34 answers

JFF Do You "Ration" the Expensive Food?

We are on a limited budget for food, but I know there are things that my daughter still loves to have. I realized today that I sort of unconsciously "ration" those expensive foods so that they last longer. For example, my daughter loves pizza rolls. They are expensive, at $3.99 a bag of 40. So I allow her to have 10 for lunch, and then if she's still hungry she can have something else, usually fruit or if she's really hungry, a sandwich. I know if I let her she'd eat 1/2 the bag for lunch! That way she can enjoy them for 4 days instead of 2.

I do the same with juice, we have a glass with breakfast and then water or milk the rest of the day. Otherwise she'd drink the entire bottle in 2 days! I think juice is also expensive, and we don't have it in our budget to buy 2-3 bottles of juice for a week! (Not to mention the sugar content--even though we buy juice with no added sugars).

Anyone else do this? Or am I just the lone weird one? :)

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Haha, it sounds like I just stuff my kid with junk food! I also ration the ORGANIC fruit I buy, and we also buy organic juice so while there's no added sugars or anything, it's still expensive. Pizza rolls are the only real "junk" food that I buy, since we make our own organic potato chips, our own dips and dressings, etc. I've found I use less meat since the grass-fed beef is so much more expensive, as well as the organic, free range chickens. Since she eats so well and she LOVES pizza rolls, I don't begrudge her those. We all gotta splurge, you know? Just not all at once!

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I laughed when I read this. No, you are not the only one. My hubby is a culinary student at the moment, and occasionally we have some rather expensive very tasty things here - smoked salmon, good cheeses, etc. My kids LOVE them, and would gorge themselves if they could. I dole them out little bits at a time, trying to make them last awhile.

2 moms found this helpful

I do that all the time (especially with the daycare kiddos) I will give something more pricey as a snack and if they need more I'll give them something cheaper.

The one thing I don't ration is milk. If they finish the first cup of the day I'll ask them if they want more milk or water. They can always have more milk if they want it.

M

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I don't in general, although I probably should. We also buy a ton of organic berries, and my kids could easily eat an entire container of organic raspberries in one sitting...EACH. Maybe I"ll do as Jess S. suggested.

I DO ration for price for VERY expensive items. For example, sometimes I buy Martinelli's organic apple juice because it's soooooo delicious. It's also $7 for a gallon. That stuff I ration. But I also only buy it a couple of times a year, as a treat.

As the others said, I ration by health. Juice I ration because of all the condensed sugar in it. One glass a day. Foods high in sodium or processed I often limit to once a week if that.

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I ration those types of items, but not because of money, it is because they are unhealthy and full of sugar and other additives. We ration junk and juice, the kids can have all the fresh fruits and veggies, natural cheeses and meats, water, almond milk, ect that they want.

5 moms found this helpful

when i read your title my first thought was 'lobster.'
:)
but the foods you are talking about i do not qualify as expensive. to me they are just junk. my 8 year olds know they exist but we just don't keep them in the house. when we travel or vacation of course it is easy to make a pit stop at a bk or mcd or wendy's and we do that, but even still i'd rather sit down at a restaurant that has options than feed them junk.
so to answer you, i don't ration any kind of foods.

4 moms found this helpful

Please don't take this the wrong way but if I were you I would really think about what your daughter is eating instead of the cost and rationing. I mean if it's just once a month or something no big deal but it sounds from your post like 10 rolls is a normal lunch.

I am not the food police but the ingredient list for those things (and almost all processed frozen foods) is frightening. We can no longer trust that the food on our grocery store shelves is safe. Just because it's there and many people eat it regularly it doesn't mean it isn't really bad for you. If you read the ingredient list for many foods commonly consumed in this country you realize a lot of it is really not even food but a concoction of chemical preservatives, flavors and additives.

Again, please don't take my post the wrong way, I eat junk food sometimes too. I am far from a perfect eater, I've just done a little research into what's happened to our food supply in the last few decades and it scares me.

http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2013/01/18/10-highly-pro...

