The most common question I get asked as a dietitian is: How do I prepare a meal for my family that’s healthy, easy, quick, tasty and affordable?
Below are some tips that may help.
Serve Milk with Meals
Serving milk or lactose free milk with meals is not only economical but also an easy way to ensure your family is getting nutrients they need like calcium, vitamins A and D, protein and more. Adding milk as an ingredient adds a boost of nutrition and taste. Try making the following with milk: oatmeal, mashed potatoes and a smoothie, scrambled eggs, omelettes and creamy soups.
Buy Produce in Season
Buying produce in season is usually less expensive and you’ll find it’s at peak flavor. Remember to buy only what you can use before it spoils. If you have extra produce, use vegetables in soups and stir fry’s or fruit in smoothies made with yogurt. Buying canned or frozen fruits and vegetables can also be a good bargain – they are just as good for you as fresh fruits and vegetables, and they last longer. Be sure to look for canned fruit packed in water or 100% fruit juice and vegetables with “low-sodium” or “no salt added” on the label.
Don’t buy ingredients for one recipe, instead look for a variety of recipes that use the same common core ingredients. This will allow you to buy larger quantities of the needed ingredients, which can cost less. Another option is to double the recipe and put the extra in the freezer to pull out for a future meal.
Make a Grocery Store Game Plan
Take inventory of your pantry, fridge and freezer, then plan a menu for the week and only buy the ingredients you’re missing. Download coupons and store specials to take advantage of sales, and make sure to buy store brands. Shop for groceries after a meal when you are full and less likely to make impulsive purchases.
Try Different Types of Protein
Vary your protein sources by adding beans, peas and lentils to salads, soups and main dishes. Buy the family-sized or value pack of lean meats, chicken or turkey, and freeze what you don’t use. Shake things up with breakfast for dinner and serve eggs (scrambled, omelettes, frittatas, etc.) with cheese and chopped veggies. Buy a large container of Greek style yogurt, add to a meal or use as an ingredient to help you feel fuller longer.
Healthy eating doesn’t need to be expensive or time consuming, find more tips for eating healthy on a budget at My Plate.