Stop Wasting Food And Save Money!



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dont waste food leftovers

Stop Wasting Food And Save Money
by Jill Cooper

We need to pay more attention to the food we feed our family. Oh, I know… you may think you are careful about what you buy. You might worry if it’s organic and has been grown a certain way. That’s fine, but something is wrong. While people are worrying more about what kind of food to buy, we are becoming a nation of obese people and our children – even those eating organic – are becoming obese and diabetic. Maybe worrying only about how organic something is isn’t the answer to it all.

Add to that the fact that personal debt is out of control. A good portion of that debt is incurred going out to eat and choosing to spend more on food. To me, that equals a big mess and one we need to start dealing with soon. Wake up and really look at what you are feeding you family. This article includes some examples and ideas about where to start.

I love my Pepsi (sorry Coke and Dr. Pepper drinkers), but in order to save I don’t buy it often. It is a treat for me when I do get it so, for my birthday, my daughter Tawra bought me a bottle of the special edition Pepsi. After a week of just enjoying looking at it, I couldn’t stand the anticipation anymore, so I sat with my feet up and guzzled my icy cold Pepsi.

When I was done (and feeling quite bloated), I was studying the label and noticed it said that this 20 oz. bottle contained 3 servings. I was shocked– not because I had guzzled so much, but because this bottle size is a common one that most people grab and drink as one serving. I wonder how many of those people have ever noticed or even bothered to look and see how many servings they were drinking.

When I was young, my mom would take a 16 oz. bottle of Pepsi and divide it into four different glasses with ice for four kids. This is the same as dividing today’s 12 oz. can of pop into three glasses for three kids. How often do you do that or even see it done? Not often. Most people, kids included, just grab their own cans of pop. Then they either drink it all, which is more than they should have, or leave most of it to toss out.

Some of you are saying “Well I don’t drink pop so I don’t have that problem!” Read on. Today we’ll look at how many different food and drink items we do this with, even healthy foods.

Excessive amounts of healthy food are just as bad for you as small amounts of not-so-healthy food. One reader wrote to say that she couldn’t figure out why her 4 year old daughter was so overweight when she was so careful to made sure her daughter ate healthy. She was literally feeding her daughter too much healthy stuff. Yogurt is high in calories, granola bars are high in calories, and juice and milk are high in calories, so they should be served sparingly.

I can’t stress enough how important it is for parents to know and practice portion control and understand basic nutrition. This is one of the main principles that helped me when I had so little money. It probably kept us from starving, literally.

We make sure our kids have their teeth cleaned and checked on a regular basis, get their shots so they won’t get sick and make sure they always wear their seat belts. Many of us carefully watch for recalls on car seats and toys. Ironically, most of us don’t pay a bit of attention each evening as we scoop a couple of large spoons full of food on a child’s plate or tell her she can have another glass of juice, her 4th for the day. Please slow down and watch your family’s food intake.

 

Here are some tips to save money using better portion control:

  1. Don’t let kids leave milk in their cereal bowls when they are finished. Make them drink it. Now some of you are about to say, “But that is what leads to child obesity — making kids clean their plates.” No… If you have given them the right portions (1/4-1/2 cup), it will be exactly what they need. They are only getting obese because parents are giving them more than they need, not because they are required to clean their plates.

    You will find that kids won’t leave as much on their plates if you practice proper portion control. You’ll want to make sure they eat what you’ve given them so they won’t come back in an hour wanting a snack or continue grazing after they have gotten up from the table. Eating too much and grazing cause obesity, but practicing good portion control and making sure they get the right nutrients will take care of both of these.

    Don’t let kids have seconds on anything until they have eaten everything on their plates.

  2. Your family will tell you if you are not correctly controlling portions– not with their mouths, but with their leftovers. If your 5 year old always leaves half of his milk or sandwich, check into it and see if you are giving him too much.
  3. Start small. Serve only half a small container of yogurt, granola bar, apple or banana to children as old as 8 years. Don’t let each child grab a whole package of pop tarts. Split it. Better yet, split one pop tart. The same applies for other snacks. Each child doesn’t need a whole package of those cheese and cracker or peanut butter cracker snack packs.

    If children eat the first half and are still starving, then you can let them have more. I’m not saying don’t feed your children. I’m just saying give them a smaller amount at first and then give them more if they’re still hungry. Kids will often eat as much as you serve them, even if they’re not hungry, so don’t serve too much.

  4. I usually recommend that people stop going out to eat, but I must face the fact that many of us are still eating out in spite of hard economic times and unemployment.It’s a fact. I saw a recent study that concluded that we are still spending the same amount of money going out to eat as we have in the last few years. Here are some suggestions to save if you are one of those people:

    Split things when you go out to eat. I know a family who would buy their daughter a large milkshake in her favorite flavor when they went out. After 4-5 sips she didn’t want any more, saying she didn’t like it. For many kids, that often translates to “I’m full”. They have their parents well trained because they know if they say, “I’m full,” they won’t get as big a size the next time. Even though they can’t drink it, they still want a big one.

    When I took my 7 and 8 year old grandkids for a milkshake, we bought one small and I took an extra cup to split it. I sat and waited. If they wanted more I would have bought another one, but I never had to buy a second one. They were always full.

    I know what you are thinking (don’t you hate that I can read your mind?)– “but Billy wants chocolate and Sally wants vanilla.” Don’t make excuses why you can’t do something. Instead think of a way to make it work. Often, in this situation, I don’t buy one for myself, but I’ll get each one of them his or her own small one. Then I eat what is left of each of theirs and nothing is wasted. I do this even when we go out for fast food. One grandchild asked me again the other day why I never ordered anything. Before I could answer, the older one said “Because Nan always has to eat our leftovers,” as if that was my assigned job in life and that is what Nanas do. ;-)

    You may say, “but I want to get my own.” I’m sorry, but you’re the parent and, if you truly want to save, get out of debt or whatever, you are the one who needs to make the first and greatest sacrifice. We all want to get out of debt, but we usually don’t want to sacrifice or change one thing to do it. It doesn’t work that way. We often say, “This won’t help me save money.” but that really isn’t the case. The truth is, we don’t want to give up anything to get out of debt so we convince ourselves it won’t work.

    Forget the happy meals. Split a hamburger and fries between 3, 4, 5 or 6 year olds. I am giving general ages. You need to adapt these to your own children depending on their sizes. Your 6 year old may be as tall as 10 year old and plays outside all day or you may have a 10 year old who is small and sits in front of a computer all day. Each child needs to eat a different amount.

  5. Don’t automatically throw out uneaten food. If your child leaves half a glass of milk, put it in the fridge for him to drink later or use it the next morning in his cereal. If he leaves half a sandwich, put it in a bag for him to eat the next day or serve it later as a snack.
  6. Using a measuring cup and water, measure glasses and see how much they really hold.Don’t guess at this. I have some large mug glasses and some small narrow glasses. I always assumed the small ones held less. Boy was I wrong. I thought the small ones were 8 oz. glasses, but they were 12 oz. glasses. You need to know how much your glasses hold so you can give your child the right portion of juice and milk.

    Here are some facts:

    • Juice contains about the same amount of calories as soda and is just about as bad on children’s teeth.
    • 1-6 yr. olds should only be given 4-6 oz. of juice a day. That is equal to 1 sippy cup a day.
    • 7-12 yr. olds should only be given 8-12 oz. of juice a day. That is one small sized glass a day.
    • 1-3 yr. olds should be given two 8 oz. glasses of milk a day. The 4 ounces in a child’s cereal or pudding is included in that. If kids have milk in cereal and pudding, they only need 1 glass of milk that day. Also, don’t forget about the milk in cheese, yogurt, ice cream, etc.
    • 4-8 yr. olds should have three 8 oz. glasses of milk a day.
    • 9-18 yr. olds should have four 8 oz. glasses of milk a day. Again, don’t forget about milk included in cheese, yogurt, ice cream, pudding, etc.

    These numbers should make us stop and pause. Just one regular size glass of juice a day gives a young child almost twice what that child needs. So often I have seen moms and grandmas give kids as much juice as they want– three, four or even more glasses per day. That is six to eight times or more than the child needs. Once nutrition needs are met, the rest is just adding extra calories. And we wonder why our kids are gaining weight, even when eating healthy.

  7. Don’t allow your kids to guzzle a glass of milk, juice or even water right before they eat. It fills them up and then they won’t eat their food. Half the time, kids aren’t picky eaters; They’re just full before they even start to eat. Then they’re hungry again before the table is cleared, because they filled up on liquid and not food.
  8. Put things like milk and juice into small, easy to pour pitchers. Sometimes a large jug of something is too hard even for an 8, 9, or 10 year old to pour and it gets away from them, causing them to pour more in their bowls or glasses than they intended.
  9. Watch the syrup. You may have to pour it for them until they are much older because it really seems to get out of control. Beware of the wide mouth syrup bottles. They are designed so that you use more syrup. Avoid them if possible.
  10. If your kids eat food with cinnamon sugar or regular sugar, put the sugar in a shaker with small holes. You can also cover over some of the holes on a shaker with larger holes with tape so that they can’t dump it too quickly.
  11. Use small plates and glasses for everyone. The cereal bowls that come with most dishes now are ridiculously huge. Instead of holding 1/2 cup of cereal, they hold 2-3 cups and we think we need to fill them to the top. Using them makes it too easy to waste food and eat excessively.
  12. “What if my kids won’t like any of these ideas?”Sorry, but that’s too bad. Who is paying for the food? Who is running your home?

