Sunday, January 5, 2014

10 Survial Tips from a Real Food Mom

Do you find yourself wanting to eat healthier but get overwhelmed by trying?  Here are a few of the tips that I use to make eating and cooking real food a reality for us...

1.  This isn't a restaurant.  

RestaurantWhen I was a kid what my mom cooked we ate, and there was never a thought of it being any different.  I've taken to raising my kids with the same idea.  I refuse to either spoil them or wear myself out by making specialty items at meals for different people.  What I cook we all eat.

That does allow for food allergies (my littlest can't have wheat or tree nuts), and I do make allowances for food that is too spicy for someone, or if I've made something that's turned out to be pretty bad.  That's it though.  My kids know what I make they'll be eating, and that frees me up from hearing complaining, whining, and arguing over what will be eaten.

2.  Buy more than one of nonperishable items. 

People's mouths have dropped open
when they see my cart.  :)
For example, if I'm buying noodles I buy 2-3 bags of them instead of 1, that way I don't have them on my shopping list as often.  This costs a little more in the beginning but evens out money wise after a while.  It also frees you from shopping for so many different items at one time, and allows you to get through the store faster.

Items that are somewhat perishable, like the preservative free bread I buy, I'm able to put an extra loaf in the freezer and pull it out when needed.

3.  Don't shop too often.  

Studies have shown that the more frequently people go into stores the more they spend.  I grocery shop only about every 10 days (about 3 times a month).  By doing this I save time for going to the store, gas, and I spend less on little splurges I might get if I'm there more often. Also knowing that I'm going to be spending a lot each time helps me to keep reigned in what I'll be spending my money on.
If you only shop every 10 days you need to be careful to eat the most perishable food items, like salad, first.  I like buying sweet peppers to snack on, and they keep in the refrigerator quite well.  If you get low on fresh fruit and vegetables, having frozen ones on hand can keep you eating healthy.

Old Fashioned Canned Food4.  Keep a stock pile.  

When you're starting to make a meal, then realize at the last minute you don't have one ingredient it can ruin your whole meal plan.  By following tip number 2 you'll have a stock of things you regularly use and are less likely to find out at the last minute that you're out of it.  I typically put something on my grocery list when I only have 1 of them left (for example a box of tomato soup).

5.  Don't stress out if you need to eat out.

A stressed out person is likely to do more damage than the rare fast food meal ever will.  Don't stress out if in you get crazy busy or tired and need a fast food break once in a while.  Chipotle is a nice go to, as most of their food is much healthier than other fast food places, and only costs about $6.  It's best budget and health wise though if this is only done once in a while.

Spreadsheet 16.  Meal Plan.

When I do take the time to meal plan I notice a huge reduction in my daily stress.  After all  having to think of what's for lunch and dinner and 2 snacks a day everyday, is enough to make anyone's brain feel fried if there isn't a plan in the works.

Here are 4 weeks of meal plans with recipes and shopping lists to get you started!

7.  Don't cook every meal.

Granola Cereal 3Maybe you really love to spend every moment of your day cooking and cleaning up dishes.  I love to cook, but I can also suffer from burn out.  There have been days I've cooked for 7 hours and in return was so burnt out I wouldn't cook for 2 days afterwards.  Not much of a cost savings there.

At our house we eat healthy cold cereals (like Nature's Path, their coconut one is so good!) every day for breakfast, except for the rare times when my husband decides to make something.  Most of our lunches are left overs, sandwiches made with Applgate lunch meat and raw cheese, peanut butter, or eggs and sprouted grain toast.

8.  Keep a Grocery List.

On the side of our refrigerator is a dry erase board.  Whenever I'm getting low on something or run out of something I write it on the board.  This is a quick and easy way to keep a shopping list.  When it's time to go shopping I print out a spreadsheet I've got saved in the computer where I've listed the most common items I buy and leave space to write in more items.  You can also just write down your list on paper too.

When doing such a large shopping, having a list keeps me from aimlessly wandering the isles trying to remember what I need really helps, and I'm not likely to forget something I need.

Cheese Slicer9.  Buy Treats.

This may sound like funny advice, but don't we all want something special to eat or drink here and there?  It's like a mini vacation for our soul to get a treat!  I mostly try to buy healthy treats like dried pineapple, mango, and coconut chips, but also get something sweet here and there to keep the home crowd happy, and me too!

Other treat ideas are trying foods that are different and appealing to you, but that maybe cost more than you'd spend on average groceries, like a special cheese like honey flavored Gouda goat cheese!

Whatever you get life is short so remember to enjoy it!

10.  Keep meals simple.

Our family loves variety.  We loves trying foods from all over the world and seeing what tastes we like and don't like.  For the most part though we eat simple meals that I aim to make taste good.  This means less time cooking and often fewer dishes to clean.

For one snack a day we eat a piece of fruit, not fruit salad or anything fancy, just fruit.  I believe kids are not learning how to eat whole fruit today, and that may cause them to avoid it later in life.  The second snack of the day is often organic yogurt or dried fruit and nuts.

For meals if I'm making a separate main dish then I keep my sides simple.  I often add a salad and/ or some steamed vegetables with butter from a grass fed cow.

I created an "Easy Dinners" tag with lots of recipes for you all .  You can find it in the column on the right side of this post.

You can also check out tons more ideas by going to the Pintrest page NaturalNats Natalie Kemp!

If you're trying your best, then you are doing awesome!  Great job to all of you!!!  

Remember to cut yourself some slack, and it's okay if some days are just survival mode.  Eating healthy is a journey and I hope it's a great one for you!

What are somethings that you do to make eating and cooking healthy more realistic for you?

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