Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Food Rules Part 2: Becky Style

Michael Pollan has some fantastic rules about food but I thought you'd like to see some of Becky's Rules this time around.

Here are some tips that might help you save money and eat a little healthier:

1. Look Down on Your Food

That is, in the supermarket. Did you know that the more expensive food on the market shelves lies right within your line of vision? The food companies pay "rent" to place their goods there so YOU end up paying more.

If you are vertically challenged, now is the time to make the most of it (or have your tots do the work for you!). For example, I bought a loaf of Shaw's whole wheat bread for 1.99 because it was on the bottom shelf. Compared to the Arnold or Pepperidge Farm brands (which by the way, were no healthier), I saved over $1.00. Bending down was well worth the savings. The cereal aisle is a big ripoff so try this trick there.

Just because the food is living in prime real estate doesn't mean it's any better than the one in low income housing.

2. Watch TV with your Kids

Not Dora, Sponge Bob, or Blues Clues. Think Food Network or HGTV. These channels offer a whole new perspective to your kids about food and nature. If you have a picky eater (and who doesn't at some point?), watching a cooking show is sure to inspire you both to try something new and talk about the ingredients. Then take the show into your own kitchen and cook together. Kids love the one on one time with parents and they love to get their hands dirty. Our son Luca EATS dried oregano right out of the palm of his hands. Yes, our kids are strange! They also like to suck on lemons. Go figure...

HGTV has many shows about planting and gardening. I think knowing where your food comes from and how it grows is such an important factor. How exciting and fun is it for a child to watch a plant grow from a little seedling, which leads me to the next point.

3. Visit a Local Farmers Market

Buy local. Not traveling hundreds or thousands of miles does wonders for fresh veggies' vitamin content. You will also be supporting the local economy in your state and the hardworking farmers. Plus they are great fun to visit. I particularly like Confreda Farms here in RI for their homemade pies, family friendly activities, and high quality produce.

4. Don't Grocery Shop for one Whole Week

In other words, use what you have in the house and you will be surprised at how much food you are hoarding. I tried this method this week and so far so good. The key is having a well-stocked pantry and freezer.

Pretend like you have no money for food for the week and I betcha you will come up with some pretty creative dishes!

5. If you can avoid it, don't take your kids grocery shopping

I know this sort of contradicts my points about getting kids involved in food prep, etc. However, I don't know about you but one of my kids will beg me for something (read; ice cream cones, and then of course you'd need the ice cream to go with it....). I am human. I am weak. I cave in at times and my grocery bill is probably $10 more than it should be, thanks to the little people.

6. Don't eat any scraps off your kids' plates, unless it is a fruit or a vegetable

It's amazing how quickly the calories add up with all the extra nibbles here and there. I remember a segment on The Today Show which piled all the scraps that moms (and maybe dads!) eat. The banquet-sized table represented a week's worth of "nibbles". It was over 3000 calories worth of mindless eating! That's like gaining a pound a week.

7. Stop acting like a baby

Only newborns need to eat every 2 or 3 hours. You don't.

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