Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Operation: McDon't!

I've made myself an informal challenge this week: See how long I can go without copping out and going to McDonald's for lunch. Day 2. So far so good. Normally I would have made some excuse and gone there after preschool on Monday, but I held firm (plus she needed a bath to wash off all the flour!)
My reasons are vague and varied. I'm sure if I read about their terrible farm practices, horrid labor conditions, non-sustainable land management, etc, I'd be horrified and hate them. And if I knew about how terribly they treat their meat animals, or what garbage they fill the meat up with, I'd swear off McD's for life. Of course I've heard about how bad it all is for you (fast foods in general, not just specifically McD's.) And I read an article saying I shouldn't let my child have fast food more than twice a month. Twice. A. Month. Ha! We've been going 1 to 3 times a week, probably averaging more than twice a week. Let's say 2.5 times per week, average.
And it gets spendy. I pay $6.50-8.50 per meal to feed Z and myself (Nugget Happy Meal w/apples ~$3.50, Large Sweet Tea $1, McChicken $1, small fries $1.30, plus tax. Sometimes I'll vary slightly to get a Monopoly game piece, or just get fries in her meal and not buy them separately.) So 2 to 2.5 times a week makes that around $ 15 to $18.75 per week on McD meals, more if I'm aggressively collecting the current toy, like I did for Strawberry Shortcake. But at $15-$18.75/week, thats $780-975 a year. Think of all the muffin liners and cute bento stuff interest we could earn in Z's college fund!
But I want the Happy Meal toys. Although apparently 'free' kids meal toys are being banned in parts of California, and possibly soon the whole US. And several years ago Disney stopped partnering with McD for Happy Meal toys in an admiral attempt to stop being associated with 'unhealthy' foods. Even grocery stores aren't allowed to offer junk food freebies with Disney products. At Safeway, for example, I used to buy the new release on sale, PLUS get a free box of microwave popcorn, 12-pack of soda, and bag of cookies. After Disney's turnaround, with the new Disney release, I'd get healthier fare. And actually, I'd get foods I actually ate before they went bad! With the "Enchanted" DVD, for example, I got a 12-pack of mini Dasani water, a box of lite microwave popcorn, and a bag of apples from - wait for it - Disney Orchards. That was my favorite part. Plus they were cheaper per pound than the other apples, so I bought several bags by the time the store stopped carrying them (at the time I was on a 3-apples-a-day diet, which was fairly effective, as I lost 10 pounds in 6 months, with no other changes to my diet. And really I only had 2 apples a day, usually only weekdays. But they fill you up, so you're eating less junk. They burn more calories to digest than they give you. Plus they're, you know, good for you.

Once, ages ago, long before I had kids, McDonald's was giving away mini Neopets plushies in the Happy Meals. They were random, and had rare ones. And I wanted them all! So my 5 days a week that I worked, I'd walk over on my lunch break (it was at the far end of the parking lot from where I worked) and order a Happy Meal. Around half the time I'd substitute apples instead of fries, and over half of those times, I didn't bother with the caramel sauce. I got the fountain lemonade to drink (I don't think it was diet, but it tasted funny, so maybe it was) and never upsized it. In the 2 weeks they had those toys, I gained 5 pounds. No lie.

In the first trimester of my pregnancy, they had their Monopoly game going on. And they had extra game pieces on their Chicken Sandwiches and Large Fries. So I'd get a grilled, but sometimes the fried sandwich, large fries and whatever size drink had the pieces on them. I never finished all my fries (even though I was pregnant!) and had the lemonade to drink. I didn't have that 5 lunches a week, maybe 2 to 4, for less than a month. I was craving them for a while, so I got them even after the Monopoly was over, but then I started being repulsed by them (and Double Stuf Oreos and Cheetos Cheese Puffs. Darnit!)
The books all said I should expect to gain around 10 pounds my first trimester. I gained 30. (Although I lost all my pregnancy weight, plus the 10 pounds I gained the first month that I wasn't going to count as pregnancy weight. Wahoo. It's okay. You can hate me.)

