Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Challenge I Chose To Accept (To My Family's Horror)

Recently, I read an article in Good Housekeeping about a family who went without making any non-depletable or non-food purchases. The whole article was about how they found things around the house instead of instantly going to purchase something new. Instead of spending all their time in malls looking for something else to buy, they had quality family time.

As much as I think this is an admirable idea, it is more of a "good on paper" concept for our family. I do think that in this current economic crisis, it is wonderful to cut your spending. But it is something completely different to cut out everything, including holidays. For one, they had older kids who understood what they were trying to do and had the attention span to see it through. They also had a basement full of things that they bought in the past that could be used in a pinch. It seemed to me, that they were spending money just to spend it. They were also BIG electronic freaks and needed all the latest gadgets.

One of the main reasons this wouldn't work for us is that emergencies come up all the time. As much as I try to cut spending, my children are still growing quickly out of their clothes. They also can't get away with no school supplies. Not to mention, Christmas. How do you explain to a 4 year old that Santa has decided not to make any purchases this year. Even though our Christmas might be scaled back a bit, I'm not about to disappoint so I can save enough money to go to Hawaii.

I have thought about this article for about a week now, trying to come up with ways that this may work for us...it won't. There are way too many factors. Cutting spending is something I can do, but I cannot make a commitment to make my kids wear shoes that are too small so we don't spend money.

I did, however, come up with a challenge of my own. I vow to not spend one penny out of our budget on fast food for at least one year.

Never again, will I be a slave to the drive thru!

When I thought about it, I don't even like the food, I feel guilty when I feed it to the girls, it's expensive, and so not good for any of us.

With a little meal planning, we don't ever have to eat that slop again.

The Fam was all for the plan...until it was time to execute it.

Friday, Matt's mom picked up the girls for the weekend and here is the conversation between Matt and I.

Me: "I'm starting to get hungry, what should we have for dinner?"

Matt: "I can go pick something up."

Me: "Great! If you're going to the store, here's a list of some things we need."

Matt: "What? No, I'm not going to the store."

Me: "Then what were you picking up for dinner?"

Matt: "I don't know, something fast."

Me: "Surely, you are not talking about fast food on the first day of our challenge!???"

Matt: "Of course not! I was thinking more along the lines of Subway or KFC something like that."

Me: "What do you think those are?"

Matt: "Well, what is your definition of "fast food"?"

Me: "Any chain restaurant that you can get food in 10 minutes or less and you don't have to get out of the car to get it."

Matt: "Really???!!!! We might have to rethink this whole thing!"

Me: "You need a 12-step program, my friend."

On Sunday, Matt's mom called to tell me that she was leaving the house to drop the girls off. This is how that went.

Matt's Mom: "I will be leaving in about 10 minutes. The girls are just finishing up their lunch."

Me: "OK."

Matt's Mom: "When I asked what they wanted, Emerson said McDonald's but she wanted to eat it here, not at home."

Me: "Of course she did."

It seems that I am going to have to reprogram this family. Wish us luck!!!


Anonymous said...

Fast food is not food at all... It's JUNK food and sooo bad for your family. I hope you can make your plan work to not eat it anymore. I for one would be proud of you. :-)

Snappy Di

Becky said...


It is so funny the difference of what THEY percieved and what YOU did.

I think it sounds like a great plan! Maybe you need to alter it a little though (to accomadate everyone lol) and make once a week exceptions. That still is really cutting back, and makes them appreciate it a whole lot more!

Good luck with it!!!

Rebecca Jo said...

We're so programmed to eating that stuff... good for you for trying to make a change... it'll probably pay both in your pocket AND the health of everyone!!!

It'll be interesting to see how this re-programming goes! :)

Heather said...

I am so with you on this.

When I looked over how much I spent on fast food last month, it made me sick.

I went to the library and got some cookbooks. Then I made a meal plan. I haven't banned fast food altogether, but it is NOT in the meal plan; it will be for special treats only.

Good luck to you!

Sara said...

That is a beast of a challenge, and I commend you. I should put myself up to that, but I fear I'm much too weak. Mostly due to the fact that I don't like cooking, I'm not that good at it in the first place and no one depends on me for their meals.

I'll probably pay for it someday, but I prefer to think I'll marry a man who wants a wife with a gigantic butt. It could happen... right?

Tori_z said...

