How to break the fast food habit -- how did you do it? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 46 Old 04-28-2010, 06:45 AM - Thread Starter
 
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This is in finances because it is not about nutrition (although it probably should be)...

I spend too much money on drive-thru food. Every month.

Pizza, McDonald's, take-out.

I know I should plan ahead and cook at home, but I'm having ~~~such~~~ a hard time breaking this habit.

Have you grappled with this?

What did you do? How did you change your habits and get out of this rut???

 

 

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#2 of 46 Old 04-28-2010, 06:59 AM
 
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The biggest thing that helps me avoid convenience food is spending an hour during the weekend prepping.

I always have cooked rice or pasta and combinations of protein the fridge. It's harder to justify when there's something you could have ready in 10 minutes at home for free!!! I have rice, WW pasta, browned venison, cooked and cubed chicken breast and a casserole my fridge right now. Last night I whipped up stirfry in 10 minutes with the venison. Tonight I think we're having chicken salad or spaghetti.

Yesterday I was super hungry on the way home and ALMOST stopped for a snack. But I thought about my fridge full of cooked food and talked myself out of it.
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#3 of 46 Old 04-28-2010, 09:14 AM
 
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preparation. if you are out and about, make sure to have a lunch that can be brought with you ahead of time so you won't waste the food by buying drive-thru. if it's for a busy night during the week, preparation ahead of time iwth the weekend cooking and freezing can help. but it's just a matter of willpower after that point. maybe don't carry cash? maybe just keep your cards in the trunk so you can't physically access them to hit up the drive-thru?

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#4 of 46 Old 04-28-2010, 10:14 AM
 
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Set a limit for fast food - like once a month.

Buy convenience dinners at Trader Joe's for those lazy or busy nights. They have great frozen family dinners.

Always have a few granola bars and water in the car. I always bring snack-packs for the kids.... whatever we have on hand. Usually a home-made trail mix with Cereal, crackers, craisins, sesame sticks, pretzels, etc. Cheese slices too. (You might make up a few baggies on the weekend so you can grab them easily during the week.)

Make a list of dinners for each week. If you know what to cook, it is less tempting to go out. Making the decision of what to cook for dinner is often the hardest part! I don't say X on Monday, Y on Tuesday. I just post a list on the fridge of the 5 or so dinners for which we have all ingredients.

Buy 99 cent refrigerated dough from TJ's. Adding a little sauce and cheese is an easy pizza. They even have whole wheat!

Good luck mama!
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#5 of 46 Old 04-28-2010, 11:06 AM
 
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Mostly because we live in a town with 1 fast food place and it's nasty. We do eat McDonald's probably once a month when we're in a bigger town though.

I meal plan. If I'm prepared, it's much easier to just go ahead and cook it. We can eat hamburgers and fries at home, all made from scratch with stuff we've grown ourselves, for much cheaper and it's much better too. Same with pizza, chicken nuggets, whatever.

I agree about the weekend prep too. I do alot of cooking on the weekends to make my work week easier. And my meals during the week are all fairly simple and quick.
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#6 of 46 Old 04-28-2010, 11:22 AM
 
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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!

~ Mum to Emily, March 12-16 2004, Noah, born Aug 2005, Liam, born January 2011, and wife to Carl since 1994. ~
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#7 of 46 Old 04-28-2010, 12:49 PM
 
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I work in a very small town and my lunch choices are leftovers from home, Subway, and school lunch (insert vomity guy) so it makes it pretty easy.

Honestly, just not eating fast food very often and buying grassfeed beef has for me made me lose my taste for it. The beef in that stuff taste bland and weird to me.

I think having some sort of snack in the car helps. DH and DS2 both really like sardines. So DH keeps a can of sardines and some crackers in the car. If he grabs a water bottle and a couple pieces of fruit then he a lunch. If they end up home before they are hungry they just bring the fruit back in the house. Anyway it wouldn't be everyones cup of tea, but for about $1 you can get wild caught sardines in olive oil, .25 worth of cheap saltines, and buck for an organic apple or two, and have a way better lunch for less than the drive through.
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#8 of 46 Old 04-28-2010, 01:32 PM
 
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NAK, so this will be short, but we have started using e-mealz (http://e-mealz.com/index.shtml). Yes, you will be eating some processed food, but this is way better and cheaper than fast food. We are doing this now, I hate meal planning so this solves it. Use it, or something like it, just temporarily to break the habit.
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#9 of 46 Old 04-28-2010, 04:23 PM
 
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Honestly, we're pretty good. Probably because the town I grew up in didn't get a McDonald's until after I went off to college. But I do have my moments. 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.

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#10 of 46 Old 04-28-2010, 04:42 PM
 
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Are you doing it while out and about, or on the way home for dinner?

When frozen pizzas go on sale I stock up. We don't eat them very often, but when I really don't feel like cooking that is what I go to. I also make my own pizza from scratch, but sometimes even that is too much effort.

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#11 of 46 Old 04-28-2010, 04:49 PM
 
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All joking aside. I got some kind of post on myspace a few years back from a co worker about the "biobic Burger" at Mcy D's. That pretty much sealed the deal for me.
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#12 of 46 Old 04-28-2010, 04:49 PM
 
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Years ago, I practically lived on fast food alone. I could afford it and I was single. I actually didn't know much better/different. I grew up with some home-cooked meals, but fast food was common and considered "good". My dad still considers fast food good and he is the picture of health. (Credit his high metabolism and genetic health, I guess, but neither were passed down to me.)

