What a mom shouldn’t miss to give healthy meals on a budget

What a mom shouldn’t miss to give healthy meals on a budget

Sticking to the budget and giving healthy foods to the little one at the same time are challenging. Toddlers are very fussy with their food habits. Most of the times, they waste the whole meal and demand snacks just a little later to fulfill their hunger. This made a mom little confuse while budgeting is an another issue to take into the account. Don’t worry! There are many ways to save on your food bill while giving nutritious foods to your growing toddler.

1. Shop wisely and healthy

If you want your toddler to eat healthy, then you must shop healthy items. Remember, buying healthy doesn’t have to bust your budget. It just needs your little bit concentration while shopping. With a little planning, you can buy healthy items to serve healthy meals! Here you go!

  • There are many other places to buy food instead of the conventional grocery store. Search and visit to the stores in your area for comparison shopping. This way you’ll save a lot of money.
  • Consider discount store like Costco, Sam’s to get a bargain price. Get seasonal products with lower price there.
  • You must buy a smaller size and plan carefully to balance both nutrition and food waste. This will help you to manage the portion size as well.

2. Consider Farmer’s Markets to get fresh veggies at a lower price

Sometimes local farmers bring their items to sell. You can get fresh vegetable directly from them. However, generic brands are good as well. So, you can consider generic brands instead of those brand names.

3. Guide your toddler to eat healthily

You have to serve healthy, balanced diet for toddlers so that they meet all the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. But, don’t shout or make noise if they seem to be picky with their foods. Picky eating is quite a normal thing in toddlers. Just build some positive eating habits that will work in the long run.

4. Follow an ideal meal plan

A toddler needs to be meet proper nutrients at this stage. They seem to be busy all the day so you must provide proper meal to your toddler. Try to offer three meals and two to three small snacks to your toddler. Remember, snacks play a vital role to fulfill the hunger of a toddler. They usually feel less interest to eat the big meal. They love to eat yummy snacks that fits with their small time and take the little time to finish. Proper snack will produce energy to keep your toddler busy all day long. Offer water to your toddler in between meals and snacks. You can even offer milk and juice that don’t contain sugar. Remember, too much juice can spoil your child’s teeth. Serve small portions each time and let your child finish it first and then repeat if required.

5. Don’t buy processed items for your toddler

If you really want your toddler to eat healthy things, then say “NO” to the processed items. Snacks attract toddlers, but you shouldn’t offer processed items as they contain harmful ingredients and artificial colors. Give fresh fruits, fruit, yogurt smoothie and thinly sliced vegetable sticks instead of giving processed snacks to your toddler.

6. Follow some tricks

  • Use some tricks to make simple food into an interesting one. For instance:
  • Add more colorful veggies and fruits to the meals and snacks eg, small pieces of strawberries in yogurt, corn, green herbs, carrots as and when required to make the dishes more colorful.
  • Go for grilled instead of frying.
  • Serve corn bread, crackers, whole wheat tortillas.
  • Consider some DIY food arts to attract your toddler.

7. Consider homemade food as much as possible

Less eating out allows to provide healthier options for your toddler. How? Having homemade food saves a lot of money, which give more chance to pick healthier foods for your child. There are many easy and simple recipes available. Search on the Internet and pick the best one that goes perfectly for your kids as well as for the whole family

8. Make mealtime peaceful


Toddlers are fussy eaters and they have constantly refused food at this time. If you face the same scenario, then don’t make the situation worse by making noise. You must take it normal and make a calm environment when your toddler is eating. Thus, you’ll be able to build a positive eating experience in your toddler that helps to reduce food waste in the long run.

9. Low-cost snacks and drink ideas

  • Some easy to made and low-cost snacks and drink ideas as follows:
  • Figs, raisins are a good snack for your older sweet-toothed toddler.
  • For a younger toddler, use raw and well-boiled vegetables and finger foods such as boiled and slickly cut carrot, beans, and so on.
  • Offer cracker with cheese at the snack time.
  • Homemade soup, cheese and fruit sticks are also good options.

Final thoughts

Feeding healthy to the toddler doesn’t have to cost most. Smart shopping for veggies, fruits, meats, proper meal planning can do the magic. If you experience frequent power struggle time while feeding your toddler and your kid sleeps less than usual, then seek pediatric consult for help.

Five Ways to Throw a Kid’s Birthday Party on a Budget

If you’re looking to throw a kid’s birthday party on a budget, we’ve come up with five things you can do to save money but still have a great time and a party your child and all his or her friends will remember.

These days, more and more parents are embracing the trend of throwing crazy, over-the-top birthday parties for their children, even those who aren’t old enough to understand the concept. For some parents, the idea of a kid’s birthday party on a budget just doesn’t register.