4 moms found this helpful

This is a good question. We buy a lot of organic berries. They are very expensive! Each of my 4 littles could eat a whole container a day. So, I don't strictly ration them (it's hard to say STOP eating your fruit). But at some point I put them away and say "that's enough for now." They still get a lot of berries daily. And a bunch of different kinds. I've gotten them to the point where the kids are eating mostly fruits and veggies (since that's all I stock) and whole grain bread, plus protein. Our cupboards are a bit sad sometimes because it means MOMMY can never have a treat. I just can't have it in the house or they'll want it.

I certainly ration junk food, but we rarely buy it anymore. Pizza rolls for sure I would not buy. A whole wheat pizza you make? Sure, every now and then. So if we had crackers or anything processed, they'd just get a bit. We only drink milk or water but I do allow 4 oz. of orange juice a day, and I measure it. :)

I don't think it's weird to ration. We bought small plates too so we eat less.

3 moms found this helpful

It's not even really about rationing the food, but serving size. I give my daughter SIX pizza rolls, and then a fruit, a veggie, and usually a few other things. I totally get what you are saying, though...it's about money too!

If you have an Aldi's near you, their pizza rolls are just as good for about half the price. Definitely consider.

I also would never let my daughter have juice all day long...again, that's not about rationing, but about health. I still water her juice 50/50, even though she's seven, and she ONLY has it at breatkfast. Yes, it lasts longer...I guess there are benefits on all sides!

But when I think about actually "rationing" food...I just paid four bucks for a measly box of Girl Scout cookies for my oldest, and she has five left (well, I bought them a week ago, and there's only 15 in the box, and she's not the only one who ate some...)...but she wanted to "save" them and ration them out so they would last longer. I told her to go ahead and enjoy them, and when they're gone, they're gone...so what? There are other snacks.

My thing is...if you run out of the food you want, I am not buying more until the designated date. This happened with her for breakfast this month...she insisted on having her hot foods every day, and now is suffering through an entire week and a half of cereal before I go back to the store. I told her if she'd have spread the cereal out in between, it wouldn't have ended up like this. So I guess I do ration...or at least try to!

3 moms found this helpful

You should ration that stuff because they are processed or unhealthy! This is especially true of the pizza rolls. Juice is pretty much empty calories as well. A diet of pizza rolls and juice will make your child fat. So no, I don't ration any food because of cost but I do ration food that is not nutritious (like potato chips, my son's favorite) because it is not healthy.

3 moms found this helpful

I used to do that unconsiously until my husband called me out and said "its food, it is made to be eaten. If they eat it in one day - too bad. No more until we go to the store again." This being the fresh carton of strawberries or the yogurt I just bought. I learned to ease up and realize I am buying good foods so they eat them and if their little bodies want a carton of strawberries and a veggie tray for lunch - who am I to argue. It's good for them.
We limit the amount of junk and yes, we do reward a well-eaten dinner with a treat (sweets and priviledges).
I don't think you are weird, just being a frugal mom.

3 moms found this helpful

I laughed when I read this. No, you are not the only one. My hubby is a culinary student at the moment, and occasionally we have some rather expensive very tasty things here - smoked salmon, good cheeses, etc. My kids LOVE them, and would gorge themselves if they could. I dole them out little bits at a time, trying to make them last awhile.

2 moms found this helpful

Sort of. I agree with others about it being more about limiting "junk" food and encouraging healthy eating.

I like the example below of organic berries. I often buy good quality fruit - but we only have one serving of berries. If you are still hungry for fruit - have a banana or an orange (since we don't eat the skin on those - I usually buy regular, not organic).

Also, in our house, juice is a breakfast food. It's part of the meal. You get one glass, and we don't drink it at any other time of the day. That "rations" it I guess (as it is expensive) but it's more about the health aspect of it for me.

Good question!

2 moms found this helpful

I am going to answer this not the way you intended...I have to agree with April C. on this one.

A child should not be eating ONLY pizza rolls for lunch. My son loves chicken nuggets - I don't know how many come in a pack, but they are expensive! He gets 3 along with a vegetable and a fruit. If he eats all of his food and is still hungry, he gets more veggie or fruit instead of chicken nuggets.

Same with juice. We have always watered down his juice and he does not get it on a daily basis. Water and milk are always our "go to" drinks. We don't offer juice on a regular basis. It is a special "treat", and even when it is given, it is watered down. It is expensive, like you said, and not so healthy.

