Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pinching Pennies on Plan

This weekend, we had just finished a trip to the grocery store, when my four-year-old son pointed to the gas cap on our van, and asked "Dad, do you put gas or money in there?" My husband and I exchanged glances, and I mumbled under my breath, "Just tell him gas or we'll be paying the big bucks to get the contents of his piggy bank siphoned out of the gas tank." Technically though, the answer was both gas AND money, and that got me thinking.

You all know why it took me so long to join Weight Watchers, as that was recently discussed; however, I think for a lot of people it has to do with money. There's that registration fee, and then the weekly or monthly cost. Let's put it into perspective though. If not Weight Watchers, than what? A gym membership? That's not free. Or maybe some miracle gizmo or pill off the shopping channel? In the long run, by the time you try something new every couple of months, because the last thing just didn't work, you probably would have paid less and weighed less on plan. And that pesky registration fee? Weight Watchers runs specials all the time that take care of that little problem.

The other thought that occurred to me, is that staying overweight for an extended period of time can lead to any number of health problems--diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholestorol, etc. Seeing a doctor isn't cheap. Even with good insurance, there are usually co-pays. And what about the medications, or God-forbid, trips to the emergency room or hospital stays? You definitely don't get those for $40.00 a month.

Still, budget issues are very real. You don't have to tell me that. Our bacon was severely trimmed when I stopped working the beginning of this month. First, I had to get past the temptation to drop out of the program to save money. No, I concluded quickly, the program is helping to keep me healthy, and I'm just going to look at it like a pill. I was fortunate not to have to take an anti-depressant after my health episode, but just as a side note, those things cost $25.00 a month to fill anyway.

Next, I had to reconcile myself to the fact that it was very possible to stay on plan with a diminished pantry; it just not might be as diverse and interesting for a while. I had to decide I was going to be happy with FULL and HEALTHY; albeit, not tremendously tasty. I suppose that's comparable to being happy just wearing your same old shoes for a while, even though they technically need to be replaced.

And yes, it is possible to be FULL if you concentrate on what you need (filling foods) and not necessarily what you might want. For instance, what about those five or more servings of vegetables and fruits we're supposed to have everyday. Fresh produce can get pricey. Well, try this. It's been my saving grace the last couple of weeks. Look for sales on canned fruits (light syrup or water) and vegetables. If you shop around, you can usually get a sale or generic brand for 50 to 70 cents a can. Those cans usually have about three 1/2 cup servings in them. Open three or four different items, put them in storage containers, and use them to round out your meals. The veggies especially are mostly 0 points for one serving, and they can help add substance to an otherwise cost effective--though perhaps not point effective--meal. Anotherwards, you can have 8 points worth of cheap pizza, a 1/2 cup of green beans, and a 1/2 cup of sweet corn, and still not be hungry in an hour.

In any case, don't look at a budget crisis as an impossible obstacle, but as a new opportunity to practice creative problem-solving. Hey, even if times get better, you may have learned some tricks that will save you pennies later on!


  1. Great tips Sarah! I'd be interested in hearing more about what your pantry looks like with trimmed bacon. Seriously. What kinds of choices do you make while shopping that will feed the fam and you and still stay within the confines of your plan?
    My prob is I need to keep refined flour and sugars out of the picture as much as possible...wheat entirely, really. And that is the cheap, filling stuff that feeds my hungry, growing kids! Ideas?

    Rejoicing with you on your goal reached!

  2. Thanks Diane! And actually, I haven't shopped much this month--but mostly, my pantry looks healthy, but on sale or WIC. For breakfast, oatmeal, whole grain cheerios, shredded wheat. 1% milk, cheese, eggs. Canned veggies, soup base, dry beans, brown rice, creamed soup, lean chicken, whole grain bread, and of course, pizza and hot dogs to keep the men folk happy. Have been getting creative on old stores mostly, but I did get the canned veggies/fruits this month. Do you have a gluten allergy? I'm actually not sure I'd know exactly how to direct you in that respect as no one in my family has ever had to maneuver around that problem. If you wouldn't mind, explain it to me a little further, and I'll do my best!

  3. Yes, gluten is an issue for me. It is in a loooooooooooooot of stuff. Very challenging and expensive to skirt around it. It eliminates a lot of fattening foods, which is a help. I do a lot of rice cakes. I have yet to find a gluten free pasta I like. At least the variety of gluten free foods seems to be growing...but it is definitely hard to eat gluten free on the cheap. Trying to orchestrate things so I am not cooking separate meals for me and then for the family for each meal. Up until now it has just required more energy than I could bring to it. With health issues improving, I am hoping to put more effort into this...