Healthy Kids First: Healthy Eating on a Shoestring Budget

By Mandy Curry on April 11, 2015 from Healthy Kids First via

I often hear from families that healthy eating is too expensive and that they can’t possibly eat healthy on a budget.  It’s a very debatable topic and worthy of a discussion.  In fact, that very topic is being explored by a number of people right now and ideas will be presented at the 2nd annual Try This conference June 5-6 in Buckhannon.  Hundreds from around the state will be attending this conference to learn and share ideas for a healthier West Virginia.   
One specific workshop planned for the conference is entitled “Healthy Eating on a Shoestring Budget” and it aims to talk about healthy eating on SNAP benefits. 
Despite what many think, it is absolutely possible to eat healthy on a budget. In fact, side dishes and snacks are a good place to cut corners.  Boxed foods often require added ingredients and microwave foods are expensive and full of unhealthy ingredients. 
A container of premade mashed potatoes may cost $3 at the grocery store, but homemade potato wedges can be made for $1. 
There are a slew of other examples just like this.  In fact, fresh vegetables are the easiest way to eat healthy on a shoestring budget. 
They require little to no cooking skills, no fancy equipment and no exotic seasoning blends.  Most can be made with just olive oil and sea salt.  That’s it! 
Not all kids like vegetables though, so it sometimes takes a little creativity to get them over the hump.  
Long live the “chip.”
Sautéed zucchini can be a tough sell for kids but slice it up in the form of a chip and bake it, and you have an instant hit at the dinner table. In fact, you can “chip-ify” just about any vegetable.  Below is a list of our favorite healthy snacks or side dishes that can be made for about $1.    
Squash Chips
Kale Chips
Parsnip Fries
Roasted Carrots
Sweet Potato Fries
Plantain Chips
Potato Wedges
Zucchini Chips
Beet Chips
The cooking application for each is very easy.  I season most of my fries and chips the same way - extra virgin olive oil and sea salt.  Chips can generally be baked at 350-degrees for 15-20 minutes and Fries are baked at 450-degrees for 15-20 minutes.  Here’s a video we just released showing how to make both carrot and parsnip fries.  I spent $3 in total and it produced enough for 2 rounds of side dishes. 
Healthy eating doesn’t need to be expensive or complicated.  Sometimes it just needs to be “chip-ified.” 
And here’s one final recipe to round out your healthy eating on a shoestring budget.  This one requires a few more ingredients, but they are really tasty and chickpeas are super cheap.  Enjoy!
Roasted Chickpeas
1 can chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 ¼ tsp ground Cumin
½ tsp ground toasted fennel seeds
¼ tsp Paprika
¼ tsp pepper
1 pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 425° F. Toss chickpeas in a bowl with oil, cumin, fennel, paprika, salt, and pepper. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, stirring halfway through cooking, until crispy, 25–30 minute.

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