Tuesday, December 09, 2008

OK, So I'm Not Frugal

I love reading Gayle's blog about frugal grocery shopping. She's got great recipes and ideas for stretching a dollar. She feeds a family of 6 for less than $60 per week. While I love reading her blog, it has induced an incredible amount of guilt! I was spending about $150 per week~more than double and I don't have big eaters. Greta eats barely enough to keep a bird alive and Amelia is just starting to outgrow the picky phase. I have spent the past few months working at getting my groceries down to "Gayle level" and I have failed. The best I can do it $100 per week. So what's my problem? Well, it's complicated but a lot of it boils down to what my family likes and what I prefer to feed them. I really am trying to be as healthy as possible and cut down on sugar, sodium, and fat. I also do things without High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and organics whenever I can. Here's what I have learned about pricing and why my grocery bill is stuck at $100!
  • I buy low fat, low sodium, low sugar canned goods. This often removes generics from my list. EX. Meijer brand Cream of Chicken Soup $.79 Campbell's Healthy Request Cr of Chicken Soup $1.39
  • I buy the leanest ground meat~100% white meat turkey/chicken and ground sirloin. Unless it's on sale~and it rarely is~it's up to $5.69 per pound.
  • We always have a lean protein with breakfast. Caroline and Amelia both struggle with concentration in school so a high fiber/high protein breakfast for them is a must. I do peanut butter some days but often it's turkey sausage. I can find them for $1 a box on sale but that's not too frequently.
  • I don't buy snacks with HFCS in them. That doesn't leave a lot of options beyond fruits and veggies. Meijer has a store brand organic that makes some snacks without HFCS~teddy grahams, cookies, ect.
  • On the snack front, I don't bake. This is one place I could save some money but tasty baked goods are a temptation for me so I just try to stay away from that. When cake mixes go to $1 or less I make the WW snack squares. My kids love them and they are lower in sugar than other snacks.
  • I buy A LOT of fresh produce~like 6-8 red/yellow/orange peppers per week, 3-4 cukes, 3 pints grape tomatoes, 2 bunches of bananas, 5 lbs of apples. These are for snacks~I buy more for cooking. In the winter this is expensive.
  • I don't shop at Aldi. I have tried it a few times and the only things that my family eats that had a significant savings were eggs, cheese, and milk. Those 3 things saved me about $3 per week and since I have Wyatt with me when I shop and gas was so high, I figured the 3 dollars wasn't really worth it. Now that gas is cheaper and I can go in the evenings without kids, I may try it again.
Nutrition is a passion of mine and I have been doing more reading about how food affects us. It's fascinating and frustrating at the same time! I LOVE crap food. I love McDonald's french fries and Taco Bells nachos. I love chips and onion dip. I once heard Dr Phil say that is 80% of our eating is healthy and we are somewhat active we have 20% room for junk. I don't know how scientific that theory is but I like it! I try to eat really healthy at home so that when we do go out to restaurants or friends houses we can eat the fun stuff.

So how do you teach your kids about healthy eating? Do you have any good tips? I feel like everything I read is the same thing. "Make a funny face out of fruit!" I need something better than that!


Kim said...

I'm with you on making sure what I put into my little man's mouth is good for him and healthy - I find I try to save $$ in other areas and not on my groceries. We do save money on our meat by either buying in bulk or buying fresh (1/4 cow, fresh chickens from the farm by my in-laws house). And I agree Jen, you shouldn't bake....I recall an incident in your parents kitchen way back when where we almost burned down the house trying to make chocolate chip cookies.... ;-)

Heaven Sent said...

We spend a lot -- I mean a lot -- on food. It's expensive to eat healthy. Especially if you want to do that with a little convenience. But I think it's worth it. Fresh is best, organic when we can, and little to no sugar other than fruit.

I guess I don't really teach Emma about healthy eating because that's just what we do. Her milk allergy helps a lot, but now that she has actually had candy, ice cream and her "special cupcakes and cookies" on special occasions, we talk about why we only do that on special occasions and how carrots help us see, green beans help us get taller, etc. Some things she goes for, others she doesn't. Getting her to eat her veggies is still a chore most of the time, but she knows they are part of every meal and that we are supposed to eat them.

Eventually, it sinks in I think. The other day when I asked Emma if she wanted a couple French fries with her turkey hot dog (a fun weekend dinner), she said no, she wanted avocado.

Victory! ;)