Over the past three years, our grocery list has changed dramatically. And I mean, a complete 180. I’d estimate that a good 80% of what we bought from the grocery store just four years ago was processed food. Seriously.
But convenience foods are expensive, and more often than not, horrible for your health. So, we’ve stopped buying them. Well, almost completely.
I’m not gonna lie to you, I still enjoy tortilla chips and sodas every now and then. But now, what we buy from the store is more like 80%-90% fresh foods and baking ingredients, with only a small amount going to processed food. And on the rare occasion that we do buy a soda, it’s one made with real sugar and no high fructose corn syrup (the Mexican sodas are our favorites).
Not that long ago, my grocery list included a whole lot of this:
- frozen chicken nuggets
- Hamburger Helper
- frozen pizza
- frozen waffles
- Graham Crackers
- Kool Aid
- Ice cream
- Cheeze Its
- Instant Oatmeal
- Breakfast Bars
- … and the cheapest imitation flavorings I could find.
It’s funny how your definition of what food is changes once you start growing it yourself.
Today, the food we buy is easily identifiable. No mystery ingredients, or long labels to ponder. An apple is an apple. A pepper is a pepper. If my kids can’t look at it and tell me what it’s made of, then it’s not food.
Yes, there are still some convenience foods thrown in there, but for the most part it’s pretty much just raw ingredients.
My normal list today looks something like this:
- a block of cheddar and mozzarella cheese
- a whole chicken
- yellow, orange, red peppers
- potatoes (red, russet, and sweet potatoes)
- tortilla chips
- refrigerated biscuits
- tea bags
…which is still a little embarrassing.
Especially the refrigerated biscuits. I blame Jerry for that one.
We’re still learning how to grow many of these things ourselves, and working on being able to produce them year-round. And a few of the convenience items I could totally make myself, like the yogurt, tortillas, and biscuits. But you know what… a girl can only do so much in a day! And I don’t mind giving myself a break every now and then, as long as we can afford to do so.
What we definitely steer clear of is boxed and bagged junk foods. No more cookies, crackers, cereals, breakfast bars, gummy fruit snacks, or frozen dinners.
Oh, except the Saltines. I’ll blame Jerry for those as well.
Cooking three meals from scratch every day took a little adjusting to at first… especially the planning ahead part. I still have my days when 5:00 rolls around and I’ve been knee-deep in the garden all day and have nothing planned whatsoever. But, we always manage to throw something together.
Finding easy snacks for the kids has been a little trickier. They get burned out on the same old, same old every day, so you have to get creative and mix it up a bit.
Here are some snacks my guys enjoy. We have snacks twice a day:
- fresh, canned, or dried fruit
- frozen blueberries
- yogurt with fruit
- applesauce or pearsauce
- popcorn or kettlecorn (popped on the stovetop)
- cheese and crackers
- peanut butter and crackers
- apples and peanut butter
- baked goodies (muffins, cookies, quick breads)
- tortilla with honey and butter
- carrot sticks
- sweet pepper slices
- tortilla chips and salsa or hummus
I feel so much better now that we are eating a much healthier diet. I have more energy, I’m staying in shape, and I know that what my kids are eating will actually benefit their growing bodies and minds.
Maybe in a couple more years I’ll be able to look back at this post and share an update with a much, much smaller grocery list. It’ll be so awesome when we can raise all of our own meat, grow our fruits and veggies year round (or eat seasonably), and dry our homegrown herbs. THAT will be cool.
It’s hard breaking old habits. What can I say? I grew up on junk food! But once we learned the importance of filling our bodies with truly nutritious foods, just the way the Father made them, junk food just didn’t taste as good anymore.