    To ease things along it might help to have a family conference where you apologize to your kids for having taught them wrong so far and then tell them you are trying to change things. Ask for their suggestions and ideas. Make them feel that they are a part of this turn-around and explain that you need their help and ideas. When kids feel more a part of something, they tend to want to do it more.

I can’t cover everything on dealing with kids here but you can find lots of helpful tips and ideas like the ones above in our Saving With Kids e-book series.

Nutrition is equally as important to me as portion size but I was long winded as usual, so I must wrap it up. ;-) I will try to touch on nutrition in another article. I have also written about it in the Groceries On A Dime e-books.

Some readers may ask, “What does this have to do with getting out of debt?” Most people can cut their grocery in half by practicing portion control. Try it for a week or two and see what happens– And I’m talking serious portion control not just half-hearted measures.

Here are a few additional tips from our Groceries On A Dime e-books.

  • Be careful: A large banana is 2 servings of fruit for a child. We are only supposed to have 3 fruits and 4 veggies a day, not 7 of each.
  • To make things easier, get out your ice cream scoop and use it to measure servings. Your scoop is equal to 1/4 cup and most items have 1/4 – 1/2 cup serving sizes, so it is the perfect size. Watch what you are doing and don’t make the scoops heaping full. Make them level with the top or you’ll still be underestimating how much you’re getting.
  • Don’t get overwhelmed. You only have to measure things for a week or a couple of days in order to get the general idea. After that, you should be able to eyeball it. If you don’t even want to mess with measuring, just lay the ice cream scoop on the counter or table where you are dishing up the food. Then you can compare it to what you are serving as a general guideline.

If you’ve found the information in this article helpful, check out our Groceries On A Dime e-books. You’ll find detailed information about menu making and grocery lists (with charts to copy), tips on using and organizing coupons, finding things on clearance, warehouse shopping, organizing your pantry and fridge, using leftovers, how to store foods, portion control and more.

Comments

  1. Cheri Ellis says

    I was excited to see a link for a free Frutisa Freeze in your newsletter, but when I clicked on it, I couldn’t find it despite 15 minutes of searching. Is there really a coupon available for it? If so, how do I get it?

  2. Misha W says

    I’m a mother of 9 with six still in the house, plus have another family with two children living with us when they found themselves homeless AND I do childcare daily with babies and toddlers. I read every newsletter on my blackberry and find each one very informative! I wanted to say THANK YOU! You’re doing a GREAT job and people truly do need to hear what you’re saying! I found todays topic especially interesting on portion control. What an eye opener.
    One topic I would really like to see is on feeding an army size family and how can I apply your suggestions under those circumstances. Adding 3 people shouldn’t be as much of a expense with food as it is. I think I need some help on still staying on budget or somewhat close. Its mostly dinners that are taking me over the top. Any suggetions? Thanks!

  3. Bea says

    There is so much wisdom here, Jill. Just a couple of weeks ago I was reading the “servings” on food packages. One example was a blueberry muffin. When I looked at the package it said it was 2.5 servings! What I don’t understand is why the manufacturer made it 2.5 servings instead of 2 at least. To calculate calories and sugar and salt etc for one servings is too much for most people to do. I know from working with the public that many people do not bother to read instructions or packages, so most people would just eat that whole muffin and think nothing of it. Also, I was reading the ice cream carton and one serving is 1/2 cup. 1/2 cup doesn’t look like much in a bowl, so I ended up putting it on a cone and it seemed more. You are so right about obesity and serving sizes. Many people do not realize what they are eating and are getting 2-3 times the amounts they should be eating at any one meal. Also, when you go out to eat people load up at the soup and salad bar and then eat their entree. The soup and salad is already a meal without the entree. They are eating enough for the whole day at one sitting and many people do that. It is thought-provoking to read serving sizes and do portion control and see how much you are really eating and spending.

  4. says

    Excellent!!!!!!! I SOOOO agree!!! We started doing all of these things this summer and it is making a huge difference in so many areas of our lives. Thank you for all of the information! You are such a great help and one of the top resources I have been using when reworking our food budget and eating more healthy!!! Thanks for helping me get over the guilts and doing the right thing for my family!!

  5. Kim says

    Kudos to you for addressing portion sizes. I hold two degrees. One in health and nutrition science and the other in education. Prior to having children, I was a teacher (we now homeschool :) ). I must say it was so sad to see the portion sizes and foods that children were eating- yes, even at school. If your children attend public or private school, don’t just expect the school cafeteria to regulate your child’s portion sizes for you. Many times you’ll find unhealthy food and unhealthy portion sizes right in the school cafeteria. The point that juice has so much sugar in it is a good one. In fact, many parents may not realize that usually chocolate milk has MORE sugar in it than soda (and yes, it’s served at school). You must teach your children what is appropriate for their bodies so they can carry that information with them through life.

    I want to point out a couple of things with regard to this subject. First, juice is NOT a requirement for a healthy diet. Yes, it can “count” somewhat towards your daily requirement of fruit intake, but it’s not the healthiest way to achieve that. Much in the same way that tea or soda could “count” towards preventing dehydration, but those aren’t the best choices to achieve that. Nothing beats a glass of water and its health benefits. So it is ok to skip the juice or to have it as an occasional treat. It’s much healthier to get your nutrition by eating fresh fruit. That will offer the added health benefit of fiber. In addition, if you or your child is feeling “snacky” grab a green or orange vegetable over a fruit of any type. It’s pretty unheard of for someone to get fat by eating too many of those vegetables, but too much fruit can contribute to weight and blood sugar issues. This is because of the simple fact that in general, vegetables have tremendously fewer calories than fruit. A large bunch of grapes has 310 calories while a medium size carrot only has 35. You’d have to eat yourself silly on carrots to even come close to the caloric intake of grapes. That’s not to say that grapes are devoid of nutrition and of course grapes are a better option than junk food.

    Another point I’d like to make is that we definitely don’t ever want to force children to clean their plates. I do agree that setting the appropriate portion sizes greatly reduces this, but please make sure you teach your children (and yourself) to eat when truly hungry and stop when full (even if it means you come back for a snack later- more on that in a moment). It may take a bit but a good place to start is like Jill said, by starting small. This way the body gradually gets used to taking in only the amount of food it needs. Often we’ll eat more if there is more set before us. Oh and leave the serving dishes on the stove or counter. If they are on the table, “seconds” and “thirds” become more of a temptation. In the “olden” days they would have the food sitting on a separate buffet and weight issues just weren’t as commonplace.

    I want to make a final set of comments (sorry this is lengthy, but it’s such an important topic and it’s rarely discussed). Contrary to common thought, eating throughout the day isn’t automatically bad. In fact, 6 small meals a day (I’m talking small and healthy) are actually better for you. It keeps the metabolism running at a better rate and the digestive system running more smoothly. A comment I would often hear from people is that they worked outside the home so 6 meals would be impossible. If your view of a meal is a huge one, then certainly that would be true, but if you make sure to keep your portion sizes under control, eating a small salad with a little lean protein (minus heavy fat laden dressing or toppings of course), grabbing some carrots and a small handful of nuts (for protein), or having some whole grain crackers and some low fat cheese is totally doable. Yes, we may see them more as “snacks” but when taken in on a regular basis and as part of an overall healthy diet, they are quite effective at keeping you healthy. It’s not good for the body to sit idle with regard to digestion, nor is it good for your body to have constant peaks and valleys in your blood sugar levels. You should be making sure that you have some food and liquid intake every few hours. It’s how our bodies were designed to work most efficiently but of course don’t use that as an excuse to indulge in overeating or unhealthy foods. A note regarding organic foods- yes, they are healthiest, in fact that’s what I serve my own family. Food that isn’t coated in chemicals or pumped full of hormones that will disrupt your body and lead to hormonal or adrenal issues are always preferable. But healthy food choices are equally as important- an apple or serving of broccoli is always going to be healthier than a candy bar or chips even if the apple and broccoli aren’t organic. And likewise, just because a candy bar is organic doesn’t make it the appropriate choice for your body. Just use your head, you can have both-healthy and organic. You can also choose to buy local whenever possible so your food is fresher and comes from local farmers you can get to know. And nothing can replace having your own garden (exercise and healthy food!). We have one as well as our own chickens (I know not everyone has the space to do that, it’s merely an example of what we’ve chosen).

    Thanks again for addressing this subject. I do hope that people become more informed and begin looking at how much their family is eating as well as what types of food they are being served.

    Kim

    PS- With regard to eating out- it’s not really budget friendly, but as Jill said, some people do it on a regular basis anyway. So please understand that if you eat out, there are healthy choices out there if you’ll look. You don’t have to accept greasy chicken, burgers and fries. It is ok to order something helathier. No the kids might not like it at first, but that’s why you’re the parent; it’s your responsibility to do the right thing, not the easy thing. Believe me, they’ll thank you one day!

  6. Kathy says

    My husband & I are 50 & all are kids are grown. We’re alway’s talking about cutting down on going out to eat but we still do, not just once but a couple times on the weekend. We don’t have any other hobbies except riding our motorcycle and going out to eat. What would be some activities that we could replace to get us out of the house on the weekend’s but not spend money?

    • says

      It’s hard to give you ideas with out knowing more about you Kathy but you might try doing something like packing a lunch when you go on your motorcycle and eat at a park instead of going out to eat. You could pack a lunch and go hiking or ride to a lake and go swimming.

      Also you can go many places just don’t spend money when you do. I go to quilt shops all the time and look around for ideas but don’t usually spend a penny.

      Check out different activities your city is having. You can often find this on line. You would be surprised at how many free things are happening all the time and a huge variety of things too. Hope this will at least get you started and thinking and maybe some of our other readers will have some more ideas.

