Ten tips to cut the costs of feeding your kids

By Staff Writer

Is feeding your family breaking your budget? Try these ten tips to reduce the cost of food, without sacrificing fun, health or flavour.

Children need feeding every day, and all those meals quickly add up, especially with the rand plummeting and everything else on the increase. Of course, feeding your children nutritious and satisfying food is the one thing that parents should never skimp on, but mealtimes can be done on a budget without compromising on taste or nutrition.

Here are ten tips for feeding your kids when the money is tight and tummies are rumbling.

1.       Don’t waste money on what your kids don’t eat
Identify the wholesome things that your children will reliably tuck into, and buy these items regularly. As long as it’s healthy and there’s some variety, stick with what they like.

2.       Don’t serve them more than they’ll eat
Serve them small amounts of each item that you’ve cooked for them, rather than have them get halfway through a plate and declare, “I’m not hungry.” That way, you don’t waste the food that they’ve mashed around – and you can serve it again for another meal.  

3.       Rely on vegetables
Vegetables, lentils and beans are cheaper than meat. Serve them pasta with homemade tomato sauce, macaroni cheese with hidden vegetables or bean and vegetable soup instead of a meat protein dinner, and halve your costs.

4.       Cook ahead and use clever leftovers all week
Make a big pot of Bolognese or chicken stew on Sunday night, and use it in different ways throughout the week, be it in sandwiches, wraps or salad. The trick here is to buy cheap ingredients, cooked well, and reinvented.

5.       Don’t buy pre-prepared or pre-packaged anything
Anything that saves you time will cost you money, whether it is snack packs of peanuts and raisins, pre-chopped spinach or ready-made meals.   

6.       Junk food is expensive
All the treats that children love, like chips and sweets, cool drinks and takeaways meals are expensive. Sure, give them a treat from time to time, but don’t make these items a regular and costly addition to their diets.

7.       Look out for specials
South Africa’s supermarkets know that their shoppers are feeling the pinch. They’ve created weekly specials to help you to feed a family on a budget. Pay attention to what’s on offer and plan your family meals around those items.

8.       Shop comparatively
There are huge benefits to shopping around. Visit all the stores in your area with a list of basic essentials and work out where things are cheapest.

9.       Shop strategically
Think about ways to spend the least on any shopping expedition. If it’s possible, leave the kids at home so you aren’t pressured into buying anything extra that they would want. Then, make a list and stick to it. Finally, don’t be suckered by in-store marketing to buy things you don’t need.

10.   Make it fun
If you’re trying to save money, try to make the experience fun for your kids. Don’t be apologetic about what you’re serving, but rather get them to help you with preparations and presentation. If they’re older, you can even ask them to help with writing up a shopping list and budget, with an allowance for small rewards for their contribution.

You can do it!
Food is a part of our culture and family life so it can be hard to change eating habits. However, many of the steps that you take towards cheaper eating are better for your health and your environment, not just your bank balance. So why not draw up your first budget shopping list today, and save! 

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