Thursday, August 21, 2008

Can You Help A Sister Out?

I've been trying to combine three things lately and I can't seem to find a GOOD solution. Here are the three things.

1. Eating healthy and losing weight.
2. Reducing our grocery budget.
3. Simplifying my time in the kitchen (and not eating out!)

Here are the issues.

1. Healthy food costs more (i.e. whole grains; lean protein; fresh fruits) than the alternatives.
2. I still have a husband with a big appetite and three little ones to feed.
3. Somewhat picky children (they will eat most vegetables and fruit, the meat is the issue) and a very picky husband (won't eat fish, ham, turkey, or baked chicken, also doesn't like anything remotely creamy which rules out most one-dish dinners).
4. I don't particularly love cooking and am not very good at it. (I can follow a recipe, but can't just throw ingredients together on a whim and have it be very appetizing.) I don't want to fall into cooking something different for me than what I cook for the family.
5. I also don't have a warehouse store any closer than 45 minutes away, and I don't have a ton of time for shopping.

Here are the three things I'm considering trying for the first time or trying again. Any more suggestions?

1. Once a month cooking.
2. A friend recommended e-mealz (thanks Nancy!)
3. Sticking to my healthy menu and cooking from scratch as much as possible to save money.

Here are my questions.

1. What do you do to eat healthy on a budget?
2. How do you simplify your time in the kitchen and keep from eating out?
3. How do you accommodate different tastes in your family while still eating healthy and saving money?

Leave your ideas, recipes, or suggestions in the comments section. Also, there are two really great posts up at the following sites today taking this idea to the next level. They are talking about how to provide meals for others while staying on a budget (not necessarily healthy, but that would make a good post too). Good stuff in the comments. If you have time, you should check them out!

Money Saving Mom
Life As Mom

5 comments:

Emily said...

Hmmm. . . the meats limit things a bit for you. One of our favorite recipes is Minestrone soup, so if you all are soup people, I can put that together for you. Also, I LOVE my crock pot but hubby also doesn't love creamy things, so here is an easy recipe for the crock pot. One roast, one jar peppercino peppers, dry italian seasoning sprinkled on top. Cook 8 hours, serve on hoagies with cheese. You could sub in sweet potato fries for real fries.

My kids are expected to eat what I cook. You don't have to love it, but you do have to not complain and you do have to take one bite. I usually try to have at least one thing I know they will eat, like a fruit or side I know they like.

Our budget is so small for food, but I think we do ok with variety. In the summer, lots of grill meats with a side salad and fruit or veggie. In the winter, lots of soups with hot biscuits and a fruit of veggie. Soup is my fave cause I love my crockpot :)

I also have a great vegatarian cookbook, so if I need to cut out meat for budgetary reasons, I know we are getting protein anyway.

Sarah said...

This has been pretty hard for me. My husband and kiddoes are pretty picky eaters too. I'm not a red meat eater. I do the occasional lean ground beef with low sodium taco seasoning maybe once a month. My husband hates fish, so that rules that out. So, we eat a TON of chicken. I've priced it everywhere. The 3 lb bags of it are cheapest at Wal-Mart ($4-5 cheaper than the grocery stores). I believe at Wal-Mart they are $6.75 a bag. *Also, Wal-Marts milk has also been at least $1.00 cheaper then anywhere else. My family drinks a TON of milk.

I also eat alot of egg white. I don't buy the "Egg Beaters" because they are expensive. Our grocery store (Schnucks) has just started selling eggs by the bulk (36) and they have been having them for just .50 more than buying 18. I eat an egg white omelette every morning with a health cereal.

One of our local grocery stores (Shop N Save) has a $10.00 off $50.00 or more groceries. This is where I've been getting our fruits and veggies, bread, etc.

Eating healthy is expensive. I'm trying to find little tricks to save money as well.

Here is a recipe that my family loves:

3-4 Chicken Breast
1 Jar of Salsa
1/2 packet of taco seasoning
1/4 cup water

Put into crock pot and let it cook (I do 4-6 hrs). The chicken just shreds when it's done. We put in on whole grain tortillas with fat free cheese - or whatever you would like on it. We love it!

dianna b said...

Hey Hope! I love this topic. Here’s some things I did when raising my kids or that I’ve learned along the way. My idea is to keep it simple & fun.

1. In your budgeting system have you allowed a “fast food expense” ? The reason I ask is because it makes you feel not so restricted in this busy hectic fast food world! I remember doing that when I put myself on a budget when my kids were in high school way back when I was a single mom. It just makes it easier to stay on a budget, I think. I decreased the grocery expense account a little bit to do this. It gives you a little more freedom, a little something to look forward to while being on a budget. Then, if you don’t do the “fast food thing” each week, you will have that extra money to apply somewhere else or put in savings. Anyway, it’s just something to think about.

2. You might want to consider, in addition to fresh or frozen fruits & veggies, buying canned fruits & veggies which you already know are cheaper. Maybe rinsing them would help get rid of some of the sugar or salt, if that is your concern.

3. Well, you could grow your own garden & can your own vegetables if you really want to be healthy! Hmmm...I agree, too much work! But who knows people might start doing that if the price of food keeps going up!