  7. says

    I love the comment about saving extras on the kids’ plates or their drink. We routinely put our 2 yr old’s plate in the fridge and he knows that will be his snack. He’s not forced to overeat in order to prevent waste, yet neither is there waste. You are right that as a society we over eat, but people need to take caution to not cut their portions back too drastically. Cut back a little at a time until your stomach and body can adjust to fewer calories.

  8. elizabeth cotten says

    i totally agree with your comments about breakfast cereal. At my house i put in one box (or malt o meal bag) of a not so healthy cereal like coco pebbles and a box or bag of a healthier cereal like rice crispies and mix them together in a large tub (from sam’s club the pretzels or cheeze balls) and have a small coffee cup for the children to serve themselves with. it helps with portion control and not wasting the cereal, and the children do not get as much sugar as they would if it was not mixed with a healthier cereal.

  9. Susan says

    Thank you Jill for such a useful and informative article and for all the interesting comments left too. Here in England, I’ve been dismayed at the way in which portion sizes have also increased since I was a child. I’ve just replaced our plates and bowls with an economy set partly so breakages are less of a big thing. I’ve also chosen smaller ones – now I’m serving smaller portions and we’ve hardly noticed! Dishing up in the kitchen is also better rather than having seconds on the table to tempt us. Jill, you made me smile with how your grandchildren say you eat the leftovers – well my husband calls himself Daddy Noo-Noo (if you watch the Teletubbies you’ll understand -one of our finer exports…) Thanks again, Susan

    • says

      Yes I have watched Teletubbies. Each one of my grandkids have had a favorite “character” and Teletubbies was one of them. Love, love England. I watch all the English shows I can and read English books etc.

  10. Donna Layne says

    I couldn’t help but agree with you about LOVING MY PEPSI. I have a tip that may help you as it has helped me to STRETCH that Pepsi. I did it to lower the sugar in by diet and the calories. Fill your glass about 2/3 full of Pepsi with ice, then add Sparkling Water to fill the glass full. Here in Michigan I can buy Faygo sparkling water but I’m sure you can find even a Wal-Mart brand. Make sure its sparkling water and not club soda or something else. Doing this does NOT change the flavor at all. Its still the same ol’ Pepsi just with fewer calories per serving. Since Pepsi is rarely on sale this really helps the budget too. You CAN make that bottle actually serve 3 this way. Try it and let me know what you think. Enjoy.

    • says

      Good idea Donna. It is funny I just got back from a trip to Colorado and my brother was all excited over this new discovery he had made – sparkling water. He pours a very small amount of juice in a glass and adds sparkling water for the rest. It gives him the fizz he likes from pop but not quite the amount of sugar you get from it. I always find it funny how sometimes I never hear about something and then within a couple of days hear about it several times.

      • says

        Jill when I have an upset stomach I like something fizzy to help settle it. Used to drink ginger ale but can’t have that anymore so I buy a President choice brand of Perrier. half the price and it actually tastes better.
        I like to drink it plain at times as well. Glass bottle only so I can keep it quite a while in the fridge unlike pops.

  11. says

    We are an 80+ year old couple. It is becoming more and more difficult to cook for two and make a meal taste like it did when cooking for 5 or 6. Therefore, we really like breakfast and the accompanying socialization it affords early in the morning. We purchase two very adequate meals for less than $10. Our lunch consists of fruit and cheese or such. Our evening meal is difficult, but there are numerous restaurants in our area that offer very adequate meals for $5.95. We frequently purchase one entree and some vegetables and share the meal. If we don’t agree on the entree, we bring at least half of it home and have it another day (or two) I’m sorry, but I can’t agree with you when you say eating out is too expensive. We NEVER eat at fast food places, which are very expensive. We eat better and healthier on this regime. May I also mention that we are not over-weight and we love coffee but not carbonated drinks. It would be interesting to have you concentrate on the older population, as I know you do sometimes. I think your ideas are great and I look forward to reading them.. Keep it coming!

    • says

      Eleanor, I know what you mean about how hard it is when cooking for two. I have to cook for one so I know it can be difficult most of the time. I also feel that by the time you reach your 80′s if you can afford to, don’t have mounds of debt etc. I think you deserve to go out to eat if you want to. My mom who is in her 80′s has been fixing meals for a long, long time now and I think she deserves to relax and have a break. So go out to eat if you can afford it.

      At one point I thought it might be cheaper for me to go out to eat then cook at home but I put the pen to paper like I tell our readers to do all the time and did some figuring and found it really wasn’t cheaper to do that.

      I’m not sure if I understood your numbers but let me show you the figures I came up with. Plus there are so many variables in each situation only each person can really figure things exactly for themselves but let me give you and others some numbers to help add things up. I will round your $5.95 up to 6 just for easier figuring.

      If you are spending $16 for meals a day that = $480 a month. Add minimum 2- $2 tip and you now have $600 a month.

      I don’t know if that included your coffee or not. It it didn’t you could easily add another $3.00 a meal 2 meals a day = $6.00 or $180 a month. So if you add that to the $600 = $780

      Compare that to my $25 I spend a week to cook at home which is $100 or double for two would be $200 it really is still cheaper to eat at home. My daughter spends $350-$400 a month for a family of 6.

      I didn’t even add into yours your cheese and fruit which you have for lunch which 30 days of even only cheese and fruit can add up. What happens often is we only look at our $5 meal and think we aren’t spending that much but you add in tip, tax, drinks etc. and it really starts adding up more then we realize. Then we often still go to the store to buy lunch foods and snacks on top of that but I added that into my $100.

      Bottom line it really is much more to go out to eat but if you can afford it and are older, ill, have new babies etc. or special circumstances then by all means go out to eat. I don’t expect us to be martyrs not to ever buy nice things. I teach it is wrong to rack up debt and to do these things when you don’t have the money to. I just try to teach to be wise stewards of our money.

  12. Kim says

    Elanor, I don’t think that Jill is saying that you should never eat out. I think she’s merely pointing out the truth that eating out is not as economical as making a homemade meal. Yes, you can eat a breakfast for under $10 a couple but if you do that every morning it really adds up and it’s way more expensive than if you were to cook at home. A homemade breakfast for two could be made for at least half that cost (usually way less). With that said, I understand that you enjoy the social aspect as well as the ease of eating out. My own parents now eat out more often than they eat at home. They usually do as you and eat at “regular” restaurants rather than fast food places. I know they enjoy this. I don’t think it’s wrong to treat yourself to eating out as an elderly couple if it’s easier and more enjoyable and if you can afford it (and if you make healthy food choices). I think the problem comes when any family (no matter their ages) places themselves in a financial strain to do it. If a person has trouble meeting their financial obligations or is deep in debt, then cutting out the extras is a great place to start and let’s face it, eating out is indeed an extra.

    So if this is part of how you enjoy your “golden years” and you can afford to do it- then I say enjoy. If however you are doing without important things- medicine, medical care, dental or vision care, proper heating or cooling, etc. or even other meals during the day for that matter, just to have your special treat of eating out a couple times a day, then you should probably reevaluate your budget. Just please realize that in the long run, cooking from scratch is always cheaper than a restaurant where you must pay for not only the food itself but part of the wages for the person who cooked it and the tip for the person who served it along with the overhead costs for the restaurant itself (it’s always all reflected in the price of your food). Blessings to you and your husband!

    Kim

    • says

      Kim they say great minds think alike. HA!HA! As I was writing my answer you must have been writing the same thing. I should have kept my big mouth shut because you explained it so much better. You said exactly what I was trying to say. Thank you.

  13. Sheri says

    Thank you for writing a great article! I have seen many families that really need your helps!

    I’m with you on the juice issue! We use juice to flavor our water. Depending on the strength of the flavor of the juice (some have stronger flavors than others.) we use between 1/4 and 1/3 cup of juice to flavor the water. Mostly my children drink juice for medicine that needs to be stirred into a drink.

    I have gotten very attentive to portion control, especially with meats and main courses. If my growing boys only need 3 ounces of protein in their dinner, then that is all they get! Protein is the most expensive part of the meal! I will cook enough for two meals. Serve their portions, the put the rest back on the stove to put away for another meal. I have found that when I start with salad and require that everyone have salad, they are less likely to ask for seconds of main dish. This saves money and time!

    One head of lettuce (not iceberg) makes the beginning of a salad. When I buy broccoli,I use one bag per meal. That is, if we will eat 3 heads of broccoli in one meal, I will put 3 heads in one bag and 3 heads in another bag for another meal. When children are cooking, they know how much needs to be prepared.

    I’m trying to get my family to use less milk, but that is my husband’s favorite flavor… I started making powdered milk for when they run out to encourage conservation, because I don’t want to be buying milk 3 times a week.

    As for granola, it is better used to flavor a plain cereal, such as plain oatmeal or something that was such a bargain, you thought it would be good, but little flavor, so a little granola helps.

    I am diabetic, so my family is eating a “diabetic” diet. We don’t use sugar substitutes, just less sugar and mostly from scratch cooking. It really does’t take very long to get a scratch meal together! It only takes me 15 minutes to get bread in the oven from the time I start grinding the grain!

    If we ever go out to eat, it’s usually someone else footing the bill. I encourage my family to order water with lemon. Only when it is the children’s menu, do they get milk or soda, because it is included in the meal. I love having leftovers!! My challenge is to get to it before one my children finds it and decides to eat it for me!

