Monday, June 7, 2010

Dine-In or Dine-In?

I remember reading an article about five years ago about a growing problem with children that are involved in extra curricular sports getting fat. This obviously wasn't caused by the extra exercise that the participants were getting. No, it was caused by the fact that they ate out more........ and it was usually fast food that they ate. Whether it was dinner before or after practice, or lunch on the way to the game, they were eating on the go when they were rushed and hungry and so were their parents.

I remember the article ringing true, even though I read it before we had multiple sporting commitments, and it has entered my mind a few times over the years, as my own family's schedule has often raged out of control. Over the past few years, my family has eaten out more and more. Our evenings between the hours of 4:30 and 7:00 are dedicated to the girls' sports. Some evenings have two or more practices going on. Our days are busy and when practice comes to an end at 7:00, we often find ourselves with nothing planned for dinner, too tired to cook and really wanting some instant gratification.

Lunch isn't much different than dinner. I often find myself out with the girls, running errands and realizing that by the time I get home and make lunch, it will be almost time to leave for a practice. So, we stop and get lunch at Subway, where we enjoy too big of a sandwich with chips or worse, we do burgers and fries.

Between lunch and dinner, I was eating out about seven times a week. The Hubs was even worse off, eating lunch out every workday and usually one weekend day in addition to four dinners a week. Our kids weren't getting fat, but we were or at least we were staying fat - fat and poor. For my family to go out to dinner at an average sit-down restaurant costs us at least eighty dollars. I don't even want to try to figure out how much we were spending although I am sure that The Hubs could tell you the exact dollar amount. I'm sure that it was a ridiculous amount. Not only were we spending too much in restaurants but we also ended up having more food spoil at home because there wasn't any way to truly plan.

About six weeks ago, (when I started this blog) I decided that we wouldn't eat out any more, at all, ever, except Hallmark holidays and birthdays. I think the Hubs had urged us to cut back on the dining out many times but this had to be my decision. After all, I am the one that does all the cooking. So, in the past six weeks, I have made every meal and snack that has been consumed by my little nest dwellers. We ate out only one time on Mother's Day. No take-out or delivery either - just my scrumptious cooking.

I started with a weekly menu, that included all three meals and snacks. I pulled the recipes for all the dinners that I planned to make for the week and made my shopping list. I go grocery shopping once a week. I shop only for what is on the menu - no deviations or extra snack. Snacks have been planned for. I've learned that my family eats an incredible amount of food and that it costs my family of six plus two part timers about a grand to eat every month. Fruit alone, we go through a case of oranges, two bunches of bananas, twelve apples, three pounds of strawberries, two pounds of blueberries, two pounds of grapes and a watermelon in a week..

Most days I feel like I spend all of my time either cooking or planning what I am going to cook. There are days when my waking thought is, 'Can we please go out to eat after whatever?' but we have been steadfast. My kids seem to be adjusting. I see my kids stretching their palate a bit as well. they have never been super picky but there is always room for improvement with a child's eating habits. Only Little D sometimes asks to go out to eat and Bubba quickly lets her know that we don't do that because we're not a fun family anymore. I can relate to Bubba's words at times but most of the time I can see that our family's fun is just under going a make-over. There's a new fun. It is just a little harder to identify.

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