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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How will you eat “real food” this week?