Every mom knows that living on a budget is much more challenging than it sounds. When your monthly paycheck isn’t flexible and sticks to a certain plan, you can’t simply waste money on expensive organic foods or a gym annual membership. In the meantime, you can’t let your family suffer from unhealthy meals and other habits only because you’re living frugally, especially when you’re raising children.
Of course, my husband and I have certain financial boundaries, as well, and I always have to think of the best ways to eat healthier with a limited budget. But nevertheless, this is one of the priority based budgeting aspects I need to stick to for now. Here are some of my workable tips based on activity-based budgeting strategies for other busy budgeting mamas to keep your family on a healthy eating diet without having to spend a fortune on groceries.
Opt For Seasonal Veggies & Fruits
In other words, purchase vegetables and fruits when they are in season. I understand that people can find any kind of tropical fruit in supermarkets at any season of the year. But assuming the fact that most of them were artificially ripened and grown in greenhouses, some of them do get really expensive (and yet not so nutritious). My alternative to a supermarket is visiting the local farmers market with vegetables grown in season, which become indeed a much cheaper alternative of a greater quality to cook healthy family meals.
Reduce Meat Eating
Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to encourage vegetarianism or something, but eating too many meals containing meat can indeed tighten your belt. By the way, people don’t even need to consume meat products every single day – this would just add some calories and cholesterol into your ration. Just keep it several times a week substituting meat with beans, tofu, eggs, fish etc. Believe me: you won’t notice how much money you can save by following this tip – at the end of the month, I managed to save up to 150$ by eliminating steaks, meat casseroles, lasagnas, grilled pork, meatloaf and many other dishes my family used to consume 24/7. I just started to add this money to my personal capital budgeting.
Make Your Garden At Home
Growing your own vegetables and herbs don’t necessarily require a lot of space and appropriate climate – you can have a small garden even on your windowsills and balconies (here is my article about windows replacement if your own ones need it). You can have freshly-grown products all the year around and spend minimum resources on them. Although, you will not only be limited to benefits of budgeting. You’ll get much more: a full pack of nutrients, vitamins, and no nitrates.
Choose Whole Grains
Opting for whole grains instead of cereals full of sugar is something that would help you save even more. Whole grain oatmeal cereals might not be something your kids would like to eat, but I can assure that they will soon get used to such meals, especially when they are hungry and have no other choice.
There’re no healthy soft drinks that can be a substitution to simple water. Furthermore, most of the supermarket fruit juices contain only sugar and chemical additives than healthy nutrients from fruit. My advice would be spending less on soft drinks and invest your money in a good filter for purifying your tap water and making it drinkable.
And make sure each of your kids, whatever age they are, have a good water bottle, which will only encourage them to drink more water than any other beverages. By the way, if your children follow the rules of budgeting for teens, then he wouldn’t want to purchase several bottles of soft drinks every day.
Prepare Brown Bags
Taking a homemade lunch instead of buying the one at school is a great difference to what you can be offered in the school’s cafeteria: even though schools offer veggies and fruits alongside with main dishes, most of the time students will simply ignore the first ones and pick up the slice of pizza. You as a mom, however, can control what your kid eats up as his lunch and use it up for saving money out your kid’s lunch.
Try Home Eating
Eating out is definitely nice to do occasionally, but everyone knows that it always takes out a lot of expenses. You may not realize but eating out with a family is not always a healthy choice as well since in a restaurant we kind of try to look for cheaper meals which are most times not so healthy than meals you may prepare at home. If you have some dinner parties going on, just make them at your house with your prepared food. After all, homemade lasagna tastes better than anything!
Promote Home-Based Activities
Activities with kids out in the city can be pricey, especially when you can’t simply refuse to any of your kids’ favours to go the movie or visit the toy store where you will likely buy them something you haven’t planned to buy. For such non-flexible budgeting, you should try and think of the way to spend your precious time with kids without spending a fortune.
Promote home-based activities: family movie nights, picnicking in the backyard, cookie-baking etc. You will still enjoy spending time with your children and so do they!