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Friends, I talk about baby steps for a reason. If something seems like it’s going to take too much time, effort or mental energy, I get anxious about it, push it further down on the list,  and generally avoid tackling that project until I have to. That may be “never” for some things.

I need manageable bites. Tell me to get an oil change for my van, and I will put it off for a week. Hand me a phone number and tell me to call and schedule an appointment for the oil change, and it’s done within the hour. Easy, baby steps are all I can handle. And one thing at a time, please!

I always had a hunch that a lot of people were like me in that way. Kitchen Stewardship has validated the fact that I’m not the only person who can’t be superwoman, at least not in one impressive leap.

Top 10 Baby Steps to Success with Real Food and Natural Living

Let’s just start with ten –

Top 10 Kitchen Stewardship Foundational Habits

These are some of the foundational things that I do in the kitchen. They are a good place to start because they make an impressive difference – most of them positively impact nutrition, budget AND environment. 3-for-1 deals are the best kind. :)

It’s still important to tackle ONE of them at a time, but this list is less daunting to look at than the 100+ Monday Missions we have shared since 2009. Prioritizing is vital to your success! (The Top 10 is in order of importance.)

Take it one step at a time.

If you’re just starting your journey to real food, you really can’t do it all at once. Impossible.


In school, we teach kids to recognize their letters, learn the names and sounds of the letters, then blend them together to make words. We never ask a preschooler to learn to read and write without these basic building blocks.

Consider this list your chance to have some real food flash cards, some floor puzzles to help you get the alphabet in order, and some practice connecting sounds together to make words.

Format: Each baby step will be listed with two bullet points, the first sharing WHY you want to make the change, and the second giving direction on HOW to make it happen.

1. Cut out Artificial Sweeteners and Trans Fat

Nutrition facts and measure tape

  • Artificial sweeteners and trans fat are barely related to food. They’re not real food. Don’t eat them.
  • To implement this, become a label reader. You’ll learn a lot in the process, buy less processed food, and begin to prepare yourself for more advanced steps. Click the links to learn about what nasty words to look for on the labels. EDIT 2015 – “trans fat” has officially been banned by the FDA (after they allowed it in foods for decades, harumph). But you should still avoid fake fats, including anything “hydrogenated” or “interesterified.”

2. Use Healthy Fats

Healthy Fats Facts

  • Americans have a vast imbalance of omega 3s and omega 6s, which causes inflammation and disease. You also need some traditional fats, those we’ve been eating for thousands of years, to replace any trans fats you cut out of your cupboards.
  • What can you do to switch to healthy fats?

1. Switch to full fat dairy – this change doesn’t need any new money or routines, you just pick up a different color container next time you shop.

2. Use butter instead of margarine.

3. Try coconut oil. It’s awesome and versatile!

4. Work on cutting down on industrial oils to reduce your omega 6s (the inflammatory ones). These include corn, soybean, canola, safflower, sunflower, and “vegetable” oil.

5. Try including olive oil as a replacement for the above in cold applications. If you eat salad, you’ll be hard pressed to find salad dressings without corn or soybean oils, so you may need to make homemade dressings, unless you want to spend $5/bottle. (Olive oil is mostly omega 9s.)

No fair, right? That was totally NOT one change. To take baby steps, do them in order, one at a time. Fats are important!

3. Plan Ahead: Meal Planning is a Must!

Taco Quinoa Chili

  • Meal planning will save money by avoiding impulse buys and emergency pizza nights, and you can balance your nutrition between different meats. Planning makes it possible to do things like soak dry beans and use ingredients like chicken stock or fresh spinach twice in a week to streamline your cooking and avoid waste.
  • Just do it. Use a piece of paper, an online meal planner like Plan to Eat (which will also make grocery lists for you, store recipes, and nearly cook your supper for you…not really that last one), an Excel document, a chalkboard…whatever works for you and gets you planning ahead, do it. More on menu planning.

4. Make Homemade Yogurt

How to Make Homemade Yogurt

  • At least begin to consume plain yogurt in an effort to (a) include probiotics in your life and (b) reduce your dependence on sweeteners. When you have a lot of it around, you eat it more often, too.
  • My homemade yogurt method makes it easy to make a quart, two quarts, or a whole gallon at a time.

