Healthy Bites

How to Get Kids to Eat Healthy Without Breaking the Bank

A little girl sits eating watermelon
Getting kids to eat foods that are healthy for them can be tricky. (Image credit: <a href=''>Watermelon photo</a> via Shutterstock)

Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children in the past 30 years, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The numbers are staggering, and it's a statistic that we can clearly see when we're out at the park or grocery store.

But anyone who has ever fed their child fast food knows that it's hard to go back once kids get a taste for junk food. So, what can we do? Well, a June study in the journal Psychological Science study may give us an answer.

Researchers conducted an experiment with preschool-age children to test the theory that the kids would be able to understand the concepts of good nutrition. Hold on to your seats, folks! They found that not only did these kids understand the concepts, but those who read books about nutrition were more likely to make healthy choices. Of course, they weren't reading Fundamentals of Human Nutrition; they were given age-appropriate books that weren't too detailed, but outlined some basic concepts of healthy eating.

So, that should cover the "how to get kids to eat healthy" part? Knowledge is power. But what happens when that isn't enough? What happens when your food budget is all but depleted and you still have three days left in the week? Well, we probably could have guessed this one on our own, but a June study from researchers at Dartmouth University shows that when shoppers are given a choice to buy for nutrition or price, they will choose the item with the lower price tag.

But that's doesn't mean you have to  give in to that sugary-cereal sale just yet. You may not have to compromise.

Check out my best tips for creating healthy meals on a budget:

Add brown rice instead of French fries: Guess what? Pound for pound, brown rice is cheaper than the fries. You can probably even get a pound of dry rice for under $2.

A cheap, yummy and healthy snack: Mix nonfat Greek yogurt with granola and berries.The big splurge here is the fresh fruit, so during the off-season, consider buying frozen and blending it into a puree. Each serving of Greek yogurt may set you back $1, but it has a ton of protein to fuel those nutrition-loving minds.

Use frozen vegetables: Frozen veggies are usually very affordable, and you'll often find them on sale. There isn't really a time limit on when you have to use them, either, so it's a good investment when money is tight. They work great in stir-fries, stews and casseroles.

Make pita pizzas. Buy some whole-wheat pitas and top them with healthy pizza toppings. The pita and marinara sauce totals about $0.80 per serving, but of course, your total cost will depend on your choice of toppings. Here are some inexpensive ideas: canned pineapple (drained), black olives, mushrooms, baby spinach, garlic and leftover chicken (but not necessarily on the same pizza).

Healthy Bites appears on MyHealthNewsDaily on Wednesdays. Deborah Herlax Enos is a certified nutritionist and a health coach and weight loss expert in the Seattle area with more than 20 years of experience. Read more tips on her blog, Health in a Hurry!

Deborah Enos
Deborah Enos, CN, also known as "The One-Minute Wellness Coach," is The Health Coach for busy, working people. She pares her good-health messages down to simple and fast bullet points that can impact lives in 60 seconds or less. Deborah serves as a board member of the American Heart Association.  In addition to writing the Healthy Bites column for Live Science, Deborah is a regular on FOX Business News, NBC and ABC, and is a frequent contributor to The Costco Connection, Parade Magazine, Self Magazine, Good Housekeeping and USA Today. Deborah is also The One Minute Wellness Coach for The Doctors TV Show.