In this article I’d like to have a look at the question of family health on a budget. Are families on lower budget plans at a disadvantage when it comes to eating healthy?
Let’s look at this question by first looking at a commonly accepted point of view. I have heard this idea put forward by rich and poor alike that family health is only a concern of the well off who “can afford to eat healthy.” I disagree. Where did this belief come from I wonder? I was just reading that the bad economy is causing obesity and other health problems to increase. I submit that the notion of family health only being possible for the rich may be one of the larger myths out there. The view is damaging view as well. If a family with health issues are poor and buy into this idea, they might not see the obvious truth that most really healthy and simple foods are in fact quite cheap. It’s not how much money you spend, but how much time and thought you spend on your cooking and purchasing of food that makes a healthy difference. In fact, you don’t have to spend much at all to cook a very healthy meal. You only have to spend a bit more time to work on family health. It really may not be a lack of money but a lack of effort and preparation that are the issue at stake.
Most likely, what fuels this myth about family health are the different types of restaurants the richer and poorer go to. It may be true that, as far as eating at restaurants goes, there are more healthy options at some more fancy places as opposed to most fast food restaurants. However, that alone should not constitute a hard rule that low budget families are going to intrinsically eat worse. All you need is a plan for achieving family health. Look at it this way: realistically, some of the lower income countries are healthier and live longer than us Americans (Not counting of course, third world countries suffering from starvation).
Now while I wouldn’t have enough time to describe the wonderful array of foods that are quite inexpensive and the abundance of recipes that are very simple and easy to achieve family health, what we can do is take a look at a few. For starters, at your local farmers market you can get lots of fresh produce for very little money. I recently went to our local farmers market and picked up 2 or 3 of nearly every vegetable they had for around $20. Lots of fresh produce will improve your family health from their teeth down to their toes! Many classic home cooked dishes are very cheap, healthy and easy. For instance how about a nice pot roast slow cooked with carrots and potatoes, or a seven-bean soup with sweet cornbread and cheese, homemade tacos, tortilla soup, or baked chicken or fish. A few others might be homemade casseroles, big salads, or even nice tall hot or cold sandwiches. The list really could go on forever. It’s proven time and again that if you are creative, you can come up with incredibly delicious meals that don’t cost much to make.
To wrap up, I know that family health on a budget can be achieved (at least on the eating end). For starters, spend more time planning and deciding what to cook, shop for fresh produce and most importantly cook at home more, and eat out less. So let’s be careful not to buy into the myth that family health is impossible when working with smaller budgets and income. Rather, let’s buy into plenty of fresh produce and go have fun, be imaginative and creative, and take the time to cook some tasty family meals!