5. Make Traditional Bone Broth

Benefits of Drinking Bone Broth

6. Use Dry Beans

How to Cook with Dry Beans - Legumes

  • Beans (legumes) pack in the fiber, iron, and protein, all for much less than animal sources of protein (more nutritional benefits). I’m not saying that meat is bad for you – on the contrary, I’d like to see you save money making yogurt, stock, and using dry beans instead of canned, and then spend it on higher quality, well-raised meat.
  • Cooking large batches and freezing adds the convenience of a can (almost) back into the process, and you can find tons of recipes in The Everything Beans Book. Learn to cook with dry beans and save tons of $$.

7. Make Non-toxic Homemade Cleaners

Make Homemade Cleaners

  • Not only are most commercial cleaners full of toxins that can harm your family, but they’re far more expensive than simple, homemade cleaners using only a few ingredients.
  • You can put perfectly nourishing food IN your bodies, but if your indoor air quality is making your family sick, it won’t matter. Don’t use bleach. Avoid triclosan.
  • Start with baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and vinegar. You can find lots of ideas for how to use these simple homemade cleaners, plus other products, mostly inexpensive, for the few places the triple threat doesn’t cut it.

8. Learn to Eat Nutrient-dense Foods

Healthy fats in an Avocado

  • Ask not what you can take out of your food, but what your food can put into you. This takes mental energy but not much physical time or money.
  • Read two paradigms of healthy eating:  rather than to work hard at doing a zillion new things, figure out what regular old foods you can focus on to be as healthy as you can (like onions and garlic for immunities, EVOO and avocado for healthy fats, for one example).

9. Do Something About Grains

100 percent whole wheat soaked breadmaker bread recipe

  • Grains are such a hotly debated topic – some say eat only whole grains; some say those are no good unless soaked, sprouted, or soured; some say soaking is bunk; some say skip the grains altogether.

For baby steps, you can’t get too deeply into that topic yet. However –

  • You should definitely lose the white flour bread and crackers. If you don’t know what to replace them with, don’t. Just cut. (How to know if your bread has white or whole grains.)
  • If you feel like trying soaking grains, start with soaked oatmeal. It’s super easy, pinkie swear. A perfect baby step. Read more about it when you’re ready.
  • Try making homemade bread, or start by keeping an eye out for a used breadmaker.
  • If whole wheat bread seems to be heavy or uncomfortable for you to eat, I encourage you to try going grain-free for a couple days. Just eat meats and veggies, fruits and nuts, and see how you feel. Beyond the trial period, the least expensive way to go grain-free is to buy one bag of coconut flour and find some simple pancakes, muffins, etc. using it, but mostly just eat lots of veggies, legumes, potatoes, fruits and meats. (More here.)

I know, another cheater with multiple steps…I’m sorry!

10. Reduce your Dependence on Sweeteners

Maple Syrup

  • No matter what people say about the health benefits of certain natural sweeteners, the fact is that they all have carbs and contribute less to your overall health than they may harm.
  • The simple step here is to avoid worrying about all those “natural” sweeteners, forgo deciding if paying quadruple for a bag of sugar is worth it – just decrease the amount of sweetener you consume, period.First, cut out all high fructose corn syrup. Whether you believe that HFCS is far worse than white sugar or trust the ‘corn sugar’ commercials, either way, high fructose corn syrup has no redeeming value and adds empty calories and carbs to your diet. It is not healthy in any amount, and it’s a marker of a highly processed food.

    Cut it out for a week and see if you miss the foods that contain it (LOTS of them). Second, you can also work hard to reduce your white sugar consumption. Try having fruit for dessert in an effort to tame your sweet tooth.

Wondering what these steps look like in a real life kitchen? Read how a real food rookie implemented these baby steps in the Back to Basics Baby Step Mini-Challenge from Spring 2013 here.

You’ll connect immediately with Tiffany’s yen to do it all at once, the overwhelmed feeling, and finally, the baby steps to success!

 

What Comes Next?

In order to accomplish these baby steps, the amount of boxed and bottled food you buy will drastically diminish. If sticking to a budget is part of your balancing act, you’ll find yourself making a lot from scratch – another opportunity to be overwhelmed as far as where to start.

I would recommend taking note of what processed food (box or bottle) you use most often during the course of one week. That’s where you want to learn the “from-scratch” version, because it will affect your family the most frequently.

