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10 steps to keeping kids healthy on a budget


Posted on Tuesday, October 31, 2017

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South Africa has the highest female overweight and obesity rate in Sub-Saharan Africa. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, in South Africa, 3.91 million school children will be overweight or obese by 2025 if child obesity continues to rise at the current rate. With these statistics in mind, Budget Insurance takes a look at how to keep kids healthy – on a budget.


With so much information out there on leading healthier lifestyles, you may feel a bit overwhelmed. To help you get started, we’ve put together this 10-step budget-friendly guide to keeping children healthy on a budget.

1. Plan meals for a week.

Go through recipe books and browse your favourite food blogs to create a meal plan that fits your household budget. Aim for a week's worth of recipes that use up all the ingredients you buy so nothing goes to waste.

2. Take stock of your pantry, make a list and stick to it.

Check your fridge and pantry to see what nutritious food for kids you already have for your weekly meal plan. If there are items that are going to expire soon, work those into your meal plan to further minimise waste. If you’re not good at making lists and sticking to them, take a look at these helpful apps.

3. Find affordable alternatives to ingredients.

Take a look at your last grocery till slip, identify the most expensive items and research cheaper (but still healthy) alternatives. For example, quinoa is all the buzz, but it’s rather pricey – opt for something like brown rice instead. This will help you stay within your budget. If your budget needs a revamp, start afresh with these free budgeting templates.

4. Have an in-store plan of action.

Once you’re in the store, stick to the aisles in which you’ll find your listed items. This will help you avoid adding unnecessary things to your trolley. 

5. Continuously compare prices.

Don’t just grab the can or packet you see first. Stores lay out their shelves with the priciest items at eye level, so check above and below for the same product at a more competitive price. Also avoid being seduced by brand names. The store’s own nameless brands are sometimes cheaper and, often, excellent quality. 

6. Nutritional labels don’t lie.

Some things may appear to be healthy food for children but aren’t always. For example, tinned soup may seem like quick, healthy food for kids, but in fact many brands are packed with salt, sugar and preservatives. Skip ready-made meals – you have no control over the number of additives and they’re often very costly.

7. Start them slow.

A mistake people often make when deciding to ‘be healthy’ is buying huge quantities of healthy food, most of which end up going to waste. Rather buy and prepare small kids’ meals to see what they enjoy most. Training your kids’ palate to appreciate healthy food will help them establish a lifelong appetite for eating well.

8. Maintain and sustain normal eating patterns.

The increase in childhood obesity can be partly attributed to the decrease in structured eating patterns. Eating breakfast is key to establishing good eating habits, which will help kids maintain a healthy weight throughout their lives. What they eat is just as important as when they eat, so avoid sugar-packed cereals and white bread.

9. Be creative.

You’ll be amazed at the children’s food you can create with cucumber, carrots and a few radishes. Click here for a little inspiration.

10. Have healthy snacks on hand.

Buying or making healthy snacks for children in bulk, and keeping them on you, will ensure that you’re always ready for that inevitable ‘I’m hungry’. This way you won’t have to buy convenience food at very inconvenient prices, and you’ll keep them full until home time when they can have a proper, filling meal.