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As a GRG - grandparent raising a grandchild - Sharon shares her advice on getting kids to eat healthily.

My wee one is still at kindergarten and daycare so we have to fill lunchboxes three times a week.

When I shop I go straight to the deli area at the supermarket and check what's in the markdown section. Usually there is cream or cottage cheese, sliced ham and/or chicken, yoghurt, sour cream, soups, and all kinds of deli markdown treats that we couldn't otherwise afford. I get yoghurt in the 1kg pack if I can and usually half full price and I don't care if it's on the expiry date - it still lasts two weeks from that date. I give him small portions from it in easy-to-open lidded containers each day. Not only is this cheaper, I'm considering the planet by not buying individual-serve containers.

I have started making our bread again because it's way more substantial than shop-bought bread so one chunky homemade sandwich fills the space of two-plus shop bread sandwiches and is better for him.

I buy the cheapest local fruit. I buy bunches of the smallest-sized bananas and look for the bunch with the most fruit on it so he can have one a day.

Rolled oats for breakfast with half a teaspoon of brown sugar and a dollop of yoghurt on top is way better for his attitude to the day than the less-filling cereals and keeps him full longer. Half a cup of dry oats to one-and-a-half cups of water or milk cooked slowly till thick is enough for one child.

I've never given him lollies or sugar so he doesn't miss them or know what sweet breakfast is, and he's got great teeth.

Most days he will have a slice of homemade-bread toast with peanut butter or vegemite. I never give him jam or honey because I'm not growing a sweet-eating man.

His lunchbox usually is heavily savoury-oriented and contains:

  • A small container of dried fruit made up of a teaspoon each of chopped prunes/Plum Amazins, cranberry/Craisins, raisins, a date, and a dried apricot.
  • A small container of yoghurt
  • A small container of fruit salad from a can (a small yoghurt pot's worth), a banana,
  • A homemade savory muffin, kid-sized
  • A banana mini-muffin for a treat some days
  • A sandwich with either egg/mayo/lettuce or Marmite and cheese
  • A couple of crackers with Marmite and sometimes homemade popcorn
  • 600ml of rain juice that I pour from the 10-litre container into his drink bottle every day

Rarely do I add a few chippies, also from a larger bag into a small snaplock that we wash and reuse a few times.

I buy all this stuff when it's two or three for $5 or marked down. I rarely pay full price for any of it. I get the cheapest crackers with the heaviest weight. No muesli bars or fruit bakes - that's all sweet rubbish - and I buy in advance so we never run out. If it's not marked down I don't buy it.

On a low income where some weeks the shopping fund is $50, you have to shop smart. You can't take a list because lists add up to lots of money but I do have things like milk and bananas always on my weekly things-to-get list. If I see pasta for 65 cents I buy three bags. If canned fruit is at $1 or less, I'll get four cans. I am flexible with what money I have for the shopping so we can have a variety of what's available on the day.

We have meat or fish only about twice a week, and I get given most of that from mates who hunt and fish. I do eat the possums I catch; I'm lucky that I was brought up by a good Kiwi hunter and fisherman because I'll eat pretty much anything.

What other advice would you add? Let us know in the comments below.

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