Do you want to buy healthy food for your family? Read about healthy foods and how to buy them if you are on a budget. Learn where to get food from your home country.
Eating healthy food is one of the most important things you can do to maintain your health. Most newcomers come from countries where people eat a lot of fruits, vegetables and other healthy foods.
Where to buy healthy food on a budget
Cooking nutritious, affordable and healthy food for you and your family can be hard in the USA. There are lots of cheap processed and fast foods available that are not healthy. Fruits and vegetables can be expensive.
One of the most important things you can do is to find the supermarkets nearby to your home. Most of the time, large stores will be cheaper than small stores. Supermarkets are big and carry a variety of foods from around the world at reasonable prices. Other newcomers in your community may have suggestions of supermarkets and other stores where you can find low-cost healthy food and foods from your country.
How to save money at the grocery store
Many supermarkets have coupons, which are vouchers that lower the cost of certain grocery items. Coupons are made available online, in newspapers, and through the mail. Supermarkets also post discounted items on their websites and in booklets available in-store. Consider buying different brands of the same foods as coupons change from week to week.
Get club cards
Your supermarket may have a “club card,” or membership card, that gives you access to discounts. They show the discounts in the aisles and shelves. Visit the customer service counter to learn about the opportunities your supermarket has for savings.
Store brands are often cheaper than famous brand names. Figure out where store brands are shelved at your supermarket. They are usually on lower shelves, while name brands are shelved at eye level.
Look at unit prices
Be mindful of unit prices when shopping. A unit price is the cost of a specific quantity (per ounce, pound, liter, etc.) of a product. For example, you may think a jumbo-sized box of cereal is the best deal, but the unit price on a smaller box may be less. In that case, it would be to your advantage to buy two smaller boxes instead of one big box! Unit prices are usually shown just below the selling price.
Buy fresh foods in season
Out-of-season produce is generally more expensive, so try to buy fruits and vegetables that are in season. In the warmer months, planting a small garden at your home or in a community plot can be an inexpensive source of vegetables for your family.
Buy some foods in bulk
Beans, spices and other dried foods are cheaper in bulk. Buying in bulk quantities can save you expense over the long term, but do so cautiously because some foods spoil quickly. Spoiled food means wasted money.
Use convenience stores rarely
Avoid convenience stores for large amounts of shopping. As their name suggests, convenience stores are convenient. They are common in urban neighborhoods and are open late or even all night. But their goods are often overpriced, and they don’t stock many healthy foods. Convenience stores are best visited for small grocery runs and urgent food needs only.
Where can I find food from my country?
Some foods you are used to eating may be hard to find or expensive in the USA. Meats and fruits that are not common, such as papaya, are expensive because they are imported. You can look for fruits that are similar and cheaper, or just buy your favorites for special occasion.
Speciality food shops
Specialty sections of grocery stores may carry some items that are familiar to you. These sections are usually limited, but in large towns you will find smaller stores with a larger variety of foods from one or more cultures. You can search for these stores using FindHello or at Specialtygrocery.net.
FindHello is an app you can use to look for help near you. It shows a map and list of services for immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and undocumented people in the USA. Search for legal help, English classes, healthcare, housing support, and more.
Internet food shopping
It is also possible to buy nonperishable foods (foods that do not spoil quickly) on the internet. You will have to use your credit card or bank account to do this. It is convenient because the foods are delivered to your home. One example of an ethnic foods retailer online is eFoodDepot.com.
What if I don’t have enough food?
In the USA, there are community food pantries and food banks that provide food to low-income people. You can look in FindHello for food assistance in your community. You can also visiting Feeding America to see if you qualify for any of government food assistance programs or to find your local food bank.
Helping children develop healthy food habits
Children usually get used to their new culture quickly. They may be eager to eat American food in order to fit in with other students.
Teach healthy food habits
Teaching children healthful habits from an early age is important. Many American children have problems with their weight and health as a result of poor nutrition. You can help your children be proud of the food from your first culture by cooking nutritious food at home.
Children are usually more excited to eat food at home if they help make it. Take your children grocery shopping with you and ask them to help you make meals.
Eating meals together can help your family stay close and means you can make sure your children are eating nutritious food. At mealtimes, you may choose to cook food from your culture or to try foods that are new to you. Cooking familiar dishes allows you to retain food traditions and encourage your children to stay bonded to their roots. When trying new American foods, you have the opportunity to share a new experience with your children and to share their enthusiasm for your new environment.
Read food labels
Foods in the USA have labels on them that describe, in detail, what ingredients are in the food and how much of it you should be eating. It’s good to learn how to read these labels because it allows you to find out if a food has many calories and if it has vitamins and minerals that will benefit your health. You can learn more about these labels from the Food and Drug Administration.
Make sure your children are active
It is also important to encourage your children to be physically active. Many children in the United States watch television, play video games, or use their phones too much. Playing outside with our children after dinner, signing them up for after-school sports, and monitoring how much technology they use are all ways to do this.
Growing your own healthy food
Most Americans, especially those living in cities, do not grow their own food or have their own livestock (cows, goats, etc). However, that does not mean that it is impossible to grow some of your food. It is a great way to make sure your family has healthy things to eat. You can buy seeds and materials for planting in home and garden stores.
If you live in a city and have little space, you can grow herbs in your home or a few fruits and vegetables on your balcony or in the yard. You can join a community garden.
If you wish to have a large garden or animals, it is best to find a home in a rural area, where it is cheaper to have a backyard or own land. Growing food may help you keep some of the routines you had in your home country.