Stress-Free Halloween

You were expecting us to blog about handing out pencils instead of candy, right? Though non-candy treats are a way to celebrate the holiday without loading up on sugar, most kids don’t get very excited about that approach and we want happy kids on Halloween. Celebrating with some candy is fun for all ages. 

Since we all know the piles of candy are coming, here are a few ideas for dealing with them in a healthy way.

  1. Eat a healthy and hearty meal before you head out to trick-or-treat. Children will be less likely to overdo it on candy if their tummies are full. Since the evening will be busy, consider a slow-cooker meal that you can put on early in the day like our Slow Cooker Pork Chili.
  2. Some experts think that strictly limiting candy at Halloween makes children even more fanatical about it. Consider allowing children to eat what they want on Halloween night and then set limits that make sense for your family going forward.
  3. Talk with your child about a plan for all of the candy before they get it. Consider allowing a piece or two every night after they eat supper over the course of a week. If they know the expectations in advance, they may be more likely to cooperate. 
  4. Though we generally avoid wasting food whenever we can, candy is a little different. If your child brings home pounds of candy, it is OK to have them choose the ones they like best, eat them over the course of a week or so and toss the others. 

Happy Halloween from the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. Team! Enjoy your candy!

Bowl of halloween candy
Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.

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Halloween is Coming

Parent Taking Children Trick Or Treating At HalloweenYou were expecting us to blog about handing out pencils instead of candy, right? Though non-candy treats are a way to celebrate the holiday without loading up on sugar, most kids don’t get very excited about that approach and we want happy kids on Halloween.

Since we all know the piles of candy are coming, here are a few ideas for dealing with them in a healthy way.

  1. Eat a healthy and hearty meal before you head out to trick-or-treat. Children will be less likely to overdo it on candy if their tummies are full. Since the evening will be busy, consider a slow-cooker meal that you can put on early in the day like our Slow Cooker Pork Chili.
  2. Some experts think that limiting candy at Halloween makes children even more fanatical about it. Consider allowing children to eat what they want on Halloween night and then set limits going forward.
  3. Talk with your child about a plan for all of the candy before they get it. Consider allowing a piece or two every night after they eat supper over the course of a week. If they know the expectations in advance, they may be more likely to cooperate.
  4. Though we generally avoid wasting food whenever we can, candy is a little different. If your child brings home pounds of candy, it is OK to have them choose the ones they like best, eat them over the course of a week or so and toss the others.

Happy Halloween from the Spend Smart. Eat Smart. Team!

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek

Christine Hradek is a State Nutrition Specialist with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. She coordinates ISU’s programs which help families with low income make healthy choices with limited food budgets. Christine loves helping families learn to prepare healthy foods, have fun in the kitchen and save money. In her spare time, Christine enjoys cooking, entertaining and cheering on her favorite college football teams with her family and friends.

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Easter Baskets Don’t Have to be Filled with Candy

According to the National Retail Association about 90% of us will have candy on our shopping list for Easter and our total spending will be about $2 billion. WOW.

Why is it that people who do not buy candy for most of the year, buy enormous baskets and fill them with chocolate, jelly beans, candy chickens, etc. for Easter? I think advertising and retail promotions, as well as peer pressure, are at work.

Photo from The Saved Quarter

For Easter this year, how about buying one small bag of a favorite candy and then filling the Easter basket with stickers, whistles, pencils, plastic rings, coupons for ice cream, puzzles, playing cards, and bath toys.

Six Scarily-Easy Ways to Save

Halloween is a fun time of year for all ages, but the holiday can be hard on budgets and waistlines. How do we get into the spooky spirit without breaking the bank or our belts? Here are some tips:

  1. Do not make the focus entirely on candy. Distract your kids with other activities like making masks, decorating the house with cobwebs, bobbing for apples, going to corn mazes and/or haunted houses.
  2. Check stores, online, and in newspapers for coupons. Most major stores will have specials in their circulars the week before Halloween as well. When you combine coupons and specials you can save even more.
  3. Think creatively. You do not HAVE to give out candy, and the alternatives can be cheaper and healthier. For example: one bag of 144 spider rings costs about $5.00, or a package of 100 glow sticks costs about $9.00. Both are healthier alternatives, and who doesn’t love glow sticks or spider rings!?
  4. Compare prices before you buy. Look at the unit count in the bag of candy before you buy it. Sometimes a 14 unit count bag costs the same as a 21 unit count bag (see Price per Unit chart). When the prices are the same, it is easy to see which bag has a better value (just check the unit count), but you can ALWAYS figure out the value of a purchase by figuring out the unit price (divide the price by the unit count).
  5. Do not be afraid to run out of candy. Some people buy way too much and then end up with all that candy left over plus what their kids bring home!
  6. Have some control over candy consumption. Do not be too strict (let your kids enjoy the holiday), but have some kind of plan in place to control their intake of candy.

Rebecca Brotzman, RD, LDN

When health and money values conflict…

I just hate it when my values conflict with each other. I like to eat healthy and inexpensively. Sometimes it’s easy, like buying fruits and vegetables, grains, and lean meats at the grocery and making simple, great tasting meals my way, instead of paying extra for convenience meals.

But sometimes it is hard. Why are the big bags, value meals, Big Gulp, Big Grab, Big Mac the best value (in the sense you get more for your money)? Why can’t a salad and a bottle of water be made into a value meal? Why do I have to buy a kid’s meal to get a healthy portion and a lower price?

Part of the reason so many of us struggle with weight issues is that you can buy sugared and salty snacks and candy so many places, and the size of the packages just continue to grow. Yes, the larger sizes cost more, but we are getting more, so we think it is a bargain. Then we eat the whole thing and get excess calories.

It’s the same conflict with the 100-calorie snack packs. My eating healthy value says that’s the way to go, but my eating inexpensively value reminds me that I am paying more.

So what’s the answer? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue and your solutions to this dilemma.

-pointers from Peggy

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