Providing a healthy and well-balanced diet is essential for your kids’ health, growth, and development. Serving healthy meals to your kids will lessen their risk of developing chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. Healthy eating enables your kids to live life to the fullest.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to break the bank just to serve healthy meals to your little ones everyday. Countless budget-friendly and healthy food items are now available in almost all grocery stores. Adding these items to your grocery list can keep your kids healthy and your bank account happy!
On average, a piece of avocado only costs $1.7 or lower, depending on your location. But in general, avocados are one of the cheapest yet healthiest fruits you can get for your kids. Some stores even offer discounts on this fruit, so check their store weekly ads.
Avocados, one best source of healthy fats, also contain five essential nutrients necessary for toddlers: fiber, folate, magnesium, and vitamins C and K. These nutrients support bone health, healthy growth, and a stronger immune system.
The versatility of avocados is another reason why they’re ideal for kids. Aside from mashing the fruit with a fork, you can serve avocado smoothies to your kids. You can also add a few slices of avocado to your kids’ favorite chicken or tuna salad.
2. Frozen Fruits and Vegetables
Frozen fruits and vegetables are healthy options for kids because they retain their vitamins and minerals longer, and their protein, carbohydrate, and fat content doesn’t decrease over time. In fact, frozen foods are healthier than fresh because fresh foods lose their vitamins and minerals over time while frozen foods preserve their nutritional content.
Additionally, frozen fruits and vegetables are cheap. They cost between $2 and $5 per bag. You can even freeze your own fruits and vegetables using plastic wrap and use them later to save more money.
One of the easiest ways to serve frozen fruits and vegetables to kids is to add them to smoothies. You can also add frozen fruits and vegetables to soups, salsas, broths, and fried rice.
3. Canned Tomatoes
Canned tomatoes are sold in every grocery store worldwide and only cost around $1.25. You should add this low-cost food item to your grocery list as it’s packed with vitamin C, vitamin A, and antioxidants. Canned tomatoes also support healthy hydration in kids.
When it comes to recipes using canned tomatoes, you have several options to choose from. Depending on your kids’ taste buds, you can use canned tomatoes for pasta, soups, stews, and curries. You can also use canned tomatoes as a topping for your pizzas.
4. Canned Beans
Canned beans are highly nutritious and budget-friendly. They only cost less than $1 per can and contain a significant amount of fiber which can help prevent diabetes, lower blood cholesterol, and move food through your kids’ digestive systems. Fiber also promotes healthy bowel movement and protects kids against constipation.
The health benefits of canned beans don’t end there. Canned beans also contain iron, folate, magnesium, and potassium. Your kids can also get plant-based protein from canned beans.
You can incorporate canned beans into almost any dish: from soups to salads, burritos, and tacos. You can even bake canned beans with bacon and ketchup.
Potatoes are a staple in households worldwide because they can be served in different ways and cost less than $5 for a 5-pound bag. Potatoes are healthy for kids as they contain nutrients like potassium, which helps regulate muscle contractions and fluid balance. Potatoes also improve your kids’ bone health, blood pressure, and heart health.
The internet is a goldmine of easy-to-follow recipes, so make sure to do your homework before serving the vegetable to your kids. You can make salads, soups, empanadas, or gnocchi with potatoes. You can also prepare steak bites and sweet potatoes for dinner or burritos for breakfast — you have endless options!
6. Whole Grains
Your kids need a lot of energy because they’re growing quickly and actively. Whole grains are one of the best sources of energy for kids because it’s high in protein and fiber and helps boost their metabolism and aid in digestion.
Whole grains come in different forms, namely:
- Oats: Oats only cost $5 per pack and are enough to fuel your kids for the entire day. Oats are also a great source of dietary fiber, which keeps your kids full for longer periods and helps things in their digestive tracts move properly.
Aside from pouring hot water into oats, you can also mix it with coconut milk to make it more creamy and delicious. For an easy breakfast recipe, prepare overnight oats with your kids’ favorite fruits!
- Rice: Regardless if it’s white or brown, rice provides countless nutrients to children. Aside from carbohydrates that provide energy to kids, rice is also a great source of calcium, protein, and B vitamins. And the best part? A kilogram of rice only costs about $2.30 and serves up to three meals.
You can use rice in different recipes, such as paellas and risottos. To incorporate vegetables into your kids’ diets, make some fried rice.
- Whole wheat pasta and bread: Serving whole wheat pasta and bread allows your kids to ingest all the essential components in grains. Grains keep the heart healthy and are loaded with minerals, fiber, and B vitamins.
Whole wheat pasta and bread only cost $2 to $3 and can be used in making countless recipes. For whole wheat pasta, you can mix it with rigatoni and roasted vegetables, sausages and peppers, or spinach pesto and pumpkin seeds. Your kids can enjoy whole wheat bread with their preferred spread — may it be peanut butter, ham, cheese, or a combination of everything!
7. Healthy Proteins
Protein is essential to your kids’ diets because it helps build muscles, promotes the healthy growth of cells, and boosts their metabolism. Protein is also an excellent source of energy for your little ones! With this in mind, make sure to include protein-rich foods the next time you shop for groceries.
- Eggs: Eggs are a budget-friendly protein source. Eggs are also versatile as your kids can enjoy them fried, baked, poached, or scrambled. Eggs are packed with different vitamins and minerals and only cost about $1.79.
- Tofu: For a healthier and cheaper alternative to meat, serve tofu to your kids. Tofu is another versatile ingredient as you can serve it in many ways — adding to stir-fried vegetables, sandwiches, and grain bowls. A pack of tofu costs less than $3, making it an excellent option for budget-conscious households.
- Peanut butter: Do you know that your kids’ favorite sandwich spread is actually a healthy protein source? Peanut butter costs less than $4 yet contains essential vitamins and minerals to maintain or improve your kids’ cardiovascular health. Peanut butter also contains B vitamins that help with proper brain development and energy production.
Milk is important for your kids because it contains calcium that supports bone health. Milk is also packed with potassium and vitamins A, B12, and D. Conventional whole milk in the US only costs $4.4 per gallon, making it a cheaper (and healthier) option compared to sugar-rich juices and carbonated sodas.
Improve Your Grocery List
As you can see, you don’t have to spend a lot just to maintain or improve your kids’ health. By adding the grocery items mentioned here, you can achieve that goal while being able to stick to your budget — it’s like hitting two birds with one stone!