Also consider the cost savings of making your own over buying a “better” processed version. There are some things, like real sourdough bread, that are nearly impossible to purchase, nutritionally. You have to make them.

Other foods, like butter, cottage cheese, and sour cream, don’t have much financial savings when you make your own, so it’s best, in my opinion (unless you own a cow), to find a good source to purchase those items.

Finally others, like pasta, may just have to remain an exception. That’s something I’ve never made, because I just can’t budget the time to do it, so we simply use pasta less often (I’ve started putting sauces over rice instead – easier and less expensive than gluten-free pasta!).

Last, but definitely not least, be sure to stay connected in prayer. Do your best and give God the rest. He’ll take good care of you.

Thanks for joining me on this journey to better kitchen (and life) stewardship.

If you’re looking for the next steps, I have a few “advanced” baby steps for you right HERE.

Need to step back even further and just tackle a few things, and even this list is overwhelming you? I got ya covered. Here are the top THREE things you can do to just focus on NUTRITION ALONE without much commitment or spending in order to get a change and make a start (requested by my bachelor friend, Joe).

Want to SEE what you need to do? Traditional Cooking School has an incredibly comprehensive eCourse called Fundamentals that will walk you through traditional foods step by step. (No videos for you? Get the eBook instead.)


Click here for my disclaimer and advertising disclosure - affiliate links in this post will earn commission based on sales, but it doesn't change your price.

51 Bites of Conversation So Far

  1. says

    I very clearly remember the feeling of being overwhelmed with all the new info I learned about eating healthier. It seemed that more was coming at me by the hour. This is bad, this is good, that will kill you, don’t buy those!

    I wrote a similar post to help my readers who are where I was not so long ago:

    http://kellythekitchenkop.com/2009/02/overwhelmed-with-eating-healthier-another-random-reader-question.html

    Thanks for joining in on Real Food Wednesday, Katie. :)
    .-= Kelly the Kitchen Kop´s last blog ..Real Food Wednesday 11/25/09 =-.

    • Katie says

      Kelly,

      Thanks for providing that link – I had thought at one point of including it in my post, but when I was finishing it up I completely forgot. Baby steps are key! Have a great Thanksgiving…Katie

  2. Amy Floyd says

    I’ve been working on my family’s diet overhaul for just over a year now since my daughter’s cancer diagnosis. Before that time, I would have said that our family ate healthier than most. But after that diagnosis, I really put a lot of effort into it. I would tell someone new to this to #1: absolutely get rid of the HFCS and the veggie oils (except Olive oil) . If they do nothing but this, or if they spend months focusing on this alone, then their family’s diet will automatically be better.

    • Katie says

      Amy,
      What a motivation to work on your family’s diet…I’m so thankful you shared this with us. May I ask how your daughter is doing? I can’t imagine working on all this in the midst of a health crisis, but then again, there’s no more important time to do the overhaul. Good for you for taking a look at dietary health as one source of healing for something as monumental as cancer. I’m sure you know more about treating disease via nutrition than I do. One thought popped into my head, and I remembered this fact b/c I read it when I was sharing a meal with a friend with cancer: Sally Fallon in Nourishing Traditions says not to use dishwasher detergent when caring for someone with cancer – to handwash and rinse twice instead. I’m guessing you could also use a natural DW detergent, but I’m not sure. May God bless your family with great inner peace and a focus on the joy of Heaven, as well as healing here on earth.
      In Him,
      Katie

  3. elaine says

    Excellent post, Katie! I have been working on changing things over for over 10 years (omitting bad oils, HFCS, etc. and grinding my own wheat) but only came across “Nourishing Traditions” 2 years ago. I felt completely overwhelmed – again! I had to read the book 2 or 3 times in small sections to just get a grasp on it and begin to take those baby steps you mentioned. Finding blogs at the beginning of this year and gleaning all the wonderful information from them has been an absolute livesaver for me. I am sure I would have abandoned the whole process if I hadn’t had this “online support system” Thanks so much to you and the other real food bloggers who break it down for us so well!
    Happy Thanksgiving!!

