How To Plan Healthy Low-Cost Meals
As food prices continue to rise, families with young children may wonder how to eat healthy and stay within their food budget. The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program offers some suggestions on planning healthy meals, while helping keep the cost of your food bill down.
"During the summer months, families enrolled in the WIC program receive coupons for fresh fruits and vegetables that can be redeemed at farmers' markets around the State," stated Dr Jose Montero, Director of the Division of Public Health Services (DPHS). "Fresh fruits and vegetables are great choices for families especially when chosen in season, and July and August will bring great supplies of locally-grown produce to the markets."
WIC offers these other tips to help eat healthy and reduce food costs.
* Cook more from scratch. It can be a big money saver since convenience foods are usually much pricier than homemade. For example, seasoned rice mixes may cost 3-4 times more per serving than plain white or brown rice. Canned beans also cost twice the amount of dried beans
* Eat out less. Home cooking can be 3-4 times less expensive. Brown bag your lunch instead of relying on vending machines, convenience stores and fast food
* Cut back on low-quality snack foods like soda, candy, cookies, donuts, and chips. Use the savings to buy more nutritious foods
* In the grocery store, purchase store brands. They average about 25% less than national brands, and with many foods it's likely you won't notice a difference in taste. Use the unit price stickers on store shelves to compare different sized boxes or containers in terms of cost per pound, ounce, or quart.
WIC is for pregnant women, new mothers and children up to 5 years old. The program provides families with nutritious foods such as milk, cheese, eggs, cereals, juice, peanut butter, and dried beans. Families must meet income guidelines, which are currently up to $39,220 yearly or $755 weekly gross income for a family of four. WIC nutritionists are available to assist families with additional money-savings tips, recipes, menu ideas, and nutrition education materials.