Healthy eating doesn't have to be expensive. If you have a family of four or more with a stretched budget, it may seem impossible to provide hot meals for your family that also happen to be healthy. Although you may not be able to afford organic, prepared meals, you can purchase single ingredients and make healthy meals yourself for a fraction of the price. By substituting ingredients, planning ahead, cooking from scratch and buying in bulk, you can cook meals for your family that are not only tasty and nutritious, but cheap, too.
Purchase single ingredient foods rather than processed foods. Single-ingredient foods, including meat, fruits and vegetables are usually less expensive than purchasing processed foods, and far more inexpensive than eating out. Take advantage of sales on fresh fruits and vegetables, and buy other staples canned or frozen, like stewed, canned tomatoes instead of tomato sauce and frozen meat instead of fresh meat.
Prepare meals in large portions and freeze the leftovers. For large families, cook a large pot of soup, stew, pasta or a large casserole. Throw in any leftover vegetables or meat you may have from previous meals. If there are leftovers, freeze them in a Tupperware container to eat on another night.
Consider non-animal protein sources to add bulk to a meal. Add beans, tofu, chickpeas, tempeh or soy to meals. These ingredients have as much protein as meat, but are far less expensive.
Add canned fish to casseroles. Canned fish is less expensive than frozen or fresh fish, and some canned fish, like albacore tuna and salmon, contain omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower your risk of heart disease, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Recycle old leftovers into new, healthy meals. The Mayo Clinic suggests using leftover rice to make rice pudding, or using leftover baked chicken in soup or salad. When it seems like you will not be able to use a leftover right away, avoid throwing it away and freeze it instead.
Purchase food in bulk. Although you may have to put down more money initially, you will save money by having everything you need in the freezer. Additionally, you can avoid throwing spoiled food away by freezing bulk food until you need to use it.
Megan Smith has been a freelance writer and editor since 2006. She writes about health, fitness, travel, beauty and grooming topics for various print and Internet publications. Smith earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in writing from New York University.