    • Katie says

      Elaine,
      I don’t grind my own wheat yet, but I’m thinking a grain grinder is on my Christmas wish list. Next Monday’s mission is to soak your oatmeal, which I think is a great baby step (b/c it’s ultimately so easy) toward the whole grains issue, which I haven’t really touched here at Kitchen Stewardship. Thanks for the uplifting note!
      :) Katie

  4. says

    What a great post. One thing I think about is how this isn’t a ladder straight up, it’s a spiral and a roller coaster. I was doing great for a while – organic meat and veg, no eating out, hardly any sweets, non toxic cleaners – and then life got in the way. I’m crawling my way back out, baby step at a time. This week’s habit – flossing! Next week’s – organic produce!

    Thanks for a great post.
    .-= Alyss´s last blog ..What to Do with Green Tomatoes? =-.

  5. says

    the second letter you received raises some great questions yet to me the answers aren’t as simple as I wish they were!

    the sad fact is people do get “used to” the taste of “garbage” food, ie. highly processed food that isnt made with real food ingredientsand is instead made with flavor enhancers (msg and worse), trans fats, high fructose corn syrup and food colorants.

    i think a lot of moms are scared their children will stop eating if they stopped offering the usual foods they are used to. for a while, like a day or two, a child may not eat much, or anything, if all of a sudden put on a healthier diet.

    but if you child is not on the autism spectrum or doesn’t have other neuro/psycho/social issuesor other special needs, chances are they will never starve themselves to the point of any health danger.

    kids have a natural, perfect desire to survive and thrive!

    try to offer fresh fruits (most kids seem tolike fruit), vegetables, whole-milk dairy products, meats and maybe some 100% whole grain foods and they will soon eat it, so long as nothing crappy is offered. meaning NO soda or sugary drinks, not even juice (at least not every day), as its all empty calories that fill them up so they arent hungry for actual food.

    start simple and make a “normal” meal, like hamburgers and home fries using grass fed ground beef, 100% whole grain buns, potatoes fried in coconut oil or tallow or lard and seasoned with sea salt,oregano and paprika. steam broccoli lightly and cover in melted butter and some freshly grated parmisean cheese. let them have a dollop of ketchup (look for one made with no hfcs like whole foods brand) and feel good about feeding your family good, simple food.
    .-= emily´s last blog ..Eliza Jane is One Year Old! =-.

    • Katie says

      Emily,
      Awesome addition to the tip list. Our family’s favorite summer meal was pretty much what you described – it is made BETTER than standard with all the good ingredients!
      Thank you so much,
      Katie

  6. says

    This is such an important topic to discuss, as I think often our posts about all we are doing sounds overwhelming.

    I always say to start with what you eat the most of, change that, and then move on down the list.

    We started out by switching our milk to grass-fed organic, and eventually to raw.

    I was already buying good bread, but I eventually started making my own (but that was NOT one of my first changes) but we do eat a lot of sandwiches so buying good bread (without HFCS and trans fats) was important to me.

    I found a source for pastured eggs and chickens and started buying that instead of industrial eggs and chicken at the store. I started making chicken stock and storing it.

    We bought a half a cow, grass-fed, locally raised, and stocked our freezer.

    Beyond that, I try not to make things with cream of fill-in-the-blank soups. (I used to use them a lot.) I try to buy either local or organic veggies (it’s hard to find veggies that are both).

    I use sucanat and honey in baking and try not to buy processed snacks.

    It really is a journey, taking it one step at a time is KEY.
    .-= Musings of a Housewife´s last blog ..Black Fashion Friday =-.

    • Katie says

      Beth,
      I hear so much about it…but so haven’t found the time. I would love to see it! Glad to hear another good recommendation, and welcome to KS!
      :) Katie

  7. Kate says

    Katie,

    I would just like to tell you that your blog is wonderful. It is my favorite ‘nourishing food’ blog. The way you write makes me feel like you are right there in the kitchen with me, helping me figure out just how to tackle all of these changes! I have 7 mo. old twins in cloth diapers who nurse constantly and am still able to make time to soak my beans/grains, make my own bread, etc. (Homemade yogurt & wild sourdough are next!) I just want to let anyone who is overwhelmed know that they can do it!

    • Katie says

      Kate,
      You are my new hero! 7mo twins in cloth diapers?? That alone is amazing, and you can spend time in the kitchen, too. Wow. My dear friend has 1yo twins, and she still seems to be juggling so very much. Of course, she also has a 5yo and 3yo, so the household is pretty busy. I am very impressed with you commitment!