LMAO! Gotta love how people's minds work sometimes. ;)

Good for you! I started trying to do this a few months ago. It's not going too badly, but we definately have room for improvement. I'm not doing it as none for a whole year type of thing though, I'm trying to get it that things like fast food are considered treats, so they only happen once in a while. We've got it down to just once a week now, so now I'm working on getting it down to once a month. I think once a month is fair. Eat healthily the rest of the month, then you can have a treat of your favourite fast food. Sounds reasonable to me! Unfortunately, my hubby's idea of a healthy meal is cooking the fried stuff at home. But I have a plan to stop that one... You'll get to find out more on my blog soon, when I put the plan in to action. ;)

Intense Guy said...

The tough part about this is that fast food is delibrately "addictive" - its not wonder you are having trouble with the family "behaving".

I hope you much success with this. That 12-step program remark you made might not be far from the mark.

Grand Pooba said...

Haha! What you don't know won't hurt you right? Wow, your husband really thought KFC and Subway weren't fast food? I'm not surprised, my husband probably thinks the same thing!

Nana said...

I think you should all check into rehab. I know I would have to.

Jenny and the Princess Peonies said...

Oh my gosh! Great for you! I have been thinking of implementing this plan (the no fast food) myself. I will love to see how it goes. That stuff is super bad for you anyway.

a corgi said...

good for you! it will be tough, but I know you guys can pull this off and succeed!! it will take some planning and some getting use to, but I think it is definitely a doable challenge!! keep us updated on how it is going

while I applaud those that have a zero-spending type philosophy, I also think you have to be reasonable. We have a zero-spending on frivolous things, i.e., DVDs, books, household items unless we really need them, etc. I think you have to be realistic. If your child has 10 pairs of pants and they fit into them, they don't need any more right now. If they have clothes or shoes that don't fit and especially with shoes that could hurt their feet wearing smaller sized shoes, you need to go and buy things like that. But even then, like with school supplies, you can be realistic. They don't need the $5.00 notebook if the $1.00 notebook works just as well. I'm sure you are being wise in your spending, but also like you wrote, realistic with it

you'll do great!!!!!!


Tammy said...

Of all of those it would be hardest for me to say no to, is Subway. L♥ve me some Subway!

Lacey said...

Mike and I gave up fast food around the beginning of last summer (as well as any "pre-cooked" meals like TV dinners). It was HELL at first, especially since I didn't know how to cook ANYTHING! (Except Hot Pockets... I could cook those... as long as you didn't mind them burnt on the outside and ice cold in the middle... but I digress...)

Anyway, we decided to do it for the same reason... it was becoming way too apparent that food was one of our biggest expenses each month. I bit the bullet and started looking up easy recipes online, Mike started accompanying me to the grocery store... I think it took two months before we weren't in near tears everyday, haha.

We were doing really well until our neighbor's apartment became invested with bugs at the apartments (you remember that, yes?). Then cooking became almost impossible, if for no other reason than I. am. a. germaphobe! YUCK!

Now that we're in the house, we're back in the groove! I actually LIKE cooking now, isn't that crazy?! But we still eat out about once a week... it's like our Saturday morning "date," haha.

Good luck! If you need really easy recipes that even *I* can make (aka no ovens required, and less than 10 ingredients because I refuse to buy something I can only use for one recipe) let me know!

Oh, and you should watch that documentary... I think it's called Super Size Me. That will make you never even want to LOOK at fast food again!

Keeper of the Skies Wife said...

Your post always make me smile!!

We haven't eaten fast food in over 5 years!!! It is so worth it to eat healthier!! It's not easy getting started but once you do you will feel so much better!!!

I like what Becky said about starting off with having fast food only once a week!

Good luck girlfriend!!

Hit 40 said...

I need to cut out fast food too. We buy it a couple times a week. I know a person who buys it for her family EVERY DAY!!! Just nuts.

Deanna said...

What a great idea!
When I think about fast food I think about the McDonald's french fry I found in between the car seats. It had been there quite awhile and looked the same as the day it was dropped there! I thought about what a piece of real food would have looked like - it would have been rotten. Fast food is not food - it is plastic!

Good luck with your quest.

PictureGirl said...

How funny!
Once you get going it will get easier. My husband and I very seldom eat fast food and when the kids were young and at home, eating fast food was in a while treat.
It's expensive and NOT good for any of us.
Good luck and hang in there.

LadyStyx said...

Snappy's right. Fast food isn't really food at all. Most of the stuff there is at least 50% FAT. Yeah. Actually WORSE than most junk food.

ChicagoLady said...

Good luck! I know it will be hard at first, but you'll all be better for it if you can accomplish it. Not only is the food addictive, but we all get used to the ease with which you can order and have your food served, instead of having to actually make it yourself. We've all gotten too used to having everything done or made for us.