Healthy Eating on a Budget for Families (+ Giveaway)

child with a rainbow of fruits on a platterI know I’m not the only parent who struggles to feed my children a balanced diet, filled with a plethora of fruits and vegetables.  And goodness knows, when we struggle, we aren’t much fun.  I am really excited to share a guest post from my friend, Kia, the founder of Today I Ate A Rainbow, an interactive tool that helps parents establish healthy eating habits by setting the goal of eating a rainbow of fruits and vegetables every day!

Kia’s tool makes it fun to feed kids a balanced meal – even if you tend to be on the stressed-out side.  And I’m going to give one away (see below for how you can enter!)  In the meantime, take it away Kia…

There can be a misconception that healthy eating is expensive, the truth is it can actually save you money! Here are some ideas to keep your costs down while making healthy food choices:

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girl in an apple orchardDo your grocery shopping once a week. Every time we go to the store for just one or two items we usually end up walking out with a cart full! By going only once a week, you eliminate the possibility of spending more money!

Plan Plan Plan! Come up with some meal and snack ideas for the week. Make a shopping list based on those meals and then stick to the list! Don’t be tempted by impulse items once you are grocery shopping. Having a list and buying just the items on it will help a lot.

Do the majority of your shopping around the perimeter of the store where you’ll find all your basics (fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy and breads) the middle aisles are where they keep the “convenient” processed food products that aren’t necessarily healthy and can wreck your budget if you’re not careful. Or course this is not to suggest that you have to make all your food from scratch! Just an awareness that the healthier foods are generally found around the outer perimeter of grocery stores!

Make meatless meals one day a week. On those days you can easily get your protein from bean, nuts, seeds and grains.

Home cooked meals. Cooking at home can be much healthier and cheaper than eating out. You are in control of the ingredients (like salt and sugar amounts) and you’ll probably end up with leftovers for another meal! Getting the whole family involved with preparing a meal whenever possible is also a great way to spend some time together!

Try growing a garden. You don’t necessarily need a big garden space. You could start with some planter boxes or even just a small herb garden in a windowsill! Gardening is a really great experience for kids!

Famer’s Markets are a great place to get your Rainbow of produce! You are supporting your local farmers and getting fresh produce that hasn’t had to travel for miles and miles. I’ve heard that if you go to the market towards the end of their day you can sometimes get an even better price because they are very interested in getting rid of their stock…just something to consider!

And finally…Never shop on an empty stomach 🙂

Today I Ate a Rainbow Kit

Today I Ate a Rainbow Kit - Enter to Win One!

“Today I Ate A Rainbow!™” is an interactive nutritional chart that makes eating fruits and vegetables fun for your children! Consisting of a colorful rainbow chart and bright cartoon magnets this tool will allow your children to easily track the fruits and vegetables they eat throughout the day.

If you’d like to enter to win a Today I Ate a Rainbow Kit, simply do one or more of the following.  A random winner will be chosen at 9 p.m. Pacific time on Monday, March 7:

  1. Leave a comment below telling us your best tip for choosing which fruits and vegetables to purchase.
  2. Follow Today I Ate a Rainbow on Facebook and tell Kia that you are there for the What’s Cooking with Kids giveaway
  3. Follow What’s Cooking with Kids on Facebook and mention that you are there for the Today I Ate a Rainbow Kit giveaway
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28 Responses to Healthy Eating on a Budget for Families (+ Giveaway)

  1. I agree with all of these…ESPECIALLY not shopping on an empty stomach!! Which I still seem to do, even though I know better… :/

  2. Shira says:

    And buy your rainbow based on what’s on sale at your store that week or try hit farmers market towards the end when vendors are more willing to work out a deal with you. Each week I try buy at least 3 different kinds of fruit, in the summer it’s more like 10 kinds!

  3. HIllary says:

    Which fruits/veggies to purchase? We always try to buy locally grown items but living in the snowbelt means that’s difficult. Variety of colors, and then supplement with frozen. Mixing in the blender for smoothies helps me hide the veggies they don’t like!

