About That Real Food Series…

I know I told you I’d write it, but I’m dragging my feet.  Here’s the thing, friends.  People (myself included) tend to put their judgy pants on when it comes to food.  While I think we’ve made great strides as a family to eat better and have made quality food a priority in our use of time and money, no matter what I say about our choices, I’m just certain someone’s lurking ready to pounce on our decisions, some of which are still evolving.

I told some friends about my concerns with the series and they reminded me that one of the reasons people keep reading my silly inconsistencies (my words, not theirs ~ ha!) is that I keep it real.  Ok, then.  Wanna be real about real food?  How about this.

food

I take care to bake nearly all of our breads and muffins with whole wheat flour and quality fats, and I pay a premium for local, raw honey, but I still use regular sugar in cookies and cinnamon rolls.

I always buy real butter and truly think margarine is gross (and dangerous), but I still spray my bread pans and muffin tins with aerosol cans of olive oil. 

I plan a menu each week and keep ingredients on hand for homemade fare, but last week when daddy was at a track meet and it was 6:50pm when I first looked at the clock after a trip to the park… the kids had mac & cheese for supper.  From a box.  {gasp}  There are two more boxes of mac & cheese in my basement, just in case.  {double gasp}

I’m careful to watch the Dirty Dozen and grow or buy those fruits and veggies organically whenever possible, but I’ve yet to pass up a 3 pack of fajita peppers at Aldi for $1.49.  Or strawberries for 99¢.  Just can’t help myself. 

I’m the drop manager for our local Azure Standard food co-op and we pay for quality, locally grown veggies through our CSA.  I run to town once a month to organize the organic bulk drop for our local community, loading my own vehicle with bulk wheat, oats, raw cheese and produce, but I sometimes stop by McDonald’s on our way there to get my 2yo a special treat and keep him content during his 30 minute wait in the car. 

We packed the cooler Saturday with sandwiches (on homemade bread) and organic apples for the road, then stopped at a convenience store so my husband could buy a 44 ounce Dr. Pepper.  What?!  It was his birthday!  ;)

I bake a lot, but I never soak my grains.  I grill and saute veggies, but I never ferment them.  I do some things right and we’re making great strides, but I still do a whole lotta wrong. 

If you can get past the imperfection and the mess, I’d love to have you join me in the kitchen!  My goals for the series:

  • post once or twice a week with a strategy, philosophy, and/or how to
  • share everything I buy, where I get it, and how much I pay (I don’t want anyone feeling guilty for not buying raw milk when I can get mine for $4/gallon.  I’m lucky and I know it!)
  • encourage all of us to take baby steps toward better eating, and not stress when we don’t measure up to the chatter

Are you in?

If I may, because it was the first shopping trip of April, here’s what I bought at Aldi on Saturday.  (pictured above)

1 gallon whole milk, $1.99
3 pound bag onions, $1.69
bacon, $5.89
bananas, $1.19
2 pounds butter, $2.29 each
asparagus, $1.99
cucumbers, 69¢ each
grape tomatoes, $1.29
(4) 3 pound bags oranges, $1.48 each (such a steal!)
olive oil spray, $1.69
2 boxes raisins, $1.79 each
dill pickles, $1.69
table salt, 39¢ (Someone told me to boil my eggs in salted water and I didn’t want to use my good (pricey) sea salt. Have you tried this?
2 packages dark chocolate, $1.99 each (Lance likes this chopped up on his granola.)
corn chips, 99¢
powdered sugar, $1.29
brown sugar, $1.29
artisan lettuce, $1.99 (hmmm, didn’t make it into the picture)
bag of sugar, $2.19
natural peanut butter, $1.99
fajita tortillas, $1.69
chocolate chips, $1.79

Total with tax $56.68

Where are you at in your real food journey?  Just trying to eat at home more?  Figuring out how to boil water?  Growing 80% of your own food?  Fermenting your cabbage as we speak?  I’m sure you have a lot to teach me!

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Comments

  1. Our real food journey has been a “2 steps forward, 1 step back” journey. I had virtually eliminated all processed foods from our home and then I got pregnant. I was exhausted and didn’t want to cook a single thing so our eating habits took a huge backslide. Now that the little one is 7 1/2 months old we’re working our way back to better eating. Azure standard doesn’t deliver here and I haven’t convinced the husband to switch to raw milk yet…but we’re still making progress.