    I agree about the cereal bowls!! I put out the small bowls on the table before I go to bed to remind whoever might eat before I get up to use smaller bowls! If a bigger brother allows a smaller sibling to pour too much and it doesn’t get finished, it becomes the big brother’s leftovers. A little incentive for them to participate in portion control. While big brother may be hungry, leftover cereal is not so great…

    Dessert? They have to earn dessert! It’s not an automatic part of our meals.

    Sorry, I went long too. I have eight children. The oldest will be 29 soon and the youngest is 7.

  14. Sheri says

    I looked at your orange shake recipe. I do something that is much simpler, cheaper and no sugar added! I fill my cup halfway with orange juice and finish filling my cup with milk. The orange juice will thicken up the milk and it is very tasty! I think it is a good way to use “old tasting” orange juice or “warm” tasting milk that no one wants to drink straight. I would have to experiment to see if adding ice would work and how to do that.

    Try it! You’ll like it!

  15. Doris Foster says

    As always, enlightening! I don’t have small children, but many friends do. I take the children to eat at times – this is SO helpful!

  16. Nicole says

    Hi Tawra! I’ve never commented here before but this article rang so true with me that I am compelled to say- Try Bento! Bento is a japanese style of eating by which one packs nutrient dense foods in a small divided container. The food is eaten away from home, usually at room temperature. You can go crazy and spend any amount you want on all the cute accesories and bento boxes, but here is what I did. I bought a few divided dishes with lids at the store, and ordered a $5 pack of cute animal shaped food picks. I now make up little lunches for my familiy of six! I use leftover rice and steak (with an ice pack thrown in the lunch bag), cut up cheese and ham with crackers for homemade lunchables, chicken over salad greens with dressing in a separate tiny box… I rule! No more wasted leftovers, lots of good nutrition, lots of variety! I even eat them with my homeschoolers right at the kitchen table! What do you think? Nicole

  17. Debbie says

    I am glad I started my girls (6 & 8) on water as their first go to drink. They regularly pass up juice for water now :). Pop is a treat in our house. I measured out the sugar that goes into one can of pop and that cured them of their requesting pop regularly. I still need to tweak the portion control at meals and at snack time but I am slowly getting there. Half eaten bananas go in bag in the freezer for banana bread, bread crusts are saved in freezer for bread crumbs or for a family outing of duck feeding at the local pond. I loved reading all the ideas. I plan to try out a few at our next meal. Thanks a bunch.

  18. Wanda Gladney says

    Longwinded? Girl, this was excellent. I was laughing so hard because I practice some of these things with my kids and some folks (including my kids) think I’m being hard. Well, when they offer to pay for my food or buy the food
    themselves then they will get a clue. I get new ideals and insight everytime I read these articles. You are telling the truth, and don’t we need more of that these days. Great job and keep it up.

  19. Barb Nauman says

    Hi Jill~
    When you travel like you just did to Colorado how do you keep your travel costs down? Any tips on food costs and other vacation costs?
    Thanks!

    Barb~

    • says

      Barb, we are in the process of transferring almost 2,000 more articles from our old blog which is very time consuming and are working as fast as we can. I say that because we have many articles on saving on trips and vacations which go into great detail and answers for your question so it would take a bit of time to rewrite it all.

      For now though we did get one article posted and it was Packing Food for Road Trips. Go to the website and you can read it. But a couple of quick tips for now is I really don’t take true vacations because I just don’t have the extra money to do it.

      My trip to Colorado I borrowed my son’s KIA which gets good gas mileage so my gas was only about $75. We usually keep one good mileage car in our family to use. I then stayed with my folks so I had no motel. Most of the time I pack my own food which I explain in the article above and not just to save money but I find it much nicer to stop at a rest area to let the kids out to run then to wait for ages in line at a super busy McDonald’s etc. I took my folks out to dinner one evening for a thank you for me staying with them so my whole trip cost me $125 including gas. It really only cost me $100 because I added in food for 2 days travel for 2 of us but I would have eaten that if I was at home anyway so I don’t consider it extra.

      I also push big time staying at home vacations especially if you can’t afford a vacation or are in a lot of debt. The purpose of a vacation is to relax and refresh us but often when we plan big vacations we return exhausted and more stressed because of the money we spent.

      You can have a really nice time staying home just relaxing. Hit sites in your area or stay at a motel in town for just 1 night as a treat etc.

      We will try to get the rest on as soon as possible. What we have on the website now is only about 1/5 of what we had on our old blog and site and I know it is hard for our new readers who haven’t been with us long. It is frustrating for me too because we get so many good questions like yours we have written long articles on but we can’t get them posted fast enough.

      We really are trying. Hope this helps some.

  20. Irene says

    Jill,
    Can you send a link for the article on Packing Food For Road Trips? I searched for it on the website but didn’t find it. Thank you!

  21. says

    WOW Jill you spend less in the week than we do for a trip to see the specialists in the city. And I do cut corners as much as I can.
    leave home 5am with a thermos of tea and thermos of coffee and a cooler of cold drinks ice and a few snacks. Stop 2 hours later for a rest break and maybe a breakwich sandwich or a fritter at Robins donuts. Stop an hour later at the rest stop for a clean up and stretch then go into the city.
    We do our shopping that won’t go bad sitting in the van like books, things we need for the office and clothes.
    Then onto the doctor’s office. Depending on what is done there we either hit the grocery store to stock up on things or we go find a motel. We stay at the same one because it is comfortable. Not always the least expensive but not the most expensive either.
    Most times if I feel up to it we go to the restaurant down stairs but sometimes we bring in subs, or something from Arby’s which is on the way and I don’t have to get dressed and put shoes on to go to the restaurant.
    In the morning I make tea and coffee in the room and we eat what ever we have as left overs from the take out the night before. If nothing is left we leave and head for the Tim Hortons which is the only place for good coffee and a breakwich breakfast.
    Then we hit the grocery stores for stocking up on meat and perishables.
    When we are done we go to KFC pick up a bucket of chicken and some salads and head for home.
    We eat the chicken on the way and toss the bones out for the birds.
    One trip we had our grandson with us and when we tossed the bones out he said we were littering. I explained that we weren’t littering we were feeding the birds and bears. He said that I could say we were feeding the birds but it was still littering. I guess he was right but it isn’t really littering when you see the ravens sitting at the side of the road munching on the bones.
    We make a couple stops on the way home just to stretch and pick up coffee or hot chocolate.
    Without adding in the shopping things we spend about $150. that is a one day trip.
    Over night it is $250. Gas here is over a dollar a liter and we usually if possible take the van. more comfortable for me.
    If we take the sunfire we make more stops since I can’t sit as long in it but we spend about $75. less.
    When we stay overnight we spend $100 on a motel room. That is with the discount for medical visit. Plus the meals we eat.
    Our big expense when we stay overnight is the evening meal. We don’t eat out ever when we are at home so when I am up to it we go to the restaurant and have a really nice meal. Usually steak or prime rib which is always great. But a luxury.
    We count on spending about $250 to $300 for a two day trip and the only saving grace is that 6 weeks after we get home we get $300 for our travel expences. We send in the form that we get signed by the dr here at home and then by the specialist to the government and we get the money for the trip.
    I take a big cooler and stock up on meat which is a lot cheaper in the city’s larger stores than it is in our two small grocery stores at home. So we save that way. Not the week we go but for the month following when I only have to buy the basics.
    I can spend $300 for meat and paper products and staples and it does us for about 2 months. here in town I spend that every two weeks
    Our holidays are actually cheaper. We load the car and take off into the bush to go camping. cost of a camp site if we go there is $20 a night and the food is in the car. We take the canoe or the boat and go fishing every day so fish is on the menu.
    It is also much more relaxing than a trip to the city. 20 min. to camping and 4 hours to the city.
    give me camping any time.
    still wish gas was cheaper as that is the biggest expense for either activity.

  22. Barb Nauman says

    Thanks so much, Jill!
    You’ve given me some great new ideas:) I have done a number of these things when I travel, but I’m always looking for new ideas to try.

    Have you ever made Scotch Eggs? It’s a hard boiled egg with a seasoned sausage mixture wrapped around the egg-then coated in bread crumbs. They are baked and fried, and then usually served cold. They are delicious, easy to take anywhere, and a complete meal with some fruit or veggies! You can google the recipe and get many variations.

    barb~

  23. Rhonda says

    My mom always gave us SMALL portions to start, and we were of course welcome to more…but we almost never wanted more (unless it was a favorite food!). She used to get so mad with my cousins, who would serve themselves LARGE slices of cake or whatever, then throw away most of it. I must’ve learned the lesson in that, because I do the same with my son. Even though he is 8, I still only send him 1/2 a sandwich in his school lunch, because that’s all he will eat. Half a sandwich plus some fruit or baby carrots, and water to drink–that fills him up until he gets home. My MIL is the opposite. She always serves HUGE portions (even to our son), and then complains that “he didn’t eat it all”. I guess my husband and his brother got tired of hearing that through their childhood, because both of them have struggled with obesity for their adult lives. If I prepare a plate for my husband, he rarely goes back for seconds, but if he prepares his own plate, he puts twice the amount of food on it than I would. It’s all from how he was raised, I’m sure. Thanks for opening others’ eyes to this!

  24. says

    I always served what I called company size.
    if they didn’t like it or I was introducing something new it was a tsp size if they liked it they got 2 tbsp.
    they could always come back for more but when ever we went to another house for a meal they always took on their own a company size of everything.
    It was good manners to not curl your nose up a something but they tried new things with no problem.

    • says

      I agree Grandma. I use to be a picky eater and had one child who was very picky but one thing I always did was make myself and my son eat what ever was put before us at someones home.

