As a wife and mom, I understand the importance of good nutrition. Especially when I'm married to an emergency room nurse! Good nutrition provides fuel for both body and mind and helps protect against diseases & infections. (Among many other things!) But eating "healthy" can be intimidating to some. It can also be BORING! One of the things that I enjoy, is to take a recipe and "tweak" it a little. Not so much that it is unrecognizable, or could be used for hockey practice, but enough to know there is some nutritional reason to eat it! Face it, if the husband and kids won't eat it (*ahem*, pumpkin soup!) then it isn't really worth my time to prepare it. I try to use whole foods as much as possible, although, if you see us camping, please don't comment on the hot dogs (nitrate/nitrite free) or the cheetos (baked)...it's hard to cook a wholesome meal while sitting on a boat with my fishing pole in the water!
Sometimes, good nutrition can cost more than, say, a case of ramen noodles. But really, when you factor in the cost of future visits to the doctor's office, I'd say healthier options are really the better "deal"! There are ways to cut costs though. First, plan ahead. Take a few minutes to go through your cupboards, refrigerator/freezer, pantry, garden and plan your meals for the next week. Only 1 week. For me, I plan on Sunday night, and grocery shop on Monday morning. You would be surprised at how many meals you can make with ingredients that you already have! Make sure to include breakfasts, lunches, dinner, special occassions and snacks! Second, only buy what you need. Yep. That's a hard one. But if you have planned and made a list, it is easier. Third, if you have a store that has bulk bins, use them! I used to think that they were gross. I mean, really, how many fingers have touched these bins? Usually, the things that I need, small children are NOT tasting! (Have you ever tried ground ginger, plain?) Stick with only what you need. If you are buying spices, only get enough to refill your empty jar, otherwise, it is just a waste! (*Hint*Most bulk bins use codes for the twistie ties, make sure to write on the other end what you have just bagged. Onion powder and garlic powder look an awful lot alike!) Fourth, shop the outside aisles first! Produce, bread, dairy and meats are almost always on the outer edges of the stores. Fill your cart with fresh produce first, but don't neglect the frozen veggies either! Nutritionally speaking, most frozen produce is as good or almost as good as the fresh stuff. And last, but not least, place your meal plan up on the refrigerator for the family to see and stick with it!!!! You can rearrange the order (since you have all the supplies!), and even carry over a meal into the next week if something comes up (like dinner out with hubby!).
Remember, healthy eating doesn't have to break the bank, but with careful planning, it can be tasty and financially rewarding! (Just keep a box of cereal on stand-by, just in case!)