Thursday, 25 April 2013

Snacks and Dollars

I was inspired to write this after reading a couple of things yesterday posted by friends. I'll try to make sure the tone isn't preachy because that is absolutely not my aim.

You are an adult. You are capable of making informed decisions. Some of these decisions are made within a framework of restrictions, such as limited budget, limited time, and the requirements of others. Nevertheless you are master of your own destiny, and I know, and you know, that when something is really important to you, you make sure it happens.


We all have to eat. We have to find a balance between affordable, enjoyable, and nutritious. This balance may require a bit of sacrifice sometimes, but tell me, why do we still, in this age of knowledge, see things like this:

And what are these twin obsessions with sugar and bacon?

If I voice my thoughts on how it might not be the best decision in the world to live on such things, I am called names. I am told that a treat never hurt anyone. No, of course it doesn't, but I think the definition of treat varies.

I freely admit that I don't care for sweet things, and rarely buy them. My son said to me last night "Is there anything sweet in the house?". I racked my brains, and suggested yoghurt. I think we may have some marmalade left too. I don't expect others eat as little refined sugar as we do, and while I eat dessert about once a month, I am perfectly open to the idea of those who want it eating it daily. But perhaps 3 or even more times a day might be extreme in the other direction?

And I like bacon, I have nothing against bacon, but once a week, a little is fine. I don't obsess over it. There is something I said I don't wish to be preachy, but there's a lack of balance when you are trying to get bacon IN your dessert.

Anyway, here's an observation.

When I was a child, you know, when the dinosaurs roamed the Earth, we ate more boring food, but it was good at the time, we didn't know any better. The variety today is a globalization thing, and I'm grateful for it, but there's something else today we didn't have much of back then. Snacks.

In fact we saw snacking as a bad thing. We were told it ruined our appetites when "real" meals came along. So it was avoided. Now and again, as a special treat, it was OK, but it wasn't regular.

The one thing I had never come across was "late night snacks". That still blows my mind.

Now, it's none of my business how you watch your health. What is very much part of my aim on this particular blog, however, is how you watch your wealth. The whole Rutabaga concept is of eating GOOD food, for the LEAST money. The vast majority of snack food is not good food, it is junk, and it's very expensive.

When I'm asked directly, the easiest, fastest way to save money on the food bill, I will tell you - CUT THE SNACKS. Look back at those photos. A cart full of junk like that costs twice as much as a cart full of food that will satisfy and nourish.

If you have children, you will need to provide some small items between meals. They can still be real food. This is where fruit and vegetables come in, and of course yoghurt, which most kids will devour. I hear complaints about the price of yoghurt, and I agree with you. The 12 packs here are often $6. That's 50 cents per pot, in fact. Which soon adds up, I agree. But you can look for sale items, and simply substitute other things when it's only available at full price.

It's a bargain compared to some of the things I see people buy for their kids!

If you have a kid going through a weird eating phase, here's a tip I learned 30 years ago. Create a box of fruits, veggies, cheese, etc, and whatever carbs your kid likes, maybe cut up bagels or whatever, and let them choose from that.

While I'm here, one of the articles yesterday was a list of foods you could buy with no red dye in it. I admit I was baffled. If you care about one artificial ingredient, why not just avoid all of them and make your own food?

I repeat...if you want to eat bad food, that is your prerogative. But if you want to save money and eat well, avoid the high-priced manufactured snacks. They serve no pupose, they have no benefit. This is logic.


  1. I make a LOT of my own food (including yogurt, so it is as cheap as milk.) I make my own sweets, so I don't have many sweets around - too much work. I often make coconut custards for breakfast just to provide a different way to eat eggs. A big favorite sweet around here is frozen yogurt (a quart of my yogurt, 3/4 cup sugar, 2 cups chopped berries and vanilla tossed into the ice cream maker) About the only sweet I buy is chocolate, and even then I have to be careful because much of it has gluten. Fruit makes a good snack. So does cheese. I have found a nice cuppa tea often quells the desire for a snack.

  2. Dave calls them "filler"; he doesn't consider pre-prepared meals/snacks as actual food.

  3. When I was a kid . . . I know, I am an old crone and start half of what I say with those words, but avoiding dinosaurs was hard work. My mother gave us stems of grapes to snack on. That was cool because you had to pluck them off of the stem and you saw the nature of grapes ans where they came from and they were good. And there were cut up melons and apples and oranges and bananas.

    But as healthy as this was, she still put a package of Twinkies in my school lunch.

    1. Increasingly I have to ask myself if my opinions are to do with getting older and being a bit out of touch. Then I run into young people with the same opinions, and I realize that good stuff is timeless.