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January 13th, 2010

As of January, I'm the (not so) proud owner of a Parents magazine subscription. I don't know how it happened, but I know I didn't ask for it, or pay for it.  I'd previously canceled my subscriptions to all parenting magazines, because they invariably piss me off (except Wondertime. Man, I really miss Wondertime!) Apparently someone out there decided I don't have enough angst in my life, so they're kindly adding some to my mailbox monthly. Yippee!

The first issue didn't do too badly - I got a whole 40 pages in before I started yelling at the magazine (yes, I do that). That's when I got to one of the articles that was splashed on the cover: 5 Dinners on a Budget. The big idea in the lead-in from the chef/writer is to save money by using frozen foods (duh).  He goes on to say that Parents challenged him to cook five healthy dinners for a family of four on a $50 budget. The $50 had to pay for everything excluding pantry staples such as oil and dried herbs.

Sounds good, right? It is, until you see the meals. The highest calorie content per serving is 231 calories. One of them is 195 calories! Sorry, but that's not dinner - that's a side dish. If I were to have four 231-calorie "meals" in a day, my intake would be 924 calories. I tried giving them the benefit of the doubt: maybe they accidentally calculated toddler portions. No, even my toddlers require about 1100 calories per day, and the older kids need around 1600. So chef, you may have made five dinners for $50, but they were for a family of two - maybe - NOT a family of four. If a REAL family of four wanted to eat more realistic portions of your five meals, they'd pretty much have to double them - which means spending around $100, not $50. Quite misleading, if you ask me.

Out of curiosity, I decided to see if I could get anywhere close to 5 meals for $50 for my family. With very little planning, I didn't do too badly - 5 dinners of around 400 calories per serving for about $78 total. And considering I have a family of 7, I'd say that's pretty good! On the menu this week:

- Salmon with dill sauce and steamed broccoli
- Roasted chicken with garlic & artichokes
- London broil with baked potato bar
- Veggie-stuffed pasta shells with garlic bread
- Pork tenderloin with cabbage & apple slaw

All stuff my kids love, and all relatively healthy. Take that, Parents.