How To Afford Healthy Bread

This article is a follow-up to my post last week about finding the most healthy breads available.  You can click here to read my first article on this topic.  There was a lot of information to share, so I decided to divide it into two articles.  Last week's article focused on the make-up of  breads, whole wheat vs. whole grain, and what to look for in healthy breads.   


This week I will focus on two follow-up topics: how to afford eating the most healthful breads and how to get your kids to enjoy such breads.
It's an unfortunate evolution of our food system that eating healthy these days tends to be expensive.  In a market focused on convenience food, frozen meals that are prepared, and food filled with preservatives like added sugar, high fructose corn syrup, & high levels of sodium, it's no wonder eating healthy is "hard to find" in the supermarket, as well as many people being uninformed as to how to make healthy choices.  
Fitting Healthy Breads Into Your Budget
Bread is actually relatively easy to navigate.  Stick to whole grains with no added sugars or preservatives.  Most breads that fit this category tend to be twice the price of conventional breads.  How do we fit them into our budget?  Here are some ideas:
1.  Coupons.  Couponing is quite popular these days.  It seems like it's a hobby that everyone is doing.  But a lot are not!  Some don't want to put forth the effort. Some don't get the newspapers that have a lot of coupons in them.  For me, I usually seek out the coupons I need simply by visiting the manufacturer's website.  There are often links to coupons and special offers.  For example, one of the bread companies highlighted in last week article (Dave's Killer Bread) has a section on their website that highlights what stores are offering deals and discounts on their bread.  Another suggestion is to sign up for email newsletters of breads that you like (this is easily done via company websites).  You will often get special offers exclusive to those newsletters.  Finally, you can visit some major couponing sites to see what they might have.  One I like is Retail Me Not.  I just punched in a search for "bread" and a lot of options came up.

RetailMeNot Insider: Shop Smart
2.  Put Your Freezer To Work.  I almost exclusively keep bread in my freezer.  I keep one loaf in our refrigerator for daily use and the bulk of my supply is in our back-up freezer.  Sometimes I stock up because there is a good sale or coupon.  I occasionally find my favorite healthy breads at places like Costco.  You can also research if your favorite bread has a local outlet or closeout center.  They will often sell near-expiration or frozen loaves at a fraction of the cost.  I've been known to buy 20+ loaves that are are only $2.00/loaf!
3.  Make Your Own.  I know, I know.  How will you find time to bake your own bread?  It's a process: putting it together, letting it rise, punching it down and letting it rise again, and then baking.  But let me highlight two plusses to this system.  First, you can usually make a batch that will yield 6-8 loaves of bread.  So, although a process, you will have bread to last awhile (again, put that freezer to work).  The other plus is that you completely control the ingredients, so you can add exactly what you want, get creative, and cater it to your tastes.  I've gotten creative with different flours, blends of flours, seeds, and different herbs and flavors.  
And just when you thought this wasn't a good idea....I give you Crockpot Bread!  The link here is to a pretty basic recipe, so feel free to experiment and change as necessary.  But this might be a good way to start "warming up" to baking your own healthy bread.

Couldn't Be Easier Slow Cooker Bread. Photo by LUv 2 BaKE
Getting the Kids On Board
OK, so you know what bread to buy and how to make it easier on your budget.  But how do you get your kids to enjoy it?  My kids have always eaten hearty, healthful breads, so they don't know it any other way.  But I know not all kids have eaten this way.  Here are some tips to try:
1.  Reduce sugar in their diet.  When kids are eating added sugar in their meals and snacks (sometimes unknowingly), the palate naturally will want and become addicted to sweeter foods and even bland foods.  Check what you are feeding your children carefully.  Is there added sweeteners in cereals, breads, granola bars, even crackers?  Do they eat a lot of candy?  Do they eat processed fruits (i.e., fruit rollups or fruit snacks) versus real, fresh fruit?  Are they drinking nonfat or lowfat milks (although not a huge problem in and of itself, it does contain more sugar than full fat milks and it can compound a problem if children are eating other sugar in their diet)?  Are they eating more simple sugars vs. complex sugars (this means highly processed sugars versus better choices like maple syrup, honey, and cane sugar)?  By making a conscious effort to reduce sugar intake, this will not only be better for them nutritionally, but will make your kids less hyper and will slowly change their tastes for more healthy, natural foods.

2.  Start slow.  The adjustment will vary, depending on what type of bread your child is used to eating.  If they have been having white Wonder bread, the adjustment will take longer.  Maybe they've done healthier white options, but turned their nose up at whole wheat and whole grain options.  Here are some tips for incorporating whole grains and making the switch ultimately to better bread choices:
--Eliminate bread altogether.  Instead of sandwiches, try pinwheels made with whole grain tortillas.  Try quesadillas or wraps made with the same tortillas.  Do a "sandwich on a stick" but without the bread:  meat, cheese, a veggie.  Start using whole grains in your pastas and even try pasta alternatives, like rice pasta.  Then, once they are used to some of these other whole grain options, you can begin incorporating bread back in.
--Start with less nutty, smooth breads.  Many whole grain and whole wheat breads can be "seedy" and "nutty".  Seeks out ones like sour dough, cracked wheat, and other similar simple varieties.  Once they get used to these, you can try some of the more wild varieties.
--Try tried and true sandwich hits first.  When first bringing these breads into play, make a sandwich you know they love.  Maybe it's grilled cheese.  It could by pb & j.  Go with one they love and see how they do.
--Sneak the new bread choices in.  If they still seem to be putting up a fuss, try some sneak attacks with the healthy breads.  Grind them up into bread crumbs and use them in homemade mac and cheese.  Cube and toast them with a little olive oil and garlic and use as croutons in soup or on salad.  
3.  Follow Suit.  Our children are little sponges on pretty much everything we do.  You can't possibly think you can enforce a new bread lifestyle without eating the same bread yourself.  Celebrate the bread; speak of how awesome and good for you the bread is.  They will listen.


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