Eating Healthy On A Frugal Budget

Too many people tell me that the reason they eat such unhealthy meals is because healthy food is expensive. I tend to disagree with them, but converting these spendthrifts isn’t all that difficult when I tell them that our family of four eats pretty healthy and my food budget is half of the national average (according to my online research).

I’m not a health nut by any means, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that junk food makes you feel terrible and it doesn’t cost less than healthier foods. Not to mention you’ll have fewer trips to the doctor since eating healthier helps to keep the immune system and other body functions running smoothly.

As I probably mentioned in previous posts, my favorite store to shop at is the 99 Cent Only store. They have everything from meat and produce to dairy and canned foods. Almost all are name brands. They even have toiletries, pet supplies, makeup and sometimes clothing.Where else could you get a new blouse for a dollar?

I realize that anyone living in the Eastern half of the United States doesn’t have access to these stores since they’re mainly in the West, but there are still plenty of discount stores where you can purchase most, if not all, of your food and other supplies at rock-bottom prices. Just a few of these are:

*Family Dollar

*Dollar General

*Dollar Tree (a true one-dollar only store)

*Aldi

*Save-A-Lot

I spend just $300 a month on my family of four, which includes food, toiletries and pet food. We have breakfasts, lunches, dinners, desserts, and snacks. Of course, we don’t have dessert every day, but at least a couple times a week.

Other ways I’ve cut back on spending and improved our health is to stop buying juice and soda. Water is perfectly fine and much healthier. Instead, my kids get their vitamins through whole fruits and vegetables. Let’s use an example of an orange compared to a Twinkie. When my kids were in public school I’d see more kids with Twinkies than oranges. How do they stack up in price and nutrition?

An orange has more than 100% of the RDA of vitamin C and it also contains respectable amounts of fiber, vitamin A, folate, potassium, calcium and B1. The cost of oranges varies, but I usually get them for 10 cents to 25 cents each. When it comes to calories, even a large orange has only 100 calories and is fat free.

A Twinkie has 150 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, and the only vitamins are 2% vitamin A and 2% iron. Since I haven’t bought a box of Twinkies in at least 15 years, I did some research online and saw that two years ago a box of Twinkies cost $2.50 for a box of 10. So, they cost about the same as an orange. Sure, that’s tempting to know when you want to satisfy your kids’ sweet tooth, and they’re fine for a sometimes treat, but the nutritional values speak for themselves. This isn’t a Twinkie bashing post, it’s just a comparison between a typical unhealthy treat versus something healthier.

My two oldest girls went to public school and I always packed their lunches. Each lunch cost fewer than two dollars, was healthy, and it kept them full of energy and gave them clear mental focus for the school day.

When paring back the budget, start with junk food and replace it with healthier foods. Your wallet will be fatter, your waistlines smaller, and you’ll have a clear conscious knowing you’re feeding yourself and your kids better than ever.

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