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Childhood obesity continues to rise – 13% of SA kids under the age of 5 are overweight

“Nutrition is key to ensure a child’s healthy development. Encouraging kids to eat more veggies and fruits, ensuring their meals are as nutritious as possible and incorporating diversified protein sources – including plant-based options – is very important, but can sometimes prove challenging for parents and caregivers” says Zumi Njongwe, Consumer Communication and Marketing Excellence Director, Nestlé ESAR.

ALSO SEE: Cheaper ways to feed your child healthy meals

There is a general misconception that eating healthy is expensive, but try following these budget-friendly tips on your next grocery shopping trip.

Plan meals for a week

Go through recipe books and browse your favourite food blogs to create a meal plan that fits your household budget. Aim for a week’s worth of recipes that use up all the ingredients you buy so nothing goes to waste.

Take inventory, make a list and stick to it

Check your fridge and pantry cupboard to see what ingredients you already have for your weekly meal plan. If there are items that are going to expire soon, work those into your meal plan to further minimise wastage. If you’re not good at making lists and sticking to them, take a look at these helpful apps.

Find affordable alternatives

Take a look at your last grocery trip till slip and look for the most expensive items and research cheaper (but still healthy) alternatives. For example, quinoa is all the buzz, but it’s really expensive so opt for something like brown rice instead or use grapes instead of blueberries. This will help you keep within your budget. If you need help with your budget try these free budgeting templates.

Have an in-store plan of action

Once you’re in the store, stick to the aisles in which you’ll find your listed items. This will help you avoid adding unnecessary things to your trolley, which you’ll probably look at later and wonder: ‘why on earth did I buy this?’

Continuously compare

Don’t just grab the can or packet you see first. Stores lay out their shelves with the priciest items at eye level, so check above and below for the same product at a more competitive price. Also avoid being seduced by brand names. The store’s own nameless brands are sometimes a lot cheaper and, often, excellent quality.

Nutritional labels dont lie

Some things that appear healthy, aren’t. For example, tinned soup may seem like a quick and healthy meal but in fact many of these are packed with sugar and preservatives. Also skip ready-made meals where you have no control over the amount of salt, sugar and preservatives added and which are normally very expensive.

Start them slow

A mistake people often make when deciding to ‘become healthy’ is buying huge quantities of healthy food, most of which end up going to waste. Rather buy and prepare small quantities to see what your kids enjoy most. Training your kids’ palate from a young age, to appreciate healthy food will help them establish a lifelong appetite for eating well.

Maintain and sustain normal eating patterns

The increase in childhood obesity can be partly attributed to the decrease in structured eating patterns. Eating breakfast is key to establishing these patterns, which will help them maintain a healthy weight throughout their lives. What they eat is, of course, just as important as when they eat, so avoid sugar packed cereals and white bread.

ALSO SEE: Watch out for these hidden sugars!

Have healthy snacks on hand

Buying or making snacks in bulk and keeping them on you will ensure that you’re always ready for that inevitable ‘I’m hungry’ when you’re on the go. This way you won’t have to buy convenience food at very inconvenient prices and you’ll keep them full until its home time and they can have a proper, filling meal.

ALSO SEE: 12 healthy snacks for moms on the move to stash in their handbags

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