4. I think Aldi’s has great fruits & veggies.

5. Since my kids were kind of picky too we just stuck to some basic foods that were easy on the budget. We had a spaghetti night, a taco night, chicken & noodles night, pork chops & rice night, etc. We about did the same thing every week! They were just quick & easy meals. I made sure they had a veggie & some fruit with their evening meal. My daughter still remembers these meals & makes them now herself. She also remembers me making lots of sloppy joes! Of course, we still did Pizza Hut once a week & McDonalds too. If your husband likes pork chops, I have a great & simple pork chops & rice recipe he might like. My kids, ages 26 & 28 still love it!

6. When I made spaghetti I would break it up into 4ths & boil it, drain it, add a big jar of spaghetti sauce, cooked & drained hamburger, stir it all up & wah-la! You might have that for 2 or 3 meals! And easy for kids to eat!

7. I like to buy a big bag of frozen skinless, boneless chicken tenderloins. Take a few out & make supper. They thaw quickly in the microwave. Cook up quick in a pan sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray & again, wah-la! You have some healthy meat for supper. We like to dip ours in barbecue sauce. Have whatever veggie you like and baked, mashed or roasted potatoes and/or dinner rolls.

8. Eat a lot of macaroni & cheese. Have meat & veggies on the side.

9. Potatoes are cheap. Yes, they have carbs, but they’re healthy too! Eat mashed potatoes, or however you like them, a few times a week. Have meat & veggies on the side.

10. Soup & grilled cheese sandwiches are quick & easy. I know, lots of sodium, but have it once week.

11. Ok, between us girls, regarding the wonderful but picky husband...pray! Pray that God will give him a desire for different & healthy food & to be happy with what the little wife cooks! And pray that God speak to his heart about setting a good example for his children regarding healthy, well balanced ways of eating so that they will grow up to be healthy & well-balanced in their eating habits & with their own children someday. Then, wait & see what God does! You'll be blown away when he starts to show a desire for different food, even fish! Even if it's a fish sandwich!My husband likes salmon patties, maybe someday yours will too! I have a simple way I make 'em.

12. Here’s something fun I do with my grandkids when they come to visit. I don’t know why I never thought of this when my kids were little! We do a crazy little thing called backwards day, where they get to have dessert for breakfast (usually ice cream), supper for lunch & breakfast for supper. It is such a fun thing for them! This would be a fun “special occasion” type of a thing like the “special red plate”. A healthy variation would be to have strawberries or bananas to put on their light ice cream or frozen yogurt.

13. Will your kids eat jello with fruit in it? I can still remember my kids liking orange jello with crushed pineapple & shredded carrots in it. A good way for kids to get a little fiber! And I liked it too.

14. Make apple rings – cut out the core then slice the apple or slice the apple then cut out the core. :-) Kids will think it is a fun treat. Put one grape in the middle. Serve on a little plate. You will feel artistic & the kids will like eating a healthy snack!
You could do all kinds of things with this idea.
Make little omelets & put a smiley face made of cheese on it.

15. And the hardest thing to do...Make the kids eat what mama cooks! Let’s face it, we usually don’t feed them anything yucky. Nothing like liver or oyster stew! Which I remember having to eat!! Aaawk!

16. I remember reminding my kids that they will get constipated if they don’t eat their fruits or veggies or drink water! And nobody wants to be constipated!

17. Exercise every day like you’re doing. You will lose weight. It also helps keep you in a good mood - something about the endorphins in your brain! Have you ever tried Walk Away the Pounds with Leslie Sansone? (Or something similar) A few years ago my daughter got me hooked on it. It’s just a walking video with a stretchie band. (kind of like marching in place with a few knee lifts, kicks etc.) So simple. So easy. There’s a 1 mile, 2 mile, 3 mile & 4 mile. The kids might like doing the 1 mile with you. My grandsons, when they were younger, loved doing it with grandma! And now Grandma needs to get out her videos & back into the swing of things, after writing her own advice!

Hope you had fun reading this!

Hope said...

Emily-
Thanks for your suggestions! The roast would probably be a hit around here and I love my crock pot too! We've been limited on grilling this summer as the husband works long hours and I can't seem to find a good way to grill and watch the kiddos at the same time, and who wants to turn the oven on when it is 100 degrees outside? We aren't big soup eaters, but we've discussed that we would like to try more, so I would love to try your minestrone recipe if you have time to send it?

Sarah-
Thanks for your suggestions too. It is always helpful to hear from other moms who are trying to feed their families healthy as well! The chicken tacos sound great and easy! I used to do the 10 off 50 thing at Shop-n-Save, but now I don't have one. :( I miss SNS, enjoy it for me!

Dianna-
Wow, what a lot of great information! I did have fun reading it. It is also helpful to hear ideas from someone who has already been there and done that! My kids and husband are actually great about eating what I cook, but I never thought to pray about a change in their tastes! I've always just tried to cook according to the husband's tastes and try to make it healthier. I want him to enjoy coming home for dinner every night because of the company and the food! Great advice, thanks so much!

Ashley Griffin said...

we are in the same boat as your fam. picky hubby (although he is picky about veggies) kids are picky veggies eaters too and hubby not big on fish, but he will eat it if it is fixed. but we have started eating very healthy even though it is more costly. the way we balance it is by cutting out all the junk. when i am not buying the junk along with the good and i don't serve carbs alot with dinner anymore (just protien, low starch fresh veggie/or two and/or salad) it pretty much evens itself out. I also plan all of my meals out at least 2 weeks in advance (yuck) most lunches too. there is a link on my website to mealsmatter.com that has been very helpful. they have a cool recipe box you can store the ones you like and use so you don't have to keep printing them out and stuff.