Some parents rent out banquet halls. Other hire actors to portray their children’s favorite TV characters and take over their local kiddie gyms for hours at a time. Those with large enough backyards have been known to rent amusement park rides, cotton candy machines, and snow cone makers to rival the carnival experience. And let’s not forget the celebratory junior spa day, where kids as young as four or five will spend hours getting pampered with age-appropriate face masks, manicures, and mud baths.

Even if you actually have the desire to throw such an elaborate bash, you may quickly run into one major problem: money. Unless your only aim is to impress the other parents, these extravagant birthday affairs are never worth their exorbitant costs. You’ll end up spending  the next 12 months paying off a credit card balance for an event that will last just a few hours. It is a little ridiculous considering that kids don’t care how much you spend; they have just as much fun and possibly much more fun with a low cost affair.

With a little creativity, you can find a cost-effective way to say “happy birthday.” Thankfully, you’ve got plenty of options for throwing an awesome kid’s birthday party on a budget.

1. Open Up Your Home

Throwing a birthday party at home means opening up your space to an influx of kids. It’ll take time to do the setup, and you’re almost guaranteed to be left with a mess. The good news? You can save several hundred dollars by not having to rent out a space.

2. Don’t Serve a Meal

Between food allergies and pickiness, feeding a room full of children is a challenging prospect to begin with. Rather than serve a meal, time your birthday party for 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon so that there’s no expectation of lunch or dinner. This way, all you have to do is serve up some snacks, put out some beverages, and bust out a cake. Speaking of which…

3. Make Your Own Cake

Even if you’re not a baker, you can whip up a simple, delicious cake for a fraction of the cost of a bakery cake. The secret? Cake mix. Don’t be ashamed of it. Lather it with a $3 jar of store-bought frosting, throw on some sprinkles, and you’ll be all set. It may not look as cool as the custom superhero or construction zone cake your neighbor’s son had at his party, but at 1/5 the cost, it’ll probably taste just as good.

4. Forego the Party Bags

Most parents don’t want extra candy or small, plastic toys lying around, so why spend money on stuff nobody needs? Instead, have the kids do a craft for entertainment and let them take their creations home.

5. Skip the Invitations

Every parent has email these days. Rather than print and mail out invitations, use email or free tools like evite.com to let your guests know they’re invited.

As noble as it is to want to throw your child a birthday party he or she will be raving about for weeks on end, it’s not worth busting your budget for a mere two hours of entertainment. And besides, once the party’s over, it’s all about the presents anyway.

Top 5 Money Tips For New Parents

A new member of the family means a lot of things, from new experiences and memories to new fears and frustrations, chief among them the fact that you now have to stretch your money to completely support a new person.

Budgeting for a family is no small chore, especially if you’ve never had to do it before. It doesn’t have to be difficult or intimidating, though. By following these 5 money tips for new parents, you can get your new family’s finances off to a solid start in no time.

Establish An Emergency Fund ASAP

You’re probably concerned enough with just covering the day to day expenses when it comes to your new family member. Savings, beyond what you may or may not have automated, might not seem like a primary concern from the beginning.

It should be, though. It’s recommended that you have six months’ worth of non-discretionary income set aside to make ends meet should something happen to your earning ability. It’s not always fun to think about losing your job when you have a new baby, but it does happen, and if it does, your family needs to be ready.

Try to have enough to cover half a year’s worth of basic living expenses, including rent or mortgages, utilities, bill payments, food, and baby expenses such as diapers and new clothes, set aside in advance. Whether you’re getting this set up before baby comes or you’re starting after the fact, worry about this before you start worrying about college funds or pre-school tuition. Those things are important, but so is your family’s living security.

While you’re at it, take a look at life insurance. It may have been frivolous when it was just you or just the two of you, but now that someone is going to be depending on your income for several years to come, life insurance is an important security measure to make sure that your child is cared for in tough times.

Evaluate Your Primary Expenses

Next on our list of top 5 tips for new parents is to take a look at how much you’re spending on the necessities.

You know that adding a new person into your family budget is going to change things, but have you truly considered by how much? Remember, you’re not just going to need to buy one wardrobe’s worth of baby clothes that will last until they reach their toddler years, you’re going to need to re-outfit that growing body every couple of months.

There’s no one number that’s going to tell you how much extra your kid is going to cost you, and you’re going to have to be prepared for your budget to not go exactly as planned, but it’s important to look into the potential cost of raising your child, and evaluate your budget from there. There are even a number of online calculators to help you get started.