      I figured it was kinder for me to be uncomfortable for a bit eating something I didn’t like then to embarrass or make someone else uncomfortable. Of course good manners play into that too and that really is part of what good manners are. I learned to eat a spoonful of many things and quickly wash it down with water with out anyone knowing I didn’t like things. I had friends and family members who for years didn’t know I didn’t onions because I became so good at hiding it.

  25. says

    Jill washing it down with water hit my funny bone.
    When mom was serving liver and onions which we didn’t like she always tripled the mashed potatoes. we could bury the liver and onions in it so they went down easier.
    So to this day I always serve mashed potatoes when trying a new way of cooking meat or a new cut of meat.
    In the 34 years we have been married my husband has hated onions. Then I started buying vidalia onions or the wala wala ones which are sweeter than the ones grown in Canada. Well now he loves onions roasted or fried. He looks for them at meals at least 3 times a week.
    He has learned to enjoy things he always hated from memories of his mothers not so good cooking skills.
    I cook differently from her and now he likes liver and onions and even homemade soups and stews. Took years of introducing things in small portions and him not wanting to give the boys bad habits but now he will eat vegetables not a lot but some. He even likes salads.
    so slow and steady wins the race.

  26. Maggie says

    I have served our family from the stove almost all my life. I have found that putting everything on the table leads to more helpings and too much left on the plate. Now that it is only my husband and me at home, I just cook exactly what I know we will eat, unless it is something that we don’t mind having as a leftover (veggies, mostly or mashed potatoes). Protein, unless it is a pot roast or meat loaf, is always in portion sizes. It makes for an easier clean up of the kitchen as well. Eating in this fashion, I have lost about 10 lbs and my husband (lucky devil) weighs less than when we were married 37 years ago.
    I found some plastic containers that have 1 large size and 2 small sizes just perfect for lunches. Made by Ziplock. Meat or sandwich with a cookie and some grapes – fits perfectly in here and fits in my lunchbag. I took my son out to lunch earlier this week. We each got sandwiches and a small drink – $19.99. No wonder we all take our lunch every day.
    Thanks for all the comments and Jill and Tawra for your posts. I really am saving money for food with your help.

  27. Barb Nauman says

    Jill-question for you. I am sooooo impressed that you only spend $25 a week on food. Can you give some idea of what you buy when you grocery shop? I think I spend closer to $40 a week for myself-so, I have a ways to go to get as clever as you are!!

    Thanks!

    Barb~

    • says

      Barb sorry I took so long to reply. I was trying to decide if I should write an article on this or just write an answer because I get asked this so often. From the length I think I should have made it an article. : ) I must say first I am not as careful on what I buy for groceries as I use to be before I got sick and my kids left home. I have no debt or house payment etc. so I can splurge a little once in a while if I want to so if I was really being careful I could probably cut my $25 down just a little more if I needed too.

      I have over the years like many others tried everything there is to save money on my groceries, warehouse shopping, coupons, marathon cooking etc. all which are fine to do if they work for you but I think I have figured out what the real secret is and that is mostly control your portions so you buy less and I also try not to waste anything.

      To answer you question as best as I can here is an idea of what I buy of course it depends on time of year, what’s on sale and other things so this is just general. I will give you an idea of what I eat. I am usually the exception to the rule on a lot of things and maybe in this case. I don’t eat a lot. I eat when I am hungry and what I want but I think I have gotten in to the habit over the years of not needing that much food. I eat to live not live to eat. Before everyone hollers I see my doctor all the time, my weight is exactly what it should be etc.

      Breakfast:
      1 bowl of cereal and 1 cup of coffee for breakfast each day.
      Once a week maybe I will have an egg and piece of toast.
      1 box of cereal and a carton of milk lasts me 10-14 days. (total for them $4.00)
      1 lge container of coffee lasts me almost a year. I only have 1-2 cups a day and make it 1/2 the normal strength. (total $.03 a day)

      For lunch: 1/2 cup cottage cheese, 1/2 tomato and 3 in. piece of cucumber.
      1carton of cottage cheese will be about 1 weeks of lunches. For almost a month this summer I have been given tomatoes or cucumbers so they were free. If I didn’t have those I would use about 1 can of fruit. (total $2.25 for a week)

      Dinner: 1 piece of chicken, piece of cucumber, apple sometimes I will have rice or a potato.
      (total about $.75 a day)

      I will have a snack mid morning and afternoon or evening but not all of the time. Like today I have been too busy so haven’t had a snack. If I do I will grab an apple which I get free from my tree or I will have a banana which I get for $.18 a lb at Wal Mart. Last week I grabbed a handful of nuts.

      During the winter I will eat something like tomato soup on sale for $.50 and one can is 2 meals. I will eat about 5 crackers with that.For 3 other meals I will open a can of tuna w/ a hard boiled egg added to it. So for about $1.50 (adding in mayo or pickle, crackers etc) I will have me 5 lunches for the week.

      I will buy 1 pkg. of some sort of meat on clearance once a week like a package of (10)chicken thighs for $2.00 and can make about 10-15 meals out of it depending on what I use it for. For example in the winter I will boil one thigh to make noodles or soup and that will last me for about 3-5 meals.
      This means I maybe spend about $6.00 – $8.00 for meat for my dinner.

      I can get 6 meals out of a 12 ct. pkg. of tortilla shells,3 tomatoes, 1/2-3/4 lb hamburger, 1/3 head of lettuce and 4 oz of cheese. Also it the tomatoes are too expensive I just will skip them.

      I buy old fashion popcorn to pop and have it for a snack in th evening. I also will about every couple of months will buy me a bag of chips or like this past week it was sooo hot so I bought me a 1/2 gallon of ice cream for $1.25 (most of the time I buy it on sale for $1.00) and it will last me a week or more.

      I’m sorry this is so long. I didn’t know how to explain it all and keep it short. I hope this gives you a general idea. If you have any other questions be sure to ask.

  28. Anne Laub says

    LOVED this article. You are so right. Portion control at home is easier to watch over than in restaurants. At home everyone eats off of the smaller salad plates. I odnt even keep the dinner plates in the cupboard anymore and my 6 yr old only wants to eat off the dessert sized plates. I am happy to use all the smaller sizes….saves money, just like you say.

  29. says

    Jill I sure wish I could find your kind of prices.
    tuna 1.50 on sale .90
    tomatoe soup $1.50
    chicken thighs b/s 16 for $14.
    bananas .72 a lb.
    cottage cheese $2.25
    lactose free sour cream $3.69
    bread $2.99
    4 basa fish fillets sale $6.99 $8.99 reg.
    whole chicken anywhere from $7.50 to $11.
    small chicken serves 3 with left overs for the cats.
    large one serves 5. lots of leftovers for sandwiches.
    This is a very small town kind of isolated so prices are higher When we hit the city I stock up on lots of things like meat, chicken and fish.

    • says

      I does make a difference living in a small town because I had to wait until I went into the city to get decent prices too. Plus I don’t know much about it but Grandma you live in Canada don’t you and I wonder if the Canadian dollar is a little different there. Like I said I don’t know about that for sure.

  30. Barb Nauman says

    Thanks, Jill!
    It looks like you eat a very healthy and balanced diet! You’re right, though-you don’t seem to need a lot of food to be satisfied. Good for you! I make tuna and egg sandwiches for lunch pretty often, but I can’t stretch it to 5 meals! I smiled when I read what you eat because I do much of the same things…I’m just not as disciplined as you are!!
    What kind of breads, buns, rolls do you buy? Like a cheaper white bread or a more expensive whole grain wheat bread?
    Do you drink mostly water for your beverages during the day?
    I’m also glad to see you ‘go crazy’ every now and then and buy chips, ice cream etc. Life is meant to be enjoyed and we should endulge from time to time! My guilty pleasure is Blue Bunny’s ‘Bunny Tracks’ ice cream:)

    Happy TGIF!

    Barb~

    • says

      I usually use cheap white bread. I just don’t like wheat bread or whole grain breads. Tawra does but I don’t. Maybe a couple of times of year I will buy buns or rolls but not often and usually those I find on the clearance or day old rack.
      I do drink mostly water. In the winter I will have a cup of hot tea once in awhile. I go to Aldi’s to get most of my staples (about $35 every 2-3 months. I included that into my $25 though) so a box of tea bags would last me a year. Then the kids will buy me some Pepsi once in awhile as a thank you for watching the kids or my birthday.

      Yes I do splurge. I am “a good girl” HA!HA! with my money and food most of the time so I can buy myself a candy bar, ice cream etc. every once in awhile totally guilt free. I meant to tell you earlier I don’t think the $40 you spend really that outrageous unless you are trying to save for some special reason or so in debt you are trying to get out.

  31. Irene says

    Jill – Thank you for the article on Packing Food for Road Trips. We pack sandwiches, string cheese, fruit, chips and waters and it’s just much healthier than fast food. Like the idea of packing hard boiled eggs, too. My kids love these and so will try them next trip.

