12 Food Hacks For a Healthy Family (How to Cut Calories Over 60% Without Your Family Noticing)

Feeding a family is a difficult job!  Coming up with a meal idea each night, shopping for the food, and dealing with the spills and complaints about the food.  Add to that trying to feed your family “healthy” food and you make the job just that much harder. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be a challenge!  In fact, your family doesn’t even have to know.

A few years ago Sandi and I went on a hard core low fat diet.  The problem was that we were both sugar and junk food addicts. So we had to think outside the box . . . we weren’t really willing to give up our favorite foods.  While doing this we found several alternatives to some of our favorite snacks that allowed us to indulge and loose weight all at the same time. The best part?  Most of these food hacks don’t cost any more than the “regular” alternative.

So sit back and check out these awesome food hacks that will reduce your fat intake and overall calorie intake without restricting you to salad and lemon cleanse drinks! All of these foods are available at a small neighborhood Wal-Mart within walking distance to our home.

1. Fiber One Fruit Snacks

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This is a pretty new product.  In fact I just noticed it on the shelves a couple weeks ago.  These fruit snacks have 3 grams of fiber per little pack, that’s about 10% of the recommend daily intake  . . . and believe it or not the flavor is actually not that bad at all.  I started taking a pack to work each night and couldn’t really tell any difference in the flavor from regular fruit snacks.  Taz (our 3 year old son) however wanted the “fun fruit snacks” but when he was given these over the others he couldn’t really tell a difference either.

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2. Fat Free Sour Cream

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I love sour cream!  I love it on my burritos (which I eat a lot of – – – read below), it love to add it as a thickener for sauces, as a substitute for oil in cake mixes, and as a dip.  Mix some of this fat free sour cream with some baked tortilla chips (or fat free potatoe chips – – watch out for the olestra) and you have an awesome snack. Wal-Mart also makes a generic fat free sour cream that is actually really good.  Kroger makes one too, but it is pretty liquidy and I would not suggest it, it just wasn’t as good as the Wal-Mart generic.  When you buy the WalMart brand, it is actually no more expensive than the ones with more fat.

 3. Fat Free Cheese

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This is a wonderful product from Kraft.  Sandi and I found this several years ago and started using it more and more.  We never switched to using it exclusively however because it just really doesn’t melt like the fattier cheese.  We do use 2% milk fat cheese for things like enchiladas or lasagna.  One thing we were able to do was to do like 70% regular cheese and 30% fat free cheese on things like that.  This does work great for burritos (told I love burritos) or as a simple topping. Using fat free cheese can really cut out a TON of fat and calories from your diet if you eat half as much cheese as we do!

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4. Egg Whites

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The truth is these are really no more than just egg whites . . . hence the name “100% Egg Whites”.  They do have a little bit of coloring added for color.  These are a fantastic product because eggs are loaded with fat and cholesterol.  These egg whites can be used in direct substitution of eggs.  You could just make these at home by buying a dozen eggs and then just cooking only the egg white, but these little boxes are much more handy. A little box like this would cost about $5 and is equivalent to about a dozen eggs.

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5. Hawaiian Punch – Singles to Go

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So here’s the deal with these little drink mixes. . .I am not a fan of low calorie drinks, I hate the taste of Splenda, and other artificial sweeteners.  These little drink mixes are actually really good and they do not have any sugar in them.  I actually buy them for myself, but they would make an excellent substitute for regular Hawaiian Punch which is loaded with sugars and corn syrup.  For just $1 you get six drink packs.  The flavor is actually really strong too so I usually only mix in half a packet with an entire glass of water.

6. Dr. Pepper Ten

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As you are probably starting to see, I am a huge drink fan.  I don’t drink alcohol, but I am addicted to sodas (this is my biggest struggle with eating healthy).  Dr. Pepper recently came out with Ten calorie sodas .  What they have done is leave a small portion of the corn syrup in there to lessen the “diet flavor”.  While this still isn’t the ideal beverage, it makes a great substitute for a soda junkie like myself.

