Can Your Family Really Eat Healthy on a Tight Budget?

Within the last decade, the media has shined more light than ever before on how unhealthy our country has become. And thanks to documentaries like 2004’s Super Size Me, Americans are more aware than ever of how dangerous our diets have become. With heart disease being the number one killer, and diabetes completely out of control, a growing number of people are making changes to try and live healthier lifestyles.

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However, for many, the knowledge that we need to eat healthy doesn’t seem to be enough to make it happen. So the burning question is: why? Why do people know that their diet is literally killing them, yet they continue to eat terribly? Why do parents know they need to instill healthy eating habits in their children, yet fail to do so?

Well, there are a few possible answers to the question:

  • People are used to eating a certain way and are resistant to change.
  • There are so many fad diets coming and going that people jump on and off of them, experiencing no long term success. So they give up.
  • Eating healthy is viewed as more expensive than the alternative.

The Diet of America’s Youth: It’s Problematic

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Whatever the reasoning for unhealthy eating might be, it’s clear that it’s an issue that is trickling down to our kids. In fact, the statistics put out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are more than just a little bit alarming. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • The majority of American youth don’t eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables or whole grains on a daily basis.
  • Most of our youth eat far too much sodium, likely due to the prevalence of processed foods.
  • Most adolescents drink more than soda than milk (by about two times). Think about that for a second.

It’s clear there’s an issue. But what can be done to change it? Are their saving tips that can help?

Do You Have to Buy More Expensive Organic Foods?

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Let’s focus on the issue of the costs associated with healthy eating. As the rich tend to get richer, and the poor seem to get poorer (and the middle class arguably fades away), the idea that healthy food is more expensive keeps many parents from properly feeding their kids. But is this true, or is it a simple misconception?

Well, it depends on what you consider “eating healthy.” One of the major reasons people see eating healthy as being more expensive is because of their view of healthy eating. With organic food exploding in popularity, many think you have to eat organic to eat healthy. So they try walking the organic aisles at their local supermarket, only to find themselves discouraged when they discover that the organic version of a product is pretty much always a dollar or two more expensive than the other version.

However, the truth is that we don’t know for sure that eating organic is any healthier. Studies haven’t produced any conclusive results that it’s actually better for you. Of course, that doesn’t mean it isn’t—we just aren’t sure. But it does show you that eating healthy isn’t necessarily synonymous with eating organic.

If you want to start mixing organic foods into your diet, but don’t want to eat up your food budget doing so, consider learning which foods are more likely to contain high levels of pesticides. Then you can just buy the organic versions of those fruits and veggies, and the regular versions of others.

More Savings Tips to Eat Healthy on a Tight Budget

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There are other ways to transform your family’s diet without breaking your budget other than foregoing the organic section. Here are some of the most useful:

  • Cut down on your meat consumption. For some reason, we tend to feel as if we have to have meat at every meal. And not just some meat—we want lots of it. However, you’re really only supposed to have 6 ounces or less per day. So you can transform your family’s diet and save money in the process just by purchasing less meat and upping the green intake.
  • Plan out your meals. We live in a faster paced society than ever before. And with more and more parents spending their time working rather than staying at home, meals are often an afterthought. This leads to people turning to spur of the moment food decisions that are often unhealthy (like fast food). But when you plan your meals in advance, you can save time throughout the week but still eat healthy. You can also make use of coupons and other savings tips if you prepare in advance.
  • Choose seasonal fruits and veggies. Have you ever noticed that certain fruits and vegetables are outrageously priced most of the time, but tend to drop dramatically for a limited amount of time? That’s because when those foods are in season, there is a surplus so they sell them cheaper. But when the fruit or vegetable isn’t in season, it’s harder to get, costs more to ship, and has a higher demand with a lower supply. So if you plan your meals around which food are in season, you’ll spend less.

You can feed your family health on a budget. You just have to be smart, plan in advance, and seek out more money saving tips.

About the author:

Jim Slowalski is a financial advisor by profession, a nutritionist and advocate of living a healthy lifestyle. His true passion is helping individuals and families improve their lives with both their finances as well as health and wellness.

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