How to Plan Healthy Meals on a Budget

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Eating healthy is increasingly important for families, as they combat diseases such as childhood obesity, Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Paired with proper exercise and sufficient sleep, eating healthy meals can keep families energized and out of the doctor’s office. By eliminating junk food such as sugary sodas, chips and cookies, families can begin to adopt healthy eating habits. Planning healthy meals doesn’t have to break a family’s bank; in fact, with planning and preparation, families can plan healthy meals on a budget.

Budget

Sit with your spouse, and take a look at your overall household budget. Determine how much of your budget you need to allocate to food costs. Take into account how many people live in your household, how many meals each person eats at home per week and the ages of each family member.

Talk

Talk with your family to get an idea of their favorite meals and their least favorite meals.

Plan

Plan weekly menus that outline breakfast, lunch and dinner options for the family. Include lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, dairy products and whole grains in the weekly menu plan, and avoid foods that are high in fat, cholesterol, calories and sugar content. The Diet Channel, a website for healthy eating, notes that meals such as chill, soups and pasta dishes are cost-effective and filling.

Bulk

Plan to purchase produce such as oranges and onions by the bag, as suggested by The Diet Channel, to reduce costs. Buy cereals and grains in bulk, and properly store them to keep them fresh.

Avoid

Reduce the amount of junk food you purchase. Give your family fruits as snacks, and avoid unhealthy junk foods. Reduce the amount of processed foods you purchase as well, as they can eat up your budget and are usually packed with unhealthy ingredients.

Coupons

Clip coupons from your newspaper and supermarket circular, and print out coupons through online sites such as Coupons and Coupon Mom. Sign up for savings cards and programs at the grocery stores you and your family frequent. Use your weekly menu plan to select coupons that will help you save money during your supermarket trip.

List

Make your grocery list. Make a note next to the products you have a coupon for. Identify the brand your coupon is for, as well as the size or quantity of the item you have to buy to take advantage of the coupon offer.

Stick to it!

Visit the supermarket with your grocery list, coupons and a calculator. Stick to your list to ensure that you don’t exceed your designated budget. Leslie Bonci, a nutrition expert, suggests shopping the perimeter of the store first, hitting areas such as produce, dairy and meats because those items contribute to healthy eating and weight loss.

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