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Healthy Kids on a Budget

Posted Apr 19 2010 12:00am

While I'm recuperating from my trip, here's the final guest post I have for you. I met Heather at Blissdom, and she was so incredibly warm to me that I almost squealed when she agreed to guest post.

About Heather: Heather Sokol is the founder of Inexpensively.com and has been featured in the Chicago and the Indianapolis Star. She has also appeared on CBS Nightly News and as a weekly contributor to Fox59 Morning News. She is the married mother of three beautiful, active girls who have created in her a Montessori mom, Scout mom, allergy  mom and avid coupon clipper. She shares her money saving advice at Inexpensively.com, mom proven tips at MiscellaneousMom.com and reports progress on learning to be a grown-up at JustHeather.com.

As a mom of three, I know it is such a struggle to raise healthy kids – especially without going broke. The allure of brightly colored cupcakes, easy to serve sugary juice boxes and $.99 ready-made lunch kits is strong! However, as the mom of three food-allergic children, I also know how important it is carefully choose foods and encourage good nutrition.

But, it’s not without its challenge. First, it can be difficult to get kids on board for dietary changes. They want the bright, shiny packages you see on television. Solution number one? Turn off the television – I was amazed at the difference in how much my children ask for when they were not subjected to commercials. Of course, that isn’t always feasible so you’ll need a few strategies to make healthy foods just as appealing!

Solution number two: involve the kids in planning meals & snacks. My girls love to explore exotic produce. Pick out one new, interesting fruit or vegetable to try the next time you go to the store. My girls favorites include star fruit, pomegranate and dino eggs (I swear that’s what it’s called, but it’s just a plum variety).

If you want to take it a step further, let your children help in the vegetable garden, then again in the kitchen. They are much more likely to eat something they helped grow or prepare. This week, I asked my oldest to make the corn casserole for dinner. She loves to bake, but does not like vegetables. She ate her own, made from scratch side dish without complaint!

If that isn’t enough to convince your kiddos to eat their veggies, dress it up a little. Solution number three? Kids will eat practically anything if they get to dip it. There are many healthy dipping choices – peanut butter, yogurt, hummus and salsa are nutritious options. In fact, salsa is a vegetable all by itself! Even a lowfat ranch is a good option, if it will encourage your children to eat more veggies.

Once the rest of the family is on board for healthier foods, your next challenge is affording them! It can be costly to eat well, unless you know a few tricks for shopping smart . Watching for sales & using coupons are the simplest way to save money at the grocery store. This even works for fresh produce & other healthy living foods.

To ensure you’re serving healthy options without overspending, plan your snacks & side dishes based on the sales your store’s weekly ad. We have a fruit bowl full at all times, but we won’t always have apples & oranges. Sometimes, we’re well stocked with bananas & grapes. Other weeks, I’ll find strawberries on sale.

The girls enjoy a wide variety of fruits for snacking, so I’m able to provide whatever the store offers for the week. Use the same idea for evening meals. If the ad includes broccoli & cauliflower, you might add stir fry to your menu plan. When carrots & potatoes are on sale, a good pot roast is always a hit. You’ll be providing plenty of healthy options for your family, without spending a fortune!

Heather Sokol is a married mother of 3 beautiful, active girls. In between carpool, serving healthy meals to the masses and other miscellaneous mom jobs, she’s sharing her secrets for doing it all inexpensively .

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