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How to break the fast food habit -- how did you do it? - Page 2

post #21 of 46
We realized that we weren't really liking the fast food and while we don't really like pb&j sandwiches either--at least they are cheap! So, that is our new thought process. I try to prep & plan but when I don't we just eat whatever is available at home--pb&j or toast with egg or apple with peanut butter. . .whatever--doesn't need to be satisfying--just food.

Amy
post #22 of 46
One thing that helps (at least with the finance aspect) is buying a large bag of frozen chicken nuggets...........they are quick and easy, and the kids like them but it's a lot cheaper than going through the drive-through for a few chicken nuggets at a time.
post #23 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuildJenn View Post
Do not get sucked into the idea that the choice is:

Fast food vs. lovingly prepared all-locally-source-organic-5-course-dinners.
I'm not sure if this is your issue, but it used to be my issue. Once I wrapped my head around the thought that there was a happy medium between the two, I started making much better choices- both nutritionally and financially speaking.
post #24 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuildJenn View Post
While I agree about the planning, I think it depends on what the root cause of the junk food fest is.

If it's because you all are stressed and it's your reward, then you need to find a new reward your family can agree on - taking half the money and putting it towards toys or a vacation fund; going out for walks and bike rides or to local festivals as fun/reward; having a family movie night or picnic or "t.v. dinner night" (dinner in front of the tv) instead; ice cream from the freezer.

If it's because of the speed/convenience then meal planning is the way to go. If you have a BBQ, use it - it's fast and easy to throw something on the grill. Develop a menu of easy stuff. Do prep ahead. Or throw some of the money at convenience products like prewashed/chopped veggies. Do not get sucked into the idea that the choice is:

Fast food vs. lovingly prepared all-locally-source-organic-5-course-dinners.

Soup, even from a can (although pick your can) and grilled cheese on whole-grain bread is still going to be better for you than the meals you mentioned. Or make-your-own sandwiches. DO NOT GET PERFECTIONISTIC. Every time you stay away from the fast food, it's a victory. The rest will come.

If it's the taste then you have a few options.

First you can ease your family down by using some of the (gross but remember you are on a PATH, not PERFECT) stuff in the store designed to taste like fast food.

For pizza, for example, you can go from Pizza Hut to a premium frozen pizza to a deli-in-store made pizza to store-made pizza crust/dough to your own, over a year. For burgers and fries you can go from frozen patties and a whack of condiments and frozen french fries gradually to turkey burgers and roast potatoes. Take your time.

I agree about stocking the car with some snacks too.

GL!
Wow. This is so well said I want to print it. Thanks!!!
post #25 of 46
I got into a big fast food rut for a while. My issue is not dinner but lunch or snacks. I do plan ahead for dinner, leftovers from a big weekend meal, crockpot, etc... I usually allow one night a week for pizza. It isn't uncommon that I stay in town all day several days a week, sandwiches from a cooler get old and the days that I leave before 8am, I can either choose to pack lunch or throw a meal in the crockpot for dinner. Or if I do pack something up, then my one child suddenly turn into a eating demon and eat all the food for lunch and snack leaving the child at school nothing to eat when I pick her up. This winter was rough because DD1 snowboards a lot so I pick her up from school and then drive her up, swing through a drive through on the way for her, and then she eats a real dinner when she gets in that night.


Right now I have coming home for lunch but we live 7 miles out of town, I can't do that daily in the summer. I always keep water and snacks in the car but after 2-3 hours of swimming an apple and granola bar just doesn't cut it for my kids. I will be interested to see how I manage it this summer when the swimming picks up again.
post #26 of 46
My family has an eating-out addiction, too...not so much drive thrus, but just too much restaurant eating. I have a list of all the local restaurants that do kids-eat-free nights!!
Anyway, something that has helped us eat at home has been Once A Month Cooking. I checked the book out from our local library and cooked one weeks' worth of meals. It was easier than I thought, took less than 3 hrs on a Sunday afternoon, and in the end, I had a week's worth of food in the freezer, that just needed to be thawed and tossed in the oven or on the grill... not too bad!
post #27 of 46
This is a work in progress for us too.

