feeding a {healthy} family without breaking the bank.

how can I feed my family of 5 fresh, healthy food without going broke?  help! I cook for my family, but then I'm too tired to make something healthy for myself. 

it's easy to cook for 2. but what about an entire household of tiny mouths and sticky fingers? 

 

over the past week I've received more than a handful of requests for a blog post on how to healthfully feed + fuel a family. so ladies (and gents), here it is.

but first, let me ask you this: do your children eat healthy food? real food? unprocessed food? do they eat what you eat (assuming you eat real, whole foods)? if your answer is yes, please go start a bath for yourself and relax. because you are doing something very right. if your answer is no, why the hell not? I know, I know, I'm not a mom. I don't understand. kids are picky, selective and tiny little monsters that only eat finger foods. you can say I told you so someday. but for now, let me say this:

you choose to eat healthy, why? because you know that choosing whole foods and real ingredients will help prevent disease and premature death? because eating well makes you feel good? because you know that your body operates and performs best on real foods? so then, why would you not want those same things for your children?

despite how you might feel, you are more than a sous chef. you are the boss. you dictate what will be eaten. I may not be a mom, but I do have one. and I can vividly recall having to sit at the dinner table for over an hour, eating salmon whilst plugging my nose because I hated it. it was the grossest thing in the world. but it was good for me, and I was not leaving the table until it was finished. and now…I love salmon and look forward to eating it! if all children were allowed to eat only what they wanted, we would all have grown up on mac and cheese and been blissfully unaware that leafy greens even existed. be the adult. make one menu and adapt as necessary.

#1. Learn The Art Of Meal Planning 

You can save a lot of money by knowing what you need and how much you need for each recipe you intend to make during the week instead of buying impulsively at the supermarket. Grab a piece of paper and a pen and pull up Pinterest. Pick 7-14 recipes you want to make (choose some that incorporate the same ingredients - money saver). Write down all the ingredients needed, along with the quantities appropriate for the number of mouths to feed in your house. Budget for leftovers. ta-da! your grocery list is made. cross off anything you already have in the pantry and you've just created your weekly menu.

Breakfasts are usually easy. Pick one or two staples and stick with them. Have time to make eggs every morning? Great! Start your day with an egg and veggie scramble. If not, pre make egg muffins with chopped veggies, bacon, ham and/or cheese. Make a batch of protein pancakes and keep them in the fridge. Keep ingredients on-hand for yogurt parfaits.

Snacks just require some shopping and chopping. Veggies with hummus or guacamole. Hard boiled eggs. Homemade trail mixes. Protein balls. You want something transportable for those trips in the car to and from school, or those after-soccer-practice snacks. Again, make sure you've got the ingredients and then make a batch big enough for an army. Keep the leftovers in the fridge so there's always a healthy snack option at your fingertips.

Lunches and Dinners can be a bit more involved. I'd choose one to make in the crockpot or a wok - something super easy that you can just throw together and make enough for everyone to enjoy. If you have a bit more time to spend in the kitchen, feel free to get creative. Just try to incorporate a protein, a non-starchy veggie, a healthy fat and a complex carbohydrate.

#2. Buy + Prepare in Bulk

It's 2015. Everyone has a Costco membership, right? It should be mandated if you have 2 or more children. because seriously. buying in bulk is the greatest thing ever. Sure! A gallon of olive oil seems excessive, but it'll last you forever and you'll probably pay the same amount for a few ounces at your local grocer. You can get 6lbs. of chicken breast and make it 3 or 4 different ways! Preparing in bulk allows you to repurpose an inexpensive piece of protein in order to get the biggest bang for your buck. Toss some in the crockpot to season and toss on top of salads. Make a soup. Use it in a casserole. and don't forget, once upon a time we ate the same thing every single day. I don't' know where we got the notion that eating something more than once a week is a terrible idea, but scrap it. leftovers are your best friend.

#3. Fresh Is Best - Frozen Can Be Better

Vegetable prices can vary tremendously based on the season. Cabbage and squash tend to be affordable year round, but some of your other colourful veggies can be pricey depending on the time of year. So check the frozen selection! Frozen is just as fresh as fresh…and sometimes even fresher (because it hasn't been sitting on a truck for days on end). Make sure it doesn't have added sauces or salt, and then stock up!

#4. Get A Pet Chicken

I'm only sort of kidding. this wouldn't fly in my house. but seriously. grow your own stuff. shop local. and if you know someone with chickens, ask them if you can buy their eggs.

#5. Don't Buy Drinks

No, your kids don't need juice. Give them an orange instead. and no, they certainly don't need sodas and other sugary beverages. consider it an investment in their dental health. Drink water.

I only have one mouth to feed, but for those superheros among you, you are not alone. Here are some links to great moms who do it all:

http://www.thebettermom.com/bi-weekly-meal-plans/

http://www.fitnessmagazine.com/recipes/healthy-eating/superfoods/healthy-eating-planner-31-days-of-superfoods/

http://wellnessmama.com/1612/full-week-meal-plan-recipes-shopping-list/

 

Eat well. Live well. Be well.