Myths of Switching to Real Food: Busted! {part 1}

If you’re like I was, then you have a ton of reasons why it just doesn’t make sense for you to cut out processed foods. 

 

I’ve heard it all. I’ve said them all. I was so resilient to the idea of changing something so drastic, that I literally did everything I could…made every excuse I could make, to keep from having to do it. I knew for a long time, that our family needed to change the way we ate. Even several years ago, I still thought some of the processed food I was feeding my kids was healthy. Because the box or package it came in, said so. 

It is my hope in this blog series, that you will gain some knowledge into why you should make the change, as well as how to go about doing it. It shouldn’t be a huge stressor, a bank breaker, or a time sucker. Will you find yourself spending a little more time than usual in your kitchen? Absolutely. But please don’t believe the lie that you will be spending every waking minute in the kitchen and grocery stores. 

In this first post, I want to address the TWO most common issues I hear, in regards to why people don’t feel they can make the switch. 

Processed Food is more Convenient / I just don’t have time.

Convenience and time were pretty big ones for me as well, and they actually go hand in hand. Although I do stay at home with my kids during the day, I’m also a work at home mom. I don’t spend my day in the kitchen, prepping food to my hearts content. On the contrary. I am busy tending to my 3 kids, running a successful essential oil business, running a secondary photography business, writing for my blog and building my audience to one day hopefully make a profit, and helping Mountain Man manage his custom furniture business. All of that, squeezed into the nooks and crannies of my life, when I’m not acting as chauffeur to and from schools, teaching classes, in meetings, and attempting to keep my home somewhat clean. To say that I have a few balls in the air is an understatement. 

While I may agree with the part  where you can literally grab and go anytime, with processed foods, I hate to break it to you…the convenience and time factors becomes non factors once you realize just what the ingredients in those processed foods are doing to your body. To your kids bodies. And once you realize exactly how little time it actually takes to prepare just a few easy snacks and meals. 

So how do I make real food convenient without taking up all of my time?

This definitely took some time for me to figure out. And lucky for you, I believe I have a few pointers that may help this become a non issue for you as well! 

Meal Plan.

This is by far the most important part of making the switch. I’ll say that again… this is THE MOST IMPORTANT PART of making the switch. Why? Because it helps you narrow down what you and your picky family want to, and will eat. (Don’t worry…we will talk about picky eaters in another post in this series)

It helps you realize how little you actually have to “prep” each week. Instead of this monstrous task in front of you, it’s been narrowed down to just a few hours a week. That’s it!

Meal planning can be done at night, after kids are in bed, and you and your sweetie are relaxing in front of the t.v. In between commercials, if that helps. 

When you begin planning your meals for the week, make sure to be realistic. What are your families favorite meals and snacks? 

Here’s an example of one of my weeks:

 

Now, you may look at that list and already feel overwhelmed, and inconvenienced. But I’d like to share with you how I would execute this, amidst my already jam-packed schedule.

First, I check my fridge and pantry for the items I already have.

For example, I may be running low on oats, and 3 of my breakfast meals require oats (see how I am utilizing ONE ingredient for several meals?) so I would make sure that was on my list. I have plenty of brown rice in my pantry, which is one reason why I am choosing to use it in TWO of my dinner meals. I love using rice in recipes, because it’s easy to make ahead of time, and can even be frozen if you like! 

Next, I plan out the meals based on how busy my days/nights of the week will be. 

So on the days I know I have a TON to do and will have almost zero time to actually spend IN the kitchen cooking a meal, I’ll either do a crockpot meal like chili, or I’ll choose a quick 30 minute or less meal like the Salmon Cakes, or stir fry.  These are quick and easy options, that require almost no effort at all, and they also allow you to have a few nights of leftovers, so you can have some evenings during the week where you literally do not have to think about what to make for dinner. I’ll save my more time intensive meals, like pizza, for nights I know we have no place to be (or on a weekend). 

I usually save the “big” breakfasts like eggs and bacon, or pancakes for weekends, when we have more time together as a family, and no one is rushing to get to school or work. 

When we are rushing out the door in the mornings, homemade granola bars are handy to keep around (I’m working on an easy NO BAKE recipe for these, so keep an eye out for them!), or a quick bowl of cereal, then an apple or banana for the car. 

When the kids just wont’ eat the regular meals I cook, we like to do something we call, “picnic style” dinner for them. This is where I literally just grab whatever small items I have in the fridge or pantry, and stick it on a plate for them. It’s like a mini buffet for kids. Cheese, grapes, carrots, pretzels, whatever. They love it and it gives them a meal I don’t have to fight with them over.

Grocery shopping…

This can be done at any point… I mean, you obviously are going to the grocery store as it is, so this part should be easy for you to decide on how and when you want to go. If you prefer to utilize the order online and pick up option, great. If you like to hand pick your fruits and veggies (like me), you can choose an evening or time during the weekend, or whenever you find most convenient. Since I AM at home during the day, I like to go in the evenings, when Mountain Man is done working. This allows me some much needed alone time, without kids climbing all over me, and screaming in my ear.

I’m just going to put this out there for parents with young children, whose spouse works out of the home. Do not feel bad about leaving the kids with him/her, when they get home. Just don’t. I struggled with this for a long time, because I knew how hard Mountain Man worked, and the last thing I wanted to do was stress him out when he got home. I wanted him to be able to relax a bit. But you know what? Being a stay at home parent is HARD work. And just because one may work outside of the home, being a parent doesn’t stop when they get home…no matter how hard or long of a day they have had. 

