Aside from knowing the right foods to feed your family in order to provide them with proper nutrition, you also need to have the money to purchase those foods. And let’s face it: the best stuff always seems to be more expensive, whether it’s organic or simply fresh. For the family on a budget, this can pose a very real problem. How do you prepare healthy meals when you can’t afford the ingredients? Luckily, there are several ways to make every dollar count when it comes to purchasing the items you need. Although it may require some extra effort on your part, you can almost certainly enjoy the healthy foods you crave at just about any budget. Here are just a few tips and tricks to help you along the way.
1. Plant a garden. This is the absolute cheapest way to enjoy the fresh (and even organic) fruits and vegetables you crave year round. Some items, like leafy greens and tomatoes, won’t survive the freezing process like other veggies. But if you embrace the lost art of canning and jamming, you can have all sorts of goodies to last you through the winter (not to mention all the fresh produce you’ll enjoy during the summer months). The best part is that you can get the whole family involved in this endeavor, whether you have a big plot in the backyard or a container garden on your balcony.
2. Visit the farmers market. Rather than subjecting yourself to high prices at the supermarket, why not go straight to the source and buy from local farmers (bonus: less pollution from transport). Not only will you be engaging in a community support program, you can also find great prices and often, you can even haggle them down, especially if you’re buying several items. Just remember to bring cash.
3. Ask about delivery days. If there’s no farmers market nearby and you simply don’t have the time to grow your own garden, there are still ways to save at the store, especially on items like meat and produce that will spoil. Simply find out which days of the week bring in new shipments of these items and plan your shopping trip for the day before, when older items will be marked down to make room for the new stuff.
4. Buy in bulk. When sales are on and you have coupons, it’s time to buy in bulk. Dry goods are especially important because they’ll keep longer, but don’t discount what can be done with fresh items. Again, consider freezing, canning, or jamming as a way to buy cheap and make your purchases last longer.
5. Make concessions. Just because you want to buy everything organic doesn’t necessarily mean you can afford it. So shop the organics section when stuff is on sale and opt for the regular fare the rest of the time. You can only do what you can do, so don’t stress about it. And if even the fresh fruits and veggies are too expensive (as in during the winter months), opt for frozen instead. They are less costly, have all the same nutrients as fresh fare, and forego the preservatives often found in canned items.
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