Monday, May 12, 2014

Let's talk money - lunches and snacks


It's been exactly 20 days since I wrote the last post on breakfasts.

I think I'm going to write the other 3 and schedule them to publish once every 4 - 5 days.

But before we continue, I must tell you that we've been Out of Control the last few months which has inched my final grocery average for the year May to April (that's just when I started properly tracking the grocery spend) up to R3 498,05.

(I went to check my spreadsheet)

Let's call it R3 500 and I'll also try to not twitch at the inexactness of that rounded up number :)

So since I'm "free", I've taken over grocery shopping for May. I'm aiming to keep the total in the R3000 - R3200 ballpark. I'll let you know how I do at the end of this month - I'll even put it on my goals list so I don't forget.

D's lunch at Valley Bakery while on holiday - I never eat anything with mayonnaise when I'm out because 1) I'm a control freak and I like to only use max 1 teaspoon and 2) I really only like Crosse and Blackwell TANGY lite
Now, there are two types of snacks.

Proper snacks - the ones between meals - and nonsense (chips, chocolates, biscuits, sweets, etc.).

I'm all for the proper snacks but the nonsense is also Out of Control.

I actually went through each receipt and just for April, our nonsense snacks are 17% of our total spend. Even if we don't totally cut it out, we could definitely reduce that to around 5%.
 Snack total   503.05
 Total spend   3 728.12
 %  13%

Onto the detail:

The kids have an option to eat lunch at school but since I'm a control freak about food, I've always opted to have them eat here so they can eat better (a lot more vegetables, etc.). I also learnt recently that they make them finish their food there.

I don't want to get into fights but for the most part, I don't force my kids to eat. I won't give them anything else but if they don't want to eat, that's fine with me. You see, I believe that in a world where obesity and other eating disorders are so rife, we create emotional eaters when we force our kids to eat and clear their plates.

I had to consciously work on stopping when I'm full for years........

Lunch is 
  1. a fruit to start (I read somewhere that our bodies digest fruit better if it's eaten first. Also, who wants to have an apple after your lunch. Not me. They taste better first thing.)
  2. a brown bread sandwich with either ham/ cheese/ peanut butter/ egg/ cottage cheese (now and again they'll have leftovers)
  3. their choice of veggies - tomato/ cucumber/ carrots/ in winter I have soup available for their veg (I make our soups from scratch every weekend so every portion of my soup has at least 1 Weigh-Less portion of veg - 100 g - sometimes more)
  4. water

The kids have a snack at around 4pm of another fruit and some plain yoghurt. Sometimes a small muffin (also baked by us so has no more than half a cup of sugar for the batch)/ half a hot cross bun and a small cup of rooibos tea, especially in winter.

Here is my tip for kids who eat well:

We only feed them at "specified" meals (unless they're sick and it all goes out the window anyway). Obviously if they tell us they're hungry or start being grumpy and I can see they're hungry, we will give them their snack a bit earlier. And mostly, non-carb snacks.

They are genuinely hungry at supper time so they mostly (98% of the time) polish off their food and if I want to introduce a new food, I'll "bribe" them for the first 3 times with something after. My bribes are a handful of raisins/ a "sweet yoghurt" to share, etc.

My kids aren't angels obviously because they're 4! We started to have a tantrum yesterday when I said to the waitress to please take back the sweets (with the bill). But I explained to the offender that they ALREADY weren't listening; we certainly weren't going to voluntarily make that worse by giving them sugar!

It helps because I don't like grazing either unless it's while I'm cooking supper and then I'll eat an apple or some carrots dipped in peanut butter (mmmm) so I like to think we mostly model good eating habits.

D takes 4 slices of bread, yoghurt and dry muesli to snack on at work. He never changes his routine and he really likes cottage cheese but then the variety would be savoury cottage cheese vs chives cottage cheese :)

When I worked at Secret Company, I had a ginormous lunch bag. I don't like to get hungry because I get grumpy and because I have low blood pressure, I sometimes start feeling really sick.


For my snacks, I always had two fruits (Granny Smith apple, orange/ soft citrus, pineapple, pear if in season, etc.) and two yoghurts. I'd eat the 175ml yoghurt with my breakfast and the 100 ml one at 3:30 ish. When I'm being good, some carrots to snack on too.

My lunch is almost always a wholewheat bread sandwich with ham/ tuna/ some good low-fat protein and tomato/ cucumber. My favourite lunch in winter is tomato soup and toast with chunky cottage cheese - YUM!

I don't like to eat a big meal at lunch because it weighs me down too much to concentrate properly in the afternoons. Of course it's probably best to have your main meal then but Secret Company used to pay me for my brain so I have to be alert :)

Something you may not know but probably suspect - I'm very fussy with sandwiches and don't eat anything that's been made more than like 10 minutes earlier :) Which means I take EVERYTHING with me (or keep in my desk knives, salt, pepper, plates) to make it fresh.

When I worked on that project in the call centre, I'd take pasta and a sauce about twice a week so that it cut down on my lunch (BILLABLE HOURS!!!) - heat for 1 minute, eat for 5 minutes. Done! The sauce was obviously made by me (see control freak above!) with lentils/ kidney beans and onion/ tomato. Proper W-L - so 1 portion low-fat protein and 2 portions veg.