  4. Jackie Lee says:

    We buy as many different veggies as we can. When we read books like Pinkalicious (that talk about eating vegetables) we talk about the different veggies, and then I try to buy something we haven’t tried that is mentioned in the book.

    We also grow our own garden, and try to grow something new every year. Helping grow the produce seems to make it more fun to eat when it’s ripe.

  5. barsha says:

    This is a simply great idea. Will use for sure .

  6. Amanda says:

    When I want my little ones to try new veggies, I have them help me make a veggie dip…they seem more willing to try new veggies this way. It is also fun to let my 5 year old pick out a vegetable when we shop. He’s much more likely to select something exotic and it forces us to search for new recipes and the whole family tries something new.

  7. Emme says:

    Soooo entering to win this! Choosing fruits and veg – well, when we subscribe to a CSA it’s out of our hands 😉 but right now, I’m more menu-guided than I should be. Ideally, I’d like to be cooking around what’s available and not the other way around so in a perfect world, I visit the farmer’s market, buy what’s in season and looks tasty and try to thrown something we haven’t tried before each week.

  8. Amanda says:

    I should print this out and bring it to the store with me!! Super tips!

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  10. Michelle says:

    We are on a very tight budget, but we try to incorporate as many fruits and veggies as we can. Living in Maine, it is hard to always buy seasonal, so we do our best with what is in our budget for fresh, and try to freeze/can as many fresh fruits and veggies during the summer months as we can!

  11. Tracy says:

    Love these tips for healthier eating! I definitely want to practice more of them!

  12. Cavalletta says:

    The best way I’ve found to choose fruits and veggies is to find out what is in season first, then what is grown locally and finally which one might be on sale. It works for me 🙂

  13. Stacy says:

    I try to let my son pick out the fruits and veggies he wants. Great ideas will love coming back and seeing more from other mommies.

  14. I try to buy local fruit and veges in season, with the kids helping me pick what they’d like – then they chop it up to make their own salads. 🙂

  15. What a fun way to get kids involved, I love the idea of the chart. I guess my best tip for fruits would be to flash freeze them during the season so that they are ready to use when you want them during the year, which allows for a wider variety of options during the winter months.

  16. Pingback: Today I Ate a Rainbow + Healthy Eating on a Budget | What's … | Cheap Healthy Foods

  17. Hilary says:

    I also let the kids pick one new thing to try at the grocery each week, and they’ll eat anything we grow- except “okary” (okra).

  18. I find that letting the kids help with the grocery shopping helps alot. They get vested in their choices and want to help prepare the meal, serve it, and EAT it! Lots of good tips here, thanks!

    • Michelle Stern says:

      Brenda! Hurray – I picked your comment number with – you won the Today I Ate a Rainbow Kit!

  19. Fay Baudains says:

    I use a couple of methods to get fruit and veg in the day.
    1 :cut veggies into Kid size pieces
    2: offer fruit as an alternative to veggies if they really don’t want the veggies that day
    3: involve them in the garden they usually eat what they grow themselves
    4: be a good example

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  21. Amber Foster says:

    Shop the perimeter! Always! The only thing to go inward for would be grains and oils.

  22. Letting the kids pick their own (and then let them help prepare). Also, if it’s something that can be dipped in yogurt or some other sauce that helps too.

  23. Julie M says:

    I love to have my kids help pick out the fruits and veggies. I teach them to look for nice fruit with out bruises and cuts. For “pitted” fruit like peaches I tell them to smell the fruit it should smell like what it is. If I can’t smell it, I don’t buy it. And a great tip for picking pineapple is to gently tug on a leaf from the top if it pulls out easily it will be a perfect pineapple.

  24. Julie M says:

    I “liked” the today I ate a rainbow facebook page.

  25. Julie M says:

    I follow What’s Cooking on Facebook. Thanks!

  26. Jamie says:

    I always get my kids to pick out at least two fruits and veggies they like during our shopping trip. That way they are guaranteed to eat them and maybe even prepare them 🙂

  27. Chrystal says:

    What’s in season. Those are the ones that are going to taste the best, be the freshest, and are the most nutritious. I try and let my daughter pick out at least one thing herself and then help prepare it so that she is more inclined to eat it.

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