Monday Mission: YOUR Top 3 Real Food Tips

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Your mission, if you choose to accept, is to think back to when you first transitioned to real food.

(If you never had to transition, then your mission is to thank your mother!)

Top 3 Real Food Tips for Healthy Living - what to buy, what not to buy, how to choose recipes

Last week we shared our top 3 frugal tips to help save others’ pocketbooks, and this week, we’re going to help save people in the kitchen.

Type out your TOP 3 real food rookie tips, either the easiest first steps to make, a tip to make real food possible without losing your sanity, OR the stuff that is most important to focus on if you can only make one change at a time.

I’m not even sure what my 3 will be as I type this section, so I really anticipate some incredible answers from all of you.

You may have noticed already that the January Monday Missions are part of a series. The four pillars of Kitchen Stewardship that we all try to keep in balance are:

  • nutrition
  • budget
  • environment
  • time

This month of “fresh starts” is a great time to prioritize your own “must-do” lists and help others out in their journey.

UPDATE: Here’s a huge list from readers on Facebook – what great ideas!

My Top 3 Real Food Tips

When I was trying to make this list, I kept thinking of things that I love either because they save money or save time in order to make real food easier…but I’m going to try to choose 3 strategies that actually help our family eat more real food and do it better. Here goes!

Number One: Buy Produce

Farmers Market vegetables (2) (475x317)

This almost sounds silly – I’m saying that to eat real food, meaning food that comes from the ground or eats things that grow in the ground – you have to buy it first.

Let me explain.

When I was a couponer, I would meal plan based largely on the sales at the grocery store that week. Sure, I’d buy whatever fruits and veggies were on sale, but rarely anything beyond that other than lettuce for salad.

I’m telling you that if that’s your habit, you’ve got to tell yourself to buy more produce. You certainly don’t have to spend an arm and a leg, but if you want truly fresh food, you can’t always rely on sales.

I still shop seasonal fruit, which means I am buying the sale items, but I also add cucumbers, avocados, pea pods, lettuce, greens (for cooking), and occasionally cauliflower or broccoli when it’s not on sale. In the summer, I buy everything I can see at the Farmer’s Market and have a field day figuring out how to use it all (or preserve it – like the bushel or so of peppers in my freezer, one reason I only buy that item fresh when it’s on sale).

If you have produce in the house, you’re more likely to eat it. So buy some and see what happens.

Number Two: Don’t Buy Junk


I’m going to get a “stating the obvious” trophy, but it’s really true. If you want to commit to eating real food, you’ll be far more successful if you don’t have fall-back convenience foods like frozen pizza, boxed granola bars, and canned soup around.

At some point, you just have to stop buying them…so why not now?

It seems that change in the kitchen really starts in the grocery store

Number Three: Find Recipes You can Handle

Cheeseburger Soup with bacon and pickles

Nothing is more frustrating than failure.

If you grab three new recipes for one dinner and try to juggle them all while your kids are vying for your attention and the phone is ringing, you’re likely going to end up with a late dinner, potentially sub-par results and almost certainly a below average attitude, and I’m being generous.

Try one new recipe at a time.

Choose recipes for which you recognize the ingredients.

Try to plan ahead so that you can begin your meal prep during nap, the night before, or just about anytime other than 30 minutes before dinnertime. Slow cooker meals are excellent options, soups are simple and make tons of leftovers, and basics like stir fry, grilled meats and veggies and dinner-sized salads can’t be discounted. (Watch Friday for some deals on two marvelous slow cooker books!)

I’ll try not to be biased, but I can say honestly that many people write to tell me that my recipes are down-to-earth and family-friendly – so if you don’t know where to start, you might check them out.

What do you do to make real food possible in your home?


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1 Bite of Conversation So Far

  1. Abi Craig says

    I definitely have my mom to thank for many of my real food tendencies and habits!

    I think my biggest tip for anyone embarking on a real food journey would be, Find A Friend! If you know someone who already thinks/cooks that way, spend more time with them . . . observe, participate, go shopping (online or in town) or make a meal together, ask questions, get one of their family’s favorite recipes to incorporate into your meal plan. If you don’t already have a friend like that in your circle, inspire a friend to join you in your journey so you can try new things together (literally or each in your own kitchen), share successes and failures and learn from each others attempts. Anything is more fun and more do-able together.

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