Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Eating out and Fast food...a way of life

So my family eats out a lot. And I am not just talking about me and my kids. My entire family, uncles, parents, grandparents eat out every day for lunch. This has always been the norm. Is there another way to live? This has been going on for years, it is just the way things are. I know many people find this completely bizarre. Now standing back and looking at it, it is really bizarre. But how do you get out of this pattern? We eat out A LOT!! I work 2-3 days a week, Aaron works some nights until 8, and fast food is just fast and easy!!

I love to cook and I like to think I am pretty good at it. I love being in my kitchen and trying new recipes. How do I find the time? How does it seem so easy for other people to do?

Just an example of my days. Yesterday I took Aydan to breakfast at McDonalds, then we had lunch at chick fil a, then I came home and had a Banana cake with nutella buttercream frosting all ready with candles for him to blow out, then I worked until 8 and had Olive Garden for dinner. THIS IS RIDICULOUS!!! Then I made myself stay up extra late so as to eat 2 hours before bedtime.

HELP ME CHANGE!! I need to set a better example for my kids and help them to understand that it is not "normal" to eat out all of the time.


  1. It is not an easy thing to change 'the traditions of the fathers' (total Book of Mormon reference . . .)! But as I'm sure you know, breaking an unhealthy cycle is possible and usually results in a better way of life.

    The fact of the matter is that though you can find some healthy choices while eating out (like Chelsea's Hardees lunch), it will NEVER be as good for you as what you can make with delicious, simple, healthy ingredients at home.

    Sit down restaurant portions are double, triple and sometimes even quadruple of what we should actually be eating. Fast food restaurant items are off the charts calorie wise - this is just the tip of the iceberg of unhealthy reasons. I'm not even going to go into the financial reasons.

    But you know this.

    My first suggestion is to start small - like making a deal with yourself that you will cook one big meal a week that could last for two or even three nights if creatively repurposed.

    One of my favorite tricks involves a rotisserie chicken from Costco. First I remove all the skin and throw it away (bad, bad, bad for you). On the first night we'll have the legs and breasts with a steamed veggie and some fresh fruit. The next night I'll chop up leftover chicken for a BBQ chicken salad (Mindy has an awesome recipe) or some chicken, corn, black bean quesadillas. Then if I really want to make it stretch, on the third day I boil the carcas and get every last ounce of meat off the bird for homemade chicken noodle soup. YUM.

  2. Eating healthy can be more expensive, but I imagine you'll be saving money if you don't eat out so much. I went out to lunch yesterday with a friend. We went to a resturant that I thought was pretty healthy. I decided to check them out online to see the calories and make a food choice before I went there. I couldn't believe how many calories are in the "healthy" options I would normally choose. YIKES! The salad I normally get was 900 calories. I don't know about you, but if I am trying to loose weight(or even maintain a healthy weight), I can't afford to waste 900 calories on a salad that isn't going to fill me up. I agree though, you need to start small. We used to eat out a lot. Not everyday, but at least a couple times a week. I started by only allowing it once a week, and now it's not even that often. You are in more control if you can prepare your own meals. Think simple. I used to make so complex meals, but now that I'm watching my calories, I need to eat a lot more for fewer calories and all the dressings in dishes only add a lot of calories that don't feel me up. We do simple meals. Every couple months I go to costco and stock up on meat. Gives me more varitey to cook with. (Salmon, any other fish, turkey burgers, chicken, ground turkey, anything I know we can get basic meals from. I usually just grill it up, put a small carb with it, like potato, rice, peice of bread. And load on the veggies (steamed or raw). I try new vegetables all the time to give it variety. I know it may surprise you, but it might take just as much time to grill up a peice of meat as it would to go somewhere, wait for your food, and eat it. Just some thoughts. Keep us posted on how it's going. We all have challenges we are trying to work through.

  3. Start with small changes. Maybe set a goal to eliminate going out for lunch first since lunch at home can also be "fast food" (made fast, that is). To make it fun for your kids, put sprinkles on yogurt, use cookie cutters for lunch meats/cheese, make faces with the lunch food.

    Given your busy schedule, I'm wondering when you have free time to pull together a meal. Is it in the morning, mid afternoon, late in the evening? Whenever that is, do what Samantha and Alicia say, make a simple meal plan and follow it.

    You can still meet family at fast food to play though. We meet people at Chick-fil-A and I bring the fruits and veggies with me to supplement the chicken nuggets. I've brought my entire lunch there a couple of times and just bought a milk too.

    Also, maybe you could have a money jar and put in paper IOU's with the dollar amount you saved eating at home (say $10 for breakfast and lunch, $25 for dinner). At the end of this challenge, check in and see how much you've saved your family! OR, in the alternative, have a money jar with real money in it to spend on going out to eat per week, once the money's gone, you're done.

  4. I was there not too long ago. Eating out for lunch and dinner were really my only option. I would say start small but there are a lot of healthy options out there when you do eat out. I like to use dwlz.com which is restaurant weight watcher points but it gives you all of the nutrition info in one place rather than going to each site to look. I lost 20lbs a little less than a year ago still eating out almost every meal. Some good exersize and eating out the RIGHT way can still make a difference.

  5. What about having a 'dinnery' lunch and a lunchy dinner. Isn't that what most of the world does anyway? Then you could just take a sack lunch with you to work, and when your students are 15 minutes late, eat it.

  6. PS, I started cooking up a whole bunch of chicken breast once a week, so that I have them on hand for quick meals. Saves me so much time!

  7. I think it took a lot of courage to share with us how often you eat out and it's clear to me that you recognize that it isn't either a healthy or financially good choice for you or your family.

    I can't imagine hauling the 4 kiddos out to eat all those meals. It must take a lot of time and the expense has to be high too....plus it's just not good for you. Eating out should be a treat not a 3 meal day event.

    I would suggest making a two week meal plan so that you're not having to think up meals on a daily basis, then do a big shopping.

    As Samantha suggested, plan some large meals that can be extended over several days.

    Consider taking a half a day and making several meals to freeze.

    My quintuplet niece makes sandwiches for her kids for a week and freezes them for quick lunch preparation. A peanut butter sandwich with carrots and sliced apple is perfect for children.

    As Alicia mentioned, keep meals simple. Some protein, fruits, lots of veggies with a small portion of rice or potato.

    Making the change to home cooked meals may seem like a huge challenge but even with your hectic schedule I believe it's doable.

    The two older boys will probably not be too happy at first because they've developed a taste for food eaten out which is why it's even more important that you feed them at home.

    Baby steps Emily, you can do it. We can change the bad habits that may come from our upbringing...that's what this life is all about.

    CTR...includes choosing healthy food, exercise and portion size.

  8. Thanks everyone. I appreciate all of your feedback. I will start trying some of your suggestions and let you know how it goes at the end of this session.