You Don’t Have to Spend a Lot to Encourage Good Health Habits in Your Kids

A girls eats an apple at lunchtime.
Mya Stables eats an apple for lunch at Woodlawn Elementary School in St. Petersburg, Florida. April 23-27 is Every Kid Healthy Week, which, according to its website, was created to “celebrate school health and wellness achievements.” Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Encouraging kids to make healthy choices when they’re young can have lasting consequences.

April 23-27 marks the sixth annual Every Kid Healthy Week, which, according to its website, was created to “celebrate school health and wellness achievements.”

But that doesn’t mean the health of our children should be left to teachers or school administrators exclusively.

Rob Bisceglie is the CEO of the nonprofit Action for Healthy Kids, the organization that promotes Every Kid Healthy Week. He believes the role of parents should not be overlooked when it comes to keeping kids healthy.

“Parents and caregivers are a powerful force for change in schools and can help bring together school staff, other parents and community partners to improve student health and learning and reinforce healthy habits at home,” he said. “Our goal is to raise awareness among parents about how they can get involved in and improve health at school and at home during Every Kid Healthy Week and beyond.”

Heidi Milby, director of school health programs for Action for Healthy Kids, offers six ways parents on a budget can encourage healthy habits for their kids.

  1. Drink water or milk instead of juices and sugary drinks.

Penny Hoarder tip: These five alternatives to buying bottled water can help you save money.

  1. Buy produce in season. Skip the salad mix and buy the head of lettuce.

Penny Hoarder tip: Score savings by shopping at farmers markets or joining a community-supported agriculture cooperative. (And don’t ignore ugly produce!)

A boy runs in a park.
Ezra Avila, 2, explores Crescent Lake Park in St. Petersburg, Florida. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder
  1. Take advantage of free or reduced-price school meals. Federal guidelines require school meals to meet specific nutrition standards.

Penny Hoarder tip: Check out this document to see if your household meets the income eligibility guidelines for free and reduced-price lunch.

  1. Exercise at local parks. Find a park with a walking path and fitness circuit.

Penny Hoarder tip: You can even earn money by tracking fitness wins and sharing them on social media.

  1. Integrate little bits of activity throughout your day. Instead of walking to your typical bus stop, walk to the next stop if the weather is nice. Instead of parking your car at the front of the lot, park farther back for a few extra steps. Get off the elevator one floor early and walk up the remaining flight.

Penny Hoarder tip: The most ordinary places can be gyms in disguise — no membership fees required.

  1. Skip the cable subscription to spend less time sedentary in front of the TV.

Penny Hoarder tip: You can save hundreds by eliminating your cable bill — plus there are alternative options for the occasions when you would like to catch a show or two.

Nicole Dow is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.