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Tips for a Nutrient-Full Frugal Meal Plan

by Alice C. Woodhouse
June 09, 2009
Going cheap doesn't mean sacrificing on low-quality products and unhealthy items. Learn how to balance choice food products while watching out for your grocery bill. Having a meal plan is something that has helped frugal parents against the tough challenge of stretching food to last longer and still provide a healthy diet for the whole family. You can use these tips to help you through making a general meal guide:

1.Have a clear understanding of the food pyramid. You can search the internet for an illustration, so you can determine and classify food that's best to stock up on. The food pyramid is ordered to balance out what the body needs for consumption. It also helps if you research about carbohydrates, fats, oils and common nutrients in food. The more you get to know about all these, the better you'll understand why certain foods are necessary and some should be avoided. We want to create cheap but healthy meals that are not the usual pre-packed microwavable dinners with very little nutritional content. Another importance of knowing all about nutrients is for us to know bad fats and good fats, what are healthy carbs, and what sugar and sodium does to our own and our children's bodies.

2.Get to know all about the staples in your old diet and try to see if you can make it healthier. For example, if your children start the day with a bowl of cereal, try to look into getting cereals with lesser sugar content, avoiding those with too much food coloring, and those with marshmallow treats inside. With so much healthier options for cereal, you're bound to find something healthy. There are whole-wheat cereal, bran, or multi-grain cereal with lots of carbohydrates to keep you energized all through the day, packed with magnesium, iron and the like, as well as have some healthy treats like fruits and nuts. Oatmeal is also a popular breakfast meal; unfortunately, most people choose the quick-cook or instant oatmeal. Because the instant oatmeal kind has undergone lots of processing, it may have lesser nutrient value in it. Opt to get large flakes for your oatmeal like rolled oats, steel-cut oats and etc. Though there are sometimes that children would prefer their fruit loops, you can still cajole them into trying the healthy cereal. Add some frozen fruits for a fruity burst of flavor, or add just half a teaspoon of natural honey to give it a zing of sweetness. Cheap and easy!

3.Lunch and dinner are extremely flexible, because you can have anything you want; whether you want a dish that's heavy or light. For healthy meals, get acquainted with that beautiful, pristine little grain called 'rice' that is sold for almost nothing. The good carbs that rice offer is healthy and filling, especially the brown rice kind. The best thing about rice is its versatility. You can have rice together with both meat and vegetable viands, or cook it in a wok to make fried rice and even day-old rice can be made into a warm bowl of congee.

A plate of mixed vegetables is also a lunch time favorite because it's easy to make and vegetables are fairly cheap by the pound. To add variety, use spices to enhance the flavor and add parmesan cheese or slices of hardboiled egg.

Stock up on delicious meats and load up you protein requirement for the day. Meat is not expensive, but it's definitely not cheap either. Price for meat can differ depending on the animal source and the cuts. The cheapest would be chicken meat, and there are so many recipes for frugal chicken meals. Fish would be your best bet especially if you're cutting down on fat and cholesterol. Stock up on beef, especially lean beef as it has massive amounts of protein. Limit your pork intake, because of the high fat content. Protein from meat is something you need, though it's going to cost you a lot. Alternative protein sources include cheese, milk, protein-rich vegetables especially beans.

4.Never run out of fruits, and buy those vegetables that you can eat raw! This is one thing that we need to embed in all our diet and meal plans. There are lots of fruit out there, so find two to three kinds of fruits and buy a bagful of them to last for a week or so. Head off to the frozen section and find a pack of frozen fruits as well. You can see chopped fruit packs like pears, watermelon, cantaloupes, persimmon, or why not try dried fruits like raisins, dried mangoes, or even mixed fruit variety in containers. All these are great addition to your diet! You can include fruits in your meals, to curb your desire for expensive and fattening deserts. You can get your daily vitamins and important minerals from eating a fruit or two each day. It will help energize you and keep you feeling full for longer. Vegetables like carrots and celery are great to keep you from binging on junk food when you feel like having a snack. If you have enough veggies lying around, you can make a quick salad to chow down during in-between meals.

5.There are certainly more ways to create dishes from simple ingredients. Even if you do have repetitive grocery items in your refrigerator or pantry, you can mix them all up together with a little creativity and inspiration. The trick here is the variety of sauce and spice that keep things interesting.

Making a meal plan keeps things in perspective by helping your meet your dietary requirements for the day; avoid erratic eating and sudden desire to binge. It will also keep your grocery list in check, so that you can avoid both buying stuff you don't need and not buying enough for the whole week.

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Tips for a Nutrient-Full Frugal Meal Plan




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