Family is a blessing and kids are a treasure, but keeping a growing family fully fed is a costly proposition. Expenses continue to rise faster than income, and food prices are no different. This makes feeding a family on a fixed budget a special kind of a challenge. Healthy food, especially, can seem almost too expensive to afford. With a little extra work, great recipes, and some flexibility, however, it’s possible to feed your family plenty of healthy food, no matter how tight your budget may be.
Make a plan
Before heading to the grocery store, do some preparation in advance. Have a selection of different recipes and meals that your family enjoys, and make sure you know all of the ingredients needed. Cut out coupons in magazines and newspapers for items your family uses, and check the grocery sale papers before you head out to make sure you know exactly what is on sale.
Manage your urges
Time your shopping trip to occur right after you eat, so that you aren’t hungry and more prone to impulse buying. If your children are inclined to pull cookies and sugary items off the shelves, you may want to leave them at home.
Hunt for sales
When shopping, instead of purchasing items related to your menu and recipes for the week, you can also plan your menu around what’s on sale that week. While fresh fruits and vegetables can often be expensive and rarely have coupons, in-season produce is generally cheaper. Look for discounts and good deals – just be sure to steer towards foods your family will actually eat. Local farm stands or farmers’ markets are another way to get reasonably priced fresh produce.
Use bulk wisely
Also take advantage of “buy one, get one free” sales and bulk discounts. Having a good storage system in place will make food less likely to go to waste. When freezing meat products, write the date of purchase on the package so you know when you’ll need to eat it. Cleaning out your freezer frequently can help you know exactly what food you have available. Soups, pastas, and canned goods are great to purchase in large quantities when they are on sale.
Also, if you have a warehouse club near you, compare prices and consider sharing purchases with a nearby friend or relative. Make sure you have willpower though, or else you’ll come out with a basketful of bulky items you didn’t plan to purchase.
Dried, canned, and frozen
Dried items such as beans can be a great, healthy alternative to meat, and are generally reasonably priced. Beans can be added to salads, rice, and soups to add more protein. Also, consider purchasing canned (with no added salt) or frozen vegetables and fruit, which usually contain the same nutrients as fresh food.