  32. says

    right now our dollar and yours are just about on par. But things we import from the states cost us more because the companies charge more because quite often our dollar is lower than yours. It keeps our exports cheaper but the imports are more.
    When I was about 13 and younger we would make a trip to detroit every summer to visit friends of my parents but really to shop for school clothes. Our dollar was much higher than the American dollar and my parents saved a lot of money and we got more clothes.
    But look at books on the cover it tells the price of a book in the states and the Canadian price is higher. This is an old book I am reading right now and the US 7.99 Can 10.99.
    Right now I am pricing diapers on line to ship to my son and his wife in China. If I order through an American store the ones I wanted were 79. but add in the exchange rate it comes to about $150. So I am going to a small Canadian Company and the total cost will be $250 which includes the shipping. With shipping from the American Company it would work out to be about $300.
    One funny thing my mother found in the last few winters is that she can buy in Florida Ontario produce like tomatoes cucumbers and peppers cheaper there than we can in Northern Ontario.
    The produce we buy has to be shipped in from other countries during the winter because we have winter longer than other countries.
    The post about a fall garden and what to plant struck me as funny since it is cold enough at night that we are starting to watch for frost warnings.
    Halloween usually means wet cold rain or snow. Fairy princess’s wear parka’s under their beautiful wings. But the southern parts get weather more like the states and southern Ontario has a point that is more southern than northern california.
    To show where I live look at the map of Ontario and the hump back of Lake superior and I am at the very top of the hump. Beautiful country but no farming or even very big gardens. Too many rocks. But we do have gold which is why right now we are living here. My husband is a miner.
    Our taxes are higher but we have medical coverage for everyone, and our services seem to be better than what I have heard from the states. I think living in a small town only 3000 people we don’t have the big school supply lists that I have been reading about here. I have also not heard of schools asking kids to bring in supplies to supply all the students. It could be happening in the big cities just luckily not here.
    One thing that struck me as horrible was when bus loads of elderly people would come to the border cities and buy drugs. They were saying they were so much cheaper here that they could afford to keep taking their medication.
    That is when drug companies went on line to sell them that way. The American government wanted to force them out of business and made laws forbidding Americans from buying on line. It didn’t work because the economy for the elderly was so bad they had to break the law or stop taking their medicine.
    Some of our ideas and laws are good and some of yours are good, just different. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could take the good from each and run the country the way it should be run.
    I like the ideas you post here and enjoy the site. You are one person I would love to sit down and have a coffee with so I could get to know you.

    • says

      There are so many readers like you that I too would love to sit down and have coffee and chat with. Years ago about 3 mornings a week would have someone who would just pop in for coffee and a visit. After I got married so many women worked so that went out of vogue. I think that is why so many women love blogs like ours because it is almost like those morning visits but I still would like to do them more in person. I really miss the eyeball to eyeball thing and to see the persons face.
      Thanks for the info. I have read so many books about Canada over the years, my first was one called Mrs. Mike about a wife of a mounted police during the early 1900′s it was always one of my favorite books so I have a special love for Canada.

  33. Jennifer says

    I dind’t have time to read all of the comments so this might have been addressed earlier.

    The MINIMUM Fruit per day is 3. That means more is not necessarily bad and if you are trying to meet certain dietary requrements more might be necessary. Not to say that eating 7 or more is good. Just pointing out that 3 is not the maximum but just the suggested minimum we should consume.

    • says

      You are right Jennifer. Like most of our things we assume people know we are addressing your normal average person and as with everything there are many exceptions to the rule like if you are ill, older, have special dietary needs etc. then you should adjust them to your own needs.

      The same thing goes with many of our menus we give everyone. Please don’t e mail us and say you can’t use a menus because bananas or apples etc. make you sick just don’t use that menu or adjust it to what you can use.(I’m talking to you Jennifer,of course). We can’t cover everyone’s special needs it really isn’t humanly possible but do try to hit some when we can.

  34. says

    I loved reading the post and all of the comments.
    As a diabetic I’m very aware of what we eat and I have to watch portion sizes. As a wife/mom, I’ve had to learn to stretch our dollars to feed my family of 7 (4 adults, 1 teen, 2 tweens). Believe it or not, I do that on $250 a month and we eat well.
    My key is to PLAN MENUS before shopping. It takes me a couple of hours each month to inventory my fridge/freezers/pantry, work up a meal list for 4 to 5 weeks, and make up a grocery list. I don’t worry about store sales. Rarely do they benefit me because most of the things on sale are things I wouldn’t buy anyway.
    I cook from scratch. Breads, buns, waffles, pancakes, biscuits, rolls, pasta, tortillas, pita bread, tortilla chips, seasoning mixes, stuffing mixes, sauces, salad dressings…if the manufacturers can make it so can I, and I do, using inexpensive ingredients and saving us a lot of money. For example, I can make a loaf of bread for around 50¢, taco sauce by adding spices to a can of tomato sauce, taco seasoning for pennies, and a bottle of Italian, ranch, or sweet French dressing for well under $1.
    We eat very well. Wet burritos, chicken jambalaya, taco salad, lasagna, porcupine meatballs, stroganoff, roasted chicken…these are just a very few of our meal choices. Eating on a budget doesn’t mean you have to eat rice & beans (although those are GOOD with homemade tortilla chips), Ramen (I’ve got a tasty casserole recipe that uses Ramen), or macaroni & cheese all the time.

  35. barb~ says

    Hi Jill,
    How much, and what kind of paper products do you use?? I’m sure you use few paper towels, but what about paper napkins, tissues, etc.? The world used to get by on hankies and used cloth for everything in the kitchen-including napkins! Do you think it saves more money to buy paper items or to wash cloth products?
    I was wondering about washing and drying clothes, too. Is it wiser to wash and dry one big load or do several smaller? I often break up a large load of wash and dry it in about three batches. I think it must be easier on my dryer, but I don’t know for sure.

    Thanks!

    barb~

    • says

      Barb, I will try to answer your questions but for you or others who need more info I wrote a huge detailed series on laundry from beginning to end and you can get it in our e book Keeping it Clean. We also posted mega laundry stuff on the old blog and will try to get things transfered to from it as soon as we can.

      Let me start backwards to answer your questions. I am not to sure it makes a difference on doing a large load or small it mostly depends on what water level you use on them. For example if you can adjust your water to use a small amount then it makes no difference. Just make sure you adjust the amount of detergent etc. What happens a lot is people will just dump the same amount of detergent in for a small or large load and use the same water so of course it would be better to then do a large load.

      I always do a large load because I think it saves wear and tear on my machine. My washer will be able to do let’s say 2000 loads of laundry (this is just a pretend #) I can do 2000 large loads or 4000 small and as you can see I will have to get a new washer much sooner doing small loads. I hope that makes sense.

      As far as the drying goes the jury is still out on it. You do use the dryer more but at the same time many dryers dry a load faster if it is small. You may just try to experiment with yours.See how long it takes to dry one load compared to 3 loads.

      As far as paper goods go. As Tawra said I barely use a roll a year. As a matter of fact I use paper towels so little I keep them in a high cabinet which I need to climb on a chair to get too. Once again it really depends on your personal situation. For example let’s take napkins. I have used cloth a lot in years past but with me being sick I need to make my life easier. When I use paper napkins for everyday family things I don’t put a napkin at each place setting, I just place the napkin holder on the table for people to use as they need one. You would be surprised how only one or two get used compared to 4-5 if I had laid them out.I figure this way I save some and at the same time have the convenience.

      Paper goods are so inexpensive now that it is a toss up whether it is cheaper to buy them or use cloth. It is so close in price that I would say it really can be based on personal preference and it won’t matter. Some would holler it saves on trees but interestingly enough we now have 200% more trees in the states then in the early 1900′s before they had paper goods so I don’t think that needs to be to big of a worry at this point.

  36. says

    Use a plate.
    the other morning was the first time in 2 weeks I actually felt like eating. Been on new meds and got the cold from hades.
    anyway I wanted a fried egg sandwich. Got the egg into the pan put in the bread into the toaster and got the ketchup out.
    I like the egg really soft so that is how I had it.
    Sat down at the computer with a napkin holding the sandwich. Took my first bite and wore half the yolk. So I had about a half egg sandwich had to wash my housecoat and socks because the egg dripped all the way to my socks. Just glad it hit my feet instead of the rug.
    So I wasted food, and had to do a load of laundry which I wasn’t planning on.
    so that is an example of how to waste food and money all for the want of a plate.

  37. barb~ says

    Thanks, Tawra! I have really seen how making even small changes is saving me money-sometimes not BIG money, but a savings, nonetheless. It really does add up and that is the rewarding part for me.

    BTW-You have such a pretty and unusual name. Are you named after a family member?

    barb~

    • says

      When I was expecting with Tawra I liked the name Tara and her dad did too but he wanted to have something a little different so we added the w. She has regretted it every since. HA!HA! Not really but she does always have problems with people pronouncing it. My son’s name is David and he has the opposite problem; his name is too common. You can’t win for losing.

  38. barb~ says

    Thanks for all of the great info, Jill! I think you’re wisdom about washing and drying different sized loads makes lots of sense. I guess I wondered if a washer wouldn’t have to work as hard with smaller loads-less stress on the motor. When I listen to my machine when I have a full load it SOUNDS like it is working harder, but it may just be the normal sounds. I know nothing about any of this, and that’s why I appreciate you and Tawra so much!

    Blessings,

    barb~

  39. says

    When my husband was a boy in Montana, his grandmother used to pour 5 or so bottles of Coka Cola in a big tub and then she would refill the empty bottles with water and pour that in too.
    Then she would keep it in her fridge and all day long the grandkids could come and use a ladle and get an ice cold drink any time they wanted it.
    It was sweet enough to satisfly the kids who nver got soda at home, but refreshing enough for adults too.
    My husband still talks about how good that was on hot summer Montana days.

    • says

      I wonder if that is kind of like when I was young we didn’t get a whole bottle of pop of our own. We would get a glass of ice and my mom would split that one bottle of pop between four of us. It sure did taste good to me even if the ice watered it down a little.We never got a whole stick of gum and rarely a whole candy bar. Most kids now a day can’t even imagine that.

