Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Portion control and frugality

I was just reading my Living on a dime newsletter from and it was about portion control for children. It talks about how kids are given too much to eat all the way down to juice and the obesity issues and poor health that come along with too much of anything. My family is living proof of what happens when you give your kids too much of anything and what happens when you give your children propotionate amounts and try to adhere to daily suggested amounts.

My two oldest children almost 20 and almost 18 are examples of what happens when you don't know or don't pay attention to portion control. I had no clue what I was doing to them. Noone ever taught me about portion control or grazing or overeating. I fixed huge and I mean huge meals when they were little and put everything on the table and let them go at it, Always with soda or large containers of juice. Plus I always had snacks out for them to get themselves, which they did. Looking back I can't believe how much I gave them for lunches. Both of them are overweight and eat like crazy. Poor habits taught by me. Now don't get me wrong I don't like the government telling me what I can and can't feed my children, NO WAY. But we as parents do need to know that we are wasting so much and teaching them really bad things.

My 4 younger children 14,5,5,2 are all fit. They are healthier and I can't say this has anything to do with it, But have only had to have antibiotics one time in their lives. I can honestly say I don't remember them even really being sick. (Other than the 3 little ones being born with a congenital defect, which they all had far less effects from then the average child and was easily fixed).

What I did differently was I stopped making huge huge amounts of food for each meal. I have learned and paid attention to exactly what my family needs to eat at each meal and I make the amounts accordingly. Very rarely is all food put on the table, 99% of the time I make the plates in the kitchen and take them to the table. This also saves on clean up time. Noone is allowed to have seconds of anything until all food on the plate is eaten. Then if they want they can have more of something but a smaller amount is given then the first. Plates and bowls are huge nowadays. I can't believe how huge bowls are now, If you don't believe me look next time you go to the used store and look at the bowls that came with dish sets from years ago they are portion sized and drastically smaller. I purchase these small bowls and plates when I find them. My kids are not allowed to snack unless I give them something. To be quite honest they don't really ask for snacks because they fill up at meals and are not hungry.

What does this have to do with being frugal??? I spend approx. 1/2 to 60% less on groceries then I did back when I had only 2 kids. And I stockpile which I did not do before and household items are included in the food budget.

Some tips I learned along the way....
#1 if your child eats breakfast and 1/2 hour later they say they are hungry:
See if they are just bored, Try getting them involved in an activity if they are truly hungry they will let you know.

#2 Have water readily available at all times. If my kids have milk of juice for some meal and they don't drink it all , it is put on the bottom shelf in the fridge and that is something they can get themselves. We have water bottles, and a water machine with small cups always available.

#3 On the rare occasion we go out to eat or stop for something while we are out, The smaller kids are never given their own plate of food they share usually from ours or share one small kids plate.

#4 Learn portion sizes, There are actually portion sizes according to age. I learned some today from the living on a dime newsletter that I never knew. 1 banana is actually 2 servings. A 2 -5 year olds daily suggested amount of juice is just one sippy cup full. I have to admit I probably give my kids 3-4 times that much, although I do water our juice down, I am going to cut some of that out.

These are life lessons that we need to teach our kids and ourselves, If you grew up like me with no boundaries on anything and coming into motherhood with not alot of common sense knowledge. And on the side of frugality it can take a huge chunk our of your grocery budget learning portion control and learning to make and serve enough food to nourish our bodies but not make eating a focal point of our lives. Hope this helps, Michelle