Sometimes trying to make healthy family meals can seem overbearing or expensive at times.
What should I make? What do I have at home? What will my family eat? The list goes on and on. According to Clemson Cooperative Extension in the article Planning Meals for a Family (2020), there are even benefits to eating meals at home. One: meals usually are healthier and can tase better as the person preparing them has control over the meal being prepared at home, two: there is more control over the portion sizes being served, three: it makes for more family time, and four: cooking meals at home is usually cheaper than eating out.
Eating healthy for a family on a budget is doable for everyone. However, to make the most of your money, it might take some planning. Megan Jaspersen of Purdue University Extension has provided some tips and suggestions in Eating Healthy on a Budget (2020) to help families eat healthy on a budget. Megan has suggested some tips for eating healthily on a budget from organizing before heading to the store by knowing what you have and making a list of what you need for meals. Plan meals ahead of time and determine what you need to purchase and choose meals that can be made easily on busy days, and save more complex meals for days you have more time.
Additionally, Megan has suggested some smart tips for shopping, from buying frozen or canned fruit and vegetables as they last longer than fresh and are easy to incorporate into meals. She suggests purchasing in-season items as they are usually cheaper and at their peak flavor, try buying family-sized or value packs of meat and freeze what you do not use, and choose budget-friendly grains such as rice and pasta.
Purdue University Extension- Nutrition Education Program has also created a handout titled Budget Friendly Foods to Keep in Your Home, and many of these foods are shelf-stable. They can be bought when on sale and kept for when they are needed. Some of these shelf-stable foods that you could keep around for family meals are beans, lentils, canned meats (tuna, salmon, chicken, etc.), shelf-stable or powdered milk, rice, pasta, canned fruit and vegetables, unsweet applesauce, and the list goes on. Eggs are also a very budget-friendly food that you might consider keeping in stock as they are an excellent source of protein and can remain fresh in the refrigerator for at least a month, according to Purdue University Extension.
With a bit of preparation and planning before heading to the store, shopping for a family on a budget is something everyone can do.