Straight from the heart . . .

Straight from the heart . . .

The "Experiment"



In addition to the commitment to cardiac rehab, both supervised and on my own, there is the focus on heart healthy eating.  Since my "episode" on May 30, I've been even more aware of what I eat, when I deviate and (unfortunately) how that makes you feel afterwards.  I'm pretty careful about those deviations especially as they relate to cholesterol numbers!


In my last blog, I mentioned that I had been reviewing the website and wondering how a family of, say, four could fare according to the healthy standards our government has suggested.  It has been a while since I've had to shop for a family of four so this has been an interesting experiment for me.  


Back when the children were still at home, and actually making it for all the meals - you parents of adolescents know what I mean there - I was very methodical about my shopping.  First, I would sit down every Sunday with the coupon section of The Herald.  (Obviously, this was in the day before you could sign up for online coupons, too.)  I would then coordinate a menu for the entire week; taking into account their school lunches, additional meals on the weekend, snacks, you get the picture.  From that menu, I would plan my shopping, clip the coupons and try to stay on point once I hit the store.  Because the budget was usually tight, I shopped the specials and would go to a few different stores when it made sense to do so.   Now my challenge is planning meals for two and trying to not eat out as much.  It's not as easy as it sounds, especially when one of us has a heart issue and the other is a diabetic ... little challenge there.


When I was a kid, and we would hear our Mom in the kitchen say she had been "experimenting," it wasn't always a good thing.  There are several family dishes that my mother excels at but she will admit she was never taught to cook.  I believe my Dad once said she could burn water.  Growing up, if I wanted to go somewhere or get a little spending money, all I had to do was make Dad a pan of biscuits (aka catheads) close to my Grandma Rosa's and I was golden!  (We actually dug some of my mom's biscuits out of the trash once during a game of Army to use as missiles. Very effective on the neighbor kids!)


The experiment I've been talking about isn't one to dream up a new recipe to make Spam look appealing to a 10-year old, but in figuring out how a family of four can feed their families in such a way that will benefit their overall health ...  according to the government's initiative to help us do so.


You can find the Sample Menus for a 2000 Calorie Food Pattern here:   (It's a PDF document so you can save it or print it off to use, if you'd like.)


I took the seven-day plan, just as they have it here, and taking into account where items could be used in multiple recipes on the menu, as well as assuming that the staple items would already be in your fridge or cabinet (e.g, tea bags, brown sugar, margarine, etc) and trying to shop the specials or store brands as much as possible, I've come up with the basic cost to buy the foods needed to  fulfill this plan for a family of four.  (Now, this does not account for all you super-couponers out there ... but every bit helps, right?)


It came out to roughly $283.00 a week.  Now, that is not including any other items you have to buy for your family like toilet paper, shampoo, tooth paste, detergent, diapers, nothing for the family pooch, not a thing except for the basic foods needed to make everyone of these recipes AS SUGGESTED on this seven-day plan.


I don't know about you, but if I add in the other things that you have to buy to run a household plus the pain reliever needed after I've seen the cash register total, I don't know how parents could do it!  When you stop to consider that the median household income for families in York County is about $44,539.00 ... how does Washington DC expect families to follow their healthy eating plan?  Especially when you consider the fact that the government hands out subsidies to the very groups that manufacture all the prefab food that everyone keeps saying is bad for us?  


So, if a young family of four spends $283.00 a week - again, not counting anything but the food for the menu - and not counting holidays or special occasions - that comes to $14,716.00 a year just in those foods items.  That is 33% of the family's gross income for the year.  


And, then I think of the elderly trying to budget on a limited income.  According to the Senior Hunger Report Card, about 8.3 million seniors nationwide face the threat of hunger.  That is a 78% increase since 2001 and a 34% increase since the start of the recession back in 2007.  By the way, they evaluated the country's performance in reducing food insecurity and eradicating hunger and gave the U.S. an overall grade of F.


The Choose My Plate plan is a great initiative ... a lot of thought went into it ... and it would certainly benefit all of us as a country if we all ate healthier.  Wow, a health care plan that actually CARED for our health.  


Share with me how you handle this in your family.  




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