      Don’t tell anyone, but my dirty little secret is that I never used cloth diapers! Yikes!

      Thank you so much for your kind compliments – I’m happy to be invited into your kitchen (I’ll watch the twins for you next time, and you cook dinner. We’ll make the men do the dishes, right?) 😉 Katie

  8. says

    Oh, thank you SO much for this post. I’m already doing most of these, but it’s going to be my go-to post to refer other people I’m “converting,” into understanding that the small first steps are the ones that will lead to a healthier foundation!

    Again, I am just so enamored with all the information you’re providing here! I can feel myself being “realer” already.
    .-= Leslie @ crunchybetty.com´s last blog ..Very Important Things – Watch and Do Now! =-.

  9. says

    Hi :-)

    We have had a fair share of health problems in my family lately (a lot of them are mine as well), and I have just been researching on how to better our health. I too feel a little overwhelmed with all the changes I have to make (and with health problems it is sometimes difficult to just do the basics to get by), but this week I bought only basic ingredients and produce, and have been making our bread (and a few batches of cookies as well ;-p) for us all to eat. That is a big thing for me, but I promised myself a week to see how well I could do, and to give a point to start with and ‘tweak’

    I can see there has got to be a lot of changes, but I decided to just take it one babystep at a time, and I wrote this post about it:
    http://purposefulwomanhood.net/?p=161

    I love your blog, and I am sure you will see many more comments from me as I look around and READ, READ, READ! Thank you for giving a true, balanced, healthful and REALISTIC example, and reading this post (and many of the comments also) have made me feel like these small changes at a time will add up to become a BIG change

    Warmest blessings,
    Angela

    • Katie says

      Angela,
      I’m already proud of you! I just did some processing and thinking about our food purchases (and budget) after two years of making baby step changes, and I’m telling ya, one thing at a time makes a MASSIVE difference. I can’t even believe how far we’ve come, and in the first year, it made no difference in our budget at all. God bless ALL your efforts!!! :) Katie

  10. Joy says

    Olive oil has more omega-6 than omega-3. Canola oil actually has more omega-3’s than olive oil (also more omega-6, but ratio may be similar).

    Flaxseed oil is probably the best omega-3 to omega-6 ratio; more 3 than 6, and a lot more 3 than olive and canola.

    I think we should be careful with oils, in general though, especially when heating (their chemical structure changes).

  11. Bettina says

    Thanks for the advice. My favourite is No. 3 “make homemade when it counts!” I stopped trying to make sauerkraut since I can get probiotics from kefir, which is a lot easier to make in my opinion, and I still have more important things to change about our diet. Love the picture!

  12. says

    Hello,
    I’m a new follower through email subscription. I am so happy to have found your site. I’m a couponer (NOT extreme), that is discouraged with what I’m saving on. I’m hoping to gain knowledge on how I can stretch my dollar on the healthier side of the grocery store.

    We are not very finicky eater and enjoy the taste of healthy food. I am VERY lucky that my DD loves healthy choices. She would much rather have the broccoli rather than the french fries when out in a restaurant and prefers whole grain bread over white. However, we are guilty of having some unhealthy processed foods in the house!

    I’m so happy to have found you through “Girls to Grow” Saturday Salutes. I look forward to gaining much knowledge here!

    I also would like to invite you to my brand new “Thrifty Peach Blog Hop” (debuted 8/16/11) next Tuesday to share one of your great posts. I think my readers would love to hear from you.

    I hope you have a blessed weekend!
    Jennifer

  13. Nancy king says

    Another one to see that especially talks about foods and what we eat, why we’re sick & getting cancers is Food Matters-both this one and Food Inc. can be watched directly from Netflix. Both are “Must See” & can convince husbands & others into wanting to change their diet pronto!

