Needs versus wants applies to food

Recently, I did an educational program on Spend Smart. Eat Smart. for employees at a local public health department. A dietitian in the group shared a way her family could save money on milk:  “Get my family to drink more water and not always drink milk.” Some in the group seemed surprised that a dietitian would make that suggestion. What did she actually mean? Her point was that she wants her family members to drink the amount of milk they need nutritionally, but not necessarily more than that.

This brings out a good point when it comes to saving money on food…how much are we actually eating/drinking and is it more than we need? In the case of milk, MyPlate recommends that children ages 2 – 8 need the equivalent of 2 cups (16 ounces) per day and everyone age 9 and over needs the equivalent of 3 cups (24 ounces) of milk per day. At my house, the glasses we usually use hold 12 ounces. If I have two of those each day, I have met the recommended amount. For more information, see dairy – milk, cheese and yogurt.

This concept makes an even bigger money-saving impact when you are talking about meats. The daily recommended meat equivalent is 4 to 5 ounces for children aged 2 to 13, and 5 to 6.5 ounces for teens and adults. When you plan meat for a meal, plan for 2 – 3 ounces per person. This will encourage healthy eating and save you money. For additional information on saving money on meat or other protein foods, see meat and beans.

-contributed by Renee Sweers

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