The way that we, as a family, eat is so drastically different from the way that we ate 3 years ago that if you had told me we would be eating like this then I would have laughed at you. I thought that people who took food too seriously were weird. Now, over time we have very slowly changed. Our perspective has changed. We see people around us who are seriously unhealthy and we know it’s because of what they choose to eat and drink. We know that people get overwhelmed at the idea of needing to change everything about how they live… so they change nothing.
That’s just not good enough, friends. If you care for your family and you care for your friends, then you need to take care of yourself. Period. I know that the odds are stacked against us in America: fresh food is more expensive than processed, there aren’t coupons for organic produce and meat, high fructose corn syrup and aspartame are in everything. It takes a lot to change; but it is so very worth it.
Three years ago we were soda drinkers, I was a very recent non-smoker, we ate fast food several times a week, if not day. We were disconnected from our food and where it came from. It took us a week to eat the daily recommended servings of fruit and vegetables. I honestly believe that we didn’t eat five servings of fruit and vegetables a week very often. When I did make vegetables with dinner, they were canned. And you know what? No one said anything because I was skinny… not even doctors!
So, three years may seem like a really long time to get to healthy, but it isn’t. The point is that you get there. The point is that we won’t have diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. The point is that we are flooding our bodies with antioxidants in the hopes that it reduces our chances of cancer. No diet plan or life style is infallible, but when studies show that aspartame is linked to migraines, blurred vision, and cancer… why risk it?
So, after that long introduction here are some of our personal grocery rules!
1) Meat – Organic, hormone free or Bust
I do not trust the meat industry. At all. They are mistreating animals, pumping them full of hormones to make them too big, and antibiotics to combat that disgusting living conditions that are kept in. If you are what you eat, what are you when you eat animals kept in deplorable living situations? We can’t personally afford to eat organic meat every night of the week so we choose to go vegetarian most nights.
*For more information, watch: Food Inc., Forks over Knives, and Fat Sick and Nearly Dead Read: Food Rules by Michael Pollan and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver
2) Dairy – Limited
This one is really hard for me. I love cheese and cows milk. The kids and Matt love yogurt and kefir. We eat all of it but we try to be careful about how much we eat, and we also buy these things organic, for the same reasons as stated above.
3) Produce – at least half the budget
I spend about half of our grocery budget on fresh produce. Not a single meal goes by that we don’t eat at least one fruit and we eat veggies a minimum of 2 times a day. I like to try new fruits and vegetables when we seem stuck in a rut, but we do have standbys that are always available. (strawberries, bananas, carrots, etc.)
4) The kids aren’t dictators!
This is one that has only been true for a little less than a year in our house. Until then, I seriously didn’t know how to get veggies into my kids. I read a fantastic book called Bringing Up Bebe that really changed my mind and actions towards food in our home. We wanted kids that ate fruits and vegetables, and not just in those aluminum foil pouches, so we (gasp!) gave our children fruits and vegetables. We stopped buying crackers and goldfish and granola bars and pouches and whatever other processed foods we were giving them. There was very little struggle because I simply didn’t have the foods that they were asking for. It was either a) eat these carrots and humus or b) don’t eat right now. Wouldn’t you know it, my kids are geniuses and when they are hungry they decide to eat.
5) Buy a small portion of foods you don’t like
This one is self-explanatory. If you HATE Swiss Chard, don’t buy 2 lbs of it thinking you will eat it. You won’t. You’ll go out to eat instead and let it rot. Buy small amounts of healthy foods that you don’t like so that you can experiment cooking them different ways, in the hopes that you will find a way to work it in to your diet. There are very few foods that I straight up just don’t like (Hi, Beets.) but I just keep trying. 3 years ago, I couldn’t even list all the foods I hated, I was incredibly picky. But as I’ve matured, and my views on food have matured, guess what? My taste buds have also matured. Everything takes time, but it IS possible to like healthy foods… love them, actually.
So, there are our grocery rules. And now, as an added bonus (!) here’s a look at my grocery list. I may have to restock on milk and some produce next week but for the most part this list will feed our family for 2 weeks.
Nature’s Own Bread – 12-Grain (2)
Coconut Milk coffee creamer (3)
Organic Fat Free Milk (2 gallon)
Organic coconut milk, unsweetened (1/2 gallon)
Old Fashioned Oats
Part Skim Shredded Mozzarella
Shredded Sharp Cheddar (2)
Organic eggs (3)
Organic Wildflower Honey
Dark Chocolate Chips
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, cold pressed
Toasted Sesame Oil
Wild Caught Salmon (2 lbs)
Wild Caught Tilapia (2 lbs)
Organic Chicken (2 lbs)
Organic Apples (3 lbs)
Fresh Strawberries (4)
Fresh Blackberries (3)
Organic Cilantro (1 bunch)
Fresh Blueberries (3)
Fresh Lemons (3 lb bag)
Fresh Lemon Grass
Fresh Mangoes (4)
Fresh Brussel Sprouts
Organic Spinach (2)
Organic Grape Tomatoes
Fresh Broccoli Crowns
Oranges (3 lbs)
Fresh Garlic (2)
Fresh Yellow Onions (3 lbs)
Fresh Zucchini Squash (5)
Fresh Green Asparagus
Almonds – Unsalted
Brown Rice Noodles
Some other essentials that we always have:
Peanut Butter (minimally processed. Only ingredients should be Peanuts and salt)
Fruit Preserves (we’ve been on a fig kick lately)
Whole grain spaghetti noodles
Organic spaghetti sauce
So, there you have it! Hope this helps you to make a little change. We still have a way to go, but we’re encouraged that we are on our way and that our kids are so far ahead of where we were.