When you know how much you need for your child, you’ll be in a better place to decide how the rest of your budget should be allocated. Necessities like food, shelter, utilities, etc., aren’t going anywhere, but you’ll be surprised where you’ll be able to cut back.

Look Into Alternative Options

Once you know where you absolutely must spend and where you can cut costs, don’t be afraid to look into alternatives where costs are still high.

New parents are easy targets for advertisers because your time and mental resources are already pretty tight, but the newest or flashiest isn’t always going to be what you need. Buying gently used on things like furniture and clothes for your new kid is a good way to cut some of the initial costs that are only going to last between a few months and a couple years.

Look into alternatives for things like health insurance, too. Increased premiums might make employer benefits a costly addition to your budget. Government-backed coverage might save you some cash while still keeping your whole family healthy. If you do run into emergencies with your budget, you can try applying for an alternative loan solution such as a title loan.

Look Into Tax Advantage College Savings

You might need that safety net first, but saving for college should be something that starts early. With estimated costs at a quarter of a million dollars by 2030, college isn’t going to come cheap and it’s not going to happen on its own.

Options like a 529 College Savings Plan provide parents a chance to save without the savings being subject to federal and in most cases state taxes, meaning that you’re getting a full dollar for every dollar you put in.

Don’t Hesitate To Ask For Help

When you’re tired, stressed, or just don’t know what to do, loading up on hundreds of dollars’ worth of baby books and paying for top notch sitters and nannies won’t get you nearly as far as your own network.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help from your supporters, whether that’s other new parents, your own parents, or other friends and family. If you need a sitter or help getting your kid to an important appointment, talk to someone you trust with your kids. Often, they’ll do it for nothing more than the promise that you’ll return the favor down the road.

Don’t be afraid to ask for advice, either. Things like medical needs should never be overlooked but a seasoned parent might be able to reassure you that a red spot is nothing more than diaper rash and save you the cost of a copay that you didn’t account for. Remember, it takes a village.

There’s no set number when it comes to budgeting for a growing family, and there’s no definitively right way to do it. Just set your priorities, look at all your options, and don’t be afraid to take help where you can get it. Most of all – don’t be afraid to not be afraid. You’re going to be a great parent.

Free Things To Do With Your Family in the Summer

Ah, Summer. Long, sunny days when the kids are home from school. It can be easy to wish the kids back into the classroom, but this year consider an alternative: find free things to do with your family in the summer. Doesn’t sound possible, but it is. Communities across the country are committed to offering a variety of activities that families can enjoy for little or no cost. Ready to get in on the action?

Get Moving

Summer is a great time of year to get outside and get moving. With kids (and adults) watching more TV than ever, having the opportunity for some exercise is too good to pass up. Consider biking as a family each day or night. To make it even more fun, you could bike ride to the park with plans to meet friends there, or pack a picnic lunch.

Hiking is another wonderful opportunity to get outside and explore nature. Pack a water bottle and hit the trails.

An alternative to hiking is geocaching. Even though you’re still outside and hitting the trails, you’re also looking for a cache. It’s like going on a treasure hunt, but instead of a map, you use GPS coordinates to find the treasure. With over 2 million geocaches worldwide, there are probably some near you. Search www.geocache.com to begin.

Other free activities that can get the whole family moving include:

  • Swimming at the beach
  • Playing in splashpads
  • rollerskating/blading
  • Go to the park and play
  • Host outdoor neighborhood games

Get together with families from the entire neighborhood to play softball, kickball, kick the can and other games you loved to play growing up.

It’s not entirely free because you have to pay for shoes, but there are many locations throughout the U.S. that let kids bowl up to three games per day. Perfect for a rainy day or those hot days where you just don’t want to go outside.

Learn Something New

Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean there’s no learning to be done. Summer reading programs are a fantastic way to get the whole family sharp. The following are just a sample of those available:

Many libraries and book stores have reading hours. You might also see if there are reading programs at local parks. Check and see if any authors of your kids’ favorite books are doing book signings in the area or will be by checking the author’s websites. They might enjoy hearing how they came up with the stories and asking questions. You might even be able to combine the activity with a road trip.

Many businesses offer free classes. Whether your family is into technology and wants to attend Apple Camp, loves working with wood or enjoy crafting, you can learn something new. many of these are free, some may have a small charge to cover the cost of the products.

One on One Time at Home

Some days it’s best to just stay home. But that doesn’t mean you have to watch TV all day. There are lots of great fun that can be had at home. Best of all – it won’t cost you a cent. Consider the following ideas:

  • Build a massive fort
  • Create a scavenger hunt
  • Have a dance party
  • Pull out the board games
  • Make your own board games
  • Have a water balloon fight
  • Test out science experiments
  • Create obstacle courses

You could also teach your kids to cook. Whether they’re at the stage where they can just start to add in the flour or can make dinner by themselves, doing it together could lead to new recipes, new things to try and some great memories.

