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Trimming calories and costs

For first time parents or parents-again after a long time, the costs of child care can be quite staggering. After the medical bills have been paid, you are now looking at several months (maybe years) of added costs due to diapers, baby wipes, milk, milk bottles, stroller-related expenses. Potty training is in a hazy future as of yet. In the meantime, especially for the young parents among us, how can we trim down post-partum costs?

This article says that you can do it 12 ways and be fit while doing it, too.

Living in Belgium, certain practices resonate strongly with the tips provided in the article, particularly the following:

  1. Buy in bulk. There are several supermarkets and hypermarkets that are known for selling cheaper products wholesale such as Colruyt, Carrefour, and Aldi. You can save on milk and diapers if you buy the generic store brands, fortrimmingcalories.jpg example, as these two products can really push the budget through the roof.
  2. Shop Farmer’s Markets. The nice thing in Belgium is the weekly Friday AND Saturday markets, where the vendors/merchants bring their produce to you. Leuven being a small university town, you will most definitely pass through the markets on your way to class. Our small family has been able to take advantage of the Friday markets to purchase inexpensive yet savory roast chicken and saut’ed mixed vegetables – these sustain us through at least four meals. Advantage? My kids simply adore the taste of roasted chicken and sweet potatoes.
  3. Make your own jams and jellies. We’re lucky to be friends with a family who grow strawberries, apples, and just about every fruit in the book on their farm. Last summer our family was able to pick fruits straight from the trees and received some complimentary jars of strawberry jam. It lasted more than half a year!
  4. Cut down on (or give up!) junk food. I can swear by the long-term benefits of this tip. My older son has spent the last four years of his life here in Belgium, where children get celery sticks and apples for snacks and whole grain bread is practically a staple. You can eat as much of these in a day and not gain unwanted calories. They are much cheaper than chips, dip, and soda, that’s for sure.
  5. Buy produce only when it’s in season. Like I said, Belgium is bread and fruit manic. Kiwi’s, strawberries, plums, apples, pears, oranges, grapes — each has their own prime time and we’re lucky they don’t coincide with one another, so we have a healthy supply of fruits throughout the year.
  6. Think like a student. It’s easy in Leuven, home of the world’s catholic university, which boasts a population of 30,000-strong. It’s easier to scrimp on the penny when you have friends who share the same philosophy. It’s also a life skill that the children can pick up. Just don’t go overboard and produce the next Ebenezer Scrooge.

Other tips in the article include keeping strictly to a budget, raiding the cupboard until it’s bare, stocking up on drinks to last you a week, and several more. These can definitely come in handy for young, up-and-coming new parents who will want to enjoy child-rearing without constantly manning the family till.

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