So, I guess I ration things in terms of nutrition rather than cost. Take a look at the pizza roll nutrition label and see how many are a suggested serving...

One week greek yogurt was on sale. The bowls were larger than my son was used to getting in his other yogurt, so I did try only giving him half at once. But then I looked at the label and realized that, nutritionally, this larger portion still had less calories, sugar, etc. So, even if he did eat the whole thing, to me it was worth the price because it filled him up and was healthier. He could just have the yogurt for snack instead of yogurt plus empty calories of crackers to fill him up.

2 moms found this helpful

Sure do. I ration most foods, actually. I will only buy 2 quarts of ice cream per month. Because a) it's expensive and b) if I had unlimited supplies it's all the kids would eat. They know that once it's gone, it's gone for a while to come. Of course they then try to compete to see who gets the most and the quickest. So then I learned to let them each pick one quart and we'd label it.

About the only things I don't ration are peanut butter, bread, milk, and wine. I mean, I've got to have SOMETHING for dinner, right?

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What you are inadvertently doing by 'rationing' these types of foods -- processed pizza rolls and sugary juice -- is creating healthier eating habits. That's a good thing. And we need food from all of the food groups on a daily basis, not just one or two.

But no, I don't ration food in our house. Except sweets for my husband. He's a sweet-a-holic! :)

2 moms found this helpful

I do that all the time (especially with the daycare kiddos) I will give something more pricey as a snack and if they need more I'll give them something cheaper.

The one thing I don't ration is milk. If they finish the first cup of the day I'll ask them if they want more milk or water. They can always have more milk if they want it.

M

2 moms found this helpful

I don't in general, although I probably should. We also buy a ton of organic berries, and my kids could easily eat an entire container of organic raspberries in one sitting...EACH. Maybe I"ll do as Jess S. suggested.

I DO ration for price for VERY expensive items. For example, sometimes I buy Martinelli's organic apple juice because it's soooooo delicious. It's also $7 for a gallon. That stuff I ration. But I also only buy it a couple of times a year, as a treat.

As the others said, I ration by health. Juice I ration because of all the condensed sugar in it. One glass a day. Foods high in sodium or processed I often limit to once a week if that.

2 moms found this helpful

I think it's smart to ration things that they don't need to pig out on, in general. We often buy 2 bottles of juice, but then tell DD she can have x glasses a day, the rest must be milk or water. I ration special things for myself, too. Why eat all the chips in one afternoon when it makes more sense to enjoy them for several days? Besides which, that's a load of calories in one bag! I tend to not buy junk food often, though.

Now, I do encourage DD to eat things like berries if they are soon to go bad. No sense in them going to waste.

2 moms found this helpful

Oh yea. When we first married my H really frowned on getting soda or tea when we went out so since it didnt really matter to me I went with water. I taught my kids we drink water when we go out. Turns out while we thought we were saving money we were also saving calories and sugar.

Sometimes saving money coincides with saving calories. I love it when that happens and it's happened to you. Nice job, mom!

1 mom found this helpful

Pizza rolls from Costco is cheaper and more in a box.

eating 10 at a sitting,is a lot. How old is she?

Anyway, its just about grocery budgeting.
I tell my kids, if they eat all of something now, there is no more, I am not buying more this week. That.is.it.
So, once it is gone, it is gone.
And if they eat all of it now, then that's it.
OR THEY can, decide, to let it last all week.
My kids are 6 and 10. So they know what I am talking about.
And I tell them, I am not buying goodies, just because they want it. Nor everyday. I make my grocery list weekly. But if we run out of staple items, sure I will get that.

Yes, juice is expensive. Don't know what it costs in your State, but a carton of orange juice, here in my State is about $5.99 for 1/2 gallon.
But we do not buy juice a lot anyway.
It is not a regular purchase.

1 mom found this helpful

A serving size of frozen pizza rolls is 6 or 7, so I actually think you need to ration this more strictly in quantity, and limit it to once-per-week or less often. They are supposed to be a snack junk food and not intended to be a lunch. It isn't surprising that she could eat 10 or more and still feel hungry, since there is nothing substantial in them. Always serve a vegetable, fruit, yogurt or other healthy items with it.

