Thursday, January 29, 2009

Groceries During A Growth-Spurt

I've been noticing the subtle signs lately that either all of our kids are going through a growth-spurt at the same time, or that their appetites are increasing as they are getting older. Where a loaf of bread used to last us 2 days at least, we now can go through a whole loaf in one meal.

I think this realization hit me the most a few days ago when we were out running errands and we missed lunchtime. It was a Wednesday, so Eric suggested that we pick up a treat - the $3.99 pepperoni pizza from Little Ceasar's. We debated ordering two, but decided we would because we could always have leftovers the next day. One large pizza used to be enough for us. Now, we couldn't even pretend that one was enough. In fact, two was just enough. We finished both of them and I only had 1 1/2 pieces.

So I've come to the conclusion that I need to re-examine some things. If we really need to, we could up our budget a bit, but I just don't think we're at that point yet. I think I need to come up with some smart solutions and substitutions and see if that helps.

Here are some of the ideas I've been mulling over:

  • Breakfasts with as much substance as possible. Although rare, there are mornings when we just have toast for breakfast. Even when it is toast with peanut butter, we easily eat a whole loaf. I often opt to make toast on those mornings when I don't have anything prepared ahead of time and we've gotten a late start to our day. That's just not a feasible excuse though. Scrambling up some eggs to go along with our toast would take the same amount of time as buttering a whole loaf of bread and it would be more filling.
  • A mid-morning snack. Our normal schedule includes our 3 daily meals, one afternoon snack and a small dessert after dinner. I think I might start adding in a morning snack of some apple slices with a small scoop of peanut butter or something similar.
  • Less white flour. I always try to use at least 50/50 ratio with my flour, but I'm going to experiment with upping that to 100% as often as possible. The empty calories from white flour do not fill up the growing bellies of my kiddos long enough.
That is my starting point for right now. I would love to hear any tips you might have on how you adjust your grocery budget with growing children. Do you up the budget or do you come up with sensible substitutions.


Laura Lee 11:36 PM  

Great ideas! When I notice my babes are demanding more calories in their day to keep them satisfied, I also add more legumes, brown rice and yogurt smoothies to our week's menu.

FishMama 8:20 AM  

We're in the same boat. THanks for such helpful suggestions.

Jendeis 9:03 AM  

These are all good ideas. Another tip: make sure to include a protein at every meal and snack. Often just having carbs can spur hunger as opposed to abating it.

BarbaraLee 9:17 AM  

Growth spurts. Got to love em.
No I don't change my budget for it. Oatmeal is nice filling meal. But so are pancakes, muffins & waffles. Make big batches for the following days.
Drink plenty of water. A natural filler.

Good luck. Wait till they hit the teen yrs.

Anonymous,  9:18 AM  

My one child is not even 2 year and he's already eating through my grocery budget like crazy! I wish I had some suggestions. :(

Sonshine 9:54 AM  

great ideas! I am going to agree with Jendeis and say that you need to make sure to include a protein at every meal and snack.

I found that just giving the kids the carbs, like the toast or crackers wasn't enough. I needed to add the cheese with the crackers or peanut butter with the toast.

If we have toast for breakfast then it is a limit of 2 pieces so we are not using a whole loaf(more like 1/2) and with that toast is a protein(peanut butter or eggs), a fruit, and dairy(milk or yogurt). Sometimes if I have gotten sausage or bacon on a good deal I might throw that in the breakfast as well. :)

Thankfully so far all my kids haven't decided to do a growth spurt all at once! It is more like a revolving does a growth spurt then the next then the next. I haven't had to up the grocery budget yet for the growth spurts but I am sure that might have to happen once I get more teens in the house!!

Melissa 10:30 AM  

I know what you mean, we have 3 kids and we have to buy 2 pizzas to. We used to have plenty left overs but not anymore:) I'm intrested to see what other people say to

Michelle 10:59 AM  

I was JUST commenting on this to some friends.

Here it's not growth spurts but CONSTANT eating and I can't afford it. We went through 2 bunches of bananas and 5lbs of apples in 3 days...for 2 KIDS. Although my 3 year old WAS actually on a growth spurt and was eating like crazy...the other 2 ALWAYS eat like this.

I've been making 6 servings of oatmeal for 3 people every day.

I look forward to reading more comments on how others do this.

Mrs. Bick 11:27 AM  

I'm with Sonshine...

we try desperately to make our meals/snacks well rounded with the addition of proteins/dairy/fruit. The other thing we have done is make sure that our feeding schedule is consistant. Helps me decide if they are really hungry or just bored, or restless.

