Monday, August 17, 2015

Kids Eat Right Month: 8 Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget

Happy Kids Eat Right Month! As a pediatric registered dietitian (RD), I often get asked many questions about feeding children in a healthy way. This month we will discuss many topics about healthy eating with a focus on teaching children how to eat healthy. Luckily, these principles can be applied to children of all ages (including adults who are kids at heart)!

Many of my patients have the same goal, which is to eat healthy or be healthy. Many feel that healthy eating is more expensive. I do not believe this has to be the case. Here are several tips to make healthy eating affordable.

Fruits and Vegetables
We all know theses are good, healthy choices. How can we make them more budget friendly?
  1. Eat seasonally.
    • When fruits and vegetables are in season, they take the best! Also, there is an abundance of produce when it is in season. This means lower prices for you!
  2. Buy frozen produce.
    • Fruits and vegetables are frozen right after harvest. So, you can enjoy freshly frozen foods all year long. Frozen foods last a lot longer than fresh produce. Frozen foods are usually cheaper than fresh; just compare prices.
  3. Buy canned produce with no added salt.
    • Canned foods are another great option. Just look for "no added salt" on the label. That way you get produce without the extra sodium.
  4. Buy canned fruit packed in its own juice (not in syrup).
    • Canned fruits are another great option for packing in school lunches or as a snack. Just look for "packed in juice" on the label. That way you get produce without the extra, unnecessary syrup or sugar.

Buy in Bulk
Buying in bulk usually saves money. If you know your family eats a lot of one item, look to see if you can buy a larger package. Compare the unit price of foods to see the price per ounce.

Shop the Sale
Look for your favorite foods on sale. Avoid buying things just because they are on sale. But if you see one of you or your family's favorite foods on sale, buy a little extra at the cheaper price.

Try Store Brands
Many stores have their own brand. Wal-mart has "Great Value" brand. Kroger has their "Private Selections" brand. Target has "Archer Farms"  or "Market Pantry" brands. Many times the stores make a comparable product with a lower price. Try them; you may like them better.

Cook Once and Eat twice.
When you prepare a meal, make a double batch. So, you prepare the food once. Then freeze half. You cook a larger portion once. Then, you get to eat twice! This saves money because you can buy in bulk. And, it saves you time!

Healthy eating is an investment in your health and your future. It is also an investment in your child's or your family's health. We know that healthy eating affects brain development, school performance, and can decrease the risk of developing diseases like diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke. For more on the consequences of obesity, check out the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
How can we afford not to eat healthy?

Stay tuned all this month for more on healthy eating and Kids Eat Right Month. For more recipes, encouragement, and tips for healthy eating, follow me on Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.

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