    Thanks for offering your perspectives in the midst of your journey. It can be so easy to get overwhelmed looking at other blogs that made the transformation years ago and are so many steps ahead of where I am now.

    • Pregnancy and new babies. Surefire ways to go into survival mode. And worth every bit of it. :)

    • Two steps forward and one step back is a major start. Baby steps is how we started. We love our raw milk and it has cured my husband’s allergies. He also cannot tolerate any other milk. Raw milk does go against the grain of society but are you drinking organic whole milk – that is a plus. You can also find low pasteurized milk such as Kalona that would be better than ultra pasteurized.

    • Atta Girl!
      I know you don’t know me from Adam. But I’m proud of you putting things into prospective and keeping things real.
      I’ve been there and done it all (well, in my head, at least).
      I love to bake my own bread. I buy my own butter. I love to make jam (sometimes it even comes out perfectly, when my neighbor doesn’t pop in for coffee in the midst of my crazy afternoon).
      I pray over my food. God is good all the time. And I don’t take lightly that we are blessed. Even when crazy comes knocking on my door, we are blessed. I used to do organic all the time. But I stepped back and saw how nuts it made my sister in law. I love her dearly. But it caused me such distress to watch her freak out over so much. When I find organic, I’m truly thankful. But I don’t go out of my way to get it, and put our bank account in jeopardy. I love almond milk (not the taste – yet…), and use it for our smoothies. We have organic spinach (because that’s what’s available). But I use cheap frozen strawberries. And I know nothing will do harm to my body, because I stand on my promises that I find in the Word. He didn’t die just for our sins. He bore our sicknesses. So, I don’t get sick. And my family doesn’t get sick. Common sense and wisdom. And no more living in fear. It’s just not worth the stress in my head.
      You are doing great! I look forward to following your site.

  2. You know what? Your friends were right!! This is exactly the kind of post I need to read. We’re at the beginning of our real food journey, and I’m still trying to get my husband on board fully, though he’s good with some of the steps I’ve made. Knowing there are others on this journey with a foot in both worlds, so to speak, is so comforting! I read some blogs on real food and it can be hard to remember that I’m in transition and am still making progress even though I “compromise” in many areas.

    My main motivation for the journey right now is eating for fertility, so that’s where I’m starting. We live in an area where it’s a good 45 minute drive to a farm with raw milk, so we’ve been using the pasteurized but not homogenized milk we can get at the farmer’s market. I’m buying more whole dairy products, pastured eggs and have been using coconut oil. I’m experimenting with natural beauty and cleaning products. But, I don’t bake my own bread, use mostly sugar or turbinado, spray olive oil (!), and many other real food faux pas. I sometimes have to chuckle at my grocery cart – filled with organic produce and good food…and ice cream and other treats my husband (ok, and me!) can’t give up. But, it’s a process, and I’m still learning and adjusting. And that’s ok. :)

    • Isn’t coconut oil fabulous?! That was one of my discoveries a few years ago. I had never even heard of it until I started blogging!

  3. Stephanie says:

    I feel like we’re in really similar places with our journey – I can totally relate to the aerosol spray – I know that I shouldn’t but dang if it’s not SO.MUCH.EASIER. I don’t do too much soaking of grains but I did make sourdough pancakes the other day – which is apparently an acquired taste for me but my kids ate the heck out of them.
    I just think, at the end of the day, that you really have to prioritize and choose which of these food things can happen in your life. I am happy to have access to hormone free dairy regularly so I do that but don’t worry about the raw milk stuff.

    • I tried to do without my spray for a while. I *must* have it for my waffle iron and my muffin tins. :)

      • I couldn’t give up the aerosol spray until I went to a Pampered Chef party and bought one of these pump sprayers. Best. Invention. Ever. :) And no, I don’t sell Pampered Chef, I just love my sprayer! :)

        http://www.pamperedchef.com/our_products/catalog/product.jsp?productId=610&categoryCode=KW

        I believe that you do what works for YOUR family. Any improvement is still that.. An improvement. You used to eat at McD’s 3x a week and now it’s only 1x a week? It’s still an improvement. You make KD for the kids one night but cook healthy meals the other 6 nights a week. You’re still doing great. I think we need to focus more on what we’re doing right than what we’re doing “wrong”. And i think if we focus more on the positive, the rest will come. :).

