Real Food for Real Life: 5 small steps to ease into a more whole-foods pantry

Tuesday , 3, April 2012 11 Comments

A couple of weeks ago, Amy wrote about switching her family to organic food. We watched the movie a couple of years ago and after we packed our bags for the commune regained our appetite, I slowly (very slowly) started switching our food to more organic, real, local options.

Now, I will disclaim that we are “still in the process” so we don”t do everything by the book. I haven”t found an affordable source of grass fed meat (or rather, I haven”t convinced my husband that we should buy half a cow) nor have I started growing my own vegetable garden in the backyard. (Well, that”s a lie. We did plant some seeds this year but since this is a project with my four year old, I doubt I”ll have any big harvest.) But this is a topic I”m very passionate about and I hope within the year we will be in a position to buy only whole foods.

However, since I”ve been on this path for a few years now, I thought I would start a series where I pass on my knowledge, give you some local resources, and help anyone out there who wants to start voting with your forks!

Without further ado……

1) Skip the Soda

I know, I know. I will be the first one to admit to you that there is nothing like a cold soda on a hot day. However, it is nothing but bad news, not only from the empty calories, but also from what I so lovingly call “yuck mess” ingredients. Bypass the soda aisle at the grocery store and drink some water instead. Your body and your wallet will thank you.

2) Buy all-fruit jellies, jams, and peanut butters

When we first started eating less processed foods, money was pretty tight. I decided it would be more beneficial to do the “better” versions of things we eat a lot. What mom doesn”t have PB&J in her mealtime rotation? My favorite version is Polaner”s line of all-fruit spreads, but Kroger and Wal-Mart have a store brand that tastes just as good. (I buy Polaner because it”s slightly cheaper buying it in bulk at the warehouse club I belong to.)

On a similar note, freshly ground peanut butter is slightly more expensive but just has one ingredient: peanuts. The Fresh Market in Peachtree City as well as Ingles in Locust Grove have DIY peanut butter machines. It”s so fun! However, if the fresh ground peanut butter isn”t up your kid”s alley (ask me how I know), you could always take a small step by buying the all-natural or organic peanut butter at your preferred grocery store. Those will have less ingredients than the regular version.

3) Eat like a horse

I”m talking about oats, of course! Homemade oatmeal is so much better than the pre-packaged stuff. Publix has old fashioned organic oats for a very reasonable price. Then go to town! It takes about 5 minutes to cook on the stove. Our favorite way to eat oatmeal right now is a little peanut butter & honey, but you could add bananas, butter, brown sugar, blueberries….you get the idea. Another way to cook old fashioned oats is to let them cook on high in the crock pot for about an hour, provided you want to wait an hour to eat breakfast. Sometimes I make it as casino online soon as I wake up during my quiet time before the kids get up. You”ll find yourself wondering why pre-packaged oatmeal has so many ingredients when just a few simple ones taste delicious!

4) Make your own seasonings

Having a mexican night soon? Try this instead of a store-bought taco seasoning packet :

(From Cookbook De La Julie)

1 tbsp chili powder

2 tsp onion powder

1 tsp each cumin, garlic powder, oregano, sugar, and salt

Makes one “packet,” or enough seasoning for one pound of meat.

Again, next time you look at the ingredients at the store-bought version, notice all the stuff that doesn”t need to be in there. This is also a good job for preschoolers….mine likes to measure the spices and then shake them up.

5) Get Local!

I am saving the best for last. We are so lucky in South Atlanta to have access to a ton of farmers who grow their food in our backyard! Just to name a few…..Southern Belle Farm in McDonough , Adam”s Farm in Fayetteville , The Henry County Farmer”s Market at Heritage Park, and The Peachtree City Farmers Market .

With local resources you do have to make sure their produce is organic. Just ask! Personally, I”d rather eat something local than something labeled organic but came from 1000 miles away. Also, a lot of farmers don”t want to go through the cost of becoming certified organic. Some farmers still spray their crops, but with much less than a commercial farm would. So at this point, you”d have to do what you feel most comfortable with.

If you are flirting with less process in your pantry, I hope this has been a helpful and non-daunting resource! Check back in 2 weeks for more ideas on how you can incorporate more Real Food for your Real Life!

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  • Amy Frizzell says:

    Hi Julie,
    This is awesome!!! I have been diet soda free for 3 weeks. Our family is on the switch to organic and we (my husband and I) have been eating a whole-foods plant based diet for 2 weeks (me 3). So we have no diary or meat this includes no fish or chicken.

    There is a great documentary about this called Forks over Knives! You should see it. This is exciting, we should talk more! 🙂 Great post!


  • Maggie says:

    I love Polaner! I also like (cold) oats mixed up with yogurt, milk and fruit in the fridge overnight (big ol’ deal on Pinterest right now) because I don’t want them hot right now. Looking forward to more!!

  • Wendy says:

    Love this post! Great and easy suggestions that everybody can do. All the little changes make such a big difference…and I hope you can convince your husband to buy half a beef, you won’t regret it 🙂

    • Julie says:

      Thanks! Yes, I’m still working on him. I don’t even think it’s the “straight from the farm” issue, it’s the all-at-one-time price tag that keeps hanging him up!

  • Chan says:

    Great post! If I had a deep freezer, I would love to go in on half a beef. I just started the make my own seasoning thing. Fresh Market has glass jars to store your homemade seasonings. I can’t wait to go pick strawberries with the kids. I just ordered a dehydrator so we’ll see how that works out for us.

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