It’s every parent’s holy grail: healthy food that their kids will eat that also fits their budget! When you’re trying to eat healthy and save money at the same time, you often feel like your choices are limited. This becomes even more true if you’ve got kids who adamantly refuse to eat certain types of foods, from celery to cereal. However, there are many options to help get your family the nutrition it needs without running afoul of picky eaters or expensive packaged foods.
1. Know how to use low-cost ingredients in healthy, tasty meals
Plenty of tasty, healthy meals are based around simple, low-cost ingredients. Take a fresh, healthy spaghetti, for example. You need whole-wheat pasta, a can of tomato paste, some olive oil, and a few Italian spices like oregano and basil. Add in garlic if you want, or chop up some fresh tomatoes for the sauce. Throw in some cooked ground beef and it’s done.
Learning how to make basic healthy foods from simple recipes will save you time both in the supermarket and in the kitchen. Using coupons to save on staples like beans, bread, and pasta will save you money. And there are plenty of easy recipes, from vegetable chili to taco salad, that kids love.
2. Serve a la carte to accommodate picky eaters
You can cut down on a lot of mealtime battles by giving kids a few choices. If you have one child who hates onions, for example, don’t cook onions into the chili; chop them up instead, and let the family members who like onions sprinkle some onto their chili bowls. A lot of simple dishes, from salads to burritos, can be served a la carte. Letting kids choose what to eat and what to avoid helps ensure that everyone in the family enjoys dinner.
3. Stock up on favorite products when they go on sale
A lot of parents and kids both enjoy squeezable fruit pouches. They’re a great way to get nutrition on the go, and a tasty alternative to more sugary snacks like cookies. However, those fruit pouches quickly become expensive, so learn how to shop smart. If you see the pouches go on sale, stock up. If you see them at the regular price, buy something else instead and wait for the sale to come back.
This goes for any healthy treat, from fruit pouches to frozen yogurt. It’s also a good grocery strategy in general. Oranges, for example, are kid favorites, but they tend to only go on sale in the winter months. Strawberries, another kid-friendly treat, are on sale in summer but much more expensive in winter.
4. If you don’t buy it, you can’t eat it
If you don’t want your kids eating candy after school, don’t keep candy in the house. Same goes for chips, soda, or any other vice — if you don’t buy it, you can’t eat it.
This rule works the other way as well. Do you want your kids to eat more fruits and vegetables? You need to buy them and make sure they are a regular part of your family’s meals.
Remember that, as the parent, you are in charge of what comes in and out of your kitchen. Choose low-cost foods, know how to cook them into healthy recipes, and use your family’s personal tastes to make sure there is always something in each meal for everyone to enjoy. That’s the secret to hitting the dinnertime trifecta: healthy meals that are easy to make that the whole family will love.