        It makes me crazy when others are so quick to judge others and what works for them in their situation, when they really are trying to improve in the first place. :)

        • Does that sprayer ever clog up for you? I’ve heard it does for some people, but need to look into getting one.

          • I’ve had mine for about 8 years and have never really had a problem with it. It originally came with 2 pumps, and I didn’t start using my second one (because the first one was starting to clog) until about 2 years ago, and I use it ALL the time. I think you can also just buy the pumps from Pampered Chef

            I remember being told to loosen it off and store it loose (to release the pressure) when I was done using it. I’m not sure if that has extended the life of mine, but I keep doing it, just in case. :)

          • you will extend the years use of the PC spritzer if you take it apart and wash thoroughly with hot soapy water every once in a while. Let dry thoroughly before using again. Have one for each of your favorite oils and one for spritzing that shirt front or collar if you should still be pressing a shirt or two with water.

          • Good to know! Thanks!

  4. Apparently I’m at the very beginning of my “journey”, because I know nothing about soaking grains, or why you would do it, or fermenting veggies.
    And I’m extremely jealous that you can get a gallon of whole milk for $1.99. Here in PA I pay about twice that much.

    • Normally, our milk is about $3.79. I pay $4 at the farm. This was a sale at Aldi this week and we just so happened to be in town, anyway. Yay!

      • Yay for sales and being there anyways! The price of milk is regulated by the state or something here, so there are no milk sales. I would have bought about a dozen gallons at that price if there was a sale like that here, the way my kids go through it. The good news though is that milk is the same price everywhere. So if I run out I don’t have to worry that I’m paying twice as much by running down to the local convenience store as opposed to Aldi since it’s pretty much the same price everywhere.

    • Jen – you soak the grains in order help your body absorb the nutrients and make them more digestible. This is done by placing your flour, rice, oatmeal – whatever the grain in a bowl over night. Add in water and some yogurt or buttermilk and then in the morning rinse them off. We are bad about this because we do not plan ahead.

  5. So glad you posted this! I’m like you…started down the road and have a mostly whole foods diet, but then there are the days where I punt and either call in Chinese or it comes already prepared in a frozen bag. I’ve struggled with this now for over a year. I think I’m going to start (again) in my salad dressings/condiments. I was making my own and then my family wanted the store bought. I have to admit that my family is pretty patient, but when I’m on my 4th or 5th attempt of a specific dressing and can’t get it right, it’s really hard.

    Having a CSA share has really helped us out alot. I’m having a hard time switching over to organic items (mostly the COST!). Aldi’s is just too good to pass up too often.

    I guess it’s baby steps and sometimes you need to evaluate where you are in your season of life. I’ll be checking out this series for sure!

  6. am right there with you. We joined a CSA last year as we are not allowed to have a garden thanks to our HOA. We buy all of our meat from local farmers. But… we can’t afford $8 a gallon for raw milk. I buy whole milk, local if possible. I almost never by organic cheese (we just don’t eat a lot of it) . AND I keep some TJ’s frozen hashbrowns in my freezer for my husband who likes to surprise me with breakfast in bed, every once in awhile.

    Oh and if I make a treat like cookies, cinnamon rolls, cake, etc 9/10 times I make them with regular sugar/flour. We don’t eat cookies everyday:)

  7. Our journey to real food began a short time ago. A friend was eating organic for her husband survival through cancer. ( which took him to heaven this morning). She taught me so much about what to eat and what to stay away from. The dirty dozen and the clean 15 are great helps. My pantry has been transformed. No soy, no canola or veggie oil, no , gmo . Only organic corn. There is a wonderful ap available for free if you have a smart phone. Its calle d “fooducate” you can scan the barcode of an item and it tells you if itsgod or bad. Then it gives you he with alternatives. I use it each time i go shopping.

  8. I’m gonna give you a slow clap on this one– which for me is SO much more natural than a “squee.” ;) I’m one who’s been asking for it– your calm, balanced voice is so very needed in this arena, Amy.

  9. I am looking forward to your series because I am right there with you! I try to make healthy choices for my family & we do well about 80% of the time, but there is still that occasional fast food stop (eek). Some people make the “real food” journey seem so easy, but it’s still hard for me. Right now I am reading Trim Healthy Mama (I had an Amazon gift card- the only way I could afford the book) and I am feeling even more overwhelmed. I just want to feed my family without feeling guilty & lose a few pounds for myself- all while sticking to our budget and not cooking with things I can’t even pronounce! I can’t wait to read your thoughts on the matter! :)

    • ” I just want to feed my family without feeling guilty & lose a few pounds for myself- all while sticking to our budget and not cooking with things I can’t even pronounce!” Yes! Great goal.

