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Monday Missions Baby Steps to Real Food

Monday Missions Checklist – you can take baby steps to real food too!

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Welcome to Kitchen Stewardship®!

Since 2009 we’ve been sharing weekly challenges called “Monday Missions.”

KS readers have taken hundreds of baby steps to real food one week at a time, and they’re all archived here for your convenience. If you’re new to real food, this is definitely where to start.

Unfortunately, they may not be in perfectly logical order, but they’re pretty close.

Want somewhere to start right now that has fewer than 100 items on the list? I don’t blame you! Try the top 10 tips for making changes that make a difference (without tooooo much work):

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What to Buy

Need help knowing how to SHOP now that you want to live more naturally? I share all the products we really use in our home, the results of HUNDREDS of product reviews. You won’t go wrong with our resources page!

KS resources page

Monday Mission Checklist

Join in from the beginning…but you have to promise you won’t laugh at the very very old photos in these early posts, m’kay?!

Or sign up to get the tops in your email:

Need More Baby Steps?

Monday Missions Baby Steps Back to Basics

Here at Kitchen Stewardship, we’ve always been all about the baby steps. But if you’re just starting your real food and natural living journey, sifting through all that we’ve shared here over the years can be totally overwhelming.

That’s why we took the best 10 rookie “Monday Missions” that used to post once a week and got them all spruced up to send to your inbox – once a week on Mondays, so you can learn to be a kitchen steward one baby step at a time, in a doable sequence.

Sign up to get weekly challenges and teaching on key topics like meal planning, homemade foods that save the budget (and don’t take too much time), what to cut out of your pantry, and more.

