Pat Townsend, Early Years Alliance
Sticking to a strict food budget is a fact of life for many families. Balance that with the need to maintain a well-balanced and nutritious diet and it can be a bit of a challenge.
The best starting point is to get to know and understand what makes a well-balanced and nutritious diet for each age group in the house. Adults, teenagers, older children, younger children, toddlers and babies all have different needs when it comes to the balance of food groups on the plate. The good news is that much that can be learned from authoritative websites like:
`Armed’ with this knowledge you can start to explore how to balance both what’s in the budget with what’s going on the plate.
Food is a popular subject for bloggers, and a bit of searching will quickly uncover some writers who regularly post healthy family recipes, or recipes where the focus is on the budget.
The Children’s Food Trust has a ‘Let’s get cooking at home’ section which lets you filter recipes from the site in a range of different ways. For example, there is a filter for using 5 ingredients or fewer. Limiting the list of ingredients you use can obviously have a very positive effect on the budget. The site also has recipes by theme, videos with cooking techniques explained, and articles.
With headline recipes like ‘the 9p burger’, journalist, blogger and anti-poverty campaigner Jack Monroe, has played a leading role in ‘austerity’ cooking. Her personal circumstances as a lone parent made honing her skills and knowledge about cooking on a budget, a necessity. Jack’s blog includes items on cooking on a price limit, anti-food-waste and using left over ingredients.
Australia’s Christie Burnett writes an award winning blog that focuses on parenting and childhood. Her professional knowledge as an Early Years teacher means that she can spot the learning opportunities amid the family recipes that can involve all the family. See her blog on 10 things to cook with toddlers.
Feed yourself for £1 a day is a closed Facebook group. Search using the title of the site and click ‘Join’. After a while (I waited 10 minutes) you’ll be invited by a volunteer site administrator to enter. As with all social media, you can read the contributions of others, or get involved and ask or answer questions yourself.
The best tip for keeping the family diet and budget well balanced is to get a good understanding of everyone’s dietary needs, especially the children. Apply that knowledge with inspiration from a wide range of sources and you’ll establish and maintain health and good eating habits now and in the future.
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