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Saving Money While Feeding Active Teens

My teenage son swims at least 25 hours a week, and usually rides his bicycle the 5+ miles each way back and forth to practice. At 6 foot tall and 200 lbs, you can imagine how much our athlete can eat! I needed to cut the grocery bill, but didn't want to limit his food or discourage his already very healthy eating habits.


So, here's our solution:

  1. Breakfast has to include a big bowl of oatmeal. Later in the day, he has to eat either a potato or a bowl of brown rice. Beyond that, he can choose whatever healthy foods he wants from what we have; these very cheap (but still healthy) options add enough extra to his diet to bring his other food intake back into the realm of the reasonable. He doesn't feel restricted, because these are "in addition to" what he feels like getting, preventing anyone from having to limit the rest.
  2. I always keep a big pot of beans (from inexpensive dried beans) and a big bowl of rice cooked up and in the refrigerator. Again, these are cheap and healthy choices, and if it's easy to grab, it'll be chosen more often.
  3. I also always keep cheap lettuce cut and available, as well as cheap frozen veggies (in winter) or fresh produce (when the farmer's market is open). I make sure the more expensive things take more work to prepare. I don't buy chips and expensive snacks like that, but do keep popcorn kernels on hand--again, both cheap and healthy, since we use an air popper.

The result? We spend "dramatically" less on food than any other family I know. And we still have happy, healthy teenagers, including the boy who, just before the new plan, ate 3 pounds of grapes at once and called it a snack!

By Sterghe from Pittston, PA

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February 13, 20090 found this helpful

That is what I do w ith my children, I have a chart t hat says what food they can have for snacks and it is not junk food: Potato, Oatmeal, Bread and butter,


leftovers from dinner, Mayo Sandwich ( they like these....) rice, and than fruit juice, the real kind not the kind with High fructose corn syrup...this corn syrup really is bad, regardless of that new commercial about it..... I read at that it had mercury in it from processing it.....ewwwww...anyway I make sure they are eating right from the minute they get up.

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February 13, 20090 found this helpful

I buy bulk items when on sale like raisons,sunflower kernels/dried fruit/and add oatmeal mixture that I had crumbled into bit sizes and add all these healthy things together and put in sandwich bags and freeze up for trail mix as treats. It holds you over until meal times and is very healthy and tasty. Kids love these when going out to play or to the park or outside events, even field trips for school.

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February 17, 20090 found this helpful

When my son was a teenager, I always had him eat a large bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. It was one of the few things that filled him up and stayed with him until lunch. He claimed that he didn't like it, but to this day, he still eats that bowl of morning oatmeal.

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February 18, 20090 found this helpful

My youngest is in a fairly heavy work out schedule for ROTC and he can really lay away the food! He keeps a large bag of apples handy and can eat 4 or 5 a day. He's another of those "raised on oatmeal" kids and I think it has really helped make and keep him strong. Good whole wheat bread is very healthy and filling, too.

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February 21, 20090 found this helpful

the brilliant part of your plan is the 2 MUST DO's to allow freedom everyday, and then the usual regular healthy food to suit the appetite/whim of the day being IN ADDITION to. Brilliant. We always did the oatmeal /w peanut butter, apples raisins nseeds whatever every single day to at least know the basis was out of the wayy, and to this day my adult kids adhere to it. But thinking of all else as an addition to the basic is really something I never thought about. Brilliant (again)

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By guest (Guest Post)
February 22, 20090 found this helpful

I love to bake, warms up the kitchen in the winter. Toaster oven in summer. You can make great cereal bars and muffins too. You can put almost any fruit you want nuts whatever. Good take along snacks. Have fun.

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February 25, 20090 found this helpful

Sterghe, where were you when I had a hungry teenaged boy? He ate so much cheese that I had to resort to buying him his own pack (and this is a big pack from Sam's Club) and then declaring the pack everyone else shared off-limits to him. Your system sounds like a life (and budget) saver.

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April 16, 20090 found this helpful

I forgot to add we also have raisins or some kind of fruit every morning with cereal, good luck.

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April 18, 20090 found this helpful

Oatmeal is healthy but white potato really isn't. It has a glycemic index of 85 so it affects your blood sugar almost as much as pure sugar. Sweet potato or yams are much healthier, more vitamin packed, higher fiber with a glycemic index of only 54. Given how high the rate of diabetes is in the US now; it's only smart to pay attention to this.

Lettuce can be healthy but if by cheap you mean iceberg lettuce; it has almost no nutritional value. Any of the darker, greener lettuces are more vitamin and mineral packed.

Mayo sandwiches (usually soybean oil and egg) are really unhealthy, especially if made with white bread. It has very little nutritional value and a GI of about 70. Whole wheat bread with an olive oil butter substitute is also way healthier than bread and butter with all the cholesterol. Brown rice is also much higher in vitamins than white rice.

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April 6, 20120 found this helpful

All of these diets seem a little short on protien. No one mentioned eggs which are about the healthiest food there is. I once had three teenagers. Two six foot football players and a cheerleading girl. They drank a gallon of milk a day, ate a loaf of bread and we had meat every night. I can't imagine these kids getting by on what is mentioned above.

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April 7, 20120 found this helpful

What a good idea! Your choice of foods to fill out the diet are the best. Oatmeal with its 16% protein and complex carbohydrates, and beans, a near perfect food with 10% protein and more complex carbohydrates.

Even the mayo sandwiches are not as evil as they have been painted. Bread with olive oil is not a whole lot better than bread with canola oil, which is what mayo is made of. Even butter is getting a bad rap that it doesn't deserve. A pat (1 teas.) of butter is only 4 % of the daily allowance for dietary cholesterol, with 36 calories. Very sensible choices in a day when many have become practically phobic about their food. Keep up the good work.

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