  1. Handwashing and Antibacterial Soap: Wash hands well and rid the house of triclosan.
  2. Reduce Food Waste: Salvage bread heels and leftover cooked veggies.
  3. Reduce Energy Waste: Using your dishwasher wisely.
  4. Meal Planning: Level up in your meal plan organization.
  5. Safe(er) Plastics: Avoid BPA in drinking containers.
  6. Traditional Bone Broths: How to make the most delicious, frugal, nutritious chicken stock in the world.
  7. Legume Recommend Beans: A challenge to include beans/legumes in your meal plan once a week, with how-to prepare and recipes. They are so healthy!
  8. Making Yogurt: Easy how-to steps to make homemade yogurt, plus alternative baby steps for those who aren’t ready to take the plunge to homemade.
  9. Get the Most Nutrition Out of Your Eggs: A simple challenge to include more of this super food in your week. Here’s how to find the best quality eggs.
  10. Can the Cans: Commit to never allowing canned vegetables in your cupboards.
  11. Mind the Microwave: Try steaming your vegetables instead of using the microwave.
  12. Be Aware of the Dirty Dozen Produce Items: Memorize the list of 12 top pesticide-laden fruits and veggies.
  13. Plastics, Part two: Rethink Plastic Food Storage
  14. Fats, Part one: Search Out Trans Fats (and a look at monounsaturated fats)
  15. Fats, Part two: Increase your Omega-3 Fats (salmon, flax)
  16. Learn About Complete Proteins: You can reduce meat consumption (budget help) if you know how to pair non-meal proteins for best nutrition.
  17. Plastics, Part Three: Reduce Your Consumption of Plastic Bags
  18. Use up ALL your Spinach: Ideas to make sure you don’t waste spinach when you buy a fresh bag or box.
  19. Condiment Awareness: Take a small step (or two or three!) to making more healthy condiment choices.
  20. Analyzing Aluminum Foil: Some tips to help you Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle this non-renewable resource.
  21. Analyzing Aluminum Cookware and Bakeware: What are you cooking on? Ideas to avoid aluminum pots, pans, and cookie sheets.
  22. Conserve Energy with your Stovetop/Oven: 10 tips to cutting your energy and budget waste while cooking and baking.
  23. Switch your Baking Powder to Aluminum-Free: You can buy it for just a teensy bit more than conventional baking powder or make your own.
  24. No More Bleach in the Kitchen: It’s overkill and killing the environment. My easy, natural kitchen cleaning solutions.
  25. Make Your Salads Count: Bring more to your mouth than just lettuce, including healthy fats.
  26. Release Your Fear of Fats: Time to put your thinking caps on and learn a little about how necessary fat is to your body. This will challenge your “low-fat” mentality.
  27. Switch to Butter: The real thing is where it’s at. Read my journey about what I put on my toast and consider yours.
  28. Consider Full Fat Dairy: My family’s been eating dairy with all the healthy fats included since Christmas. See what happened to us!
  29. Pare Down the Polys: To balance your omega-3s and omega-6s, you’ve got to take some steps to cut back on polyunsaturated fats such as soybean and corn oil.
  30. Read up on Canola Oil: There is a lot of conflicting research on Canola, but it’s no longer a staple in my kitchen.
  31. Learn How to Store and Cook With Olive Oil: How does the pressing of oils affect their nutrition, how to decipher all the labels on your packages, and how to best store and use olive oil.
  32. Repurpose Kitchen Containers: This challenge saves money and resources while keeping your home organized.
  33. Decrease Holiday Disposables: From wrapping paper to cards to big parties, December creates terrible waste. Some ideas to cut it down.
  34. Switch to the Real Thing or Reuse: 7 Choices to decrease disposables on the table, from serving parties with real plates to using cloth napkins.
  35. Cleaning Tips to Decrease Disposables: Throwing away lots of paper towel? You can stop now. Also see my posts on microfiber cloths and Skoy cloths.
  36. Green Cleaning Resolutions: A comprehensive list of green cleaning substitutions and a challenge to pick one…and change it.
  37. Eat Fewer Grains: In the midst of such research controversy on the health benefits or dangers of grains, let’s try to eat one grain-less meal each day this week, just to raise our consciousness of how many grains we consume.
  38. Soak Your Grains: To increase digestibility, some research suggests proper preparation of grains is to soak them.
  39. Bake Homemade Bread or Grind Your Own Wheat: If you want the healthiest bread, you might want to try it at home. Even healthier? Freshly ground flour (even though I don’t do this yet!).
  40. Make a Sourdough Starter: Research shows that sourdough is the healthiest way to prepare grains. Capture your own yeast for free!
  41. Sprout Something: Sprouting increases nutrients in seeds and legumes. All you need is a colander.
