Tag Archive | "food"

How to Feed a Healthy Family on a Tight Budget

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How to Feed a Healthy Family on a Tight Budget

Eating healthy on a tight budgetMy wife decided that after all of my years of blogging it was time that you get the real story…from her.

As a young mother of three beautiful children and the wife of a grad student, I have been forced back into the college budget.  You know, the one where after all bills and obligations are payed you have approximately $50 to live on (small exaggeration).

The biggest differences between my current situation and the one I left 4 years ago is that:

  1. I now have children whom I absolutely want the best for and refuse to raise them on mac’n cheese, chips and soda.
  2. I myself cannot live happily on processed foods as they make me ill and fatigued.
  3. My husbands waistline cannot handle the typical college diet of a 20 year old (Editor’s Note: I resent that).

So I am in training to become the master of healthy living on a budget!

Cheap and healthy options for everyday diets

A few ideas to help you eat healthy on a small budget:

  • Snacks: carrot sticks, all natural corn chips, Pace Salsa (all natural), celery, all natural peanut butter (no added sugar or preservatives), bananas, apples and grapes.
  • Meals: Rice (brown and wild rice are best), potatoes (red and blue potatoes are best), whole wheat pasta, artichoke pasta.
  • Vegetables: (frozen is usually best because it was likely picked at peak ripening time and therefore contains the most nutrients), corn, peas, zucchini, squash, and broccoli are all lower cost vegetables.

To be sure that you are getting the most food for your buck, be sure to consider the following purchase options:

  • Local Food Coops: Very low cost and provide opportunity for trying out new produce options each week.
  • Farmers Markets: You can find food that is far more nutritious and often sells for less than the local grocer.
  • Buying in Bulk (e.g. Costco): With 5 mouths to feed the membership fee is more than worth savings. Use coupons and stock up on things that are always in need.
  • Meal Planning: Experienced planners report saving of about $250 a month! There are many useful sites for  easy meal planning. One of my favorites is Say Mmm.
  • Double up: When planning meals, cook enough dinner for two servings so that you have lunch the next day already figured out and you save even more money.
  • Vitacost: For all you health nuts out there or those looking to get started in the right direction, allow me to recommend Vitacost. It’s affordable, healthy groceries delivered right to your door with no shipping cost on orders of $50 or more (let’s be honest, how often do we spend less than $50 on a grocery run?).

I hope this is helpful for all you health conscious families out there who are trying to survive in this economy. Please post any other ideas or recommendations in the comments section.

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My relationship with food

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My relationship with food

As a young child, I was a bit of a runt. Short, but very thin. Then that whole puberty thing happened and I started to put on weight. I never got that big, but I never thinned out again.

As mothers always do, mine reassured me that my weight gain as an early teen was just part of growing up and I would thin out.

I think it’s just my genetics.

I was always self-aware of being sturdy – that’s what my mom called it. Fortunately, my Type Red personality overpowered the self-conscious part of me and didn’t allow me to miss out on too many opportunities.

However, I know I held back some times.

(Especially when it came to girls)

I had the privilege of serving a full-time service mission in Mexico City. When I left, I weighed just over 200 pounds (I’m 5’10”). By the end, I was down to 175 and feeling pretty confident.

Within a year of returning home to Utah, I was back up around 200 pounds.

Since then, I have dropped back down to 167, then up to 210, then down to 175, then up to 195 and I’m currently weighing in at 188. I’m on the HCG diet hoping to drop down to 175, which I believe is a healthy and attractive weight.

If you add that all up, I’ve lost 100 pounds in my life. That’s more than half of my current weight.

I’ve never regained the thin waistline of my childhood always having at least a spare tire.

Weight Loss

I’ve tried working out.

That’s how I dropped down to 167. I went to the gym three times a week for 1 1/2 hours each time. I felt great and was confident in my appearance.

But life happens and that stopped.

Part of my reason of losing 35 pounds last year was because I was applying to some top tier MBA programs. I didn’t want my physical appearance to taint any opinion of me.

This post may sound as if I am ranting and complaining.

I’m not. I’m giving the back story to a realization that I had today.

I was recently asked on Facebook why I would use such an extreme diet, such as HCG, to lose weight. I’ve always given two reasons. First, it’s fast. Second, it cleanses my body of toxins and shrinks my appetite.

