Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Guest Post: Healthy Ways to Stretch Meals

In a large family, it may be a bit difficult to make enough food for everyone. In today's world, food can be quite expensive, especially for a large household. While there are many cheap and easy ways that can make the food go further, not all of them are conscientious about personal health. What are some healthy ways you can make the meals stretch further on a limited budget?

1. Growing Your Own Fruits and Vegetables - Many households will save money by growing their own foods in the backyard garden. Aside from time spent in the garden, the only real cost to yourself is the amount of space you'll need to grow enough to feed everyone. If you have an area to build a small indoor garden, you could provide this food year round. You could even add in a food dehydrator in order to extend the shelf-life of your produce.

2. Buy in Bulk - Many households will have memberships to wholesale warehouses in order to buy in bulk. This can save you a lot of money when it comes to buying food for the whole family. Annual membership costs are insignificant if you compare the amount of money you save with how much food you bring home each month. In fact, most of these warehouses accept food stamps for those that need government assistance.

3. Portion Control - Create meals using proper portions. Although sometimes it's nice to have a 10 ounce steak on your plate, realistically that steak could feed three people. Too many individuals believe that food needs to overflow a plate in order to be classified as a meal. Portion control can help you stretch the meats and foods further while providing an actual balance of what a human should consume.

4. Snack Substitutions - Instead of buying sugary and more expensive deserts for the family, sweet fruits can be just as delicious while providing everyone with much needed nutrition. A nice homemade fruit medley can be far healthier and quite enjoyable compared to cupcakes or cookies.

5. Farmer's Markets - Generally speaking, you can afford to buy almost twice the food and vegetables if you visit the local farmer's market as opposed to the grocery store. This is because of the lower overhead that merchants have as opposed to large establishments. This is also a good way to get organic foods without the additional cost added to the produce.

6. Soups and Stews - Homemade soups and stews can add quite a bit of bulk to your meals. Not only can these be incredibly healthy as many vegetables are more potent when boiled, but you can make a large amount and save it for later. Boiling the leftover meat from a turkey after Thanksgiving, for example, could provide you with several gallons worth of turkey noodle soup.

7. Generic/Store Brands - Some store brand foods can actually be healthier than popular labels. If you're curious as to the differences between the two, check out the nutritional value of each side-by-side the next time you're in the store.

These are just a few ways that you can stretch the food budget a little further to compensate for a large family. You don't have to sacrifice health for quantity as long as you’re willing to put in the effort. Don't deprive your family of nutrition while saving money at the register.

Rachael Cherry is a wife, mother, and writer who is passionate about helping connect families in need with high quality caregivers. She has taken that passion and put it to work through NannyPro, a respected online nanny referral service. Learn more by visiting @NannyPro on Twitter.

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