  42. Get the Antibacterial Soap Out: A challenge to rid your home of antibacterial soaps and bleach.
  43. Learn About Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance: Often under- and mis-diagnosed, allergies and sensitivities to wheat deserve a little attention.
  44. Use Less Refined Sugar: Simple ways to cut down and cut out on an unnecessary (but delicious) calorie.
  45. Seek Out and Avoid Parabens: A cancer-causing preservative in beauty products, parabens are no good. Find natural alternatives.
  46. Find Those MSGs: There are over 20 names MSG can hide under. Do you know what’s in your pantry?
  47. Where Does Your Meat Come From?: Do some research and learn about various farming methods and sources.
  48. Reorganize Your Kitchen Efficiently: Hacks to streamline and organize your kitchen for efficiency.
  49. Examine Your Milk Source: Where does your milk come from? Where should it come from?
  50. Buy Local Produce: Get to know your Farmer’s Market!
  51. Natural Sunscreen Review: The breakdown on 80 natural sunblocks: how safe are the ingredients, and how did they really work? Our family really tried out all 80…
  52. Chew Your Food: Research shows that chewing food is vital for digestion. How many times should you chew each bite?
  53. Try Some Squash: An important fall/winter vegetable, and so many ways to get it in! (Even if your husband won’t eat it…)
  54. Fight Germs Naturally: Resources included for cold care and other natural illness remedies.
  55. Green and Natural Body Products – Pick One: The complete list from head to toe of options for keeping your skin and hair as non-toxic as possible.
  56. Clean Up Your Holiday Celebrations: Keep a little “green” in December – the eco-friendly way.
  57. Pack Reusable Containers for Restaurant Leftovers: A simple, painless step to reduce your waste.
  58. Refocus on Healthy Fats: Back to Basics Challenge #3, A great review of the Fat Full Fall series from 2009 with the most important healthy fats highlighted.
  59. Try Organ Meats: I saved this mission for nearly 2 years into KS…organ meats are scary sounding, but I promise, they don’t have to be!
  60. Switch Your Salt: If your salt is white, even if it’s sea salt, you need to check out this mission to find the difference!
  61. Spend Time with Your Family
  62. Make a Frugal Meals List: Sometimes keeping a food budget isn’t all about what you buy, but what you make. Your challenge is to make one frugal meal a week.
  63. Where Are Your Summer Veggies Coming From?: Will you get a CSA? Plant a garden? Now is the time to plan!
  64. Know Your Food: If you can, meet a farmer and ask him/her some questions about how your food is raised. If you aren’t able to talk to a farmer, try to find a new small business to frequent.
  65. Emergency Food Storage: A challenge to look at how prepared your family is for emergencies.
  66. Are you Prepared to Evacuate?: Learn to make a 72-hour “Bug Out Bag” for short term evacuation and survival.
  67. Get Natural Outdoors: Natural solutions for common outdoor summer problems like sunburn, bugs, and scrapes.
  68. A No-Sugar Day: A challenge to kick off the Sweet, Sweet Summer series by avoiding sweets for a day…or more.
  69. Shred Your Own Cheese: It might not save a ton of money, but avoiding weird additives is worth it.
  70. Get Variety and Nourishment in your Breakfasts: Prep the night before.
  71. Are you Ready for Breakfasts?: Getting back in the swing by planning breakfasts better, trying to pump up the nutrition and change up for variety.
  72. Stock Your Natural Remedies Medicine Cabinet: Make a list and purchase a few simple oils and items to have on hand to be ready if the sick bugs knock on your door.
  73. The Water that Gets You Clean: You might filter your drinking water, but what about the chemicals your skin sits in during a bath or shower?
  74. Perpetual Bone Broth: Call dibs on the turkey carcass, make stock…and then commit to using some sort of bone broth in your meal plan at least once a week.
  75. Give Eco-Friendly Gifts: Give gifts to the earth as well as your friends and family.
  76. Sharpen Your Knives: Sharpen or steel your knives.
  77. Reduce, Reuse, Celebrate: Celebrate the season by giving a gift to the earth.
  78. Back to Basics–Traditional Foods Resolutions: Go back to basics and renew your commitment to regularly making traditional foods and including them in your menu plans.
  79. Ferment Something: Start a new fermented food this week.
  80. Embrace the Fat But Not the Muffin Top: Eat more fat.
  81. Seek and Destroy Artificial Sweeteners: Learn to identify artificial sweeteners – or teach someone else to root them out.
  82. Wean Off the Sweeteners: Cut back on the amount of sweetener you add to your life.
  83. Avoid Natural Food Dyes and Coloring: Avoid artificial food dyes and colorings in food and personal products.
