Raising the Bar

September 26, 20134 Comments

In the last few months, there has been a sharp uptick in our grocery needs. I used to pride myself on just one shopping trip per week (well, two I suppose: one to the grocery store and one to the farmers market). That was all it took to feed this little family. I would plan the meals, make the list and then this piggy was off to market. My careful organization afforded us fresh, healthy dinners four to five nights a week, home packed lunches for school and work, and snacks.

Those days are now a memory. These days, the food procurement plan around here is more like this: big shopping trip on Sunday, minor trip on Monday for the few things I forgot Sunday, Relay Foods delivery on Tuesday to resupply the fruit and snacks purchased on Sunday that were supposed to last all week, quick stop at the corner grocery on Wednesday to resupply the milk my boys decided they are once again drinking, one more Relay Foods delivery for the items I forgot in the Tuesday delivery and then another trip to the store to pick up the class snack, which I forgot about until the evening before it was to be served.
So where is the farmer’s market in all this, you ask? Fair question. It’s still there. I know people who shop there. I even shopped there once or twice this summer, but at the rate my kids are consuming food – and its an alarming rate – it’s no longer affordable. That’s the truth. We are simply consuming too much, too fast for me to shop at the farmers market regularly. There, I said it. Yes, I want to support farmers. Yes, I want to buy and eat local. But I don’t want to spend $20 on a few peaches, a loaf of bread and a small bunch of greens that will be gone within an hour of returning home.

Within 30 minutes of any given meal, I can guarantee these words: I’m hungry. I fully expect this complaint when the meal has been picked at. But lately, these words are coming from children who’ve cleaned their plates twice over. Really? How is that possible, I ask? My kids are only seven and five. I can only imagine this is a mere warm up for the teenage years. I seldom have dinner leftovers for lunches, even when I’ve made “extra.” The fridge raid begins before meal clean up is complete and carries on until we either need to 1) go to school or 2) go to bed.
As much as I can, I steer the wee piglets to fruits and vegetables for snacks. That only takes me so far. A child that is truly hungry will take down a few raw carrots, an apple, a banana, whatever. But when they ask for more? And they’ve eaten through the week’s produce in one day? It’s time for something else. I keep nuts, roasted seeds, granola, yogurt and cheese on hand. We also have whole grain crackers, hummus and cereal. When we’ve blown through that, I throw my hands up.

I have been experimenting with new defense mechanisms against my boys’ man-sized appetites. These cherry date oat bars provided ammunition for one after school snack and a morning supplement. Packed with fiber, good fats and whole grain, they are ideal for breakfast, the lunchbox (if you can bring nuts to school) or snack time, also known as all-the-time here in Sokol land.
I packed these bars on a recent flight, knowing the beverage cart with its teeny weeny bags of inadequate pretzels would not come soon enough. You know what happened? The bars, jammed in between magazines, toys and my sunglasses case, broke into a million pieces inside my backpack. Turns out they make a fine, moist granola as well.

I’d love to hear from you. What tricks do you have up your sleeve? Tell me below in the comments box or give me a shout on Facebook.

So long, friends. Gotta run. In the time it’s taken me to post these photos and write this little diatribe, I’m sure we’ve already run out of something…oink.

4 responses to “Raising the Bar”

  1. Didi says:

    Oh wow, you’ve got yourself growing kids!

    I’ve recently learned how much more tasty organic food is, but unfortunately, costs are really prohibiting. At this point in time, I really just want my husband and I to eat more real, homemade food vs. processed, fast foods. But I’ve heard from others how buying in bulk is much cheaper? (Been reading a lot of http://frugallysustainable.com/) I don’t know if this will work for you. And maybe starting your own garden could help? I also dream of having my own veg / fruit / herb garden in the future 🙂

    • Alicia says:

      Yes indeed! Both have shot up tremendously over the last few months. I think you are right on with the approach of more homemade food vs. processed food. I’ve grown a few little things in my tiny, city backyard – herbs, a few tomatoes. My parents have a real garden that produces enough to feed them and quite a few of their neighbors and friends! They also have a large yard and plenty of time to plan, plant, tend and cultivate in their retirement. With that said, it can be done. There are some impressive city gardens around here. Thanks for your note and the tips!

  2. Samantha says:

    Thank you Alicia for this post. Not only have I struggled with the same problem, I’ve felt incredibly guiltly along the way. I would dearly love the time AND money to shop solely at the farmers markets and local farms as our family once did. But there came a point where I could not afford the quantity of food necessary to feed my 2 growing kids (9 and 7 yrs) or find the time for such specialized shopping. Even shopping at Whole Foods once a month puts a strain on the monthly grocery budget.

    The other day through good sales, I brought home 4 pints of organic raspberries. They lasted 36 hrs. and that was with me taking away the containers to try and spread the consumption out a bit. I’m lucky that my kids love good food (and their share of junk) but it’s a constant struggle between money, time and good vs bad grocery choices. So if you stumble across any great resources, please share!

    • Alicia says:

      Samantha, thanks for your honest comment. It’s hard not to feel guilty, right? We are doing the best we can with what we have.

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