer nutritional deficits if canned or frozen produce replaces more
expensive fresh fruits and vegetables?
about the latest research on "good-for-you" foods that can break a family
responsible parents skip sugary drinks in favor of healthy, vitamin packed energy
nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains, often cost
more than less healthy food choices, there are ways families can pull the purse
strings tighter without compromising on nutrition.
though many families will be shopping on a budget..., nutrition doesnt necessarily
have to come in second place to price, said Robert Murray, MD, director
of the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition at Nationwide Children's Hospital
and faculty member at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.
need to look at what theyre paying for and determine if there are less costly
ways to achieve the same nutritional benefits.
Murray has some helpful advice to help concerned family find their way through
the shopping maze and save money on the way...
fresh versus frozen debate When it comes to fruits and vegetables, dont
assume fresh is best. Buying food in bulk, either frozen or canned, can save a
lot of money.
recent years, preservation and freezing methods have dramatically improved, thus
preserving the nutritional quality of the frozen fruits and vegetables. Regardless
of how they are consumed frozen or otherwise fruits and vegetables
provide many nutritional benefits.
Murray suggests taking advantage of grocery store sales and stocking up on frozen
goods. Parents can also consider freezing their own fruits and vegetables when
they are in-season and plentiful. Canned or frozen are both healthy alternatives,
although most canned veggies should be rinsed to lower the salt content before
they are cooked and served.
organic worth? When a food item is certified organic, it refers
to the methods used to grow or produce the food. Contrary to the beliefs of many,
organic foods offer no additional nutritional benefit compared to their non-organic
counterparts, but do cost more.
about hormones, antibiotics or pesticides have driven many to choose organic foods,
explained Dr. Murray. But dont be fooled into thinking that because
something is labeled organic that it is any healthier.
fruits and vegetables
Grocery shopping tip: Have a healthy treat ready
when shopping with
kids to avoid those expensive
impulse buys at the checkout counter..
In recent years, exotic and often heavily-marketed
fruits, like pomegranate and açai berries, have become increasingly popular.
While these fruits are rich in antioxidants and vitamins, they also come with
a hefty price tag.
fruits do have many health benefits, but many of the same benefits can be found
in other more common fruits for a much cheaper price, said Dr. Murray. Instead
of paying high prices for these fad foods, Dr. Murray recommends other dark, ruby-skinned
fruits like blueberries, plums or blackberries that are easier on the wallet.
beverages Be careful of drinks that are fortified with vitamins, minerals
and antioxidants. Not only do they cost more, they often have more calories than
you think. Some pack as many calories as a regular soda, and from a nutrition
standpoint, it makes more sense to eat foods that are naturally rich in vitamins
drinks, rich in electrolytes, may be a good choice for serious athletes who participate
in intense physical activity for extended periods of time, but for most children
and adults, these drinks are also unnecessary.
for prepackaged Prepackaged, grab-and-go options offer convenience and
portion control but can cost more. For some busy families, the time saved by purchasing
these items, especially prepackaged fruits and vegetables, may be worth the additional
expense. This is particularly true if the convenience of these items encourages
families to make more nutritious choices.
families looking for a budget friendly option, Dr. Murray suggests purchasing
bulk items and individually packaging them at home for an easy, on-the-go grab.
Plan snacks ahead
of time and be sure to combine food groups to maximize nutritional value. For
example, combine whole grain crackers and low-fat cheese in plastic storage bags;
or peel and cut carrots into snack-sized pieces and place in containers with a
couple tablespoons of peanut butter. Be sure to pay attention to portion size
in order to avoid serving up too much of a good thing.
bottom line is that serving up healthy meals on a tight budget is possible. Use
common sense and do the best with the money available. Keep in mind that stress
is not healthy and makes for unhappy meal times. Fretting over serving frozen
peas rather than fresh doesn't make sense. Your family will never remember what
was served every night, but they will always cherish the memories of happy meal