Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Fast food makes for some unhappy meals

Sometimes, a gal just wants a burger. Now, my husband makes a great burger - tasty and juicy and perfectly grilled. But, if he's not around (or it's crazy cold outside), I'll do some quick Mom math in my head:
(my craving level x number of days since I had fast food / servings of healthy food and exercise that week)
Math is not my strong suit, however, I've found this formula to almost always nets me a burger. But I think I need to start factoring my son into the equation. A recent study by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research just announced that 60% of children aged 2-5 had eaten fast food at least once in the previous week. Although the study focused on California, I have a feeling that the results may be similar for most of the rest of the country. And that math equals too many happy meals.

To all the working Moms out there, let me say that I get it. At the end of a long day, sometimes we really don't feel like cooking. There is a certain depression that comes with working all day, cooking dinner and then having your tyke refuse to eat the meal because he is having a finicky day. 

And to all the SAHMs, I understand the fast food urge, too. Sometimes you are out and about running all those errands, and the store lines were all longer than you had planned. Your little one is about 5 minutes from having his blood sugar level plummet and no one is looking forward to the major meltdown that usually follows. Sometimes, you just need to grab that quick bite instead of listen to the tantrum on the way home.

But Moms, we need to do better about the fast food temptation. The good news is that a recent study says eating healthy food costs only about $1.50/day more than junk food. That's not too bad. In addition to that, the UCLA study found a general decline in consumption of soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages. So, yay, Moms!

Here are my tips for ending the fast food temptation:

Meal planning
I am a big fan of meal planning. On Fridays, I plan all the meals we are going to eat that week and then make my grocery list on the weekend. 

Prep ahead
Starting in 2014, as part of my 100 challenge, I plan to prep everything I can over the weekend, so all I have to do is toss everything together each night.

Delegate decision-making
You'll notice that in the above sections, I said "I." Although I don't intend to keep my husband out of the meal-planning process, it happens. Usually, I remember to ask him what he would/would not like to eat that week, but sometimes I forget. (Sorry, honey.) To his credit, he usually doesn't have any complaints with what I make. I know him pretty well by now. But I still need to make a better effort at asking.

Seriously - delegate
One new thing I am doing is letting my son plan dinner one meal a week. Yes, that might mean we eat PB&J for dinner, but it gives him a voice in the on-going dinner conversation, and that is empowering and fun for him. (Also it's one less dinner decision I need to make; and we all know that I love peanut butter.)

So now it's your turn to tell me your tips. What do you do in your home to prevent relying on fast food for meals?

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