The "cook a lot on the weekend" thing never worked for me because I don't like cooking as it is.... the last thing I want to do on my day off when DH is home to help with the boy is spend it in the kitchen! Yuck!

I decided to take a "baby step" approach. I buy the ingredients for a few recipes at a time, and I've also stocked my freezer with convenience foods that I can pull out. Frozen pizzas, skillet meals, frozen lasagnes, etc. I know a lot of this stuff may not be much better than fast food, but at least its a step in the right direction.

I also psych myself up to cook in the car on the way home from work.

It's tough to fight the instant gratification of the drive thru.
post #28 of 46
The last time I took the kids to Burger kid I got 3 kids meals and paid close to $12. I went on and on about how many burgers,fries,and pop we could have bought for that $12 at the store. That was the last time we went to BK or any other place FF place. I just refuse to do it.

One thing I will get is pizza for my ds. I have to participate in the schools scrip program to earn fundraising points for the school(otherwise I pay $300),so I order a $10 papa jon's card each week.That is my ONE splurge.

Since I started dieting I need to know the calories,and I want to know the ingredients. I stopped buying foods with hydrogenated oils.Amazing how many products have it.The kids want a lot of stuff with H oils,and I say," Oh you want to poison yourself for a soup,bag of chips, or a cookie? Is it really worth it? Lets cook it ourself instead so your body can get real food."
post #29 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Belia View Post
I decided to take a "baby step" approach. I buy the ingredients for a few recipes at a time, and I've also stocked my freezer with convenience foods that I can pull out. Frozen pizzas, skillet meals, frozen lasagnes, etc. I know a lot of this stuff may not be much better than fast food, but at least its a step in the right direction.
It is better, even if nutritionally it's still not ideal, because you are changing your habits and also all it really takes is throwing some salad or carrot sticks on the table with it. You rule!
post #30 of 46
There are so many good posts here! We utilize a lot of the tips here, but TBH, fast food isn't a temptation. For me, it wasn't a financial quandary, it was taste and nutrition. This would be back when hamburgers were 39 cents and cheeseburgers were 49 cents. This was probably 20 - 25 years ago. Fast food was A LOT more unhealthy back when I decided it wasn't for me (fries cooked in lard, fewer regulations... the Reagan years). Fast food was actually really inexpensive... I could eat a meal for under a dollar. Then I really got into nutrition because I was getting into competitive cycling and for performance, it was about fueling the body, not just eating. It's amazing the difference you feel when you stop eating processed food!

Ultimately, I think to break the habit, you have to have a reason that *not* eating it is more important to you than eating it. Often knowledge is power and once it's known how these foods are made (inhumane practices), what's in them (food by-products and fillers), what they are treated with (ammonia, for example), and how they affect your body (slowly kill you), that is the catalyst. The books and movies recommended are good for that. The guy who did "Supersize Me" was actually close to liver failure after eating only McDonald's for a month. That's just SCARY!

From a financial perspective, have you ever kept all the receipts and calculated exactly how much you're spending? You might find that the money could be spent to actually hire a mother's helper or someone to run your errands to save you time to be spent in the kitchen.

You have 5 people in your family, assuming from your signature and that you have a significant other. I'm not sure what prices are at fast food, but based on some of the other posters, I'd assume that it's about $4/person on average. Pizza, I'm sure is more. We get a pizza from a local gourmet pizza place and that's $25 for 4 of us.

So, if you're eating fast food just a few times a week and getting pizza once, you're probably spending at least $300/month. Probably more! For that money, you could hire someone to help out just to get you started and, you'd still save money in the long run. Once you're in the groove of prepping ahead, you will be able to do it in less time. I agree that it's a process and will take a while to get used to it.

Actually, for that much per month, you could have a personal chef to make a meal for you, in your home, twice a week! I considered doing this a few years ago and when I was researching it, the going rate was about $300 for 8 full meals (cooked in your home)... all fresh ingredients, nothing processed. It was even less for refrigerated meals that you put in the oven yourself... probably not much more than fast food.