Out on the Town

Does your town have a police or fire station? Why not call up and arrange a tour? Local factories might be willing to give tours, as well. And sometimes candy stores will show you how the magic happens – for free. You might also visit a farm to see where the produce comes from and see some animals.

Do you love to fish? Get a fishing pole (a toy one for very young children might be wise) and teach your little angler how to cast the pole and reel in the fish. Share a favorite fishing spot.

Maybe not much happened in your town, but local museums are sure to have captured the local flavor and history and they usually don’t charge much – they might even have free days.

What about giving back? Maybe a local garden or a school could use your help. Get the whole family involved in a volunteer project.

What’s going on at your park district? Many towns have activities set up throughout the summer that are family-friendly. This could include free days to swim at the pool, live music, free petting zoos and free movies in the park.

If you’re a movie-going family and want the opportunity to see other movies during the summer, consider paying a nominal fee (50 cents to $1 per film). The following are sites where you can see movies near you on the cheap:

You Gotta Eat

Food. Whether you want to cook together or you’re doing all the cooking yourself, a meal is a great way to spend time with family and friends. Visit a local park for a barbecue, take a drive to a picnic or hit up some local restaurants on days where kids eat free. In some towns and cities, particularly lower income areas, the USDA has partnered with local schools to provide kids 1-18 with free lunches.

Spending fun time with family and making memories doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Take advantage of this summer and spend time together doing activities for free.

How to Create a Family Budget

How to Create a Family Budget

How to Create a Family Budget

Creating a budget is personal. You have to customize it to fit your income and expenditures and the things that are important to you. Begin creating a family budget that you’ll stick to because it allows you to pay bills, save money and still get the things you love. Work with your spouse to see where your money is going and design a plan that fits you and meets your needs.

Step One: Acquire Your Detailed Bank Statements

It’s easy to think you know where and how you’re spending your money. Looking through your bank statements gives you the nitty gritty details of where it’s really going. Print them out or view them online. Look at every purchase you’ve made for the last three months and break it down into a category, such as:

  • Bills and Utilities
  • Food and Dining
  • Household expenses
  • Credit cards and other debts
  • Car Expenses
  • Gifts and donations
  • Travel
  • Education
  • Health care

Figure out a way to identify each individual category, whether you list them out, use a different colored highlighter for each category or use a budget site like Mint.com. You may want to break some of the categories up further. For instance, you may have car payments, gas, car repairs and regular maintenance, like oil changes. The amount you spend on gas will change each month and you won’t have an oil change every month, but you will have a car payment.

For each category record the individual expenses and get an overall estimate of what you’ve been spending.

Which purchases surprise you? Which ones don’t?

Add up the amount you’re spending each month. Chances are you spend different amounts each month, but they should be pretty close to one another, barring high unusual (or surprise) expenses.

Now add up your income. How does what’s coming in compare to what’s going out? Are you making money or are you in the red?

Step Two: Identify Your Needs

As you look at your expenditures, you should start to recognize patterns. But how many of them do you need?

Of your purchases, which can you not live without? Consider the following:

  • Groceries*
  • Rent/mortgage
  • Clothes*
  • Utilities
  • Gas for car

Obviously, food is essential. But there are groceries you don’t need – like organic milk or the expensive steak. Similarly, you need clothes, but not designer clothes. Internet is not a need unless you work from home. Cell phones can be a need if you don’t have a home phone, but a data plan is not. TV isn’t a need, but it’s a want a lot of us share. On the other hand, you have to make that payment until it’s repaid.

These needs make up the bare bones of your budget. This is what you will need to survive if you lose your job (or jobs). Multiply it by six and you have the amount you should (eventually) have saved up in your emergency savings fund.

Step Three: Discuss Your Wants

What things do you want? Don’t limit it just to financial things, like saving money. Dream a little. For instance, do you want to:

  • Take an annual vacation?
  • Have a family (or a larger one)?
  • Buy or build a new house?
  • Have a date night every week?
  • Go out with friends every month?
  • Stay home with the kids?
  • Start your own business?
  • Lose weight and get in shape?
  • Get tickets to watch your football team play?
  • Buy a boat and live on the ocean for a year?

The things you want are an important part of the budget because they affect how you spend the money that’s not needs-based. Some people like big expensive vacations. Others want expensive houses or cars. Others want to have comfortable furniture and a huge TV to relax in front of. None of those things are wrong or bad. But you have to plan so you can get the things you want.

