Providing your family with nutritious home-cooked meals is one of the best things you can do for their health and happiness. But every parent knows that feeding growing kids isn’t cheap, and often it’s the healthier options that are the most expensive.

Here are five tips to help you boost the nutritional value of your family meals without blowing the weekly shopping budget meals.

Load up on legumes

Legumes such as chickpeas, kidney beans and lentils are incredibly nutritious, very affordable and can easily be added to a wide range of meals. Try adding lentils to bolognaise sauce (your family won’t even notice they’re there!), chickpeas to soups and stews, and sprouted legumes such as Aussie Sprouts Crunchy Combo to salads and stir-fries.

Follow the seasons

Eating what’s in season not only encourages you to include more variety in your family meals (which is great for our health!), it also helps to keep the weekly shopping budget in check. Try mixing up your usual go to depending on what’s in season. For example, instead of making the same old mashed potato every time, try mashed sweet potato or pumpkin or add some different ingredients to salads such as alfalfa, grated beetroot or roasted cauliflower. Ordering a weekly box of seasonal fruit and vegetables can be a great way to get the best bang for your buck when it comes to fresh produce.

Cram in the veg

Adding more vegetables to your family meals is one of the best ways to maximise nutrient content while keeping costs down. Vegetables offer an array of vitamins and minerals to support kids’ growth and development, plus plenty of fiber to encourage good gut health. Try adding extra veggies such as mushrooms and zucchini to pasta sauces; capsicum, corn or spinach to scrambled eggs and omelets or simply offer a colorful side salad or plate of veggie sticks with dip.

Fresh isn’t necessarily best

While they often get a bad rap, frozen fruit and vegetables are incredibly nutritious options and often better value than their fresh counterparts. And there’s no need to be concerned that you’re compromising on nutritional value, frozen produce can in fact be more nutritious than fresh as it’s frozen immediately after harvesting, therefore retaining many of its nutrients.

Switch to whole grains

Whole grains such as whole meal bread, brown rice, and whole meal pasta contain more fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals compared to white versions and cost roughly the same amount. If your family isn’t too keen on making the change, try doing it gradually, for example, by mixing white rice with brown or using half white bread, and half whole meal for sandwiches.

Written by Skye Swaney, Accredited Practising Dietitian and mother of two, on behalf of Aussie Sprouts.