Ok, I’ll step off that soap box now. 

So now that you’ve gotten your meal planning and grocery shopping out of the way, when are you actually going to prep this stuff? If you’re an on the go mom, and like to be out of the house during the day with your kids, I recommend putting snacks and lunches together the night before. Pop some popcorn and bag it. Slice up your apples, grapes, whatever, and put those in a container that’s ready to go. Stick with “picnic style” type foods for your days out. 

If you work outside of the home, you can pick a night or two during the week and an hour here and there on the weekends to do a little food prep. Did you read that? A LITTLE. I’m not asking you to dedicate every single night or all weekend to your kitchen. I’m asking you to set aside a little time to put together some yummy and healthy snacks for your family, that can be stretched throughout the week. 

For me, that might mean I spend all of 10 minutes putting together the ingredients for the granola cereal on Sunday afternoon, and while it bakes (for 75 minutes!) I can relax on the couch, catch up on some reading, clean if I need to, or even play outside with the kids for a bit on a nice day! Once it’s done, you have healthy and tasty granola that can be eaten like cereal or placed in a baggie for an on the go snack. Easy and it lasts for up to TWO WEEKS!

Every 2-3 weeks, I spend maybe 20 minutes making my homemade Jam. Y’all, this is seriously so easy, lasts a long time, and tastes WAY better than any of the store bought stuff. 

Do you like that oh-so-tasty chocolate sauce to drizzle all over your ice cream, spoon into your smoothies, or to dip your fruit in? Here are the ingredients to one of the most popular brands of chocolate sauce on the market: 

SUGAR, WATER, COCOA PROCESSED WITH ALKALI, LESS THAN 2% OF SALT, CITRIC ACID, ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, POTASSIUM SORBATE (PRESERVATIVE), XANTHAN GUM, CARAMEL COLOR, RED 40, BLUE 1, YELLOW 6.

All of that is totally unnecessary. Instead, grab TWO ingredients from your pantry (unsweetened cocoa powder and pure maple syrup), and mix this healthy sauce up in less than 5 minutes. I like to make a batch at the beginning of the week, store it in the fridge, and use throughout the week for all sorts of stuff! All is takes is 1 part cocoa powder and 2 parts syrup – whisk until combined. Done. 

Maybe for a sweet treat at the end of the week (or to get us through the next week), I may spend 30 minutes baking some black bean chocolate chip cookies. My kids LOVE these and you seriously cannot taste the beans. It’s a great way to sneak in some protein for those picky eaters! Another favorite snack that takes less than 25 minutes to prepare, are coconut rolls. A favorite in our house, that can easily be packed with lunches, and on the go snacking.

You don’t have to prepare EVERYTHING.

We are about 90% processed free in our home. So you know what that means? I do have a few “convenience” items. I just make sure that they stay limited and that I am extremely picky with what I choose to buy. We always check the ingredients list. That is far more important for your health than the nutrition facts. don’t get me wrong, it’s good to know how nutritious your food is, BUT the ingredients list will reveal a LOT about a product. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. 

If there are ANY vitamins, food dyes, preservatives, or enriched items on the ingredient list, back on the shelf it goes. What those items tell me, is that the manufacturer took something natural and wholesome (whole wheat flour), and enriched it (removed all of the good stuff and added back into the mix their “laboratory” vitamins and minerals). Yuck. Why do scientists that do this think they can provide a better version of something that is perfect in it’s natural composition? 

(Ingredient labels from two popular kids snacks)

   

Some ideas of the processed foods we do eat…

Organic fruit and veggie pouches, tortilla chips (as long as they are non-GMO and organic, since corn is one of the biggest known GMO crops), spelt pretzels, Organic and non-GMO veggie sticks, and Bread (this one is hit or miss…sometimes I get the itch to make my own whole wheat bread, but most often I’m just lazy and would rather not. If you opt to buy your bread, there are several good options out there. Ezekiel bread is a fantastic option. We also enjoy Dave’s Killer bread on occasion, and sometimes bakery bread from Earth Fare or Stick Boy).

It’s all about making smart choices. 

No one is asking you to go cold turkey on the processed foods. We are still learning and growing every day, even after a year of our new diet. All it takes is an extra minute or two to check out those ingredient labels, make smarter choices with the processed food you DO eat, and spend just a little time each week making a few things. I promise you that once you try it…even by taking baby steps each day, week, month…that you will be able to see and taste the difference! 

Be on the lookout for the next post of “Myths of Switching to Real Food: Busted! {part 2} 🙂 

 

 

 

 

4 Comments

  1. So happy to see the REAL choc syrup recipe-never heard of one so simple!
    Bread: recently I decided to make my own bread hopefully consistently-just got a hand-me-down electric bread machine from a relative. I’m still working on all whole wheat or almost all whole wheat recipe, but with small amount of practice I can see it is going to be so quick and easy. Years past, I made some homemade wheat bread, but it is really hard for me to stir it when it is so stiff at the end. Bread machine makes that a non-issue.
    Warmly,

    • Yes, we have and love our bread machine! I’ve gotten to a point where I can actually get a fairly fluffy 100% whole wheat version, but that was when it was warmer outside. I get thrown off every time the seasons change, because so much of how the dough rises is determined by the moisture content in the air. So glad to see you have found an easy recipe you love!

  2. I really enjoyed your post. I am working on a series discussing effects of time, effort, and quality food on the grocery budget. It sounds like we have similar views. Thanks, for sharing the great information!

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