WARNING: NOVEL POST AHEAD. TAKE FREQUENT POTTY AND SNACK BREAKS! (I know I need to work on posting more frequently with shorter posts… trust me, I know! I hate long posts too!)
As my husband and I go along this real food adventure we began recently, I thought it would be fun to chronicle the steps I’ve taken and continue to take and share them with you! It will be fun to look back on all I’ve learned and remind me to take this one little step at a time. It can definitely be overwhelming otherwise! This list may sound like a lot (and honestly, it has been), but these are changes we hope to stick with for years and years. Many of these steps have cost us a pretty big bag of change, but since we’ve started budgeting (using pearbudget.com) these last few months, we’ve been able to save, plan, and not overspend despite all these new things we’ve bought. It also helps knowing that pretty much every purchase I’ve made to be healthier will also save us money over time as well. That’s the plan… healthier yet frugal!
- Cleaned out our kitchen of anything with high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, MSG, refined white flours/sugars, and most foods with any type of soy. This actually wasn’t too much work for us, but I was still shocked at how many foods we had that have at least one of those ingredients! Basically anything in a box, wrapper, or processed…
-Stopped buying and drinking pasteurized/homogonized milks, along with most pasteurized cheeses. Trader Joe’s sells some raw milk cheeses, hooray!
-Started buying pastured eggs and grass-fed beef from a “local” farm. (They are a couple hours away but make stops in our town every couple weeks, how convenient!) Helps too that the farmers are so incredibly friendly and knowledgeable, and young! http://www.farmsweetfarm.com is their site, check it out! We plan to buy 1/4 of a cow from them (in mixed cuts) later this year once we save up for it and get ourselves a chest freezer off of craigslist to store it!
-Stopped using canola oil and all processed vegetable oils and now cook/bake with primarily coconut oil (I bought from mountainroseherbs.com ) and/or butter (discovered organic butter at Costco and Kellygold Irish butter at Trader Joe’s and Costco!)
-Started making homemade salad dressings! (I know this is a no-brainer, but I’ve never done it!) First one was simply a mix of red wine vinegar and EVOO! Needs some salt/pepper but we liked it. I also learned to not store your olive oil in sunlight since it will go rancid quickly. My olive oil was probably over a year old and was sitting on our counter that whole time, so I got us some new organic EVOO from Costco. Yum! We eat organic spinach (also from Coscto) salads probably every other day.
-Stopped using our microwave and use only our toaster oven or oven to reheat foods. Takes a little extra time and planning but tastes way better (and more evenly heated) while still retaining the nutrients!
-Bought foods in bulk from a great co-op in Oregon called Azure Standard (www.azurestandard.com) such as some flours, beans, oats, sugar (sucanat is yummy!), baking soda, arrowroot powder. They deliver once a month to a drop site in the Twin Cities. Fun to go pick up a big order each month and to maybe meet some other real foodies!
-Replaced our teflon cookware with some ceramic glazed eco-friendly cookware (www.xtrema.com). So far we like it, although we do miss our teflon non-stick skillet for making eggs. Also, learned that even our cast iron and stainless steel cookware is probably not the best, but still using it for now. Thankfully we already had a couple ceramic pots of our own (a nice big 6qt LeCreuset one from my sister- THANKS AGAIN! …and a smaller Martha Stewart ceramic pot. Cooks some amazing soups/chilis!)
-Stopped storing or reheating foods in our Rubbermaid plastic containers and bought some Pyrex glass containers. This is what I bring my food to work in and what we store almost all leftovers in. I had a thought on the way home from work tonight to buy our break room a small toaster oven so I don’t have to use microwaves to heat up my food…
-Bought a whole organic free-range chicken from Trader Joe’s and cooked it in a crockpot all day. Shredded up the meat and use in salads and other meals. Froze most of it. Kept the bones and juices to make homemade chicken stock (which I haven’t done yet and probably should soon!)
-Bought us a drinking water filter system (brand: Berkey) that will sit on our counter and filter out the usual nasties PLUS fluoride (researched fluoridation in our town and it looks to be high). This should arrive today in the mail, can’t wait to drink water worry-free again! Also, bought us a cheap shower filter to get rid of chlorine as we shower to protect our lungs and skin. Coconut oil does work great for that dry skin this chlorine has created!
-Started meal planning every two weeks and grocery shopping only every 2 weeks as well to save time/gas/money! (We do have to plan for bi-weekly banana/spinach trips to keep stock since we go through them quickly. I do this on the way home from work to save gas/time as well, thanks TJ’s for being open at 8am now instead of 9am!!) So far the first two weeks went great but we have a lot of leftovers! I didn’t realize how much each meal would last us and how much we usually eat salads rather than “meals”. With my work schedule making me stay up from 4pm-9am most days, I found that we really don’t need to have a full dinner planned most nights, especially since I somehow manage to have it done at 11pm when John is heading to bed and doesn’t want a full dinner served to him! Working on this…
-Soaked lentils overnight for the first time (with water and apple cider vinegar to start breaking them down for better digestion)… I’ve never soaked any legumes before!
-Soaked flour for the first time as well. Made some spelt biscuits (first time having spelt AND making biscuits, too!). Made some blueberry muffins using whole wheat pastry flour, coconut oil, and sucanat sugar (and the usual other ingredients). Learned that mixing melted coconut oil with frozen blueberries does NOT work well, since the oil hardens right away! Still tasted great even without good mixing!
-Stopped buying canned tomatoes due to BPA leaching. Now buy either paper-box strained or chopped tomatoes (brand: POMI) or glass jars of either organic strained tomatoes or organic tomato paste (brand: Bionaturae). Check out vitacost.com and tropicaltraditions.com for good prices on each, respectively. Returned the ones we got at Costco. LOVE their return policy! We’ve been able to afford most of this stuff from returns we’ve made lately!
-Just yesterday, bought our first 1/2 gallon jug of real raw milk from a local farmer! My first taste was not bad, but different. I was nervous!! This is coming from someone who has loved skim milk for years, and also I had just eaten half of a bar of dark chocolate… so nothing tastes too amazing after that! We’d prefer to buy raw goat’s milk instead of cow’s milk, but it is much more expensive and so far we haven’t found a local source for it. Wish we could have our own goat (and chicken) in our backyard. (We checked our city ordinance and it’s not allowed… also they only allow 3 dogs, strange huh?)
Plans for the near future…
-Start planning how to grow a simple garden in our backyard this summer to supply us with hopefully some tomatoes, different lettuces, and maybe some peppers and cucumbers, too! I found a book I plan to read to help me get started.
-Learn to knead dough by hand so I can start making our own homemade bread. There’s some great mixing/kneading machines out there that I’d love to have but can’t afford quite yet (or for awhile since we are also trying to pay off our debt gazelle style now too!). Eventually want to grind our own grains to have fresh flour for these breads and other baked goods. Much tastier and healthier and cheaper, so I’ve heard!
-As mentioned above, make our own chicken stock. This is easy but I just need to do it. My motivation probably isn’t there since I have 5 quarts of organic chicken stock from Costco in our pantry! (Have I convinced you of my love for Costco yet?)
Coming up… the big long list of steps we’ve made in using safer and more natural cleaning/bath/beauty products…