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MAIN Arrow to Cooking GuideCooking Arrow to Budget Recipes & TipsBudget Meals & Recipes

Getting Kids to Eat Healthy On A Budget

Smart shoppers usually don't buy the hype when it comes to prepackaged and processed foods, but there is still a way to still eat healthy without breaking the bank...

boy eating a peach
Dried fruits, and fresh fruits & vegetables
in season, make for delicious treats kids love.

Eating healthy always seems to be more expensive. Shops that carry organic and other "healthy" foods rarely get the discounts that shoppers can find in big supermarkets and the prices reflect that.

With childhood obesity on the rise and study after study proving that eating the right food can help you live a long and healthier life... shopping for healthy food to feed yourself and your family has never been more important.

Tennessee Tech University nutrition professor, Cathy Hix-Cunningham, is an expert on what people should eat. She also has a good grasp of the problems that families run into when the food budget gets tight.

“People in the United States already spend a lower percentage of their disposable incomes than people of any other country on food,” she said. “But during tougher economic times, we can still eat well for less cost,” Hix-Cunningham continued. “The key is to depend more on the plant world for our sources of protein and fiber. From a health standpoint, our diet is probably healthiest if we’re at least partial vegetarians, and that’s usually an inexpensive alternative as well.”

boy eating a peach
Basic beans: cheap, packed with nutrition,
and easy to add to rice and beans, bean
soup, stews, dips, casseroles and chili.

With many people trying to tighten their belts both physically and fiscally right now, offers great tips for selecting foods that are healthy, inexpensive and that the kids will actually eat.

Make a bean dish for the main course several nights a week. Beans are versatile. They come in many varieties and can be used in dishes ranging from hummus and other dips to soups and stews or chili and casseroles,” she said. Chili recipes and other bean dishes can be served with or without meat which helps add more variety to the dinner menu.

Dried and canned beans can be purchased at most groceries, and canned beans are especially economical. “Canned beans are tremendously convenient because the amount of electricity and energy needed to prepare the meal is greatly reduced,” Hix-Cunningham said.

Drink more water. It seems simple, but most families go with soda, soft drinks or fruit based drinks. Water is better for you and better for your food budget. “You can limit the amount of sugary and alcoholic beverages you consume without having to give up flavor by purchasing flavored drink mixes to add to your water,” Hix-Cunningham suggested.

boy eating a peach
Sweet potatoes: not just for
Thanksgiving anymore...

Choose dairy foods. Whole milk can be pricey, but mixing in evaporated or powdered milk can go a long way to stretching the food budget. “Milk is rich in calcium and vitamin D, and gallon for gallon, it costs less than bottled water, so it’s important for people young and old to include dairy in their diet,” Hix-Cunningham added.

“Even people who are lactose intolerant can usually eat cheese, and it doesn’t have to be a gourmet brand. The more inexpensive or generic brands pack as much nutritional value as the gourmet cheese brands do.”

Eat more dried fruits. Dried fruits like raisins, cranberries and prunes offer lots of nutrients in a small serving, and the drying process gives them added iron. Dried apples and banana chips make a great healthy substitute for potato chips. Mix in some grains, seeds, nuts and even popcorn for a snack mix that everyone enjoys.

Eat more sweet potatoes. They're not just for Thanksgiving anymore -- and can be served with chicken dishes, pork dishes, or easily made into desserts like the classic sweet potato pie for a delicious snack anytime of year. “Sweet potatoes are high in fiber and vitamin A. For the calories and cost of sweet potatoes, few foods are as nutritious,” she said.

Compare costs between fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables. Frozen fruits and vegetables retain most of the good stuff and tend to be cheaper and less likely to spoil and get thrown away.

Become a square-foot or container gardener. Even someone who lives in a small studio apartment can make room for some potted plants. “Chives and many other herbs are inexpensive and easy to grow in small containers. That makes it easy to have fresh herbs available even with limited space,” Hix-Cunningham said. For kids, container gardening is great fun besides.

Some fruits and vegetables can also be grown in containers or limited space.“Tomatoes are probably the most nutritious food, but greens are the most inexpensive food that can be grown in very little space,” she said.

Source Newswise - Tennessee Tech University

also see --> Budget Recipes & Meal Planning Tips For Real Families

Serving Healthy Meals On A Tight Budget - Recipes & Meal Planning

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