I also like to use lunches now and again to meet with friends (Louisa and another L friend when I worked in the CBD) and then I'd obviously pay more for lunch.

This has been a very long post! Here's your gold medal :)

All that to say I think this is the most cost-effective but still healthy way for my family to eat.

What do you have for lunches?
Were there any surprising things in this post?


  1. Nothing surprising. It's just as I suspected! Healthy eating M!

    I don't do cold sandwiches which means if it is not done there and then, nope! 99% of the time I take lunch from home. Usually something from the meals made for the week. I like my food to be tasty and I don't want to pay for rubbish food, plus most days by the time I am ready for lunch at work, the canteen has packed up! I usually also always have some fruits, raisins, nuts and hard candy at hand as I need to have something sweet after lunch. Of course I drink ice cold water most of the time! BUT occasionally there's the dreaded office party with yummy treats. Yum but not good for my wasit line :( :(

    Ps: I hardly eat mayonnaise. I don't like the taste or texture and the thought of it being made with raw eggs doesn't sit well with me!

    1. Funny - here at home I always have a piece of chocolate after supper but never after lunch. Hmm.

      OOOH I LOVE MAYONNAISE. However, I totally went off it while pg with the twins and they don't eat mayonnaise. They keep thinking they'd like it, have a little taste and "no thank you, Mummy"

  2. My kids get free lunch at school, so I send them to eat there. The littles eat at home, generally a PB&J, or lunch meat and cheese sandwich, a fruit, a yogurt, maybe carrots. I usually have one of my salads in a mason jar.

    1. every time I see one of those salads I think of you!

  3. Your blog post makes me feel like a completely unhealthy Mom (not that you intended it that way). The little one eats breakfast and lunch at school and snacks too. I pack one snack of juice and cheese/yoghurt/home muffins/cookies
    I take sandwiches. Sometimes it is leftover or cheese/peanut butter/nuts/yoghurt...I cannot stand breakfast cereals. They all taste like cardboard or sugared cardboard. I would rather have a big meal at breakfast and then a smaller lunch. Dinner is usually something I have put thought and planning into.
    On the budget side....we are pretty good with sticking with it. Lunch sandwiches are planned ahead and we buy bulk on things that do not spoil. I buy fruit in season because it tends to be cheaper and now I stick with only one fruit a week so we eat the bag before it spoils. I do not buy chips and fizzy drinks so no one will eat what is not in the house. Chocolates only appear for special gifts and I keep a bag of little chocolates when I am having a bad day and I need to resort to bribery for the little one to do something.
    OK I need to stop writing a blog.

    1. Oh no, please don't feel anything negative reading this post. I just love seeing what goes on in other homes :)

      remember, I have issues!

  4. You guys eat super healthy! Gold stars to you all. :-)

    1. But when the kids are asleep, we eat chocolate in peace :)

  5. I wish my kids could stay at a school where lunch was provided FOREVER. I break into a little sweat when I consider making packed lunches, because they would need to be awesome and that would take TIME! Right now, I am glad they get fed at school, always a cooked meal and ALWAYS with jelly for dessert (you're probably twitching at the jelly lol). I take left overs, or pack a sandwich, most days we have hot lunch at work though. On weekends, if it's not take out, then I make whatever the prince and princess request.. usually a sandwich, or they like me to cut up a million things into a lunch box (veggies, fruit, yoghurt, viennas, etc) or they ask for Spur eggs and toast. (fried egg). I must admit I am not particular about food, as long as you getting your veg/fruit portions in for the day, I really don't mind what you eat outside of that. Thank God I have two very good eaters, they would eat pretty much anything I served them.

  6. What is your total lunch spend? You can mail me if you want? I have cut down drastically this month and it's down but I think still "high" and I can't figure out how because we eat similar so far

  7. Wow you are super controlled and super healthy. I now also feel like a bad mom. Kade has lunch at school and has snacks which are normally mueslie cereal bars or crackers with a fruit for a snack. On weekends he will have a sarmi or a hotdog or left overs from the night before. I am stricter with sweets etc but Cliff gives him stuff like that quite a bit which drives me nuts! Cliff and I normally eat left overs for lunch and as I am on my eating plan again I always have a portion of whatever i had the night before or a tuna salad.


  8. I find lunches are the easiest of all our families meals. Our little one eats as much at school at the moment as possible, when he cant eat their food we send in a cooked lunch for him (starch, protein, a green veg and a yellow/orange/red veg). He also gets one fruit snack at school and we send in a second fruit snack with him as he cant eat the afternoon snack at school. We are very strict with his food but we have to be as he has many food reactions. The husband and I are reasonably healthy but our food choices have been slipping lately... We normally take leftovers for lunch if there are any or we have sandwiches with low gi bread and chicken/ham/tuna and salad things. In summer I keep salad stuff in the fridge at work and make a salad with my lunch, in winter we make a huge pot of veggie soup over the weekend and I take that in for with my lunch. Snack - husband takes provitas and cheese, yoghurt, nuts and fresh/dried fruit; I will have two pieces of fresh fruit (love winter because I can take oranges...) sometimes yoghurt but not often.


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