Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Huckle! This is party food!

In this first month of living without fast food, I have taken to reminding the kids (and myself) that fast food is best used as a treat, not a regular source of nutrition.
I remember trips to McDonald's being a special occasion when I was a kid (it was big news when Anacortes, Washington finally got a McDonald's) and treats like the Turtle Sundae and McNuggets were brand new (anybody else remember the Chicken McNugget action figures that came with Happy Meals?).
Now that I am a parent, I have found myself making almost daily trips to McDonald's for a sweet tea, McDouble and small fries.  $3.27.  "Hey kids, you can get three things each, but only off the dollar menu."  Way to go, Mom!  You just fed you and your kids for under $10!  I used to congratulate myself that way.
I realize now that I was teaching my children to indulge in convenience on a regular basis instead of being deliberate about their eating habits.

When my children were small, they loved Richard Scarry's Busytown books.  "The Best Mistake Ever" detailed a trip to the grocery store by Huckle Cat and his friend Lowly Worm.  Mother Cat provides a shopping list of things she needs from the store including cream, apples, butter, oranges and potatoes.  Huckle forgets the shopping list, and his friend Lowly helps him do the shopping based on his memory.  With Lowly's "help," Huckle buys ice cream (instead of cream), apple pie (instead of apples), peanut butter (instead of butter), orange soda (instead of oranges), and potato chips (instead of potatoes).  Mother Cat is very upset with Huckle's purchases, saying, "Huckle!  This is party food!"
Wow.  Party food?  Ice cream, pie, peanut butter, soda, potato chips ... isn't that part of the regular shopping list for a red-blooded American citizen?
It made me think about the short-cut food that I feed my family on a regular basis.  Am I truly providing nutrition, or am I teaching my kids that convenience food is a part of a regular diet?
Just something more to consider in my year-long "fast food fast."

Monday, January 9, 2012

REALLY? Are you sure? No TACO BELL?

Our family has been mulling over this "no fast food" pledge I have made with myself.

The most difficult challenge so far has been Taco Bell.

The Taco Party Pack has been a featured favorite of the Hatfield family when I am late coming home, rushing to soccer, or too tired to cook dinner.  It's cheap, delicious, and it's fast food.

There are many arguments swirling around the Hatfield home regarding the definition of fast food and the wisdom of eschewing such a practical dinner standby.

It comes down to this: DELIBERATION.  I want to live deliberately.  I want to eat deliberately.  I want to be intentional about what we put into our bodies, and the way we eat together.  We will eat dinner together as a family.  We will not rely on fast food to feed our stomachs and our souls.

For 2012, at least, we are even turning our back on the Taco Party Pack.

And, for the first time in a while, I am starting down the end of my first half of the monthly food budget in the black.  I haven't even had to dip into extra money, because I haven't allowed myself to have any.  The kids and I have even treated ourselves to Sweet Frog two times, we have eaten out as a family at (slow food) restaurants on occasion and had the opportunity to give from our surplus as well.

So far, we have saved and paid down a little over $5,000 in debt, just from money we had saved over the holidays.  That means $500 in the Disney fund, and we're well on our way to dumping the $30,000 home equity line.  That's enough motivation for me to even turn my back on Taco Bell.

Saturday, December 31, 2011


"When presently the twelfth stroke of the clock shall have sounded, we stand again at the opening of a new year... He knows all the trouble that this year shall burden your heart.... And therefore do not fear and neither be afraid, but now at the change of years, in childlike confidence grasp the faithful hand of that Father who is in heaven."
- Abraham Kyper

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Why Wait?

Three days until I am officially no longer purchasing fast food.

Three days until I am no longer driving through to pick up a McDouble and a Sweet Tea.

Three days until I won't allow myself to drive through for a Happy Meal just so I don't have to pack a lunch for the kids.

Three days until I will need to make my own homemade mocha (1 pack of cocoa + 1 cup of coffee, stir, get fancy with a little whipped cream on top) instead of driving through Starbucks or McDonald's.  Yeah, I realized Starbucks counts as fast food when I realized they have a drive-through.  But some don't ... is this getting hung up on a technicality?  I'll have to ask Lennie Freeman, the one who started me on this "fast food fast."

Three days until I replace nutrition and common sense with convenience and laziness.

Three days until I eat deliberately instead of on a whim.

Three days until I take control of my habits instead of letting them rule me.

So, why wait three days?  Why not start now?  I only have $9.00 left in my food budget for the month. Why waste that on trashy food?  Is a so-called value meal that valuable to me anyway?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

What a long, strange trip this will be

I have retooled things a bit as I turn my sights toward 2012.
In 2011, we got rid of our TV.  It was an old RCA console monstrosity that was ancient when we obtained it second-hand in 1999.  To part with it was not a heartbreak for me, especially since we can watch TV on and, and the possibilities are mind-blowing for the modern family.  But we have eliminated our television, and that helps our budget, and makes us a little weird.
Thanks to a dare from a high-school friend, I have also decided to cut fast food -- any restaurant with a drive-through -- from my (and my children's) diets for one year.  Again ... a little weird, but it could help my food budget, cholesterol level, and improve the health of my family.
My husband and I have a goal to pay off our remaining debt (not counting our home) of $30,000.  It's a home equity line we took out a while back to pay for a used car, a new porch and new ceilings in the downstairs of our 1926 home.  Repairs needed to be made, but we just didn't have the cash on hand.  Since we've started applying principles we learned in Financial Peace University, we have paid off around $24,000 in consumer debt, and are beginning to pay down this line of credit.
We are getting ambitious this year.  We think we can pay this off in 2012.
It will require significant sacrifice on the part of everyone in our family, but we're excited to finally be free from this chain tying us down.
My blog posts may be a little strange this year ... counter-cultural, confessional, and a little crazy.  I promise I won't try to convert you, and I'll try not to make you feel sorry for me (although at times, I'm sure I will be a little pathetic).  I hope you'll follow along with me on this journey, and cheer me on when I need a little encouragement.