How to eat real food in 8 easy steps

I took a real food mini-pledge this week, staying away from processed foods and refined grains, such as white bread, rice, and pasta. The real food pledge follows Michael Pollan’s Food Rules to not eat anything that your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food or any “edible food-like substances,” such as Twinkies.

So how did I manage to eat real food this week?

1. Plan ahead

The weekends are when I usually prep for the week ahead. Taking steps like soaking and cooking dried beans, making a big batch of brown rice, and getting all of the shopping done set me up for the week ahead.

Beans after soaking

2. Visit farmers markets and bakeries

During my visit to a farmers market, I stocked up on whole grain breads, vegetables, and locally-raised meat.

Moonstruck egg and salad: A meal from the farmers market

3. Make your own

Can’t find a good granola bar source? Make your own. You’ll avoid all of the additives and save money too. I made these baked oatmeal snack bars from Kath Eats Real Food.

This week I packed my own yogurt snack for work made with plain yogurt from a Connecticut farm, fresh mango, and raw honey.

From this:To this:

Yogurt with fresh mango and honey

4. Bring your own

Going to a picnic? Bring a wholesome, “real food” meal to share, and you’ll know that you’ll have something you can enjoy that helps you meet your goals. I made this quinoa bean salad that I adapted from this recipe at 100 Days of Real Food.

Quinoa bean salad

5. Just add water

As I leave work each day, the siren song of the vending machine lures me to get a Diet Coke. I know water is the best, most refreshing liquid around, so why, why, why do I get a Diet Coke so often? The real food pledge helped me to break the habit this week. Packing an extra seltzer for the ride home is a good strategy.

Plug your ears with beeswax to avoid the Siren song

6. Save time (realize it doesn’t have to be more time-consuming)

On an episode of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, he sent a single dad who frequently relied on fast food out to the drive-through window. Before the dad could make it back, he had the man’s two sons prepare a homemade meal that was faster and much more delicious and nutritious than what the dad brought home in the paper bags. It was cheaper too, which brings me to my next point.

7. Save money (realize it doesn’t have to be more expensive)

I made a quick oatmeal with fresh fruit and peanut butter each morning. Each serving cost less than a serving of a processed cereal. Soaking and cooking my own beans was cheaper than the canned beans, and they didn’t have all of that goop on them, of course. Prepared dinners are usually more expensive per serving than making your own. And what is a cheaper and more nutritious food source than a big, five-pound bag of brown rice? Admittedly, the local meat I bought at the farmers market was more expensive than what I get at my local grocery store, but by saving money in other areas, my food budget came out to be about the same, and I felt better about the meat I was serving my family.

8. Finally, stay away from the Twinkies.

I wasn’t perfect this week, so I really haven’t passed this new challenge yet, but by using these tips I had a lot of healthy, wholesome meals, and I will continue to incorporate these strategies into my weekly cooking and planning.

Real food: Lamb sausage, roasted Brussels sprouts, beans, and butternut squash

How will you eat “real food” this week?

About Marcy

I blog about trying to get out of my comfort zone, completing 101 things in 1001 days, and writing my memoirs. I am a teacher and writer living in Connecticut.
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18 Responses to How to eat real food in 8 easy steps

  1. Katie says:

    That’s a really great article…. I’m currently trying not only to lose weight, but to live a healthier lifestyle overall. So this article comes in perfect timing. Thanks!
    Katie recently posted..10 things to come on Kathiza writes.My Profile

  2. Last week I did a whole vegan week… I used a lot of the same tips you mentioned. I’m not doing vegan anymore, but I have definitely incorporated more fresh veggies, and even 1 meatless meal during the week. congrats, eating whole food is definitely a great thing to do for yourself and your family.
    Jackie @ It’s a Wahm Life recently posted..7 Easy Meals for a Delicious, Nutritious WeekMy Profile

  3. I am utterly inspired by your post here! Thanks so much for sharing (especially the diet Coke part — my weakness is diet Pepsi). We’ve moved to a mostly whole foods diet, but we do still compromise from time to time. Thanks, too, for the links in your post which I’m thinking will be helpful finds. Blessings, ~Lisa

    PS: Found you at Healthy 2day Wednesday. :)

  4. Marcy, your 8 steps are wonderful! Making your own is so simple! I would love to make those granola bars! How have your pledges & challenges been going? I love what you have been posting about lately! Hope to see you link up at Healthy 2day Wednesday (again) this week!
    Rachel @ day2day joys recently posted..Yogi Bear’s Jellystone ParkMy Profile

    • Marcy says:

      Thanks. My challenges have been going really well, and now that I am off for the summer I plan on doing a lot more. Thanks for the reminder about the link up.

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  6. This post is so informative and so inspirational! I think my subscribers would really enjoy reading this. I would love for you to come share it at Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways on Frugally Sustainable today. And, I really hope that you will put Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways on your list of carnivals to visit and link to each Wednesday! Here’s the link: http://frugallysustainable.blogspot.com/2011/11/frugal-days-sustainable-ways-1.html

    Warmly,
    Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable
    Here’s the link: http://www.frugallysustainable.com

  7. You made it:) Thank you so very much for linking up to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways:) I’m so happy to “meet” you! I am totally loving your blog and your posts! I really hope you make Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways a part of your Wednesdays! And keep the great posts comin’
    Very sincerely,
    Andrea @ Frugally Sustainable

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