Part 2 of a series on Frugal Healthy meals
One of the most difficult issues facing parents today, is how to adapt a families diet, to create Healthy and frugal at the same time. It takes a bit of adapting on the part of your family members, and it is your job to figure out how to make that transition as painless as possible. As I pointed out in my last article, the problem with many frugal diets is that they contain far too much processed foods and foods high in fat, sugar, and other detrimental chemicals and additives. The challenge is to feed your family frugally but to keep the nutrient density of the foods you serve as high as possible. How to do that without your family rebelling is the biggest problem you face. Here are a few techniques that might help you get past the resistance of family members.
The Sneak Technique
If there is one thing being a parent does is teach us to be creative and yes down right sneaky. When our little ones are babies we learn to sneak their veggies in with their fruits, and mix that dreaded meat in with the apple sauce. It does not change much as they become toddlers as we tuck bits of vegetables in just about anything in an attempt to feed them a balanced diet.
As you work to adapt your families diet, now is the time to use this technique again. Even the most hard core meat and potatoes man can be fooled here, with a bit a careful planning and thought.
Choose meals that can be adapted easily, Soups, stews, casseroles, meat loafs, rice dishes can all be easily altered. Start by slowly cutting down on the amount of meat in each dish, by perhaps 1/4 or if your family is a bit more relaxed and flexible 1/2. Substitute beans, or veggies for the meat removed. Given the cost of meat, this one move alone could save you 2-4$ per dish and result in less fat and more healthy nutrients.
One At a Time Please
Another Technique would be to simply add one dish to the average meal to see if your family will accept it. Choose one dish, that could be paired with another main dish they are used to, dress it up a bit to make it look interesting, and see if they will eat it. If they don’t eat it don’t be discouraged this takes time, next time try a different dish. Also don’t let on to your family what you are doing, so they don’t go into the meal with preconceived misgivings.
IF you are feeling really brave how about trying a veggie loaf instead of meat loaf? or Tvp for tacos? Don’t tell them anything is different and see if they notice.
Have a Meatless Fiesta
Believe it or not, mexican food lends itself exceptionally well to being meatless and can be VERY frugal. There are so many wonderful flavors, that meat can be easily missed, and dairy can be reduced or excluded all together.
Pick one night of the week to be Meatless
Make it a celebration, or tell the family that they are all trying to support the environment that week. The meat industry has been found to be the single worst contributor to Global warming. What better way to save on your budget, by helping the environment as well.
Encourage your family to eat alternatives to Cereal.
Seriously, cereal and milk are probably 30% of your budget, and they don’t need to be. Yes I know, kids need milk, well actually there are studies to say they can get their calcium intake in much healthier and frugal ways than Milk, but at the end of the day, most kids consume far more milk than they really need. Calcium is also in a number of plant based foods, and if they are getting adequate amounts of them then the amount of Milk they really need is much smaller than the average child gets daily. Plus Cereal is the biggest rip off of the 21st Century. For something that is Sugar, and a combination of wheat, corn and oats to cost as much as it does ought to be a crime since these 4 items are some of cheapest and most mass produced items on the earth. But these items less processed. Eat Oatmeal, cream of wheat or rice, make pancakes, or waffles. You will be eating about the same nutritionally, but without all the added sugar, and it will be much cheaper. IF you need meals in a hurry, then make it ahead of time, and reheat.
As you can see, there are lots of ways to introduce a meat and dairy reduced diet into your families lifestyle, helping your to save dollars on grocery day without sacraficing vital Nutrition for your family. Nobody is asking you to go Vegan, but seriously what would you rather feed your family – corn dogs and top ramen, full of chemicals, preservatives, sodium and fat, OR a handful of heathy nutritious beans, served up thoughtfully and tastefully that is loaded with vitamins. And if you are one of those families that can’t get your family to eat beans think about rice, potatoes, grains, and the other myriads of plant foods out there, that are nutritious and economical.
Go slowly, it takes time for people to learn to accept and enjoy new foods. Adapt your approach to your families eating styles, and in no time you will have them eating frugally and staying healthy at the same time!!!