Many families want to eat better and spend less money, and they can achieve both goals with a single commitment: eat at home to save money! Both parents and children can benefit from this approach as fast food and sit-down restaurants may be more convenient for busy families, but they are not the healthiest options. And they are unquestionably more expensive.
The best place to begin is in the kitchen. These five simple steps will help you revamp your pantry and fridge, feed your family fresh, healthy meals, and save money.
1. Plan ahead of time.
Let’s face it: cooking at home isn’t a realistic option when it’s five o’clock, and you have no plans for dinner and have no idea what’s in the fridge. That is why preparation is essential.
Set aside some time on Saturday or Sunday to plan out your week.
For busy days, opt for simpler meals like soup or pasta. Save more elaborate meals for the weekend, such as beef and butternut squash stew. Check out weekly circulars for deals and ideas for menu items.
Knowing what you need to buy and making a shopping list will help you stay on track. There is nothing to worry about forgetting.
2. Protein packs a powerful punch.
Meat or another protein takes center stage in meals. The other ingredients and side dishes serve as extras. However, as most families are aware, the stars frequently command the highest price.
Look for sales to offset these costs when you’re checking out that circular. If you find a good deal on ground beef, buy more than you need, portion it out into one-meal portions, and freeze it for later use.
You could also add some onions, garlic, or your favorite seasoning and brown it all at once before freezing. According to Schreiber, it works well as an instant starter for pasta, soups, and stews.
Buy a rotisserie chicken if you’re late for work or don’t have time to prepare a meal. When paired with a salad, they make an inexpensive instant meal. Consider including beans, tofu, texturized vegetable protein, and other non-meat protein sources in a few meals per week.
3. Stock up on nutritious staples.
What supplies should you have on hand? Extra virgin olive oil for cooking: It is the least processed, contains the most nutrients, and adds flavor to various dishes. Schreiber adds that oatmeal is a healthy and filling breakfast option and a healthier binder for meatloaf than processed breadcrumbs.
Once cooked, twice eaten: Take your leftovers further and turn them into an entirely new meal!
Others? Potatoes and canned or dried beans can be used as a side dish to main dishes. Schreiber says there are many healthier pasta options for pasta lovers, including whole-wheat pasta.
Low-fat milk, 2% cottage cheese, and yogurt are good home snacks. You can always combine them with fresh fruit and honey for a tasty but healthy treat.
Also, keep fruits and vegetables on hand at all times, particularly those that are easy to eat on the go. Bananas, lunchbox-size apples, and baby carrots are excellent choices for children.
4. Look for healthier alternatives to your favorite unhealthy foods.
We all have favorite foods and snacks, but there are usually healthy alternatives.
Many families enjoy chips, but the added salt and calories could be better. Instead, try baked chips, pretzels, or veggie chips as a snack. For coffee and tea drinkers, Schreiber recommends honey or agave nectar, which has a lower glycemic index and thus does not spike blood sugar like refined sugar.
Furthermore, whole-wheat flour and whole-wheat pastry flour can be used in place of regular white flour in cooking and baking. Sunflower butter is ideal for people who have children who are allergic to peanuts (or for your children’s friends who may visit).
While many children enjoy dipping their vegetables in ranch dressing, hummus is a healthier alternative. It is high in protein, potassium, and fiber and is made from chickpeas.
5. Allow for some leeway.
Remember: You won’t be able to maintain this change if you don’t allow for some flexibility, whether it’s allowing your children to choose one “bad food” per week or allowing for one fast-food or dine-out meal every other week or so.
We simply strike a balance. While she takes her sons shopping to familiarize them with selecting healthy items, she allows them to choose one snack, such as cookies or candy.
This type of splurge provides the balance that every family should strive for this year – and every year.
Meaningful articles you might like: Eating Disorders in Children Affect Both Girls and Boys, 7 Scientifically Proven Advantages of Eating as a Family, Encouraging Healthy Eating Habits in Children