I'm not blaming McDonald's for my weight gain. I made my choices. I don't exercise (other than walking from work to the restaurant, back when I worked at a paying gig [parenting is work. I never say that I don't "work."]) If I made good choices in the other foods I eat, I'm sure the occasional fast food wouldn't be too harmful. But I'm lazy, and I still love their fries.

So for all of these reasons, plus a general desire to be more of a 'better' mother, I've decided to see what I can do. And it has nothing to do with overspending on cookie cutters, bento supplies or muffin tins and liners and needing to cut back in other areas. *Cough*
So I'll try full disclosure, and post when and what we ate there, and whether it was a planned treat, or a lazy cop-out last-minute decision. Even when I just pop through drive-through to get myself a Sweet Tea. *sigh*


  1. I think I'm no better than you when it comes to McD! Maybe I should give myself a challenge too yeah! :)

  2. My biggest beef with fast food is expense. But the convenience is oh so worth it some times...

    (My second beef is they don't serve peanut butter and jelly! What's about that?)

    I ate a lot of fast food when pregnant and still did not gain weight until near the end. Dunno what happened. At other times I have lost weight just by NOT getting french fries when eating fast food.

  3. The only reason I stop at McD's is for the small ice cream cone. If I have been to town to do my grocery shopping or take Ben to WalMart I always stop for the ice cream cone. It's tradition. I live 18 miles from town and it takes me 18 miles to eat the ice cream cone.. It's a treat~!
    BUT last time we stopped Ben was yelling "TOY" TOY"TOY.. SO I bought him a Happy Meal and he got the toy.. He ate all his chicken nuggets, apples and drank his chocolate milk...ta da the reward is to have the toy... He was a happy boy.
    He now spots McD's a mile away when he is riding with me in the car.. Dang those golden arches.
    I tell him McD's is closed when I don't want to stop.. For now that works.. lol

  4. I try to avoid McD's as much as possible, but when we are out & about & need to eat out for a meal, it is cheap. We go there no more than once per week. I get fries for us all to share & always have the kids eat apples w/o the caramel. I do not typically buy the happy meal for the toy. They never get the toy they really wanted & they get upset. So, happy meals rarely make my kids happy. They whine about the toy a bit, then eat their food & decide that toy isn't so bad. It usually stays in the car & goes in the garbage when I clean out my car.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog. You made me laugh some, too. Thanks for tips on how to organize all the muffin tin meal stuff. I need another cabinet just for that stuff, I think.

  5. I'm in!!! We had it last night so I'll start with that but today is a new day!!! Lets see how long we can go! :/

  6. We don't need perfection here either. I'm not gonna send French Fry terrorists to your home, or call you names if you 'slip' and eat junk. It's mostly an attempt to reduce my dependence on fast food as a meal solution. It's been kind of my 'go-to' after activities, even when home is within a 10-15 minute drive. But by sharing my goal, I sort of make myself accountable to you all, which in turn makes me more likely to stick to my goals.
    I read in several places that when you have a goal, like weight loss, or even to try being more thankful, you should get a partner with the same or a similar goal. Then you can keep each other on track! Whenever you feel the urge, or start ranting or sounding ungrateful, you call your partner!
    Now me... I know ~Kristen will be keeping an eagle-eye around town, ready to pounce on me at any moment of weakness! She'd delight in an "AHA! I caught you!"

  7. If you just stop going to McDs now, your daughter might not think about it anymore. And peanut butter and jelly is a fine meal for a (nonallergic) toddler.

    I try to prevent fast food trips by keeping snacks in the car, like a bag of raisins and a box of crackers or granola bars or something. If we're going on an outing, I pack a whole lot of apple slices along. We save a ton of money by not buying fast food, and it's healthier. (Of course, on long car trips, we're back to fast food again!)


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