What do you need to do to get things you want? For instance, if you want a date night every week and you have kids, you need a babysitter. That could mean calling Grandma, a friend, or hiring someone. The dinner, movie and drinks may not be your only expense. How much will the items on your want list cost you?

How will you get the money for your wants?

For instance, if you want to take a vacation, you could start a vacation fund that you put money in every month. How much should you put in? Should you make a babysitter a line item on your budget? If you want to stay home with the kids, how much money will you need to cut out of your expenditures to make up the difference from what you’re earning?

One thing you may not consider that you should is your partner’s “love language”. Different people express and feel loved differently. This can affect your budget. For instance, if your partner’s love language is gifts, chances are he will give nice, thoughtful (and sometimes expensive) gifts to you and expect the same in return. Even if “nice presents” aren’t a stated want, a gift line is important to incorporate into your budget. Your relationship is important and showing affection to one another in the way you receive it best helps keep it strong.

When you have your wants in order, prioritize them so you can begin moving in the direction of your dreams. Corny, but true.

Step Four: Address Your Fixed Expenses

Not all of your fixed expenses are needs, but if you have a contract, you have to pay them. Add ’em up.

Now look at the items that aren’t contracted, or that have contracts ending soon, like the satellite TV bill. Could you call up and ask for a lower rate? What about getting a smaller data plan on your phone – or asking for a discount for being a good customer? Are discounts from your employer availabl. Are there any fixed expenses that you don’t find yourself using?

Or maybe you’ve realized you can’t go down in data on your phones, but need to go up because you’re always going over. Maybe you only use the internet on your phone and having home internet isn’t actually saving you any money.

If there’s nothing you can cut out, that’s okay, but if there is, there’s no reason to hang onto it. If you have a subscription to Hulu that you never use, that’s $8 you can put toward something you actually want.

Step Five: Address Your Variable Expenses

How much do the variable expenses on your needs list cost you in a year? What do gas and groceries run you, on average? This amount can vary month-to-month, but it probably isn’t too different, overall. It’s important to know where you actually fall – that you’re spending $500 on gas, not $300.

Now consider your other variable expenses. The ones that could be cut out, if necessary. How often are you going out to eat? Buying coffee? Getting fast food?

As with your wants, none of the answer to these questions are wrong. The question is just to get you thinking about whether or not your money is going where you want it to. If you want to get in shape, but you’re stopping at McDonald’s every day, you’re probably sabotaging your efforts. You’re also be spending money that could go toward a gym membership or buying a workout bike so you can exercise at home. The question boils down to what you want and whether or not you’re moving in that direction.

Using your bank statements from the last few months, write down all of your fixed bills and all of your variable expenses that are needs, with the amount each cost (realistically!). How much are you spending? Subtract that from your income and that’s what’s left in your budget. If you ever experience a financial emergency, sometimes the best solution for you would be a car title loan. This option will allow you to pay your bills on time, just make sure you can pay the loan off in the future.

Step Six: Create an Automatic Savings Plan

If you already have an emergency savings plan that has at least 6 months of expenses and you’re saving for other “smaller” things, like a riding lawn mower or your next vacation, you can skip this step. Otherwise, you need to start saving.

Man people think saving money sounds like a real pain. One they can’t afford. The truth is, you can’t afford not to.

Saving money can provide you with a cushion in case of emergencies (and let’s face it. They happen. Usually all at once). It can also help you get the things you want.

To get started, consider an online bank. Many have excellent interest rates on savings accounts. Some, like Capital One 360, allow you to open multiple accounts, so you can save for all the things you want. Not sure where to start? Consider these:

Set up automatic transfers to your savings account(s). You can do them once each month, every pay period or even small amounts every day. The important part is that you’re saving money for the things you want later, whether it’s a fantastic vacation or a down payment on a house.

Step Eight: Spend the Rest Appropriately

What’s left is for you to spend. Some might go toward dining out. Some might go toward stuff for your house. For the next few weeks record every penny you spend, so you have no surprises. This can help you keep on track. Then you can make decisions, together, about how to spend it.

For some people, tracking every cent is important. For others, it’s frustrating and obnoxious. Depending on how you do your finances best, you might choose whether to record every cent or if you want to allot an amount that each person or you as a couple can spend in a pay period, a week or throughout the month. What you choose doesn’t matter as long as it works for you and you’re not overspending – or delving into your savings.

Creating a family budget can be intimidating, but having one can make the difference between living your life the way you want to and living paycheck to paycheck. Know where your money is going and make the changes you need to get to the places you want to go.