I do agree that juice = sugar and a small glass at breakfast is good.

1 mom found this helpful

I get your question, but I am having trouble getting past your portion sizes. Even before I purchase a food, I look at the portion size and if I don't think I can be satisfied for that portion size and those calories I don't even buy it.

I agree with rounding out her meal with fruits and veggies.

I never serve my kids juice. That is empty calories even when it is 100% juice.

So bottom line, my purchases are driven by portion size and calories not necessarily price.

1 mom found this helpful

Some yes, some no.

If I had more $ we'd have sushi every day. We don't, so we don't.

Expensive ingredients, I tend to stretch, period.

I also ration junk food. Junk food has its time & place. Its completely allowed. Just rationed.

Some things are expensive... But important for growing bodies... So I cut corners elsewhere.

- Vitamins
- Milk

Are 2 examples. I haven't taken vitamins or drank milk in 10 years... Because I couldn't afford to buy them for ALL of us. Growing body gets the milk & vitamins. I might TREAT myself from time to time, but while my son has things daily, I get the cheaper version, or totally abstain.

1 mom found this helpful

Funny. When I read the title, I thought you meant more of a financial ration than a nutrition ration. I do tend to "ration" the more expensive stuff....my kids are perfectly happy with a sirloin, and I'm not too keen on serving my kids (ages 3 and 6) medium rare meats, so if I'm making a smothered filet mignon topped with gorgonzola, yeah....they get the petite sirloin (much cheaper, but very tasty) cooked to well done. I'll keep the nicer wine for when we have guests, or save my lamb (expensive to us) for special occasions. If it's something expensive (roughy, salmon, etc where we don't live by the water---expensive here), then I serve a little extra of the veggies to make sure we all eat our fill but don't eat every bite of meat in 2 minutes. The water crackers and cheshire or dubliner cheeses are not for after school snacks...if they want some cheese and crackers they can have some pepper jack or cheddar on a few saltines...I like to make appetizers with the nicer cheeses. So yeah, I suppose I do ration some items.

As for what you said though, I'm not preachy at all, but that's just common sense, not financially "thrifty". Don't eat a whole bag of junk. My kids do eat junk occasionally, because I don't really see anything wrong with occasional treats, they are in excellent shape, they are active, blah blah blah. But I mix it up. Like, if the kids sucker me into some mac 'n cheese from the deli, I'll agree.....but then serve it at home with peas or broccoli, fresh tomatoes, and some leftover meat (whatever we have). Can't make a whole meal of junk, so have some of the treat food, but then combine it with some things that will fill her up and be more healthy. Juices: in the morning, the boys have whole milk in their cereal or oatmeal, and a small glass. Then they drink water until lunch time. At lunch, they can have a small juice. Then water until dinner time, when they can have more whole milk. If we go out, it's special and they can have lemonade or sprite, no worries. I'm not a food nazi, but we have to use common sense to teach good habits.

ETA: I do believe that when children hit growth spurts, they start loading up big time...hard to keep even my little ones full when they're about to shoot up an inch or two. When that happens, I will cut out frivolous items and stock up on more milk (our family of 4 goes through 2.5 gallons of whole milk in a week when this happens....we just finished one of those spurts where they both grew 1-2 inches....now we're back down to our normal 1.5 gallons of milk/week), serve more carrots/celery/tomatoes/cucumbers with hummus, more fruits like apples with peanutbutter (if they ask for it) or pears with a slice of mozzarella. It kind of hurts me to hear kids fussy because they're hungry and the mom saying "no", because while they shouldn't snack endlessly on just anything, growing bodies go through periods where they have growing appetites. Just insure that the "extra" they eat is fuel and not dead weight.

1 mom found this helpful

I have 2 teenage boys who help themselves to anything in the fridge so forget about rationing! However, once they eat something up, they don't get more til I go shopping at that store, which may not be for another week or two. So they've learned to ration the "good stuff" themselves if they want to save some pizza or junk food for another day.