    • Stephanie Wasenko says

      Hey,
      I am totally into making everything homemade without all the added (unnecessary) ingredients and try my best to support our local town by visiting the markets and eating local. I believe it will help in terms of long-term health and just feeling better in general. I have seen Food inc., and they certainly stretch the truth in that video. They had a goal in mind and they certainly did what they could to make sure people saw it. Now, I am not to say there aren’t bad people out there who don’t raise their animals the right way but that is a very unrealistic look at most farms. There are bad doctors, pet owners, and teachers etc., but not everyone works that way. Farmers are in it because they love to do what they do and I am a farmer. I do have a feedlot ( very small-100 head) but know every cow and care for every cow individually. I always wonder how much research has been done after people watch it to find the credibility/sources of information behind it. I do believe we need to care for our animals and it is a challenge to feed our ever-growing world but I also believe there needs to be a better relationship between people in cities who are a few generations removed from the farm and their food suppliers/farmers. Like some of you mentioned, getting to know these people by visiting the farmers and local markets can do a lot of good. I don’t want to sound as though I’m defending the video, because I am not but think about reality and think about what farmers have to go through to make the food they make today. They don’t make the rules/regulations. They only work hard to grow the food. Go meet a local farmer and ask ask ask away everything you’d like to know. I believe farmers want to help educate and they will help you to understand what farming is on a personal level rather than taking what we see on TV as being true all the time.

      • Stephanie Wasenko says

        Oh and I also love the recipes and will totally be trying them. Especially the english muffins! Who knew they were so easy!

  14. Tabitha says

    This is just what I needed!!! I have been struggling with everything you mentioned. And I become overwhelmed and it all seems to be an insurmountable task. I hope with your encouragement and tips that I too can be on my way to better kitchen stewardship(and in other ways as well!!! Thanks

  15. says

    Wow, this is a great article, and an important topic to share with friends and family. I think living in this way is often perceived as very difficult, or not worth it, by people who have yet to try it, but when it comes down to it, it only takes a few lifestyle choices to live a healthier, fuller life.

  16. says

    I know this post is old, but I just found it today. I really appreciate your exploration of getting everyone on board. My husband is the stay-at-home parent and *I* am actually the one dragging my feet on some of these things. When he stopped buying white flour, I sighed. When he started paying extra for farmers market chickens, I got tense. But the kids a) haven’t even noticed their cookies, waffles and pancakes are whole-wheat and b) definitely have noticed how much better our meat tastes! Thank you for blogging.

  17. Amy P says

    I just discovered your blog today, and I think I’ve spent every spare moment reading various articles and making a list of things to change now and later on. We are pretty good about eating homemade foods, mostly because my husband hates restaurants and most processed food, but I still rely on things like canned beans (the extremely reduced sodium kind) and sweetened yogurt (with a good ingredient list) and the like. But I think I’m about ready to take some more steps, so here I go!

  18. Jenny says

    After having to give all four of my children asthma treatments every day for years, having major back problems, and then getting tendonitis in both ankles which caused me to sit more than play with my children, I made a massive overhaul in our diet. We were already half way there, but adding more vegetables, little to no processed foods and more water and yogurt, along with the other items on your list above, have turned our entire family around. EVERYONE’s asthma went away within 6 months, my tendonitis…gone, back spasms.. gone. I have more energy than I’ve had in years. I still struggle with cravings for sweets, but am thankful that I know how to fill up our family with good things that GIVE us ENERGY and Strength. I trust the Lord, as well, to sustain us each and every day. THANK YOU. Food is medicine!

    • Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship says

      Jenny,
      My jaw literally dropped when I read your success. A.Maze.Ing. I am so thrilled and blessed to be even a tiny part of your journey. What incredible turnarounds! I’m just speechless. Yes! God is so good to give us good things to eat! Yipeeee!!

      Many more blessings to you and yours,
      Katie

  19. says

    what do you think about home canning? certainly not a lot of vinegar/salt recipes, but making beans and canning for convienance, canning your own spaghetti sauce when your garden is overflowing with tomatoes, etc. I have been eating a pretty whole foods diet for many years, sugar and lots of carbs being my main vice, and I am a recovering vegetarian trying to get over the mental blocks I have to eating meat. My family raises chicken and rabbits for meat and I haven’t been able to bring myself to eat them even though I know they are good for me! I have been able to incorporate fish, at least. Anyway, I appreciate reading your posts. It is encouraging.

    • Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship says

      Jennifer,
      Great question, and very timely! I do can some things, especially tomatoes, which are actually healthier (releases lycopene) when cooked. And I do pickles, cause I like them. :)

      If I grew my own green beans, etc, I would probably have to can b/c I don’t have the freezer space to put it up, so you know, you do what you can! Def. make that spaghetti sauce, and work up to adding the meat – you can do it! I think it’s awesome that you’re making the attempts! (and so sorry I missed your comment for so long)

      :) Katie

  20. Maria Sant says

    hi, just found your site as i was looking for better ways to cook for my family as i have had a heart attack and my husband has type 2 diabetes … we have been struggling for years as what is best to cook and buy and i’ve been cutting down and still don’t seem to get anywhere … i’m overweight and try as i might never seem to loose any… i’ve done ‘some’ back to basics but i see i’m just gonna have to ‘bite the bullet’ and start your baby steps to changing full time to basics …. i think your site is great … and look forward to reading more and being slightly overwhelmed like the rest …lol… but as with everything your right … *baby steps* thanks

  21. Sandra Goldstein says

    This information is incredibly helpful. It can be terribly overwhelming when you begin on a real food journey -but it does get easier over time! The baby steps you provided are manageable, “bite size” pieces of information. Healthy eating is truly a dynamic process.

    I think many of us have become accustomed to eating out of packages for the sake of convenience. It’s all about making the time for the health of you and your family. Making healthy eating and real food preparation a priority is a great jumping off point. For me personally, once I figured that part out, the rest was actually quite fun and easy. Seeing what worked and what didn’t work for me (like those controversial grains!) was all about trial and error.

    I love that you talked about full fat foods. It’s no coincidence that with the advent of commercial fat-free or low-fat foods coincided with the obesity and diabetes epidemic. I find that good quality fat at a meal keeps me satiated and crushes my sugar cravings. And I too love coconut oil. It’s so versatile -I get a bit panicky when I run out!

    Cutting out added and artificial sugars has probably been the hardest part for me in my transition to a real foods diet. I do my best to avoid HFCS, but I do indulge in the occasional treat from a local bakery. What are your thoughts on eating some of these “less real” foods in moderation? Is it all or nothing? I know you mentioned eating fruits when a sugar craving hits, but do you have any other tips for those (me!) with a major sweet tooth?

    Great post. I’m going to keep these tips handy for when I need a real foods refresher!

  22. Kristi says

    Hi, I am new to this blog and really interested in serving more wholesome food. We make a lot of stuff on our own but are always looking for more that we can do ourselves. We live in a rural village in Alaska with no stores at all so the ability to “shop locally” isn’t really an option. For someone like me who has to ship in all of our groceries, how do you recommend me getting these wholesome grains and meats, etc? We are hoping to have a garden here this summer and do a lot of canning, which I have never done. We also hope to catch salmon and pick lots of berries in July. Any suggestions you can think of?

    • says

      Kristi,
      First, your goals with gardening, salmon, and berries are PERFECT for Alaska, so you’re definitely on the right track and capturing your best possibilities.

      As for meats, I’d try to source elk/moose/other local items if possible. Other than that, it will be expensive, so meat will almost have to become a “seasoning” rather than the central item in your meal. Tropical Traditions and US Wellness Meats are two places you can order from, and sometimes TT even has free shipping to AK! (although I’m not sure of the refrigerated items) Many people order whole grains via Amazon, Azure Standard, and other places, so it all depends on who delivers to AK. I hope that gives you someplace to start! I recommend buying in bulk to save $…

      Good luck with your new real food journey! :) Katie

  23. Laurie says

    We homeschooled our children, some of whom would have been labeled ADHD by the school system, given the chance. Some of them drove me CRAZY until during my 5th pregnancy, when I developed terrible chemical sensitivities. This was the beginning of chemical-free living for us, and it was forced upon us — it’s hard to function as a family when Mom can’t wash the dishes, the laundry, or even her hair. While searching for answers for myself, I had to necessarily change the diet and living environment of our entire family. The effects on our children shocked me. Our son, who could NOT control himself most of the time, became a normal, sane human being. That was all the encouragement I needed to continue down this path.

  24. Niletza Esquilin says

    Excellent post, Katie! This information is incredibly helpful. I love coconut oil too.I use an organic coconut butter that is tasteless and odourless. I don’t especially like the taste or smell of coconut, although I do like coconut water, and don’t want the food I cook in it to taste of coconut either.

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