  10. You are awesome! Reading your blog always brings a smile. I don’t even know what fermented veggies are.

  11. Haha…judgy pants! I so hear you! Let’s support one another more, and judge less. Thank you so much for “keeping it real”!! I am single, but otherwise very much like you in this area. I choose to buy many organic fruits, veggies, and chicken. But I also like to eat regular ramen noodles,potato chips, and cola as a treat. And that’s okay! Just like finances and parenting, there is no one right way to live YOUR life.

    • I agree with Pat! There isn’t one ‘right’ way to eating real foods. I consider myself someone who does but I make cookies with white sugar too. My husband sometimes uses brown sugar in his coffee instead of molasses because it is less messy. I don’t get soaking grains and don’t. After making kimkee as a treat for my husband for the first time, I found out fermented foods contain lactose, which I can’t diagest. To keep myself from going crazy I follow the 80/20 Rule (more like 90/10 but that makes me sound snobby instead of too lazy to buy junk food when I want it.) If someone catches me on a day when I’m indulging in some of my (rare) 20 and tries to make me feel bad, it doesn’t work. I know what is best for me and my family, not the naysayer.

  12. Hi Amy! Don’t beat yourself up too much! You’re doing great! Do what you can, when you can! Listen to the Holy Spirit! He’ll gently guide you down the right path! (I’m speaking to myself as well!) A balanced life, diet, etc, is what we should all be aiming for! Thanks for sharing this post! Blessings from Bama!

  13. I would rather read your post than a “perfect” one… Almost everything you wrote, I’ve done a time or two (I’m not a drop manager, but we have bought donuts at Walmart on the way to or from for my kids).

    If your post were perfect, I would just feel guilty. Our eating habits are still improving, and probably always will need improvement. If yours didn’t too, I wouldn’t enjoy reading how you learn to change.

  14. My family is right where your family is food wise. We’ve been on our s.l.o.w transformation for almost 3 years but I still love my Dr Peppers every now and then. Every time I get discouraged by other real food bloggers and how perfect they seem to be, I look back and remember the way we used to eat and choose to be thankful for the progress we’ve made even if it isn’t perfect!

  15. kathleen says:

    I’m so glad you are doing this. I’m in the beginning of trying to eat healthier. I’m trying to make more at home. I’ve been making more desserts from scratch. We’ve been working on improving our meats. We just signed up with a company were all the meats are not feed or giving anything bad. We are very excited about that. My next big challenge is making homemade bread. I don’t have a bread machine I’m hoping to get one soon. Then I’ll work on that. Can I tell you I use to only use margarine then I found out the true I wanted to throw up. Never again, butter only in this house!

    • I used to use margarine, too! My biggest frustration with this whole foods journey is that the people selling us this stuff are NOT honest about it. :(

      Congrats on your meat purchase. Quality meat makes a big difference!

  16. Right there with you! Have grass fed beef in my freezer, only use real butter, make my own bread, use real maple syrup, get crazy about hard to pronounce ingredients, yet went out to eat the most AMAZING barbeque pork with a huge side of fries this weekend. Our journeys are quite similar! (p.s. I use real sugar in my sweets too! It’s ‘real’ – right?)

  17. Looking forward to your series! Questions: Why do we salt the egg water? And why is sea salt better than table salt?

    • My farm eggs lady told me to do that to get the shells off of farm fresh hard-boiled eggs easier. Haven’t tried it yet! Sea salt still has the good-for-you minerals in it, where regular table salt is stripped of minerals and bleached. But there is QUITE a price difference! (Baffles me as to why the more processed stuff is always cheaper…)

      • I also add ACV in my boiling water when doing hard boiled eggs from our hens to help with the shells. :-) Good luck!

      • I baked my eggs in the oven for 30 minutes at 325 degrees. The shells came off no problemo. There were some brown spots on the egg white from where the shell came in contact with the muffin tin but they taste super yummy.

      • Charlene says:

        I heard that if you use salt when making hard boiled eggs, if one happens to be cracked, it keeps the egg in the shell, rather than going out in the water. It works too… I don’t know about it making the shells eaiser to get off…

        I have heard two things yesterday and today that coconut oil is bad for you. I’ve also heard lots of good stuff about it. That’s one thing that is so frustrating about trying to eat healthy is that there are so many conflicting things out there. We’re making moves toward eating healthier… but according to some people, we have a long ways to go.

