Feeding Your Family While the Grocery Dollar Shrinks...

Times are tough – it’s not secret. One walk through the grocery store will show you prices are on the rise. But it’s also no secret that every mom is trying to get her kids on the right path to eating healthy. So, how do you do it? How do you feed your family healthy food, and still watch your dollar.

It’s easy. Ditch the boxes, bags and packages.

The first thing you do when you enter that grocery store, before you do anything, you hit produce section. Go to produce aisle – don’t buy anything else until you’ve stocked up on those delicious veggies and fruits. Organic or not is irrelevant. Produce is healthy, and you know that.
People eat boatloads of processed foods, and it’s expensive. And it’s not filling!

Consider this: say you buy a big bag of pretzels. Really, raise your hand it you’ve ever been filled up on pretzels. So, you’ve spent $5 on a family-sized bag, for no nutrition and something that’s not going to fill you up. In times of economic hardships, think filling and satisfying. But those processed foods just drive up your appetite, and you develop more of an appetite for the same.

So, what’s cooking? Hit it with produce. How about a giant, fantastic crock pot of soup? In the Depression that’s what they ate. It’s inexpensive, healthy and hearty.
It’s fluid, and you’re filling up on volumes of veggies, anything from corn to beans to carrots, barley – all wonderful things that give you whole protein.
Soups are always a good way to feed the family; you can make them simply by grabbing the veggies you love. Add in some beans – those are cheap. Canned goods are good this time of year, and it’s a couple of bucks here and there. Beans fill you up, so throw them in your soup.
Add some lean protein, either a rotisserie chicken, or perhaps some grilled chicken. There are good fish-based soups. Fish is good for you, and there are a lot of choices out there.

And if you don’t cook, there are hearty and healthy soups out there. Many are made with less salt, less calories, and less of a creamy base. Progresso makes wonderful soups, and Campbell’s has a healthy line as well. Scope it out.

How else do you save a buck on your grocery bills?
Well, go back to when you were a college students – what did you do then? I don’t think any of you were eating at the Golden Door every night. Swap the chips and crackers of those days, for some healthy Rye Krisps, Wasa whole wheat crackers, grab some healthy cheeses to go along with your soups, and salads. And be creative with your salads. Throw in the kitchen sink, everything you’ve got, including beans, and turn it into a healthy meal. Grilled protein on a bed of greens is an inexpensive, really healthy meal.

You need to also remember that prepared foods are more expensive than do-it-yourself, and they are not always the healthiest.
Spend a moment thinking of simple things you can do to cook instead of going out. Lunch gets costly, with those prepared sandwiches, and they probably have too much processed meat. Get some whole wheat pita bread, some veggie or turkey burgers, maybe chicken sausages, and make your own sandwiches. In times of tightening the budget, it’s BYOF – Bring Your Own Food. Buy Laughing Cow cheese and whole wheat crackers to give you those snacks you’re craving. Baby carrots and hummus are delicious.
When you’re drawing in your finances, you don’t want to feel deprived.

You need to look and find that instead of spending $50 for four people, you can look at healthy home-cooked, vegetarian dinner or even a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s smaller pizzas; buy the ones that are not chock full of cheese or red meat. Or make your own! Hunt around and look for the healthy, yet homemade alternative.

Do you kids love fries? Buy potatoes and bake your own. Think of the fat and salt you are eliminating by cooking at home. Use some Pam, olive oil or canola oil. Canola is the best cooking oil for something like that.
Trade in your kids’ treats. Don’t buy ice cream. Instead, opt for a yogurt parfait – get them to think of a beautiful blueberry yogurt, frozen, in a pretty dish. Now, it’s a treat. In the midst of difficulty lies opportunity. This is the time to teach your kids about home-cooking.
Now that you’re not buying all of those heavily-processed snacks, how about serving up some apples and peanut butter? That’ll fill them up, and make them happy.

Think fresh veggies are the only way? Frozen veggies are frozen the minute they are cut, so they are still fresh and they retain all of their nutrients. Canned veggies are healthy. Just watch the salt content, and buy a lower sodium version.

You want money-saving tips? Cut out everything in a box. Cut the processed food. Get them away from the bags and boxes. Use all whole food.

Sodas are expensive and they offer no nutrition. Coming up with something more creative; Do some of those cool teas that are out right now, or a diluted juices, but use natural stuff. This is where to look at eliminating cost, and adding nutrition.
Instead of chips, opt for carrots. Chop up tons and tons of vegetables and offer a dip, or some peanut butter. Kids love to dip their food.

Cut out all of that white stuff. Stop buying white bread. Get whole wheat bread which many times cost less and is much better for you! Remember the whole wheat pita pockets, and kids love to play with them for sandwiches and snack ideas.
Dairy is extremely important. Maybe this is time to substitute yogurt for ice cream; treats shouldn’t be a staple. It should be gaining value.
This is also a perfect time – instead of buying sweets and pastries – to get kids involved in the making of their food. Get them back to the kitchen to use this as a chance to participate in cooking. Teach them food is fun and good for you.
There are substitutions at www.Discoveryhealth.com. You can find healthy bran muffins, using whole ingredients, and no white refined sugars. There are over 1000 recipes. You can find something to make with your kids.

Why not try vegetarianism? It’s cheaper! You don’t buy meats. It might be a thought. Or even a partial vegetarianism, eating only fish. Or perhaps lacto-ovo vegetarians who still eat dairy or eggs.
Fish is a great cheap thing. A can of tuna fish tossed in a salad is a couple of bucks, and you’ve got a boatload of protein right on the spot.

Don’t rule out protein powders. Just a scoop of a whey protein powder makes a healthy shake. Get some frozen or fresh fruit, and add it in there. It’s great for bones, great for growth, and you get an extra scoop of protein. Depending on the age or size of your child, a six-ounce glass is a good serving. Use ice cubes to call it a milkshake, and it’s a fantastic mid-afternoon treat – but it’s healthy! And it’ll help keep them going for three hours. It’s also good to give them as a treat for any time.
Want them to feel really good and satisfying? Use it in the morning with their oatmeal. It has longer-lasting power, and greater satisfaction – I think you can get a huge can for under $20, and that’s more than 20 scoopfuls.

Fruits are cheap. Get your kids used to apples and tangelos, pears and healthy fruits all year long. And some cheese or peanut butter or almond butter – it’s cheap and it’s a treat.
Volume fills them up – fruits and veggies are what you want.
Fruits have the sweetness factor that kids love, and they are so much better than any boxed or bagged food you’ll buy.

Good time to look at cheaper protein sources. Fish is cheaper than those fatty red meats, and chicken and turkey are all cheaper and so much healthier.
Healthy Choice makes luncheon meats that are lower in salt, and better for you.
Listen, you know you have to eat what they are eating, it’s a family affair. So make it good!

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