The shift for me was gradual in some ways, such as educating myself on better food choices, etc. In other ways, it was much faster. The two things I recall most clearly: 1) During the 'fat is evil' phase, I imagined French fries (McDonald's specifically because I really loved those) as sticks of lard and I really couldn't stand to eat them anymore. Once I stopped eating fast food for awhile, fast food fries simply don't taste good to me anymore. I do, however, like some restaurant fries, but mostly only enjoy roasted potatoes nowadays. And 2) I imagined fast food workers spitting in my food. I don't recall why or how this came about, but it pretty much stopped me from swinging through the drive-through for years.

For awhile, I changed my driving routes to avoid fast food "alleys". I can easily get in and out of our community without ever passing fast food and it is actually the most direct straight shot. There is another route, too, that avoids fast food that leads another direction.

Last May, we had a major flood and fast food crept into my diet here and there simply because I was super busy dealing with all the contractors and insurance folks, etc. Drive-through breakfast had actually become a bit common at Jack-in-the-Box (closest to us and we didn't have use of our kitchen and I didn't have time to eat elsewhere between obligations). I vomited from their breakfast one day and haven't had any fast food since. I still feel queasy any time I think about *any* fast food. It didn't taste particularly good, anyway, but that really nailed it. Convenience just wasn't worth it.

Slowing down your life may be the ticket.

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#13 of 46 Old 04-28-2010, 04:57 PM
 
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Reading Fast Food Nation and watching Food Inc. has completely turned me off of nearly all fast food. I will occasionaly pick up a sub from Subway and we do eat frozen pizzas at home but I go hungry before I eat any meat product from a chain restaurant, fast food or not.

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#14 of 46 Old 04-28-2010, 05:21 PM
 
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The Omnivores Dilemma did it for me. I will go hungry before I eat fast food. The kids are easier -- we have a number of food intolerances that make fast food undigestible by a couple of our younger set. For them, I travel with allergen free granola bars.

Crunchy*VT*Mom -- I feel like I have gotten to know you a bit after hanging around these forums for the past few years and I would venture to guess that the food itself is not the issue. You have talked openly about having a difficult time with impulse purchases and imo fast food would fall into that category. It is quick, easy, and gives a rush of endorphins to the brain. But you know that the good feeling is not long lived. It is no different from overbuying cute diapers or nice yoga clothes. Nice while it lasts, but gone too quickly.

I don't want to overstep, but I do think that this is a much deeper issue with finding peace in life without needing the crutch of pleasure-inducing shopping/eating to be happy.

Sending love and peace.

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#15 of 46 Old 04-28-2010, 06:05 PM
 
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If you can get into the habit of never eating out, I promise you will not want to. The other day we did not get out of baseball practice until 8:30 p.m. so I went through an Arby's drive through. It cost me $25, ten minutes in the drive through and the whole time I was eating I thought, I could make this so much better at home!

Maggie, wife and mom to three
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#16 of 46 Old 04-28-2010, 06:05 PM
 
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How to break the fast food habit -- how did you do it?

Watch:
Fast Food Nation
Food Inc

Read the books that go along with these movies. Also- Omnivore's Dilimama

"The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us."
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#17 of 46 Old 04-28-2010, 06:13 PM
 
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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.

"The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us."
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#18 of 46 Old 04-28-2010, 06:20 PM
 
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Instead of drive thru I head to the deli section of my grocery store and get an already cooked rotisserie chicken, a pasta salad and some fresh french bread. Not the greatest meal but far from fast food quality. I've seen all the movies and reads all the books, but finding a viable alternative that I don't have to cook made all the difference.
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#19 of 46 Old 04-28-2010, 06:43 PM
 
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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!
Thank you for this post!

OP I have the same problem but more with just going out to eat anywhere, usually this fairly inexpensive buffet that is just as bad as fast food.

Guildjenn, you really hit the nail on the head for me and also my family! It's the reward feeling, it really is!
The food I make at home tastes better (usually, lol) and I feel better after eating it, sometimes after eating out I do not feel very good!
I never looked at it this way until I read your post and now I know what direction to go.

Deb, Mom to Madeleine 8/2005 and Maia 11/2009 Nick: and Chris
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#20 of 46 Old 04-28-2010, 07:39 PM
 
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Fast Food Nation and Food, Inc, for sure.

We rarely eat fast food anymore. We raise alot of our own, for reasons laid out in both the movies mentioned. I do, however, use Schwans for those nights that I cannot find any reason to care if supper is made, lol. I just try to be picky about what I buy from them. Their frozen sugar snap peas, some wild caught salmon fillets, and some fire roasted veggies make a really good and quick meal.

Happy Homesteading Homeschooling Homebirthing Beekeeping Dready (& a bit redneck even) Mama to 4 fab kids :  dd (23), dd (13), ds (11), dd (5)

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#21 of 46 Old 04-28-2010, 08:40 PM
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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

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#22 of 46 Old 04-28-2010, 08:55 PM
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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.

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#23 of 46 Old 04-28-2010, 10:11 PM
 
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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.

New signature, same old me: Ann- mama of 2 boys and 2 girls, partnered to a fabulous man.
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#24 of 46 Old 04-28-2010, 10:47 PM
 
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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!!!

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#25 of 46 Old 04-28-2010, 11:30 PM
 
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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.

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#26 of 46 Old 04-28-2010, 11:52 PM
 
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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!

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#27 of 46 Old 04-28-2010, 11:59 PM
 
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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.

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#28 of 46 Old 04-29-2010, 07:48 AM
 
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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."
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#29 of 46 Old 04-29-2010, 08:34 AM
 
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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!

~ Mum to Emily, March 12-16 2004, Noah, born Aug 2005, Liam, born January 2011, and wife to Carl since 1994. ~
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#30 of 46 Old 04-29-2010, 09:31 AM
 
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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!
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