        • I tried it with my last batch of farm eggs. Didn’t help. They were still too fresh and didn’t peel well. Oh, well. Worth a try!

          I’d be interested in the info about coconut oil. I’ve heard LOTS of great stuff…

  18. Your family is fed, so you are doing just fine. :-) Give yourself grace if you have not “arrived” where you plan to go. Thanks for the post. Looking forward to your series.

  19. Oh my goodness, I love love love you! I signed The Food Babe and 100 Days of Real Food’s Kraft Mac n Cheese petition but I still fed my 2-yo a box of (you guessed it) Kraft Mac N Cheese. And I have two more boxes in my pantry for the days when I’m Hangry (Hungry/Angry) and the dirty dishes, unfolded laundry and antics of my children drive me to cry in the kitchen and I can’t shove another PB&J sandwich in my face.

    Our family has been doing better at eating good food lately. Thanks to meal planning and panicked phone calls to my dad (who’s a chef) we’ve been able to make some good meals at home. “Fancy” things that aren’t really all that hard to make! One day for lunch, my son ate peanut butter on crackers, unsweetened apple sauce, cucumbers and yogurt for lunch. And you know what, he didn’t care that it was simple. Those are his favorite foods! My next goal is to make yogurt at home. Not sure if it’s cost effective because our grocery store sells the good stuff super cheap but I want to try it at least once.

    Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to take some chocolate chip cookies out of the oven… :)

    • I signed the same pledge, and very well may pull out a blue box for supper tonight since my hubby is at a track meet! ;)

      • My hubs is going to be on campus meeting with a group of students for dinner so I think I’m going mac n cheese tonight too…

  20. Baby steps is the name of the game in my household of picky eaters (hubs included!) It’s a process & I get less resistance from the family if I don’t make a lot of changes all at once. Besides the family, cost is definitely a factor here. Though 2 are out on their own, I still have 2-3 teen+ boys at home (depending if my 21 yr old son is home from college). I’ve been looking forward to this series since I saw you mention it a few weeks back on Facebook. I’m so glad you decided to go ahead with it.

    And my food *secret*–my Diet Coke. I never see myself totally giving that up. Hopefully the rest of my lifestyle (healthy eating, exercise, nonsmoker) makes up for that! :-)

    • We all have our vices. I’d love to fight you on the Diet Coke, just because aspartame scares me, but then I’d have to admit to snagging a FREE 2-liter bottle of that new Pepsi with BOTH aspartame AND high fructose corn syrup. Ha!

  21. I am the same way as you. We have made great strides, but we have our weak points, we have our mistakes. But we are doing the best we can and that has to help our health right? I try not to cringe every time I buy (yes I do sometimes buy the offending things myself) things we shouldn’t be eating. And I was so proud of myself when I filled 4 easter baskets with no artificial coloring or high fructose corn syrup in sight. Except I let my oldest buy 3 bags of mini eggs and we all devored them. And they were big bags. I know my inconsistencies make it hard for my kids to understand the “rules” (loose rules) and that is the biggest problem I have.

    My 14 year old was arguing with me over gatorade and why he couldn’t have it. I explained and he quickly pointed out that I had just bought gatorade the week before and made 2 of my kids drink it. True – but we were out of town, staying at a hotel with 2 kids who had the stomach flu. My dd was obviously getting dehydrated and I was trying to avoid a stop at the ER on the way home. But no matter what I said he argued. Ugh! This real food thing is hard with teenagers!

    • Out of town with the stomach flu?! Yuck. Major survival graces given there. And Gatorade… makes me cranky. I’m with you; we keep it and use it “just in case” but I sure wish coconut water was cheaper and more readily available. Oh, and tasted better. ha!

  22. Right where you are as well. Feed my 6 month old mostly organic food and exclusively breast feed, put her in organic cloth diapers, and for the most part eat pretty well. But a couple days a week I drink a soda. Sometimes I eat food from a can. Sometimes I contradict myself!

  23. LOVE this! Not only is it real food, but you’re being real in your journey – which makes it so much easier to not beat myself up about where we aren’t. I am so right there with you. My kitchen (and grocery carts) are quite the mix of real food and completely conventional stuff. Among other things, our last Costco run included organic veggies, grass-fed butter and frozen packaged lasagnas. I am choosing (daily) to focus on the areas we are improving, while still being realistic with the realities of our time, energy and budget.