Good luck on kicking the habit!
post #31 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic View Post
Fast food was A LOT more unhealthy back when I decided it wasn't for me (fries cooked in lard, fewer regulations... the Reagan years). !
I will take fries in lard any day, health wise, over the oxidizing franken GMO soybean oil that they use now.

But as for avoiding fast food... I struggle with the takeout places. I live in the big city, and there are many very good pizza/sandwich shops that deliver to the house when I'm home w/DD during the week (I work weekends.) McD's isn't super appealing, but getting a fresh hot gyro smothered in tzatziki sure is!!! The ingredients aren't terrible, but the portions are too big and at $10 a meal, it can sure do a number on the bank account.

I seem to succeed best when I make a huge pan of mac and cheese, or enchiladas, or something else not super healthy that can satisfy the lunchtime rich food craving all week.
post #32 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeminijad View Post
I will take fries in lard any day, health wise, over the oxidizing franken GMO soybean oil that they use now.
See, I don't even know what they use now, fast food is so far off of my radar. Shows how much I know about the subject... maybe it is more unhealthy now than it was then. It was darned unhealthy then, that's for sure!
post #33 of 46
This might not be a realistic tip for everyone, particularly those commuting long distances, but I just don't carry money, atm cards, or credit cards. That means that I can't make any impulse buys.
post #34 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by jeminijad View Post
I will take fries in lard any day, health wise, over the oxidizing franken GMO soybean oil that they use now.


For me it was an emotional and information transformation. When I was pregnant with my first child, the idea 'you are what you eat' became vividly real to me....my BABY was what I ate! That curbbed my habit, and then breastfeeding sort of continued that trend. And then I thought...well, if I didn't want that stuff going into making his body and in my breastmilk, why on earth would I feed it to him just because he's a little older?

Then I saw Supersize Me, and, honestly, I'd think I was the biggest idiot on the planet if I put a Big Mac into my mouth (or worse, my kids' mouths!) after seeing that.

So, for me it was an emotional response that got the ball rolling.

Since then, I've come up with lots of ways to cope with my decision to not eat fast/convenience foods, most of them already mentioned by pps. My best tool is meal planning. I started planning just dinners and now I plan most of what we eat, including snacks. As pp mentioned, snacks and lunch are the toughest, aren't they? I make a snack tray every morning for the day...kids can snack from that whenever they want and if we go out, I pop some from the tray into a container to go. Ditto lunch...I try to plan things that can be portable so I'll have it with us if we decide to spend the day away from home. Breakfast is usually the same rota by week (but we'll switch from yoghurt and stewed fruit on Tuesday to oatmeal if Tuesday turns out cold and rainy, for example).

And, now, what keeps me on track is also an emotional response. I'm really proud of the food I feed my family. I'm proud that my kids read (OK, ask me to read to them) the lables when we shop. They ask about ingredients when they are offered food. I do sometimes think that it would be so easy to drive through somewhere, but I try to remember that the good-mamma feeling that really gets me through the day would be compromised along with our budget and our health.
post #35 of 46
I agree that watching Food, Inc and reading Fast Food Nation are great for motivation but its important to have practical alternatives. For me that meant loosening up a little at the grocery store.

Right now I don't have a lot of time to cook so my pantry and fridge are stocked with things like canned soup, canned beans, garden burgers, etc. Not perfect but much better than fast food. I also started buying some really good roast beef and rolls from the deli on Fridays and this has completely stopped DH from hitting fast food places when he's home. He'd much rather have a nice sandwich than McDonald's.

I'm not going to win any blue ribbon frugalista awards but I am saving money and doing good things for my family's health.
post #36 of 46
Havent read all the responses, but I've been trying super, super, super hard not to get fast food on my way to and home from work for the last two weeks.

