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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Five Road Food Rules

Now that we are a family of six, I've gotten more stingy with how much I am willing to spend on road food. I call fast food "road food" by the way. I know fast food is so bad for us and even worse for the children. But, you're on the road, it's mealtime, hungry kids are whining, and you see McDonalds on the horizon. It's inevitable. We are going to eat road food from time to time.

What made me start making road food rules was when we got our $27 ticket at that said McDonalds. We all got some sort of individualized meal that was marketed so well on the menu. They make it all seem like it's a value and you are getting a deal if you buy the value meals. Well advertising is a beast and should not be trusted in the face of a hungry consumer. Especially one with screaming kids. I want to just throw money at them by that point. "Take everything I have, just give me food and give it to me quick!" But it was getting expensive. I was spending just as much at that McDonalds as I did at our family's favorite Mexican resturaunt. I needed a better plan of attack. If I'm spending $27, I don't want it to be for bad road food that's fast and full of all the stuff we don't want in our bodies. It is not worth it. So, after some trial runs I made up some road food rules. I thought I would share just in case any other families happen to find themselves at one of these fast food places on the road (you know you will)!

1. Ditch the happy meal/ kids meal system. Unless its truly cost efficient, don't bring another plastic toy into your life! And those pre-sliced apples that never go brown scare me. How are they preserved?

2. Split the value meals. Not everyone may want or need the large fries or the soda. Also, think about it from the standpoint of portion control. We truly don't need that big of an order of French fries do we? Not for one person.

3. Use the value or the dollar menu. It's bad food. Might as well be cheap. Don't buy a $7 salad from a road food place! Buy the dollar hamburger and move on. Eat healthy at home or at a place where the salads are good and worth $7.

4. Order water as much as possible and not the sodas. Especially for the kids. My kids don't even know sodas are available at these places. You can stop at a gas station and get a much cheaper soda if needed. (Unless its a Sonic soda which I can't resist at happy hour).

5. Stick to the classics. You'll find that the tried and true items on the menu that have been on there for a long time are usually the cheapest and the safest bet that they will be at least edible.

Here's an example of how my family of six ate at McDonald's for $9. (Really it was five because we are not including the infant who is still nursing).

I ordered my husband and I cheeseburgers from the dollar menu. I ordered my oldest daughter (age 7) a hamburger (plain with mustard) from the dollar menu. I ordered the 10 piece chicken nuggets value meal for my middle daughter (age 6) and son (22 months) to split. I ordered an extra dollar menu fries. My middle daughter doesn't like fries so I split the small fries between my son and oldest daughter. My husband and I split the larger fries and one of us got the soda that came with the meal. The rest got water to drink. Everyone was happy and satisfied. And it kept us all until we could take the time to make and eat some real food (at home later on). Now it took a few times to break the kids of their needs for happy meals, etc. But, the easiest way I did this was not going through the drive thru. My husband lets me out and I say, "I'm going in to get our food and I know what everyone likes". And be done with it. No room for whining. That's easiest when you have both parents on board at the time. It takes some getting used to either way for the kids but they get over it. It's not life or death. In the end, my road food rules have made these places less desirable for everyone which was my goal. Even if you are not on a budget like me, or even if you don't have as many kids as me, do you really want to spend that much for road food that's not going to make you feel very well afterwards anyway?

Stay tuned and I'll soon tell you how we order at real restaurants with our children to keep it cheap. I'm still perfecting that one.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Manning Zucchini Bread

This is a recipe from one of my grandmothers - Mammaw Manning. She made it all of the time. When I make it, it reminds me of her and I am thankful for the many loaves she made around the holidays or when we would visit her in Eudora, Arkansas.  However, this quick bread is the most unhealthy way to get some healthy veggies in my kids. But, they love it. I posted this because I am looking for a lower sugar version that gets more good stuff in them. But, for posterity and the fact that I am baking loaves right now for a breakfast choice this week, here it is:

Zucchini Bread
3 eggs beaten
3 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
2 cups peeled and grated zucchini
1 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)
1 cup oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
3 cups sugar
3 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder

Combine eggs, oil, vanilla, and mix well. In another bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add zucchini and dry ingredients to mixture. Add nuts. Flour and grease two or three loaf pans. (I use two regular size). Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Biopic Friday: Top Five

If you know anything about me, you know that I devour biopics. I love them so much that I have sub-categories for my favorites. So, for Friday, I am listing my top five favorite artist/writer biopics. Watching these films affected me greatly, as they are about my most favorite artists and writers. I have included a You Tube of trailers. Also you can click on title for IMDB for trailers and information.

1. Frida

Portrays the artistic and private life of artist Frida Kahlo (released 2002). Selma Hayek plays Frida Kahlo and is amazing.

2. Pollock

Portrays the artistic and private life of artist Jackson Pollock. (Released 2000). Ed Harris and Marsha Gay Hardin (Lee Krasner) were amazing in this.

3. The Hours

This is somewhat of a stretch for a bio pic, but I still include.  (Released 2002). This film examines the life of three women, in different times, one being Virginia Woolf. It is adapted from a novel by the same name and I think is very much like a love letter to Virginia Woolf. Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Julianne Moore, and Claire Danes are all amazing in this film.

4. Basquiat

This portrays the private and artistic life of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. (Released 1996). This film will break your heart and make you love and appreciate this artist. And David Bowie plays Andy Warhol.

5. Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle

This little gem is about the life and times of Dorothy Parker. I had a bit of trouble with Jennifer Jason Leigh as Mrs. Parker, but I settled into it and think she does a fabulous job at her portrayal. And, who doesn't adore Dorothy Parker?

I have many more. But, these are my top five and I believe worth watching. Several of these are beautiful tragedies. Alas, I am most likely more affected by the story of the artist's life than their work. I think the two go hand-in-hand. It makes me appreciate their art so much more.