For over five years, Kenna worked as a chef for a popular natural foods restaurant, running a kitchen with a staff of 7 - 10 cooks.
I used to think that if you eat a good healthy meal, you had to spend a lot of money. As long as I planned my meals ahead of time, I can feed my family healthy food on a decent budget.
I plan my meals, stock my refrigerator and pantry with quick and easy-to-prepare items.
Another way I save time and money is I prepare a large meal for Sunday dinner. I have extra food for a couple of days, so my family has lunches and a Monday dinner. The large Sunday dinners are chili with cornbread, stews, casseroles, and nut loaves. They are easy to store for the next couple of days.
All healthy foods have no preservatives, so keep that in mind and make sure they are sealed in a tight container and kept in the refrigerator.
Eating Healthy Benefits
I look for recipes for preparing healthy food. I search online, natural food store publications, magazines, and ask friends.
I read an article about healthy food. I check the recipes and see if they are doable in a timely fashion. I also consider the cost but eating well means you and your family will be healthy. Benefits of eating healthy mean your family will have fewer visits to the medical doctor. My daughter is hasn't had a cold or any illness in three years. My husband has a physically demanding job and is hale as ever. I am never sick.
Inexpensive Meals for a Family
Family healthy meals planned well enough will not hurt the household budget. You can prepare inexpensive meals using legumes, whether canned or dry. They make nutritious, hearty soups, dips, and burritos. My family loves to eat them up because they taste so good.
Some say the dry legumes need to be soaked overnight first. Should they be soaked overnight first? That is a debate, and it is up to you. However, I soak them overnight.
When anyone eats unsoaked legumes, the phytic acid binds to the minerals in the gastrointestinal tract. As a result, the intestine cannot assimilate the nutrients, so the body becomes deficient in minerals. Thus, soaking the legumes allows the body to break down the phytic acid, so minerals become absorbed into the body.
I use my slow cooker to prepare chili, soups, and stews. It is easy because I add fresh vegetables, spices or herbs, vegetable broth, and cooked brown rice. My family eats them up, and I am pretty proud of myself because the meals taste delicious. My best crockpot meals are so simple because eight hours later, my family has a main course with a fresh salad and garlic bread.
Brown Rice is Healthy
I never go wrong, preparing my brown rice because I use a rice cooker. I use one that has a stainless still pot. I stay away from aluminum as much as I can when I cook.
For years researchers have been studying the impending threat caused by overexposure to aluminum and the possibility of adverse effects on human health. They found some disturbing results.
Scientists discovered those with Alzheimer’s disease have a high concentration of aluminum in their brain tissue. Studies prove the possibility of high aluminum consumption is linked to a lowered growth rate of human cells and potentially harmful for patients with renal impairment or bone diseases.
Organic brown rice is not costly and a great addition to grilled tofu and steamed vegetables. Sure, Brown rice costs more than white rice, but the nutritional value far exceeds the extra nickel or dime I pay per pound. Plus, it is more filling and tastier. To cook rice in a rice cooker is simple. Just one cup of rice to two cups of water is all it takes.
Another inexpensive grain that is easy to fix is millet. I cook it like rice, or I toast it in the oven. By toasting millet, I make a tasty addition to my family's meals. All I do is sprinkle it on other dishes - adding more nutritional value.
I toast millet in a large, dry skillet. I take raw millet and toast it over medium heat for about five minutes. When grain turns into a buttery brown and golden millet with a yummy fragrant, I know my grain ready to eat. I have to be careful not to let the grains burn.
People have asked me how to cook millet for a baby, and I answer with a list of ways to prepare millet for babies.
I tell mothers to check with their pediatrician as to when they can start feeding their babies millet. Some suggest four months or six months.
Oats for Breakfast Healthy
I never discount oats because my kids love oatmeal. Oatmeal makes a great breakfast, and my kids add butter, maple syrup, and almond milk.
I like that it is quick to prepare, which is perfect for our busy mornings off to school. Oatmeal stays with my kids all morning long. They have told me several times the dish is very filling.
Pasta is inexpensive, and I find it easy to prepare. I use different sauces, from carrot sauce to avocado sauce to basic pasta sauces like tomato sauce. I boil the water and add the pasta. While the pasta is bubbling, I chop up veggies and tofu. I steam or stir fry them with an inexpensive red sauce, olive oil, or an awesome sauce I make from scratch. Then, I chop up a fresh salad and have a complete meal. Creating an awesome sauce as part of my delicious pasta dishes is something I take seriously. For example, carrot sauce is so simple. You take a cup of chopped carrots, 1/2 cup of your favorite flour (like almond flour), 3 cups of milk, two cloves of minced garlic, salt, and pepper to taste. Put the carrots in the food processor and blend them as finely as you can. Add garlic cloves. Place all the ingredients in a medium-size pot, boil, stirring regularly, for 10 minutes or until thickened. If the sauce doesn't gel, I mix in 2 tablespoons of flaxseed meal and stir until the sauce thickens. I pour it over the cooked pasta, and yummy.
Fruits and Vegetables in Season
I always keep fresh fruits and vegetables in the kitchen for everyone to snack on between meals. I have learned from experience that I save by purchasing enough fruits and vegetables to last five to seven days in the refrigerator. Buy them when they are in season.
Some fruits like berries last three to four days, but we gobble them up pretty quickly. Having my family eat fruit and vegetables is far less expensive than munching on packaged food like chips or cookies. Not to mention, it is healthier.
Healthy Eating Plan
I hope my ideas are helpful, and you try these different ideas. They might help you formulate a healthy meal plan without hurting your budget. If so, you are more than welcome to share it with the readers.
© 2016 Kenna McHugh
Kenna McHugh (author) from Northern California on January 01, 2018:
Thank you for visiting. I prepare all our food from scratch as much as I can. Millet is wonderful. It so tasty and easy to make. After you give it a try, I'd love to hear how you like it.
Kari Poulsen from Ohio on January 01, 2018:
You make the millet sound so delicious. I wonder that I have never tried it. I try to eat healthy myself. I prepare almost all my food from scratch. I like knowing what goes into my meals.
Kenna McHugh (author) from Northern California on December 14, 2017:
Thank you for the feedback. Yes. The Zucchini wrap is mighty tasty. Currently, I am making more vegan meals, which are a lot of fun and an easy cleanup. But, usually, I can get my husband to do the dishes. : )
Janis Leslie Evans from Washington, DC on December 14, 2017:
Yummy article, Kenna. I need some of these recipes to make for my vegetarian hubby. I like some of these ideas, especially that zucchini wrap thingy. Very nice!