  24. I so need this series as I have an all or nothing attitude and if it’s not perfect I might as well not try :( so please keep posting and maybe I can pick up some baby steps!

  25. I try to cook mostly from scratch(and as healthy as possible) but there are still little conveniences and foods Im hung up on….canned soups, Kraft mac and cheese, ramen noodles, poptarts, chips, Oreos…to name a few. I recently started using dry beans(cooking some up and freezing in the name of some speed, lol) but for the life of me, I cant make bread(even in a bread maker, don’t ask, lol). I doubt hubby would ever give up his Coke…and for a man who doesn’t want a meal completely from a box, he sure loves those mystery meat frozen salsbury steak things, blech.

    • Ok. I got through your list just fine until the mystery meat. Then I had to wrinkle my nose a little. LOL We’ll work at making strides together!

  26. If anyone ever asked me to define this blog it would be “she’s so real!”, and because of that I think you are the perfect person to write about real about real food!! I was reading this going, yep, uh-huh, me too! LOL

  27. You know what Amy, it’s okay. It’s okay to buy corn chips and use sugar, and it’s all okay because you keep it in perspective. I tell my family that I do my best (cook from scratch, organic fruit, no processed foods) when I can, because I know that there WILL be times when I can’t do my best (or when I send my kids to school and the snack of the day is some junk I wouldn’t otherwise approve of). But it’s also that it’s my kids life, and I want them to enjoy it, and not think they have some dictator of a mommy who will only let them eat raw carrots for snack every single day. Live it up kids – once in a while you can have an organic fruit-strip. :) Would love to see the series – and if people judge, well, then delete the email or comment!!

    • Yes Yes Yes! That’s me! I do my best when I can so that I don’t feel so guilty when it’s just not happening. We’re active and on the go, and our kids have lots of school and friend functions. We ENJOY that, and I don’t want food to get in the way of all the fun. :)

  28. I completely understand! We RAISE clean, healthy food and sell it and we’re still working eating better. After much conversation, Kurt and I have agreed that there is a food continuum. As long as we continue to move towards, cleaner, healthier foods, it’s a good thing. We also have to remember where we live – some of the shopping options just aren’t there. Thanks for being real!

  29. Amanda N says:

    Love this! Thank you for such a sane and civil post. I often remind myself that the perfect is the enemy of the good. Every little thing is better than nothing at all. I’m no where in the realm of a whole foods diet for my family, but I am trying.

  30. Amy, you said “I bake a lot, but I never soak my grains. I grill and saute veggies, but I never ferment them. I do some things right and we’re making great strides, but I still do a whole lotta wrong.”

    Ugh! This is where I’m at! My chickens arrive in less than a week & I’m already planning on fermenting their food but not our families? I loved all your contradictions because that’s for sure how it gets around here, ha!

    Your friends know you well & I couldn’t agree more – facades are such turn offs – thanks for keeping it REAL around your place & sharing it with us ;)

    • I’m cracking up that you’ll be fermenting the chicken food! When you get settled with them, I need to bring the littles out for pics with the chicks. :)

  31. THIS is why I love your blog. This whole feeding the family thing is a process. I too have the mixed cart. I too roll through the drive thru for snacks (after spending too long perusing the farmer’s market).

    We will have homemade whole wheat buns for the hot dogs we roast over the camp fire this weekend. It’s a little mixed up and crazy, but all you can do us your best on any given day.

    Of course we could eat “better”, but we eat much better now than we did ten years ago. I’m just going to keep plugging along, chopping veggies, and not feel bad when we have chips with a sandwich instead.

  32. I’m going to say what so many others have said, “I love this!” I try to do a lot of things right but am no where near “all the way there.” My husband is still very reluctant. He’s good about what I cook and buy, but he still wants his Doritos and doesn’t really care if things have high fructose corn syrup in them. But he makes me feel great when we’re around others and he brags about the things that I do for our health. :) I’m looking forward to reading your upcoming posts on this subject. Thanks for being real!