  84. Connect Kids with Real Food: Whether you have kids or can creatively find kids in your life, choose a way to cook with them, talk about food, or just serve real food this week.
  85. Eat Fruit for Dessert: A simple challenge: reduce your dependence on sweeteners by serving fruit for dessert.
  86. Give Real Food to Those in Need: Free printable recipes and shopping lists to create donation packages for those in need.
  87. Do You Have a Naturally-Minded Doctor?: Be brave and use friends, the Internet, and the power of a phone call to research options for a natural practitioner that you can feel comfortable with.
  88. Get Your Probiotics: Find a new way (or recommit to the old) to get healthy probiotics.
  89. If a Food Causes You to Hurt, Cut it Out: Choose to accept what you need to do in your diet to be healthy.
  90. You Are What You Eat, Eats: Make an upgrade in where you get your animal products: beef, pork, chicken, fish, cheese, milk, butter.
  91. Probiotics at Every Meal: Let’s brainstorm the many different ways one can incorporate healthy probiotics into their daily routine.
  92. Experiment with Grains or No Grains: A challenge to do something different in the kitchen, either trying a new grain, a new process with a familiar grain, or a grain-free recipe. Lots of resource links!
  93. Choose Safer Cookware: Stop using one piece of potentially unsafe cookware, either temporarily or for good.
  94. Examine Your Cutting Board: Examine the safety of your current cutting board and replace it with something safer if necessary
  95. Get Safer Toothpaste: Examine and potentially replace your toothpaste. Includes a review of why fluoride is bad for you.
  96. Get Spicy! (and Organized): Cleaning out and organizing your spice cabinet will help make cooking more efficient and rid yourself of expired products.
  97. Monday Mission: Top Ten Advanced Baby Steps (for your consideration): Once you’ve mastered the basics, you might want to dig a little deeper in the real food world. There are lots more steps you can take, and people to journey with you.
  98. Back to Basics Baby Step Monday Mission no. 1: Cut the Trans Fat {Guest Post} With the newness that January brings, let’s take a look at our kitchen
    with a fresh set of eyes and resolve to take those baby steps together. Your mission this week – should you choose to accept – is to remove trans fat from your kitchen.
  99. Back to Basics Baby Step Monday Mission no. 2: Using Meal Planning to Incorporate Nutrient Dense Foods {Guest Post}  Meal planning was so successful last January that I kept it up for another month… and then two, then three… and after a few months of planning, I wondered how I could ever live without the concept.
  100. Back to Basics Baby Step Monday Mission no. 3: Try a New Healthy Fat {Guest Post} For every trans-fat filled item in our kitchen, there is an applicable and more than sufficient substitute. I’ll even go out on a limb and say that in most cases, the substitute is better than the original!
  101. Back to Basics Baby Step Monday Mission no 4: Make Homemade Yogurt (Fermented Foods) {Guest Post}  I’m simply challenging you to take one more step in the journey of good health. I’ll even hold your hand.
  102. Back to Basics Baby Step Monday Mission no. 5: Use Those Beans! {Guest Post} The key to getting everyone at the table to pick up their spoon and take a bite of beans – willingly – is to prepare them so that they taste good. However, there’s one common factor that seems to fit all brand-spankin’-new bean eaters: do not serve them by themselves.
  103. Back to Basics Baby Step Monday Mission no. 6: Cut High Fructose Corn Syrup {Guest Post} Eight, incredibly legit and scary reasons why we should all stop consuming high fructose corn syrup.
  104. Back to Basics Baby Step Monday Mission no. 7: Make Bone Broth (Regularly!) {Guest Post} My friends, making broth is really so essential, so easy, and so basic to any real food journey that it warrants “yet another” post.
  105. Back to Basics Baby Step Monday Mission no. 8: Do Something With Grains {Guest Post} To me, “something” means “anything” and similarly agrees. It defines “anything” as “in any degree, to any extent, in any way; at all.”  My five “somethings” with grains.
  106. An Introduction to Natural Health Month A whole month of missions in one post. What do you want to tackle in the field of natural health? Topics included:
  107. Get Some Air Filtering Plants: A list of air filtering plants, what they filter and why you should have them.
  108. Get a Frugal, Natural Clean: Choose cleaners that are inexpensive and nontoxic avoiding the expense and toxicity of purchased cleaners.
  109. Learn How to Brush Your Teeth Like an Adult: The Bass brushing technique addresses safe-for-the-gums bacteria removal. {video} OraWellness offers an antibacterial botanical blend to use in place of toothpaste.