Our challenge is diversifying our meals and snacks.

Milk Donor Mama 3:16 PM  

Plenty of fiber and water will help you fill up also. Fruits high in fiber like pears and apples, and veggies like squash and pumpkin can be pureed and added into breads, cakes, and sauces.

Jennifer 3:17 PM  

I notice the same things around here from time to time. I remember when I could just make a recipe and we had leftovers. then we had no leftovers. Then I doubled the recipe and had leftovers again. Now I am at the point that we frequently have no leftovers, even though I doubled the recipe. I can't imagine what it will be like when I have 4 teenagers. Protein is something that is very needed for kids brains and bodies to grow. it also keeps them full longer than other foods. So upping the protein, like peanut butter, is a great idea. Right now my kids are all enjoying a spoonful of peanut butter LOL.

Southerner 3:23 PM  

When my 16 year old turned 12 he shot up tall and went from a size 5 shoe to an 8 within 3 months. He was eating 4 sandwiches at lunch EVERY day. He was so skinny his ribs showed so I bought him breakfast drinks to add in the morning to his breakfast. Then, he would eat bowls of cereal and sandwiches and potatoes in between meals.

Anonymous,  10:49 PM  

Sugar and simple carbs actually increase appetite. Maybe making egg and cheese stratas the night before would be more nutritious. Oatmeal is good. If you do serve breakfast cookies or muffins you might try adding some bacon or some sausage on those mornings. I think it's only adults who can get away with muffins and coffee in the morning :} I'd also suggest adding more meat to the casseroles you serve. The lentils and bean meals are good. Maybe you could get some ideas from South Beach cookbooks. I'll see what I can find.

Anonymous,  10:54 PM  

Egg burritos. Add powdered milk to regular hot chocolate to increase the protein. Cottage cheese and fruit for breakfast. I'll keep looking.

Omah's Helping Hands 1:31 AM  

A trick I learned is to cut back the carbs. If they will eat various veggies, mix some in with scrambled eggs in the morning, or omelets. Those last the morning. Your idea of apples and peanut butter mid morning is excellant. Carbs and sugar does increase the appetite. Use whole wheat bread instead of white, that will make a difference.
Oatmeal and cream of wheat make great substitutes for cereal or toast. You can add fruit to them and a sugar substitute for flavoring. Brown sugar is better than white. Adding more fruits and vegetables also makes a huge difference. I had recently taken a nutrition class and learned a lot through that, and it helped me. I am hypoglycemic, and have learned through diet what lasts and what doesn't along with the care of the grandkids who can eat us out of house and home if we aren't careful. ;) Hee hee. Good luck. Best thing is experiment to see what works with tiding them over so they don't get too hungry and then eat a lot.
Oh and please share if you learn any new stuff. Your list is great! Always looking for fillers.

Alisa 7:21 PM  

Those are good ideas. We are in the same situation right now and I've been racking my brain how to get more food with the same amount of money.

Sarah Ada 12:24 AM  

A great alternative to whole wheat flour, which is great but heavy, is either whole wheat pastry flour or the "white wheat" from King Arthur. It makes things whole wheat and healthy without the heaviness.
Also, homemade granola with nuts and dried fruit makes a really longlasting snack or breakfast. I have it in the morning with yogurt and a bit of chopped apple.
Also sprinkle oatmeal with apple and/or nuts.
Homemade oven baked potato fries are very popular at my house and NO FAT. Also, a really good filling low-glycemic food is a SWEET POTATO. Microwave or baked in the oven is so good. Lowers cholesterol too!
Popcorn is another one of our snacks here. Inexpensive.

I was also wondering what you think of the idea that a lot of the regular grocery store food does not have the same food quality that it did, say 20-30 years ago? That maybe we aren't getting the same or all the nutrients from the same foods, so we're hungrier and therefore eat more? Sounds sort of X-Filian, but I can just tell that organic bananas and apples and tomatoes taste so much better! What do you all think?

Gina 11:27 PM  

I've been working on more FIBER in my kids, as a way to keep them filled up plus it's healthier. Obviously you can make some mini-muffins with whole wheat flour, but one of my favorite filler-uppers is popcorn. It is very cheap, has fiber and few calories, and they just love it. I know it can be a choking hazard for little ones, though, so be careful. I've raised my 2, 2, and 5 year olds on plain, unbuttered, so they're used to that. Sometimes I'll sprinkle a little salt or cinnamon on it, but they're not expecting heavy-duty buttered movie popcorn or anything.

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