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Eating Healthy on a Budget for Families

Tips to Achieve a Healthier Family – Healthy Eating on a Budget. Eating healthy can be an expensive proposition for one to take on, not to mention trying to get the entire family on board. The cost of living for healthy eating can be one of the largest deterrents and killers of any diet program. Most of us can't afford to eat purely organic produce and hormone free protein, so finding a more cost effective way to eat healthy is paramount.

The first thing you must do as it pertains to the overall health of your family is to get real with your current state of fitness. Each member of your family needs to take responsibility for their current fitness level and understand that there has to be a starting point. Take an overall assessment of your family as well as an individual assessment so you know where you stand.

A good place to start your family's health assessment is to calculate the BMI (Body Mass Index) of each member. BMI is used as a statistical analysis tool that determines whether an individual is underweight, normal weight, or overweight as it compares to an overall population. To find a BMI calculator or to learn more about body mass index, visit www.stayingfit.com.

Once you have a starting point for your family as a whole, you need to set realistic goals, invest in a fitness program, and create healthy eating habits, i.e. diet. A great guide and resource for creating a family fitness plan is called, "An Eight-Week Family Fitness Plan: To Reduce the Obesity Threat to your Family," by Walt Larimore, MD and Cheryl Flynt, MPH, RD. Visit drwalt.com/PDF/8-week-family-fitness-plan.pdf or www.supersizedkids.com for more info.

Developing healthy eating habits can be the biggest speed bump on the road to a healthier family unit, but don't let your budget stop you. You can skirt the high cost of most diets by simply planning ahead and make good choices when you're at the market. Below are a few quick tips to cutting the cost of healthy eating.

1) Learn to Cook: I understand that most people know how to cook to some degree. By cooking your own food you guarantee that you know what is going into your dishes. You also save tremendously on the cost of each meal. Cooking your meals at home allows you to properly proportion the meal and allows you to keep on track.

  • Bulk Cooking: One of the best ways to keep the cost down is by cooking your meals in bulk. You can purchase your ingredients in bulk and use them to create meals. Also, you can plan a number of meals to be used over time and cook for those meals, freezing them for future use. This will allow you to cut down on money as-well-as time in the kitchen.
  • Share the Burden: If you have other family members who can get their families on board, you can spread the cost of healthy living across the family. Take turns purchasing the higher ticket items and share them equally. This will also encourage a stronger family bond and occasionally a healthy fitness competition.

2) Learn to Shop: Shopping is the key to attaining healthy foods, but it can be a mine field of distractions and pitfalls. You need to learn to shop healthily and be smart. There are items that you think you must have that are high ticket products – this is fine, but make a list of these items and limit yourself to just one item on the list each time you go shopping.

  • Fishy Fishy: Fish is one of the healthiest proteins you can put in your body. Some fish are better than others, but fish in general is a great source of protein. The consumption of some fish does not need to exceed a couple servings a week, so make sure you check the packaging of your products. While fresh fish is always best you need to look for frozen or canned fish to get the most savings. You lose no nutritional value in frozen fish, and as long as you stay away from fish packed in oil or other flavor additives, then canned fish is the way to go.
  • Cheap Cut: Who does not love a great steak? Most everyone enjoys the great taste of a good cut of meat, however, that can become expensive, and generally the best cuts are laden with marbling (the fat inside the meat). To save on your pure protein bill, look for the cheaper cuts. They will generally be found around the stew meats and roasts on your grocer's shelves. These cuts do not have the flavor of a filet mignon, but they also don't have the cost. Note: Don't deprive yourself of the good stuff either. Set a goal for your family, and once that goal is reached, reward yourselves with whatever cut of steak you want. You deserve it.
  • The Reduced Rack: Almost all grocery stores have a reduced rack in the produce section. Look for it next time you are in the store. Most people never notice it. This rack has fruits and veggies at a fraction of the cost of the stuff under the lights and it is perfectly good.
  • Frozen Aisle: Some of the best items in your grocery store are found in the frozen food section. I am talking about the section with the frozen bags of veggies, not the section with the bars of ice cream and pizzas. Frozen vegetables are as nutritious as fresh veggies and at a fraction of the cost. Many of the bags sell for as little as a dollar, and you can get most of the products that you will need. Spend some time in the frozen section and you will see your savings and your health barometer go up.
  • Look Out for Boxes: There are some good products that come from boxes, like frozen spinach, or whole grain pasta, but for the most part, if it comes out of a box, be leery. Most pre-packaged foods, even those so called healthy meals, come with some hidden monsters, the most prevalent being sodium. Most of the time you are paying for the box and someone else's ability to proportion a meal. You can do the latter for yourself and you don't need a box. The bottom line is to be very careful when you buy products that are in a box, and if you need to do so, make sure you read and understand the label.

3) Grown Your Own: Even if you don't live in the country, it is possible to grow your own produce. With a little research, some pots, and a little dirt, you can have fresh veggies growing on your patio or apartment deck. The savings are obvious and you will enjoy watching your produce grow from seedlings to a harvest-able product.

The bottom line is that eating well on a budget comes down to preparation and education. Learn to find the deals in your local market, and work with your family to cut costs and waist lines. For some other great tips and advice for a better you, go to www.choosemyplate.gov. For some great healthy recipes go to www.eatwell.com .

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Wednesday, 04 August 2021

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