  110. Step Back, Set a Goal: A pretty loosely defined mission – what do you need to conquer at this point in your journey? Let’s make a commitment…
  111. Make a Grocery Price List: It pays to spend a few minutes getting organized so you know the best prices on your staples. I learned that some of my bulk purchases were more expensive than other options!
  112. Share Real Food with Others: A fun challenge to specifically find ways to “food evangelize” through deliciousness.
  113. Make Something Frozen Homemade: A cool summer mission to explore frozen recipes like popsicles and ice cream.
  114. Have Fun with Food: Try making a silly meal of all pancakes and other fun ways to present food.
  115. The Thinking Person’s “Get Natural”: It’s not always enough to use a natural or DIY product – often you have to go a little deeper with your research and sourcing.
  116. Teach Kids How to Eat: Encourage the children in your lives to eat well with these simple kid-oriented food rules. It’s NOT all about the food pyramid, folks.
  117. Take Real Food With You on the Go: Everyone has their busy seasons. Perhaps “life” is yours – taking real food on the go when you’re crunched for time can be tough, so plan ahead with these strategies.
  118. Explore Grain-free Baking: You might not need to go grain-free for yourself, but having a recipe or two in your knowledge base is a good idea for a few reasons: It can give you more variety, grain-free baking is often very high protein, which can be hard to nail when on the go, and it’s nice to have ideas to share with guests who might be gluten-free or diabetic.
  119. Make Tortillas: Making unhealthy tortillas might not save you money, but making healthy ones is sometimes the only way to find them at all (or for less than the cost of a college education).
  120. Learn a Recipe by Heart: Saves time searching for your recipes and helps you feel like a “real” chef anytime you can just make something without a list of ingredients.
  121. Use the Whole Thing: It’s out of fashion to buy whole animals anymore…but this challenge will introduce you to organ meats, challenge you to use the bones, and get you comfortable with the idea of at least buying whole chickens, if not finding half a cow to cart home!
  122. YOUR Top 3 Frugal Practices: What’s the best way to save money on food? I share my top 3 and challenge you to do the same to help your friends and family out.
  123. YOUR Top 3 Eco-Friendly Tips: I suppose it’s cheating to say the top 3 eco-friendly tips are “reduce, reuse, recycle?” Okay, okay, I know – totally cheating.
  124. YOUR Top 3 Time-Savings Strategies: You can’t deny that cooking real food takes longer than convenience food – it’s called “convenience” for good reason!
  125. The Ginger Challenge: Over time, as I read little bits here and there about the health benefits of ginger, I kept wondering if I shouldn’t give fresh ginger a try.
  126. Try a Natural Remedy with Ginger: I admit I haven’t taken this mission myself yet – other than making and enjoying ginger tea and cooking with fresh ginger, I haven’t branched out so far.
  127. Cut Out the Preservatives: Chances are if you’re reading this blog, you don’t have a ton of products in your home with ingredients labels at all. But even if you have pared down the processed food considerably already (if you haven’t, all the better to learn the lesson today).
  128. Donating and Sharing Real Food: I want to encourage you to think both about donating food to the poor and also those opportunities you get to share food with friends in needmeals for the sick through your church, meals for friends who have recently had babies, or just hosting other moms in the neighborhood at your house for fellowship.
  129. Fight Cancer With Food: It’s still totally crazy to think about it, even though in another sense it’s become “the new normal” and we’ve had two months to get used to the idea.
  130. Get Spring Greens in Your Diet: Why eat more greens? Not only because they might be fresh and local, but any time of year because they fight cancer, improve a ton of body functions and have more health benefits than I can count!
  131. Naturally Soothe a Sunburn: Even though the burn wasn’t bad, and I knew he wouldn’t even peel, I still wanted to protect his skin as much as possible from sun damage.
  132. Natural Wellness for Whatever Ails You: Between going back to school, the change in the weather in general and the increased “inside time” most climates experience in the fall and winter, the germs just seem to spread faster, don’t they?
  133. Sharpen Up Your Knife Skills: I impress my kids when I cut things because I look fast, but I don’t think I really know what I’m doing. I am pretty sure I hold the knife hilt wrong, too close to the blade, and I’m sure I should “organize” what I’m cutting in a more efficient way.
  134. Be a Conscious Health Consumer: Gone are the days that the average American should just do what the doctor orders. Obedience is out of style, anyway.