  40. rose says

    speaking of names .. jill i think we are twins . .my daughter’s name is rebecca (that is what is on her birth certificate) but i wanted to spell her name as rebekkah (i thought it looked better this way) .. of course her father didnt like it (he said she would stand out and wouldnt like it) and to be quite honest, when she was going to school there were so many rebecca’s, becky’s and becca’s it wasnt even funny (and lots of different spellings too) .. and now that she is 28 she as told me several times she wishes i had spelled her name the other way .. it is different and unique ..
    and my son? his name is john.. all of his cousins, aunts and uncles call him johnny .. my daughter calls him johnny too . but me and his dad call him john .. and htat’s how its spelled to j-o-h-n… he wishes his name was jonathan (spelled this way) bc well like u said jill, its a common name ..
    oh well .. like u said jill .. cant win for losing .. :D

  41. MARTHA says

    Daes anybody knows how to clean the outside of my pans? believe or not I don’t burn my pans inside it is the outside, they look bad!!!

    • says

      Of course it really depends on what type of pans you have. I bought pans which I knew I could use an sos pad on so I wouldn’t have to baby them but many people have to worry about scratching and things like that. My theory is I would rather have a spotless clean pan with a few scratches then a black gooky pan with no scratches.
      Part of the secret too is to clean really good after each use. The longer you leave stuff on your pan the harder it is to get the literally baked on stuff off.

      Here are a variety of ideas you might choose from. Use the least harsh first and work your way up to the more abrasive.

      Chore Boy – brown or yellow rough cloth found by sponges at the store.

      Stainless Steel Cleaner or Bar Keepers Friend – They both do the same thing.

      Place in a dark trash bag with ammonia or oven cleaner. Close up and let set over night.

      Very fine grit wet sand paper – buy the finest weight of wet sand paper you can. Wet sand paper is usually black and you wet it before using. It also works really good to get metal marks off of a white porcelain sink.

      Sos Pad

      For people who are ill or have CFS or FM – don’t worry about it and just store away in a cabinet.

  42. Tammy says

    I feel much better having read all of this. This is exactly how I was raised and how I have been raising my 4 children. I have been told I am cheap and everything else in the book because of it, but my family is healthy and we rarely have a need for a doctor. I spend $200.00 every 3 weeks on groceries and if it can be homemade, it is. Working towards a debt-free life for my family at the moment. Teaching my children all of it as we go!!!

  43. says

    I am really working hard on portion control….I eat healthy, probably too healthy and to watch those few extra pounds from creeping on I am eating about 1/3 less than I usually eat mainly at night. I have some digestive issues and it is amazing how much better I feel if I eat slowly..on smaller plates and eat less. I guess if I get hungry I can always get more. But the funny thing is, I never do! I have noticed that my weight has gone down a bit and that is great.

  44. pam says

    I love this article these are all things that I have been doing and I’ve noticed a big drop in our food bill.

  45. Pene says

    For clean pans on the outside, I use barkeepers helper. It comes in a container like Comet. I use it sparingly with the scrubby side of a sponge and it does a wonderful job of making my pans look like new.

  46. Kris says

    If you look at most ditet menus, it will state 1/2 of a banana for a portion size.

    Also, when I drink juice, I put in 1/4 cup of juice and add water to fill the glass. Orange & cranberry juice is acidic for me to drink full strength.

  47. Romi Plath says

    I truly appreciate your ability to be direct, yet gentle on subjects that are difficult for most of us to hear! Thanks for sharing your wisdom and experience with all of us!

  48. says

    Parent your children first, be their friend second! I love that you simply said this in reference to so many of the points in this article!

  49. Marcia says

    I am stunned sometimes by how wasteful we all can be with food! I clean our church and after potluck meals I am amazed and dismayed by the food people leave behind! I have had to clean out slow cookers half full of food that people have left behind, (and no one would dare to eat the food after it’s been left out all night!) loaves of bread,little bottles of juice or pop that hardly have a sip taken out of them…it just completely floors me. If this is you please take your food home or find someone who will take it. I’ve even taken it home myself if it’s something that hasn’t been left out all night and is still edible.

  50. halleycomet says

    Reaqd back thru some of the older posts here and wanted to suggest to Jill and Tawra that maybe it is time to think about a NEW book venture—Cooking For One or Two . For those who have been “downsized” when kids moved on.

    I know for the very short time my husband and I were ” home alone” between when the kids went off to college and returned home—we now have 7 people in a tiny house!–the planning for meals that I had to do kinda shocked me. I was very used to buying and cooking for 5 or more people with sometimes very different tastes. One kid HATES any kind of pasta (Karma—his fiance LOVES pasta!) one kid likes soup the other hates it except for moms matzo balls soup—you know the drill. I was used to making vats of matzo ball soup!

    Now oif course if you have the freezer space (and I do) you can freeze stuff. But a lot of older people or even just empty-nesters have downsized this stuff too so a big freezer might not be available to them now.

    I had a hard time remembering that it was only going to be my husband and myself—it had been a LONG time since we had kids!—and buying the correct sizes of some things was hard to get used to again.

    There are places that sell smaller size cookware like muffin tins etc and I wonder if you might not want the challenge of coming up with workeable recipes to FILL those cups!

    Vermont Country Store has smaller versions of a bunch of cookware and most of it can be used in the toaster oven if heating up the regular oven is too much of a bother.

    Or you can use something like regular muffin pans and fill the UNUSED cups with water so the pan heats better and doesn’t POP.

    Larger sizes of meat which are the most economical —those you have to “Plan For Leftovers” with. I didn’t “plan” on getting a large roast of beef at the store yesterday but there was a meat special on beef—when did YOU last see an actual SALE on beef!—and so I purchased the roast at $2.99 a lb and if the kids don’t eat here this can of course be made into sandwiches, chopped up for “cheese steak”, casseroles. frozen in the leftover gravy—well NOW I am hungry! And they also had steaks at the same price so we stocked up there too—same sort of thing can be done with any left overs there too. and a flat steak can go in the smaller freezer of your kitchen fridge more easily.

    One of the MOST frustrating things I found was that some things I had learned to take for granted—that the large applesauce jar would be EMPTY when we finished a meal!–were replaced with the smaller one serving size cups. I don’t like the toss away aspect so we re-used the cups for kids art projects or recycle them at the dump but I liked having no moldy 3/4 eaten apple sauce bottles even less! Now we use the cups for the grandkids when only they are having that sort of thing.

    My mother—who could and would pinch a penny till it screamed—also found that by going to certain places nearby after she closed her store for the night that had “Early Bird Specials” or other menu specials or even just general really low prices were actually cheaper for her and her husband rather than making a shopping trip, cooking (something mom was never any good at in any case!) and then packing up leftovers when they wanted to be relaxing in the evenings. Around where she lived there were a LOT of retirement communities and a LOT of small restaurants that catered to them and had excellent prices.

    So in that case it was a savings in both time and money.

    And any leftovers went to the store the next day for either their meals or for general Feed A Friend purposes!

    Research time for Jill and Tawra!

  51. Jenniferv vonSchlieder says

    As a diabetic, I was taught to divide my plate in half and then divide one of the halfs aggain. So I ended up with one half and two quarters. The half was either to be filled with veggies or two thirds veggies and one third fruit. One of the quarters was to be my protein, the other carb, such as rice, potatoes,pasta, etc. This is also healthy or non-diabetics and saves money on food. Works very well for us. Nodody needs a hugh helping of meat or chicen at one meal, and if you don’t normally eat fruit or veggies at other meas, this system helps to meet your quota.

  52. Marcia says

    My husband and I didn’t have children so we have always just had us two…and it’s surprising how challenging it is to cook just enough! My husband and I don’t eat the same things (because I have had stomach surgery and can’t eat the things he can)and that makes it even more challenging. We grow most of our own vegetables and I make jam and jelly…haven’t bought jam or jelly for ages and I gave some away for Christmas. We have our own raspberry bushes that were here when we bought our house so that helps with the jam and jelly plus some fruit…I would say meat is the biggest expense we have since he struggles with getting enough vitamin B-12 even with shots so he does need some meat and doesn’t like beans. I think the cookbook for one or two is a great idea. How about it, Tawra and Jill? I would get one!

  53. halleycomet says

    HAs your husband tried the “under the tongue” B-12? A friend who had gastric by pass has to take B-12 and she gets a big bottle at WalMart for a very small price—you just dissolve these under your tongue and it has kept her levels up. Her ins refuses to pay for the shots so she needed to find some other way. She says the WM ones taste the “best” of the ones she has tried too!

    Good luck!

  54. Beverly says

    I do with with adults, too. :-) I was buying 12 inch wheat sub rolls (when I didn’t make my own), cutting them in half and freezing them. After doing some thinking, I started buying 6 inch sub rolls, slicing them in half, and freezing. Works just the same, we eat less, no one is starving! Thanks for a great article!

  55. annie says

    There is just my husband and myself at home now. What I like to do is cook enough for four servings and then refrigerate or freeze the two estra servings. It’s just as easy for me to cook enough for four as it is for two. Then on days that I don’t feel like cooking or am busy, it’s good to know that something will be easy to reheat and serve. Plus if it’s something like chili, it can be served plain the first night, then chili dogs, stuffed potatoes, pasta, or tacos another night. You can freeze it in two serving size containers and reheat when needed. That’s why I love my crockpots, we always have leftovers for another meal or two especially in the summer.

