I feed my daughter crickets for protein — it saves hundreds on grocery bills
By Jane Herz
Food writer Tiffany Leigh revealed that she feeds her 18-month-old daughter crickets as a source of protein — claiming it saves her hundreds of dollars on grocery bills.
This tip may bug some parents.
In a new essay for Insider, food writer Tiffany Leigh revealed that she feeds her 18-month-old daughter crickets as a source of protein — claiming it saves her hundreds of dollars on grocery bills.
The Toronto mom started to supplement her daughter’s more costly protein diet of beef, chicken and pork with whole roasted crickets, cricket protein powder and Cheeto-like cricket puff snacks.
She said she’s been able to cut down her grocery bill of $250 to $300 a week to between $150 and $200.
In an email to The Post on Thursday, Leigh explained that she had fallen into a “cooking rut” at home, which is partially what inspired her.
“I found myself making the same things over and over again for our family (some of which – my baby no longer showed interest in eating),” Leigh wrote.
“Incidentally, Entomo Farms (where I get my cricket products from) popped up on my radar – I looked into it and saw some products that could (easily and safely) be incorporated into our meal and snack times.”
She also noted that she doesn’t force her baby to do things that she is not comfortable with, and wasn’t concerned about potential contaminants because she got a virtual tour of the Farm.
According to New York City-based registered dietician Jenna Werner, crickets can actually be a good source of protein.
“Crickets boast quite a few nutritional benefits important for both children and adults, and at decreased prices than other protein sources it could be a great way to get your family what they need, for less … IF they will eat it!” Werner wrote in an email to The Post.
The essay noted that cricket protein powder contains 65.5% protein; however, Werner recommends making sure the product has an NSF or third-party certification, which ensures that the ingredients on the package label are actually inside the product.
“Cricket powder also contains nutrients such as B12, calcium, iron, magnesium, fatty acids and potassium,” Werner noted.
In her reveal, Leigh wrote that a “mere 2 tablespoons of cricket powder provides 100% of the daily protein needs of a baby, which for my 20 pound baby is nine to 14 grams a day, or 11 grams on average.”
Leigh explained that she has always been open to trying new things and doesn’t discriminate when it comes to bugs. She claims she’s eaten fried tarantula legs, ants, crickets and even scorpion on a stick.
She wrote that when she traveled to places like Vietnam and Thailand, she admired how insects were added into classic dishes — and decided to do the same for her own child in a three-week experiment.
“I think my desire to write the story was to inspire fellow parents/readers to venture outside their comfort zone and challenge their own biases,” Leigh told us.
“I’m by no means a food advocate nor am I one to force people to do anything that makes them uncomfortable (and from time-to-time, I also enjoy a nice ribeye as much as my fellow carnivores out there) – but for those whose curiosity I did pique (from reading the piece) – to encourage them to perhaps give it a try (like I did).”
Eating insects certainly isn’t a new concept: In 2013, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations published a study that found consuming these critters could be a solution to climate change and world hunger, with the global population expected to balloon to 9 billion people by 2050.
Leigh noted her daughter doesn’t have any dietary restrictions or allergies (those allergic to crustaceans should be careful about consuming edible insects). Werner also recommended making sure that you consider the age of your child when it comes to choking risks – that is, if you choose to feed them the whole cricket.
Leigh recalls beginning this journey by giving her daughter the Cheeto-like puffs, which are made by a brand called Actually Foods. She reports her daughter loved them.
Next, she decided to feed her daughter a whole roasted cricket, which she immediately spit out, shaking her head “No.”
Leigh claims that when she blended up the crickets and put them into a pancake mix, her daughter didn’t seem to notice and even motioned for more.
“I ate some and could understand why — you couldn’t tell that crickets were in these fluffy cakes,” Leigh wrote. “The only difference was that they had a slightly nutty finish.”
She told The Post that her daughter has always been an “adventurous and bold little person.”
“With food, it’s no exception – she will try anything once (if she clamors for more – like she did with my cricket pasta – it means I’m doing something right,” Leigh wrote. “If not, I’ll go ‘back to the drawing’ board and experiment with other recipes e.g. adding cricket powder to the sauce for our pizza.”
At dinnertime, she put the cricket protein powder into a macaroni and cheese mixture, which was also a huge hit.
She also recently got adventurous with another dish – spaghetti and meatballs.
“I recently sprinkled some of the cricket powder into the sauce for our spaghetti and meatballs dinner and it was a success,” Leigh revealed to The Post. “You couldn’t taste the crickets and the bonus is that the sauce was thickened a little bit (and give it some added richness).”
However, dietician Werner observed that the cost of protein cricket powder is similar to other plant-based powders out there – something to keep in mind when trying this.
“From what I see with the cost of the cricket protein powder, it is very comparable to many whey or plant protein options out there, so if you are looking to spice and switch it up, go for it and give it a try!” Werner wrote.
“But simply as a protein powder option — not sure it saves any money … HOWEVER if you love/prefer it, that is great!”
Leigh plans to continue giving her daughter other edible insects in her meals, like ants, grasshoppers and worms.
She noted in her email that she plans to try to replicate a cricket guacamole that she and her family love from a restaurant called El Catrin in Toronto. Leigh is also thinking about putting the cricket powder into scrambled eggs and french toast batter.