Monday, August 30, 2010

No More Thrifty Food

I thought I would come back from my girl's weekend in Columbus with lots to tell about our 7-hour trip through hell the zoo or the amazing Italian food we ate at Brio or my 2-hour adventure through Joann's Etc where I found pretty fabric and scrapbook paper, but alas, I am going to write about my epiphany in the middle of the grocery store. Sounds riveting, I know...

While shopping in Trader Joe's (an organic grocery store), I had this realization that cost should not be an obstacle when it comes to buying healthy food for my family. If the whole wheat pasta costs a little more than the enriched white pasta, I should spend the extra to get something that is going to meet our nutritional needs instead of shoving junk into our bodies. I'm a tightwad and will choose the less expensive alternative 90% of the time even if the savings is a few pennies. Now, I know that most of the time you get what you pay for and it can pay off to spend a little extra and get better quality, but I tend to ignore this when it comes to grocery shopping. I also find myself buying unhealthy foods because I'm afraid that Alex won't like the healthier, less fat, less sodium, less sugar variety (think turkey bacon instead of pork bacon and again, whole wheat pasta instead of white pasta) even though I'm willing to try these foods. A few times he has surprised me and enjoyed turkey hotdogs and sausage, but those small victories haven't been enough to get me to commit wholly to healthy alternatives.

Here I was in this little organic grocery store, enticed by new foods I'd never heard of, grossed out by certain flavor combinations and inspired to change the way I think about what I'm putting in my body. In the long run, I don't want to be the couple that "lets themselves go" after marriage and has kids addicted to sugar and processed food. Sure, we've put on a few pounds, but I don't want that trend to continue. I thought my mother was crazy when she told me that if I ate fruit instead of processed sugar that I'd adjust and not crave sugar anymore. But, after not buying snack cakes and cookies in an effort to lower my grocery bill and be healthier, I really do not crave desserts. This is quite a feat for someone who couldn't go a single day without a cookie or processed, sugary, starchy snacks before. On this weekend getaway I also took note of how my 5 and 7-year old nieces eat pretty much whatever is put in front of them, including onions, crab legs, lobster and a wider assortment of fruit than I have ever eaten. I've always dreamed that my kids would not be picky eaters, but then I realized that I'm pickier than I thought and need to expand my horizons! How can I have kids that eat a variety of foods if I myself don't eat a good variety? And my nieces consistently choose applesauce over French fries and milk over soda every time we eat at a restaurant. I heard once that the most recognized "vegetable" for two year olds is a French fry. That's sad. I don't want my kids to only eat pizza, chicken nuggets and mac n cheese. I know kids like that. It's gross and sad. I work with a man that doesn't eat any vegetables except potatoes in the form of French fries. I believe the only fruit he will eat is apples. After this past weekend, I'm going to try new foods and stop worrying over a few extra dollars at the grocery store. I'm still going to bargain shop, but not at the expense of our nutrition. I bought a package of sweet apple chicken sausage (it had bits of apple and maple syrup in it) at Trader Joe's and Alex ate it tonight at supper. We agreed it kinda tasted like ham and ate it with whole wheat French toast.

My first step in the right direction was buying a package of brussell sprouts. I have always eaten then when my mom fixed them, but haven't eaten them in years. I'm expecting Alex to balk at the sight and or smell of them, but we need to eat more than corn and potatoes with dinner 90% of the time. If you have any advice as to how to get a grown man to eat his veggies please let me know! He prefers them raw, like in salads, but then we get burned out. I suppose that I need to look up some new recipes as part of this new lifestyle. Maybe I can share what I come across in a later post...


  1. My hubby and I really like to buy frozen vegetables and boil them - like the broccoli, cauliflower, carrot mix. Then we put a little cheese, or even Parmesan cheese, and some Italian seasoning on them. Vegetables in soups are always great too! We just dress them up a little bit, or if we eat them raw we might use some low fat ranch dressing with them.

  2. Great post!!! It is so hard for me to overcome my cheapness and spend money on groceries. Truthfully veggies aren't that costly, and I've found a great way to trim my grocery budget is to eat less meat. Even when I eat it, I try to have smaller portions. (Hard to do with a man around, of course!!) I find if I make an extra (cheap) side, then I don't notice that my meat portions are smaller!

    As a general rule, when I'm not buying Froot Loops (ha!), I try to go with the cheapest, purest, most unprocessed version of something. I generally view labels as big fat lies anyway. ("Low fat" or "natural" or anything like that.) I refuse to pay extra for a label. I try to use common sense—of course Velveeta (aka pasteurized processed cheese product) isn't going to be as good for you as real cheese. I don't want to sound like a naysayer here... but you just can't believe the crap that the government and manufacturers put on stuff. Even the term "organic" is grossly misused. The only way to know is to grow your own or buy from local producers you can trust. (It's a long road to get there, though. I'm definitely not even close to that place yet myself!)

    Kudos to the good eaters in your family! It's quite lucky my parents are around, or I would have been crazy about not giving my kids sugar. (Only because I would hide from him when drinking my Pepsi!!!) This way, he gets some but not constantly. I feel like too much deprivation can equal bad eating habits later in life once kids achieve freedom. I think that's the trick: to make good food so yummy and tempting that you don't notice what you AREN'T getting (junk). Much like giving up TV: if your life is full of Good Things, you don't notice it.

    As for Alex... just keep trying. Perhaps you can resort to blending stuff and hiding it in casseroles. For me, I love all roasted veggies. It doesn't matter what it is, it seems to taste better roasted.

    So glad you had a great trip!!!

  3. Just realized that was a ridiculously long comment! Sorry about that. I just get excited when people start talking my language, I guess. :)

    Let me know how the brussel sprouts go! I just bought some to plant... I don't think I've ever actually eaten one before. (Embarrassing!)

  4. I purchased the book Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld (Jerry Seinfeld's wife) as an attempt to get Lizzy to eat more veggies (Alexa is a great eater). She sneaks vegetables into traditional recipes that kids love, and perhaps picky husbands, in an effort to get her kids to eat veggies they usually wouldn't (think beats in pancakes). Sadly, I have only made one thing from this book, (baked spaghetti and meatballs) so I cannot rave about the recipes only about the concept! If you would like to borrow my "beloved" book, let me know.


  5. Thanks for all the suggestions, ladies! Callie, I am looking forward to making soups this fall and winter in an effort to add some variety to our diet of meat and potatoes. I might just get Alex to eat spinach that way! Jamie, I can just envision you hiding your Pepsi drinking from the boys! lol! And I hadn't thought about the lying labels thing, but I'm sure you're right and now that makes this whole eating healthier thing seem even more complicated. I really do need to grow a garden and not let the weeds win next year! Tiff, I'd love to take a look at your cookbook! I need all the help I can get!