Budget-Friendly Healty Eating – A Guest Post

Here is an email I received from Pamela:

I have to eat a lot of meat protein for health reasons, and as you can imagine, it gets pretty expensive. I limit my carbs to veggies and fruits. I started couponing last year and felt frustrated that the things I need the most (meat, eggs, produce) have limited coupons. I stock up on cheese, milk, and meat by freezing them. What are your tips for getting good deals on these fresh/whole food items? What types of produce can/can’t be frozen, and what techniques should be used to do so?

I was going to cover this this week but it’s been a rough week so a very kind reader and new frugalite friend, Kate, offered to help out. Firstly, I wanna recommend my freezing posts that we covered a while ago. You can find them in the categories section on the right.

Also, there is an EXCELLENT book out there called Don’t panic, Dinner’s in the Freezer that I highly recommend. You can buy it for only $10.49 here. It really is a great book on meals you can make ahead and I’ve already used a bunch of recipes!!! I’m hooked! Or you can pre-order their brand new book out April here.

Budget Friendly Healthy Eating – A Guest Post

Ever since I became pregnant with my first child, six years ago, I felt the need to eat well and feed my family as healthy as possible. That was before my couponing days, and I spent way too much money on organic baby food and the like. Ironically, as I was brainstorming about this post, my kids were eating their lunch of McDonalds! At least it was white-meat nuggets and apple dippers! When I dived deep into the world of couponing, I refused to compromise on feeding my kids healthy, and I have found that much of the time, it can be CHEAPER to be healthy! Here are some of the things that work for me.

1. Make your own baby food. There are books out there to tell you how, but it’s really quite simple. Buy healthy produce when it’s on sale, cook it, puree it with a little water, and pour it into ice cube trays until you’re ready to use it. It is so much cheaper! By the time my second child was nine months old, I often just put whatever we were having for dinner into the food processor. She loved it, and I didn’t have to pay extra for baby food for her.

2. Have baking/cooking days. If you don’t want to do this alone, enlist a friend to play along. Or switch kids for a day so you can do it in peace! Today, I made a quadruple batch of whole wheat waffles and froze them. I can pull them out of the freezer and pop them right into the toaster for breakfast. It is much cheaper and healthier than traditional frozen waffles! We do this with breads and muffins as well. I also do cooking days to make and freeze meals in advance. This cuts down on eating out or buying premade meals, and I always try to use ingredients from my stockpile. (Note from Clair – we will be covering this in more detail soon!)

3. Make healthy switches… they usually aren’t more expensive. Whole wheat flour is around the same price as white flour. Switch it out where you can, or use half of each. Use applesauce instead of oil. It’s healthier and often cheaper on a great sale.

4. Buy produce on sale. I buy produce when it is on sale, plain and simple. When it comes to produce, I try to stick to organic on thin-skinned items and berries, but even organic goes on sale. My other rule is that I try not to buy produce from outside the US, because it has more pesticides. I often buy produce at Meijer when it is 40% off for quick sale. When organic carrots or spinach are on a great sale/clearance, I buy a bunch, steam it, puree it, and stick it in my freezer. Which leads me to…

5. Sneak in the nutrients on the cheap. Whenever I cook with ground beef, I hide the pureed spinach and carrots that I got on clearance in there. This also works in soups and you can hide some great stuff in breads too!

6. Buy baking staples at Aldi. If I run out of flour, sugar, etc, I might be likely to pick them up at a higher price when I’m shopping for other things on sale. Aldi generally has the best all-around price for basic staples. I’ve also found that Aldi’s price is hard to beat for canned beans.

7. Plant a garden! I never thought I’d be into gardening, but it is so exciting to feed my children the produce that we’ve grown without any chemicals! And it’s cheaper than buying them. Last year, I grew zucchinis big enough to make 16 zucchini breads from one zucchini. Then freeze or can what you can’t eat right away to use throughout the year. Right now I have 4 zucchini bread in the oven from last summer’s garden.

8. Pick your own berries in season (or buy them from the picking place) and freeze. We bought 40 pounds of blueberries last August. I used them to make my own jam. Easy to make, healthier than store-bought, and cheap cheap cheap! We’ve been using the berries for smoothies, cereal toppers, and baking throughout the year. Same for cheap organic strawberries.

9. There ARE coupons for healthy food. I just got a coupon for $2 off $10 produce at Jewel. Kashi is my favorite for product coupons. Sign up on their website to receive coupons. Earthbound Farms is another great one. If you get their newsletter, they’ll regularly send you coupons for their organic produce. If there is a particular item you like, write to the company and ask them for coupons. My kids love Veggie Booty for a snack. It’s a healthy puff with all kinds of vegetables. I’d never seen a coupon for it, so I wrote to the company, and they sent me six 40 cent off coupons.

10. When eating out, bring an applesauce cup for the kids to eat while they are waiting for the food. It keeps them busy and gets something healthy into them (think supercheap applesauce at Target right now!)

Kate is a SAHM of three kids, Belle (1), Audrey (3), and Trey (5), and wife to Dante. She is a self-proclaimed “coupon freak” and enjoys teaching small classes to friends and watching them save too.

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