You can still tell that it isn’t the full flavor soda, but the flavor is much closer to the original.  The A&W and 7Up flavors are actually almost spot on in my opinion.  The flavors that are sold at my local WalMart are Sunkist, Dr Pepper, Canada Dry, 7Up, and A&W.

7. Fat Free Refried Beans

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Once again, I am a big burrito eater!  Refried beans can contain a fair amount of excess fat but many companies make a fat free version.  WalMart makes one, Rosarita makes one, but one that I really like is the Gebhardt brand.  They only cost $0.78 per can and a single can is enough to make enchiladas for our family of four.  You really don’t have to sacrifice very much with flavor when it comes to fat free refried beans.

Another product option for the fat free beans is this one that I found last year and really love.

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The Mexican Rose refried beans are the most authentic beans I have found.  They come in a little bag as dehydrated bean flakes.  You just add a cup or two of water and microwave for like 5 minutes and you have authentic beans.  These beans are the closest to restaurant style beans in my opinion.  Sandi doesn’t like making them as much as I do and they do take a minute longer to make, but I think that the flavor is superior.  They cost a couple buck a bag and each bag is probably two or three cans worth of beans.

8. Fat FREE Hot Dogs – Yeah, I just said that

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When I met Sandi I quickly found out that her favorite food was . . . Hot Dogs!  Yeah, a dietitian who’s favorite food was hot dogs right?  So we tend to have hot dogs in our refrigerator pretty consistently. When we started trying to decrease our fat intake we spent a fair amount of time trying to find a better solution for hot dogs.

Well BallPark makes a fat free turkey hot dog.  They are great!  I don’t think you have to sacrifice any real flavor with these either. I mean how much flavor do hot dogs have in the first place.  This is also a great product to give to your kids.

We throw these in our macaroni and cheese or just give them to the kids as a meal or snack.  A great meal is:

  • Fat free hotdogs
  • Fat free chili
  • Fat free cheese

Voila, you have a fat free chili dog!  Can’t beat that.

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9. Turkey Breast

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Okay so maybe this one isn’t revolutionary, but using turkey breast instead of other meats can really reduce saturated fat and overall fat intake significantly.  Often you can even find fat free turkey.

10. Fat Free Cream Cheese

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WalMart makes a fat free cream cheese that is actually cheaper than other cream cheese brands.  We use this when making frosting, dips, and basically for anything you would make with regular cream cheese.  You can throw this in with some fat free cottage cheese and fat free mozzarella cheese to make a significantly reduced fat lasagna that is still cheese and creamy.

If you mix this with some sugar and vanilla it will make a frosting for cupcakes or cake.  It isn’t nearly as creamy and light and a frosting made with Crisco, but it works if you are really just trying to cut out the fat.  You really have to play around with consistency to get it just right with frosting.

11. 96% Lean 4% Fat Meat

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So this is an obvious choice.  It will cost you a bit more at the register, but buying the lean meat drastically reduces your saturated fat intake over regular meat.  Without even looking at the packaging you can tell how lean a meat is by how red it is.  Fatter meats will look pink while lean meat will appear red.  The 4% fat meat has just 1.5 grams of saturated fat.  This meat can be used in direct substitution for fatter meats without sacrificing on flavor.

12. Betty Crocker Fudge Brownies

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So we saved the best for last.  These brownies by Betty Crocker are not marketed as low fat or healthy or anything. In fact they contain less fat than the low fat Betty Crocker brownies. The Betty Crocker Fudge Brownies contain just 1 gram of TOTAL fat per serving and 0 saturated fat (before mixing)

Check out the screenshot below from the WalMart website with the nutrition facts:

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Needless to say, these little guys have become a staple dessert in our home.  You can also buy some fat free ice cream or frozen yogurt to add to the top to complete the ensemble or just eat the brownies as is for a surprisingly low fat dessert.

You can make these lower fat when mixing by using egg whites and apple sauce instead of whole eggs and oil.  Just mix in equal parts of egg whites and apple sauce instead of the eggs and oil respectively.

What Nutrition Hacks Do You Have?

Do you have some nutrition tips to avoid fat and “trick” your family into eating healthier?  Share them below in the comments for everyone to share.

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