9 Ways to keep kids healthy on a budget

We all want what’s best for our kids and we all know that building healthy habits is going to give them the best start to their life.

So much so that we can easily lose sight of how much we’re spending on expert opinions, superfoods and fancy health products. There are a few simple rules for health that are tried and true; like eating the right foods, getting enough sleep and staying hydrated and these won’t send your budget down the drain.

Here are 9 things you can try to keep your kids at their healthiest while still managing to save money.

1. Choose smarter snacks

Most people are aware that a serving of fruit or veggies is the best way to fill up between meals. But did you know they’re much cheaper than pre-packaged snack foods? An apple will set you back around .60c per 100g whereas your average chocolate bar is closer to $2.15 per 50g.

Based on this you could buy a whole kilogram of apples for just $6.00 and snack healthily with your family all week long.

2. Shop at your local market

While we’re on the fruit and vegetable train of thought; where should you shop to get the most mileage out of your weekly budget?

Head down to your local market for some seasonal fresh produce that will surely be cheaper and tastier than supermarket options.

Head down to your local market for some seasonal fresh produce that will surely be cheaper and tastier than supermarket options. Supermarkets typically hide the transport costs of their fresh fruit and veg which is where the price hikes come from.

They’re also designed to make you impulse buy – a bad habit if you’ve got a budget to keep on track. If you’re really looking for savings head to a farmers market near the end of the day when prices are often lower (beware though they can run out!).

3. Never go shopping hungry

Studies have shown that shopping on an empty stomach results in you spending more money overall, even on things non-food related.

It’s also more likely you’ll buy fattening foods when all your brain can think about is the fuel it’s lacking. It’s hard enough resisting your own temptations when at the grocery store with a rumbling stomach, let alone the pleading cries from your kids who just spotted the confectionery aisle.

Make sure when you’re tagging the little ones along on the weekly shop to have a nutritious snack before you get out the door. They’ll still be tempted by the colourful junk foods stocking the shelves, but it’s less likely a tantrum will ensue while you teach them about sweets in moderation.

4. Know your labels

There’s a lot of extra cost that goes into making the labels on the packages in the supermarket look extra enticing. But having a brand name doesn’t mean the product is better. Generic brands are on average 15% cheaper than the well known alternatives with little to no difference in nutritional value.

It’s also important to read the labels on products you are buying and not be fooled by claims such as sugar free, reduced fat and light.

It’s also important to read the labels on products you are buying and not be fooled by claims such as sugar free, reduced fat and light. Sugar free and no added sugar actually refer to the presence of sucrose (or processed sugar) but don’t mean there won’t be other natural sugars such as fructose and corn syrup.

And light or ‘lite’ doesn’t mean the product will be lower in fat – it actually means the product will be lighter in texture or flavour.

5. Bring a reusable water bottle with you

Hydration is an important part of kids and adults health but it’s hard when you’re on the go to avoid buying drinks. Other than the occasional treat it’s best to avoid giving your kids juices, soft drinks, sports drinks and even iced tea products as these are usually full of sugar. To save money when you’re out and about for the day bring along a refillable water bottle.

6. Make exercise a part of their day

Most kids participate in group sports to stay active – from Auskick to netball, cricket, swimming and tennis. But exercising once or twice a week isn’t enough and enrolling your child in every sport is pretty pricey. On average children aged 5-12 should do 60 minutes of physical activity per day.

On average children aged 5-12 should do 60 minutes of physical activity per day.

Exercise can be anything that gets them moving and there’s plenty of ways to do so cheaply. Walk with them to and from school or the local shops, play a round of catch or frisbee, teach them to ride a bike or even host an impromptu dance party at home.

7. Vaccinations

Studies fall on both sides of the debate on whether vaccinations are the right choice for your kids. No matter what you decide to do, the important thing is you’ve made the right choice for your family. If you decide to get your kids vaccinated, look into the government funded programs offering free vaccinations.

8. Invest in good health insurance

It’s impossible to know what sort of medical attention your kids will require as they grow up. Regular dental and doctor’s appointments are to be expected and optical may become necessary depending on your own history.

And that’s not including any of life’s accidents which kids are prone to (but hopefully avoid). Be prepared by setting aside some room in the budget for comprehensive health insurance.

9. Getting enough sleep is important

Most kids aged 5-12 are getting 9.5 hours sleep a night, but experts recommend 10-11 hours for this age bracket. A lack of sleep leads to irritated kids who are prone to tantrums – and sometimes tantrums end up breaking things.

Put your child’s well-being first by helping them get enough sleep and see if it doesn’t help improve their mood and in the long run your purse strings. Health and wellbeing are important habits to teach your kids and they don’t have to cost you an arm and a leg.

Making a few simple switches in your life can make your budget go further while still putting your kids health first. Ask yourself what things you do each day to feel your best and apply the same idea to your family. We bet you find a few in common with those mentioned above.



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