#20: Hot dogs.
Yes, I realize that the majority of hot dogs are disgusting. I know what's in them, how they're made, and all of the extra additive junk that gets thrown in to try to make them palatable. The only halfway acceptable ones are vegetarian or vegan, but I have to admit that veggiedogs just don't do it for me. I have gotten progressively pickier about what hot dogs I'll allow into the house, though - cheap meat mixes are only okay if they're on sale (hey, we're living on a budget here, after all), and we're not big on serving more than one or two every other day or so to the kids. I prefer nitrate-free all-beef dogs - Angus beef is the ultimate, but I can do without - or kosher dogs if possible. Hebrew National are great to me, although I don't mind the all-beef nitrate-free Oscar Meyer hot dogs. We don't have a Whole Foods or a dedicated store that carries a decent selection of healthy foods, so most of our options come from our nearby grocers - meaning our choices aren't always what we'd like them to be, but we still manage.
Still, there's something about a good hot dog that's been grilled over an open flame for a while that I find hard to resist. A perfect hog dog with the right snap and taste in a smooth bun, overloaded with horrific amounts of mustard and mayonnaise is pretty much ideal to me. They're admittedly a portion of my lifestyle that I should probably rethink, given their calorie content and the creation process, but they're a guilty pleasure. We use them in moderation, but they're a hit with the kids, too - if they won't eat anything else, I can almost always guarantee that they'll each eat a hot dog. And they pair well with almost anything: the old fallback of macaroni and cheese, chips, fries, broccoli, green beans. It helps that A will eat almost anything without hesitation anyway, but with G, whose food choices are far more picky, I know if he's having a hot dog he's likely to eat most of it and I won't get that sinking feeling that I usually do at mealtimes that I'm about to have to argue for him to eat half of his dinner. They're easy, quick, and something everybody will eat every time, meaning that they're perfect for evenings when we're short on time for dinner but all need to eat something - and I try to balance their presence out by offering healthier options alongside (such as serving them alongside baked sweet potato fries, broccoli and cheese, or rice with red beans) or for dessert (fruits, yogurts, smoothies). None of us could eat them every day, but they're versatile enough that I'm not concerned about using them off and on throughout the week - especially because if I put them into a dish instead of serving them as a lone item, I can stretch a package out to several servings.
Please note that while I try my best to make health-conscious decisions regarding my family's health, living, and eating habits, there are some things that are a part of our lives and preferences that make us imperfect when it comes to 'going crunchy'. I want to share this ongoing list as a way of reminding others that while we all try our best, none of us are perfect!