Meal Tips for Low Income Families
Getting the right amount of nutrition on a low income may seem next to impossible, but following these tips can help you get to a point of getting enough nutrition. Providing the right nutrition will help your children thrive in school and provide a foundation for healthy living. The tips included here are strictly for families finding it hard to get enough nutrition on a food stamp budget or on a very low income.
Change your Perception
Unfortunately in a low income position there is no room for being a picky eater or lavish meals. You simply need to provide the best possible nutrition that is healthy and that meets your needs. This is not to say that the cooking needs to be bland, only that some things will need to be abandoned in order to make meals that are delicious and nutritious.
Forget about eating out. Every time you visit a fast food restaurant, figure it is costing you 2-3 meals to do so. In order to provide a quality and balanced meal you need protein, grains and fruits or vegetables.
The grain should be the staple you use in any meal and should include cost-conscious grains like pasta, rice or potatoes. Pasta and rice are dried grains and do not go bad so should be considered preferable to potatoes. Proteins can often provide the most expense in any meal, yet getting creative can help reduce these costs.
First look for meat at a farmer’s market and always shop for meat that is on sale and can provide 1-2 meals from one purchase. An example would be fryer chickens that offer a great meal initially and the carcass can be used in a second round of chicken rice soup. Alternately, if meat is expensive that week, there are no sales or your budget will not allow it, purchase beans. Beans are full of protein and offer a secondary source at much cheaper price. Bean soups, stews and dishes can often replace meat protein and cost a fraction of meat.
For vegetables, choose only those that are “in season” as their prices will be significantly lower and choosing seconds or thirds for soups, stews and cooking is a smart way to save money. Buying frozen vegetables can also help lower your vegetable bill and still provide a great array of options for the dinner table.
Cut These Out
Another way to keep your grocery bill under control is to cut out the frivolous items that provide very little nutrition that effectively make them very costly. Drinks are often the worst in this category. Sugary soda or fruit juices are not healthy for you and simply provide empty calories without any real nutrition. Water is free and provides a great source of hydration and is essentially all you need. 1% low fat milk and the occasional fruit juice should be your only beverage option.
Next are the myriad of junk foods available from chips to chocolate bars to candy that can drain your budget and provide no nutrition. If necessary opt for popcorn that is both filling and relatively inexpensive.