I started making a huge vat of popcorn, and keeping that in the car. That way I can munch without having to stop.
post #37 of 46
Fast food is not my thing but we used to eat out too much pretty much because after a day of work, too tired, that type of thing. Best thing I have done to stop that is keep some convenience items in the freezer and pantry and when I cook things like soups and stews, make extras to freeze. In a relatively short period of time it was easy to get a stockpile of ready meals in the the freezer. Add a salad or roll and instant meal. My 4 yo is a picky eater so I keep things like Annies Mac and Cheese around for her. Also deli lunchmeat is a good fall back.
post #38 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by Amys1st View Post
Also, that is my answer, but we never have been in the fast food habit. Meal plan, cook ahead, visit my feed the freezer thread in meal planning I started in 2006.

Make going for this a treat. That way doing it once a month or every 6 weeks or so it is. I bet if you started eating whole fresh foods at home, your kids will be much happier.

We had a meeting the other day and I said there would be No McD's at all until maybe Sept. My older dd agreed, dd2 (age 4) was not happy. We then talked about alternatives such as eating at our favorite brick oven pizza place, DQ, and buying treats at the pool this summer. All cost about the same as going to McD's and much better. Both agreed.
We haven't eaten at McD's for over 6 years. My youngest two have never eaten there! I watched Supersize Me first, then fast food nation and have read several goodbooks about food. Now, fast food just makes me (psychologically and physically) sick. I do occasionally stop for a taco, maybe once or twice a month, but it is definitely less than 5% of our food budget per month.
Being totally grossed out about the quality of fast "food" really helped me stop making it a habit.
My dad died of a second heart attack at 54. That was an eye opener. He never (rarely) exercized and he had a lot of stress in his life and he ate fast food ALL the time. Almost daily. He was addicted, I think. To the salt, fat and chemicals in it, probably.
My husband is 51 and the thought of losing him just is too much to bear thinking about, so we try really hard to get enough fruits and veggies and rice and fiber and just really good, fresh food as often as we can. It's harder in Michigan than it was in California, but we manage to have fruit and/or veggies with every meal. If you dont' have your health, whatever else you have really doesnt matter. I look at a fast food meal now and think... do I want to die earlier than I'm meant to? NO! So, I avoid it!

I don't like thinking of food as a reward or treat, so I try to come up with other ideas for rewards for achievements or good behaviours. I don't think children OR adults should be rewarded with empty calories that actually do harm to our bodies!

I think it's easier if you think of the cows or chickens being horribly slaughtered in a "factory" type environment, to avoid fast food. I think of the poor cows and I'm not hungry for a fast burger anymore.

We try to get humanely grown and slaughtered beef and buffalo and chicken when we can, and teach our children why it's important!

We're nothing near perfect, but we're trying!
- Jen
post #39 of 46
We have a big take-out problem here too. It's not unhealthy food, but it adds up at $20-$30 a meal two or three nights a week. My problem is that I'm not that great of a cook (and don't like to) and after a week of spaghetti and meatloaf, some mediterrenean or grilled fish tacos sounds so good. I've tried to cook similar foods and they never turn out as well, take too long, are hard to cook with a baby on your ankles, and end up costing a lot in special ingredients. So, I have no answer for you there other than what we did and just budget it in.

When I used to WOH, I would get fast food too often and when you get the healthier items, it's like $7 for lunch. What stopped me was when DH and I started seriously budgeting, we'd print out the bank statement and categorize the charges. I hated seeing 5 Jack in the Box withdrawls in the fast food column. It made me feel lazy and like I wasn't a team player in our money saving goals. So for me, it really helps to be held accountable by a second person looking at what I spend, and for me to keep in mind the budget and things we're saving for.
post #40 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by honeybunmom View Post
Seriously, though, watch Food, Inc. and it might give you the nudge you need to put these practices into place that the other posters are mentioning.
For me, it was reading Fast Food Nation in college. I have never been back to a fast food restaurant. Unless the occasional Tom Horton's coffee counts...even then I have to be pretty hard up to do it. My mom made me get her a McDonald's ice cream once on a trip together. I felt so dirty afterwards...
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