  135. Make Your Own Cranberry Juice: If you, like me, object to the added sugar and wonder what else is in that bottle, the solution is here. You can make your own! No expensive equipment required.
  136. Buy a Whole Chicken: There is no harder argument to overcome than that of the wallet. When I first decided to drop $18 on a whole chicken from a local farmer – rather than $6 on a package of chicken breast from Kroger – I’m pretty sure I thought I was crazy.
  137. The Importance of Clean Indoor Air: This subject is one on which I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface – I need to figure out what in the world the mold test results mean and what to do about it, and I should get more plants.
  138. Top 3 Foodie Efficiency Tips: These “top 3″ are some of my favorite habits without which I begin to flounder and become tempted to order pizza. True story.
  139. One Simple Lent: Any sort of service for the Lord is giving alms, as long as it’s done out of love for Him. You might look into a new volunteer opportunity, or simply commit to spending special time with each of your children.
  140. One Word: Intentional (Life): In every area of life, I felt like I was tumbling through the day, tumbling through life, not able to make any real goals or progress because some wind was always gusting me forward, some bump in the path always sending me skyward so my feet were never on the ground.
  141. One Word: Intentional (Food): At first, it felt like we might starve. Or buy all the vegetables in the store. Or spend hours washing and cutting vegetables and then still feel starving half an hour after eating.
  142. Get Non-Toxic Sleep: There’s a lot about sleep that needed improving at the Kitchen Stewardship® house (starting with number of hours in bed, to be honest!), and we’re going to cover quite a few of them in the next few weeks.
  143. The Secret to Healing Sleep: There are plenty of visible and invisible ramifications to being sleep-deprived, which is a true state of life for many of us young parents these days.
  144. Store Water for Emergencies: I’d been thinking about doing this for a while and finally realized I didn’t need a “system” and I didn’t need to start by running downstairs to fill all my empties. I started with two jars.
  145. Just Eat Some Yogurt Already: Learn why store yogurt is A-OK for you to start your baby step journey to daily probiotics. Because NOT starting is not an option.
  146. What to Eat, What to Avoid, & How to Compromise: A fully updated version of this hugely popular list. I did all the research so you don’t have to!
  147. How to Get Real Food on the Table Every Night: Learn the how and why – and why you don’t have any excuses – of meal planning in whatever style suits you so dinner goes smoothly.
  148. The Busy Mom’s Guide to Getting Real Food on the Breakfast Table: Busy moms *or anyone!) take heart: there are some easy things you can implement TODAY to start your mornings off without chaos.
  149. How to Survive Dinner Time When Your Meal Plan Falls Apart: Keep a list of “emergency meals” so you are prepared when the dinner bell rings before dinner is served.
  150. Are Natural Sugars Fooling You? Here are some tips for deciphering sugar content of nutrition labels.
  151. My Gift to My Future Daughter-in-Law: What can you teach your sons (and daughters!) now to prepare them for life later?


Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

19 thoughts on “Monday Missions Checklist – you can take baby steps to real food too!”

  1. Pingback: Real Food Makeover: The Woody Family | Keeper of the Home

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  3. Help! I have a 9 year old who has had a continual headache and stomach ache for a month. We tried the Dr – antibiotics for sinuses and a colon cleanse for constipation. Still no change with natural stuff before and since. Another Dr and Chiropractor appt tomorrow. Any ideas????

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  5. Yvonne Mary Lewis

    I loved most of your articles over the past year, Katie. (We are vegan). Most useful recently was 102 and Water Kefir. I also grind my own wheat now and soak it before making up the following day. God Bless. Yvonne in Spain.

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  14. It is really hard to just pick one recipe they all look delicious. Hope I win so that I can make them all for my grandbabies this summer.

  15. Pingback: “Healthy Snacks To Go” eBook Giveaway! | GNOWFGLINS

  16. Pingback: Real Food Makeover: The Woody Family | Keeper of the Home

  17. I love your blog! I’m glad I found it thanks to Kingdom First Mom. If, you ever would like to do a guest post like you did on hers I would love it!

  18. Pingback: Keeper of the Home : How to Date your Kids (and why that’s so special)

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