1 mom found this helpful

I bought what the budget allowed,including a limited amount of what could be considered junk food - frozen pizza and the like, and if the snack food was gone in two days, then there wasn't anymore until next payday. She learned to ration herself on junk food.
Whole milk and undiluted fruit juice (real juicem not juice flavored drink), she could have as much as she wanted and I always kept it on hand.

1 mom found this helpful

I think moderation in anything we put in our mouth, is a good thing. Children develop their eating habits when they are little so learning this is a key to a healthy weight and lifestyle.

1 mom found this helpful

My new favorite store for grocery shopping now is Aldi! (Which would you believe is owned by Trader Joe's?) I find everything to be a fraction of the cost of Jewel and Dominick's. They don't have named brands, but I don't really care. If you haven't tried shopping there, please do. Oh, and don't feel guilty for rationing.

We do have to ration some things. Like my daughter recently got Tofutti Cuties, thanks by the way for those with the recommendations, she loves them! These are $4 a box for 8, so they are pretty spendy. She would eat all of them if she could, so we have only let her have one at a time so they would last longer.

We also do juice because its not really good for them, so we water it down and they dont' get much a day. But, they can have all the water or goat milk they want.

Steak is something that are really lucky to get often. Our Safeway does 50% off daily, so they get to pick what we are eating that night if they have something good. Otherwise, we have other options obviously. We only limit food if it looks they have had so much it would cause a tummy ache.

We have really picky eaters though, so we buy the best quality junk type food that we can find. Trader Joes fish nuggets instead of super processed ones. Home made fried potatoes instead of fries, that kind of thing. Mostly, we are just trying to get them to eat. That's what the nutritionists all said to do.

I ration the fruit usually - blueberries, strawberries, grapes and watermelon are prized possessions lately. Other things I ration are just for healthy eating reasons - eating more then one fiber one bar a day is too much fiber for a kid, having more then one cinnamon roll is just too much sugar, etc.

Why not make your own pizza rolls? There are lots of recipes online. In fact, I saw a recipe recently in Family Fun magazine.

My husband does. I don't because I am the one finding the hidden uneaten expensive foods in the back of the cabinet or freezer or refrigerator and they get chucked a lot of times. So I gave up endorsing that sometime back. Better they eat it than waste. But if you can do both...

Yes, I ration expensive foods and junk foods. The boys each get two slices of pizza, and can fill up on veggies and fruit. Juice is limited because it is a treat. Cheese is expensive, so I control the portions. Yogurt tubes are a one a day treat, or they would eat the whole box. My kids love seafood and if we have a special seafood dinner (shrimp, crablegs, lobster) I had better ration! If the kids have chips I don't just let them have the bag, I give them each a bowl.

No you're not the only one. My kids will only eat Activia, which is the most expensive yogurt there is. I open up a container and scoop out a couple of spoonfuls and put it back in the fridge. It's usually all they want anyway!

I do this too, not as much as I should tho...so no, you are not the only weird one!

~I have a house FULL of boys and Boy, can they eat! Last summer they were: 20,17,16, 12, 8 & 6 and when I would come home from BIG grocery shopping (we go 2x a month) they would be diving in and grabbing stuff. I finally had to tell them to cool it and that this is what we had until we went shopping again and if they eat everything in 3 days they are going to go hungry...and their dad and I wouldn't feel bad about it either!

Nothing weird about it! It's just my husband and me, now, but we have to be very careful with our food budget. Luckily, we're on the same page here.

But asking your daughter to include fruit with her pizza rolls is also healthier than a lunch of just the rolls. Easier on your budget now, and possibly later, too, if she's healthier for it. And fruit juice does have a huge sugar hit; also not healthy. Good for you, Mom!

kind of i guess. not for cost issues J. for health issues though. typically the junk foods are what i ration out. if she wants carrots and celery all night long like the last few nights i dont keep an eye on portion size as much
although i rarely have cereal in the house and we got some crappy chocolate chip cookie cereal and she's been eating it like its going out of style. pretty soon it will be gone and then no more of that for a while...because its expensive and not healthy

she likes those stupid pancake saugsage things on a stick they are super expensive. i ration them out like crazy. my boyfriend went to eat one the other day and i gave him the stink eye because he doesnt even like them so thats a waste of money to M.. although he happily ate it in front of M. smiling as the $1.5 treat was consumed

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