A real food diet can be a time-consuming lifestyle – I might even venture to say that making unprocessed food from scratch and running around to specialty markets or farms for natural organic food to eat is a greater time-suck than (gasp) Facebook.
January is a great time for simplifying, so here are three ways I (should) schedule my time to simplify the real food lifestyle.
Grocery Shop Every Other Week
When fresh, natural, organic food and lots of fruits and veggies are important to you, how is the every-other-week grocery shopping ideal possible?
Here are a few tips:
- Buy lettuce and eat lettuce salads the first week, then the hardier cabbage in your salad the next. We love this cabbage salad (with feta) so much that we don’t even tire of it if we eat it a few nights in a row.
- Submit to no cucumbers. I live in a household where we have raw carrots and cukes almost every night for salads and dipping in homemade ranch dressing. On the weeks when I plan well and don’t have to hit the grocery store at all, we run out of cucumbers, which just can’t last that long. Luckily, carrots do. We survive. Here are tips to keep veggies lasting longer.
- Get good frozen vegetables. Sure, fresh produce is important, but frozen veggies are generally frozen as close to the field as possible and still have most of the nutrients intact, probably more than fresh spinach does on the day you buy it unless it’s from a Farmer’s Market. On my off weeks, I’m more than happy to rely on my bulk bags of organic frozen veggies. That still counts as unprocessed food to me. The bonus? Less washing and cutting prep.
- Buy produce that can last more than a week. Whole peppers, cauliflower, apples, citrus, and kiwi are some of our recent enjoyments on the no-grocery weeks, and I’m sure you can think of plenty more.
- Freeze brown bananas. You can still get plenty of vitamins from the fruits food group in the form of that one-ingredient ice cream (frozen bananas) and smoothies with frozen fruit if you don’t have much fresh.
Pack Lunches During Dinner Cleanup
Packing real food lunches is my nemesis, every day – and I only have one to pack! My older kids make their own lunches!
I’ll do anything to reduce prep when I’m on the ball, and putting some dinner leftovers directly into a lunch-sized portion is one of the best strategies.
My kids will eat cold tacos, cut up meat with mustard to dip, and even cold creamed cauliflower, so we often pack lunches straight from dinner leftovers before cleaning up. These dinners make great lunches the next day.
If I’m really smart, I’ll add a few carrot sticks from the table and a dollop of ranch before the serving spoon goes into the dishwasher.
And if I’m shooting beyond brilliance, I’ll make up three or four yogurts with frozen fruit at once so they’re ready to grab all week long. (We use homemade yogurt, plain, so I can’t just grab a pre-made yogurt cup and go.)
Try a Breakfast Rotation
Mornings are rushed enough without me trying to figure out what “unprocessed food” we should all eat each day.
In the fall, my daughter took on the responsibility of planning out breakfasts. She had a whiteboard and wrote out the week every Sunday so everyone knew what to make.
After a while she figured out that it was much easier if we eat the same breakfast rotation every week.
Here’s an example of a weekly breakfast rotation:
Monday – some sort of pancakes, usually grain-free pumpkin pancakes, so we have leftovers for lunches during the week (We make peanut butter sandwiches out of them)
Tuesday – soaked IP oatmeal, double batch (I leave it in the pot overnight)
Wednesday – oatmeal, from yesterday
Thursday – eggs
Friday – granola
Saturday – something fun or eggs or granola
Sunday – cereal day