7 tips to make healthy eating more affordable for your family

It’s difficult enough to get your family to eat healthier. It’s even harder to do it on a budget. Here, contributing expert Lynn Manning offers great ideas on stretching your hard-earned dollar.

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  • Written by: Lynn Manning, Hope after Divorce contributor, author and an expert in women's fitness and family health. Read more about Lynn on her website 2fitathome.com.

  • It's difficult enough to get your family to eat healthier. It's even harder to do it on a budget. Believing that healthy eating is more expensive is the number one reason many moms give up on trying to make healthier decisions for their family. And I don't blame you; you still have to pay the bills. I'll share a few quick tips for eating healthier and even saving money in the process.

  • 1) Buy fruits and vegetables in season

  • We may all love pineapple, but there are certain times of the year that it could cost you a small fortune. Purchase fruits and vegetables your family most prefers in season. They are cheaper and provide better flavor. I often look through the ads each week in order to see which fruits and vegetables are on sale.

  • 2) Buy frozen if needed

  • There are several great articles that reveal frozen still has the same nutritional benefit as fresh. Most of the time, it's cheaper to buy frozen. Since frozen doesn't spoil, you can purchase your favorite frozen veggies and fruits, save a little money and avoid wasting produce that may go bad when bought in bulk.

  • 3) Purchase in bulk

  • I love warehouse stores! My small family sure eats a LOT of food so purchasing in bulk saves you money. When possible, buy more now to save money in the long run.

  • 4) Price match

  • This is one that can save you more than you realize. I look through ads weekly to see what is on sale and where. I then write down the things I want at the discounted price and take the list to Walmart. They price match all similar brands. This past week I got red bell peppers for less than 40 cents each (normally almost $1.50 each). When you buy several items and get almost $1 off each item, it can really add up. You can often find chicken breasts on sale every couple of weeks at a local grocery store for under $2 a pound, stock up and freeze them to save on meat.

  • 5) Purchase the generic brands

  • Some items we purchase are packaged, and when there is option for a name brand or the generic brand, I go with the generic. The ingredients are generally identical despite the difference in packaging. The generic brand can be $1 cheaper or more in some cases.

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  • 6) Cook similar foods

  • This tip doesn't work for everyone, but for those that don't mind eating similar foods day to day it's a great way to save money. When you cook similar large entrees during the week and eat similar snacks, it's easier to purchase in bulk without things going bad. You also have to purchase fewer ingredients when you cook this way. This is a way to cut down on the cost of making a variety of entrees that require so many different spices and ingredients, which can add up quickly, as spices are typically $3-$7 per container.

  • For example, I'll cook crockpot salsa chicken (chicken breast, packet taco seasoning and bottled salsa cooked in a crockpot for eight hours on low) and then eat the meat several different ways over a couple of days such as salads, with a side of vegetables, and as chicken tacos.

  • 7) Skip fast food

  • Do you think a $5-$6 combo meal is a great value and that you're saving money compared to eating healthy? In most cases, if you do the math you'll discover that the opposite is true, especially if you use the tips above to get your meat at a good price for $1.99 per pound for chicken. The average chicken breast is just a little over 1/2 pound. So even if you ate a chicken breast with some seasoning and $1.50 bag of frozen steamed veggies, your meal would come in at around $3 or less. I'm not saying that fries aren't delicious, just that you can eat a home cooked meal and save a few bucks.

  • Eating healthier isn't always the cheapest option, but with these tips you can start to make small changes that can greatly improve your family's health.

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