However, I think there’s a bigger reason. The reason I put weight on so easily is because I am slave to my hunger. When I want to eat, my body and desires take over. I just eat. I lose control. Fortunately, I’ve never allowed myself to gain considerable weight. Or maybe my wife didn’t.

Today, as I was thinking about my hunger and great desire to break down and just eat, the thought occurred to me. “Maybe, I’m teaching my body to shut-up and listen to me. I’m teaching myself to control my appetite.”

The application of appetite control is far more reaching than just hunger.

We can describe many desires and wants in life as appetites: overspending, alcohol, adultery, cruelty, selfishness, greed, pornography, etc.

Any addiction is the indulgence of an appetite.

Through spending three weeks starving just about every moment that I am awake, I am learning to control my appetites. I’m learning that I am Master and Commander.

I once heard a story about a man who decided to quit using chewing tobacco. For many years, he carried a tin of tobacco in his pocket. Several times a day, he pulled it out, looked at it and then said, “Who is master here, you or me?”

How often do we carry our appetites in our pockets – tempting, reminding and calling to us? This man was fortunate enough to win every battle and eventually the war. But it’s a dangerous path.

I want to enjoy life, which means also enjoying food.

But I need to change the nature of my relationship with food. My appetites do not control me. None of them.

So yes, my diet is extreme and it’s not enjoyable. But I’m walking away with more than a slimmer silhouette. I’m walking away with self-mastery.

What appetites do you plan to control today, this week, month or year?

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3 Ways to save money at dinner time

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3 Ways to save money at dinner time

One of the expense categories where my wife and I struggle the most is dining out. And I imagine that we are not the only ones. In fact, many of m friends find themselves splurging a little too often on dining out. So why the lack of self control despite having a budget and feeling so committed at the beginning of the month?

Here are my thoughts. Please add your own reasons in the comments.

Commit to a dinner plan before you are hungry

Much like the adage, “Don’t grocery shop while you are hungry,” you should avoid making the “What’s for dinner?” decision while you are hungry. Though don’t just decide early in the day that you will be staying in, actually commit to your decision by putting the meal into action. For some of you stronger willed individuals, committing may mean just getting the chicken out to thaw. For the rest of us, we need to go the extra step and practically make half the meal before getting hungry.

Another reason for committing early in the day is to avoid the temptation after work while you are in the car running errands or driving home. Many of our lapses in judgement are a result of deciding what to do for dinner while we are driving around. Going home, preparing the meal, cleaning up, etc. sounds like so much work when, “Hey, isn’t Cafe Rio just around the corner?”

So at least plan on your meal early in the day or week. It’s even more effective though if you can commit to your plans be beginning your preparations.

Reduce the size of the expensive main dish

Grilled Chicken

I’ll give you an example to illustrate what I mean. I have a family of four. My two little girls don’t eat a lot, so we grilled up only three chicken breasts for dinner last night. My girls shared one breast, my wife and I shared a breast, and the third was stuck in tupperware as my lunch for the following day. Now, half a chicken breast won’t fill many guys, including myself. So we made garlic bread (purchased for $1) and vegetables such as corn (which we buy in bulk from Costco). By the end of the meal, I was full despite having had a small portion of protein (the most expensive part of the meal).

So get creative and add tasty, inexpensive sides to your dinner time meals that allow you to make a smaller portion of the expensive part of the meal. This same tip is also great for losing weight. Controlling portion sizes is one of the biggest factors in a successful, long term diet plan.

Make sure to have leftovers from dinner

Another expense category where many families struggle is work lunch. Your best laid plans to get up early to make sure that you have enough time to make and pack a lunch can easily fall through if you hit the snooze button one too many times. However, if you have leftovers from last night’s dinner already packed and ready to go, then you are much less likely to eat out come lunch time.

This money saving tactic obviously isn’t rocket science but does take some planning and forethought. For example, not all meals re-heat well or a recipe may only serve four but you need it to serve five in order to have one leftover meal.

You also have to practice self-control at dinner time. It’s happened more than once that my wife has made extra but my appetite took over and I ate everything. So stop after your portion is gone. This is also a healthy habit to form as well. Extra servings are rarely needed.

So what other tips do you have for saving money at dinner time?

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