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Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013, 12:03 p.m.

The challenge of eating by the USDA guidelines

Prepping for the MyPlate on My Budget Experiment means figuring out what the USDA wants me to eat

Can I follow the USDA thrifty food plan and feed my family the MyPlate advised daily nutrients? That's the question I'm asking this March with MyPlate on My Budget.

Rose McAvoy from Our Lady of Second Helpings is providing support, guidance and yummy recipes.

But first, I had to take a hard look at what the USDA thinks my family should be eating each week. That's why I printed out the MyPlate Daily Food Plan charts for each person in my family.

Some of the MyPlate requirements are real shockers. Fish twice a week? Um.... we don't normally do that, even though our budget is closer to the liberal end of the spectrum.

So here's my new, bare-bones weekly grocery list:

Grains: 189 oz

  • 98 of them whole
Vegetables: 73.5 cups

  • 7 cups dark leafy green
  • 20.5 cups red and orange
  • 21.5 cups starch
  • 6.5 cups beans and peas
  • 18 cups other
Fruits: 52.5 cups

  • Whole fruits whenever possible
Dairy: 42 cups

Protein: 154 oz

  • 44 oz should be fish
  • choose beans, seeds, nuts more often
My gut reaction to this list?

Yuck! That's because 7 cups of dark leafy green vegetables means three and a half servings for my entire family. ALL WEEK! That's less than one serving of dark green veggies per person, per week.

Right now my husband and I eat one or two servings of dark leafy green vegetables per day, and our kids probably eat three servings a week. Following the USDA guidelines might mean that we are saying goodbye to our daily green smoothie habit.

On the plus side, eating more fish should be good for us, if I'm careful about what I purchase. But will my kids actually eat fish twice a week? That's a really good question...

Stay tuned to find out!

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