Maintaining a healthy diet as a family doesn’t have to cost more. Let’s Move is an American movement to raise a healthier generation of kids, and they have some great tips for eating healthy while staying on a budget. With a little help from Choose My Plate and the USDA, here are some tips for eating healthy without breaking the bank:

Plan: Create a budget for the week and plan meals and snacks accordingly using quick and easy recipes. Include meals that “stretch” more expensive food items such as stews, casseroles, or stir-fries, and find new recipes online that have creative new combinations for everyday ingredients. Make a grocery list before you go to the store and remember to check for sales or coupons in your local paper and online, or consider shopping at a discount store. Lastly, check with grocery stores about loyalty cards and any subsequent benefits before purchasing groceries.

Purchase: Remember to eat a snack or meal before heading to the grocery store so you’re not hungry and try to plan a time when you’re not rushed; this will help cut down on impulse purchases or forgotten items. You already have your grocery list, so stick to the list and take time to compare unit prices and store brands to determine total cost-savings. Buying items in bulk or family packs usually costs less, and fruits or vegetable that are in season are often more cost-effective. Pre-cut fruits and vegetables, individual cups of yogurt, and other prepped or individually packaged foods are convenient but oftentimes more expensive. Buying larger quantities and prepping food yourself can result in big savings.

Prepare: Most meal items can be prepared in advance. Take time over the weekend to prep veggies or pre-cook items so that healthy meals are faster and easier to prepare throughout the week. As long as you’re planning ahead, double or triple the recipes you are preparing and freeze individual or meal size portions for busy days when you have less time to cook and may be tempted by “fast” food. Be creative with fruits and vegetables and try to incorporate leftovers into subsequent meals in order to cut back on food waste.

If you would like help planning healthy meals for your family or are interested in a meal-planning template, Choose My Plate has a sample menu with a week of healthy meals and snacks that provide the recommended amounts of key nutrients at a moderate cost. If you have concerns about your child’s nutrition and would like to talk to a healthcare provider, please contact Woodburn Pediatric Clinic.