  56. Pat says

    I would like to mention an Idea I have used since reading about it in a magazine in the early 1970′s. I think it was Woman’s Day, but might have been another similar magazine.
    That is to make a plate ( when the girls were still home I used a lazy susan) and put the leftovers on it as orderve’s. A boiled egg, became a devilled egg, and cut in two with a sprinkle of paprika was very tempting, a chunk of ham too small for much was ground in the food processor with a little mayo, and relish, and spread on crackers, or 1/4 slice of bread and put on as open faced sandwiches. Pickles that were on a small dish that had been served with another meal, were placed on the plate in their dish, with tooth picks. Same ideas with cheese cut in cubes ( small) to finnish a block of cheese, or cut up apple, melon , carrots, celery ( stuffed with cheese or peanutbutter ). Items that were not big enough for a full recipe of something, but cute for the tray. I would pull this out for after school snack, or even if I had company stop by. Everyone felt as if they were special and could take what they wanted ( had to eat what they took and could take more if they wanted … house rules for family ).
    Anyway you get the idea. Leftovers used up and everyone finds something they like.

  57. Michele Stratton says

    Thank you for putting up this article again. My husband wanted to take me out to breakfast this morning. I told him no bec what usually happens is we wind up running short right before he gets paid and his anxiety level goes thru the roof. I told him we have food here at home. The reason he wanted to take me out to breakfast was bec. I just came off of working my 5 day stretch and he knows I’m tired. He wants to make it so I wouldn’t have to cook this morning. I really appreciate what he wanted to do BUT there’s nothing in this world better than having bills paid, having needs met (clothing, shelter, food, etc.) and having a little extra to save for a rainy day. When I remind him of this, he understands but has to be reminded I’m not nagging, just thinking ahead. I will read this article to him as well. Thank you!

    • says

      Another thing too Michele is that as much as going out to eat for 1 morning will help you and relieve some stress you end up having more more stress right before pay day instead because of trying to figure how to pay the bills. If you are having to juggle things too it can be time consuming so in the long run that morning out isn’t helping money wise or time wise.
      Husbands can be so sweet in wanting to make their wife’s lives easier but it is that women are from venus men from mars type of thing – sometimes they don’t understand exactly what really helps the most. Most men though who love their wives are quick studies so if you lovingly and kindly explain to them they will get it – eventually : ) : )

  58. Erika says

    I love cooking and am constantly on the hunt for very old cookbooks especially the 40′s,50′s era. Those recipes are so simple and are mostly lost to this generation. Even then they complained about the high cost of food! What am looking for are inexpensive meals and boy are they loaded with them. A lot are similar to your cookbook,few ingredients and simple to make. I was initially astounded at how many portions they were to serve. No way, I thought,way too little food. But duh, finally realized that with smaller portions can eat a much more balanced diet at each meal. Have salad,bread/bun and dessert. And since being a tad plus sized myself decided since they were so darn slim back then had to be something to this.

    While browsing the thrift stores found a nice set of dinnerware from the 40′s. Took it home and was flabbergasted at the size of those dishes compared to my current ones. My cereal bowls were the size of their serving bowls! Dinner plates were half the size. dessert nappies were tiny and so on. We eat off dishes that are so big that we have no way of knowing what a portion size looks like,especially on a plate that’s like a dinner platter.

    So finally the brain matter kicked in. No more diets etc. Out went the big dishes and now use the old set exclusively. Their size provides automatic portion control and the plate always looks full. Have salad, bun, entree and dessert but the servings are small.Much more balanced meals , feel full, using up all my groceries, eating healthy and saving big,big bucks on the groceries. I always feel like I’m dining instead of just scarfing down food. The table looks appealing and eat a lot of variety.
    I am LOSING weight without effort and feeling so much better.

    Now can understand how those recipes are enough. With the rest of the courses there is plenty of food. And no, it is not more work or dishes in the end really. The trade off is incredible. Very little waste and so inexpensive.

    Recommend this to anyone trying to control food expenses.
    Just like you say, we have lost all sense of what a portion size really is!

    • says

      The recipes in Dining on a Dime and many of our other recipes seem like those because that is where we got them from and have used for many years. I think that is the reason so many people find our cook book different and love it so much.

      I have written several articles on this same subject. Here are a few more someone might like to read.
      Stop Wasting Food and Save Money it talks about the dish and glass sizes and portion control too.

      Children, Wasting Food and Portion Control
      This is just two of many others. I have been writing about the same thing you have mentioned for years trying to get people to see it is more their size dishes and portions they are eating causing them to be over weight and have health problems then what they are eating.

  59. Tracy says

    I like reading your newsletter.When I started reading living on a dime a while back our food bill was about 200 hundred dollars a week.We were spending too much cash and having no budget or spending like it was water.
    Now my family is older ,we spend $550 a month on our food bill, that three adults. We eat together for dinner only .But we each eat three meals and some snacks. I shop at Aldis,and a few other places.In my area. And your web site, and reading your grocery thing was very helpful.
    We have been through job loss and huge debt .
    Learned the hard way. But since about four years ago
    We use cash and not try to use the plastic unless it is paid down with a month or two. So I make a list and plan out our meals and cook each week.And I found your advice very helpful and hope to keep reading your site.
    Thank you Tracy

  60. says

    I agree completely on the going out to out tips. We don’t go out to eat often but once in a while if I take the kids (one girl two boys) out to a fast food restaurant (and they are teens now not little kids) everyone one knows either we use coupons (we have gone so far as to ring each meal up separately to use as many coupons as possible) or we order off the dollar menu. We always split one or two drinks since they are refillable – I know some people won’t agree with that but my family doesn’t mind. One coupon usage that helps are the Burger King receipts that offer a free large chicken sandwich or whopper with the purchase of fries and a drink. You can purchase the $1 menu fries and drink giving everyone a nice meal for $2 each.

    Another thing we do is never throw away food. All leftovers are either wrapped and used up or frozen at home. When we go to a restaurant that is also the case. I recently took my daughter out just the two of us to Chilis for her 18th bday. (We had the 2 for 20 menu of course LOL). She asked for a togo box and wrapped up every scrap of leftovers there were and said after so much training over her lifetime she couldnt bear for a thing to ever go to waste!

  61. Marie says

    I run a bed and breakfast in my home. I serve my breakfast on luncheon size plates (9″) so it looks like they are getting a lot to eat. DH and I also use this size for our meals. For juice, I fill a wine glass 2/3 full and finish off with some diet lemon-lime diet soda to cut the calories, and give it a little zing. I use cloth napkins so the table looks elegant. I do lots of laundry (using homemade soap) and line dry everything. Some people are allergic to the scents in commercial soap. I do not use fabric softener as it leaves a greasy film on the clothes. Vinegar cleaner to clean mirrors and furniture and also freshens the air. I spend about ten dollars a month for cleaning supplies and paper goods.

  62. vickie says

    I buy 10lb bag of whole legs and thighs( about 69 cents a lb) then I cut at the joint of the leg and have chicken legs and thighs and its a lot cheaper a lb to purchase this way. I then portion and freeze. I also prefer to make my own chicken broth and have found that the dark thigh meat gives better flavor. I use this broth and meat to make cornbread dressing(I crumbable left over cornbread and freeze to use to make dressing) and chicken and dumblings. PS I live in Alabama.

  63. Cori says

    Portion control is soo important! Many of my friends feed their children starchy or sugary snacks several times throughout the day because the kids are always hungry. I only allow one starchy or sweetened snack per day (even if it’s homemade) and my kids never complain they are hungry. I find that they stay full for longer if I do the following: make sure they are drinking enough water, make sure meals have a proper amount of protein, fat, and fiber, offer milk with snacks instead of with meals. We also only allow juice very rarely, usually at a grandparent or friend’s house,and I usually only buy it 1-2 times a year. 4-6 ounces allowed is a maximum; juice is not essential for a child’s diet if they are getting enough fruits and vegetables throughout the day. I also never wanted my kids to get into the habit of thinking their drinks needed to be flavored. Oh, and one last thing about juice, sometimes I wonder if it doesn’t contribute to kids feeling hungry sooner than they should because of the sugar (natural fruit sugar is still sugar) spike and crash!
    Of course we give the kids food when they are hungry, but when we follow these general guidelines, they don’t graze all day, they eat when they are actually hungry. PS, this works for grown ups, too! I can control my weight much more easily when I follow those guidelines for myself.

  64. Mary Jane says

    When I was a kid, there were tiny juice glasses that restaurants, churches and “rich” people had to use at the breakfast table. They looked like tiny ice cream sundae dishes (taller and skinny, with a flat platform at the bottom) and they only held a couple of ounces of juice. That was considered a person’s quota of fruit juice for the day. Coffee cups and mugs were much smaller than the average 12 ounce size you now see so often. Consider that when people add sugar and milk to their mugs. We always add an extra can of water to the jug of concentrate when we reconstitute frozen fruit juice. My husband and I have noticed a marked decrease in the amount of store bought groceries that we must buy, when we use more portion control. We grow most of our own veggies for the year, so if we eat a few more of those on the days when we feel extra hungry, we are none the worse for it. We use the diabetic trick for dividing up a dinner plate, too; half the plate is veggies, a quarter of the plate is starch, and a quarter is protein. When I am home alone, I eat very similarly to Jill, but with slightly more food. A tip that an empty nester gave me years ago when my children were small and my family was large…as your family grows, do NOT give away all your small saucepans, serving bowls and baking pans. When the kids leave home, you will need them when you are empty nesters, and it will take time to learn to cook for just the two of you, especially after you have had a whole crew living at home. For years, I kept saying to myself, “That can’t be enough! There is so little there!” It was always enough, even enough for a few leftovers.

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