  33. I too am trying to slowly do a little better all the time but get confused on what that is. One day you read about this idea and than the next you read that something else is the best. I try to support local as much as possible at the farmers market but learned last year that unless they say they are organic they probably use just as much pesticide and fertilizer as what we find in the grocery store; you are just helping the local guy. I think that many people are fooled my the “local” farmer’s market. So my question for you readers, what would you choose to switch to first: organice meats? eggs? fruits? vegetables? coffee? dairy? I can’t afford to do everything but can afford to switch to some but again seem to find conflictling information out there on what is best.

    • I actually prefer local over organic in the store if I have to choose, BUT that is only because I know my local farmers. The “organic” label is basically costly government red tape. Our local CSA uses organic methods but can’t afford to get the label. I feel very good about that.

      I’ll add your question to my series notes to ask later. Thank you!

  34. I am the real food junkie and I have to say it is because of my hubby. Since he does 90% of the cooking in our house we eat MUCH better because of him. I was the slow convert only because of price but now I cannot image going back. My entire family feels better because we eat whole, natural, organic, grass fed, raw milk types of food. I do have my guilty pleasures and I am no where near perfect but we are working on it.

    You get raw milk for $4 a gallon – that is crazy cheap!

    • I do! Insane price, right?! Cheaper than the regular stuff at WalMart here.

      Love that your hubby is the one to lead you to real food!

  35. michelle baesler says:

    I was just talking with my husband about this. The pressure seems enormous, but I put it on myself most of the time. We all have to find our own way in this eating adventure. Thankfully, there is a whole lot of grace surrounding us. This is the only thing that truly saves. I look forward to your future posts.

  36. Debbie Jennings says:

    Amy, you can quit using the aresole cans if you can find you a Misto. A Misto is a small appliance thatbyounadd your bottled olive oil to. You pump it up and use as you would an aresole can. They are great. I use mine all the time. I love it and it’s so much more economical than the bought cans. I love mine so much that I got all my girls one for Christmas last year. (You can use any type of oil you use, I just prefer olive oil, myself.

    • Is that the one from Pampered Chef? I’ve heard great things, but I’ve also heard people say theirs gets clogged up… I’ll have to look!

  37. How do you get your kids to eat homemade bread – mine turn up their noses – they like the white soft stick to your roof of your mouth stuff – I find I start the week out gung ho and things as I get tired during the week go down hill- oh well we are trying right??

    • I’ll address more of my philosophy on this in the series, and I know each family and even each child is different, but… they eat it because that’s what we have and what I serve. If I had white bread in the house, I’m sure they’d go for that! :) I also would say we don’t eat a lot of sandwiches. We might when the bread is fresh, but I mostly use it for toast or grilled cheese. That helps.

  38. I loved your article! So much of what you wrote resonates with me. I am doing what I can where I am with what I have, while striving to do better, and so are you. With all your kids I don’t know how you do as much as you DO do. (No kids here, but I’m single and unemployed.) You’re wayyyyy ahead of me in that I can’t do CSAs ($) and Azure is not available (I’m on their list as interested). There are a couple (tiny) ways I’m ahead of you.

    But these are life journies; not competitions, right? We’re here to learn from and encourage each other.

    I do love ALDI’s and buy the artisan lettuce and other conventional stuff from there, even if it’s from Mexico like the killer deal on colored peppers this week (gasp – because of the chemicals they spray on their crops, Mexican conventional is worse than US conventional). I especially love ALDI’s carrots and broccoli, such a great buy ($) compared to other stores, but still Clean 15. However, I do clip coupons and wait for sales on Domino or Dixie Crystals pure cane sugar.

    This is part of my personal journey, and not meant as guilt or negativity. You see, I started my journey to real food by getting off artificial sweeteners years ago. I believe aspartame killed my sister. So I developed a sensitivity to food issues in the sugar/sweetening category. That was my starting point, and I’m slowly learning about the rest of the real food iceberg. As a result, I was on top of it and know all about Monsanto’s introduction of GMO seeds for the 2008-2009 crop year of sugar beets. (Most North American granulated sugar comes from sugar beets. We don’t have the climate to grow sugar cane except in Florida and small parts of Louisiana.) Before 2008, who would pay extra money just to get a “name brand” sugar when all granulated tastes the same? Not me buddy! Only someone who wants to throw away money. After 2008 however, I only buy the brands that specify CANE sugar. Monsanto hasn’t ruined cane sugar. Yet. Tho they are buying up organic seed companies avariciously, and the Monsanto Protection Act just passed, etc.

    I am an ALDI’s fan and I do make ALDI’s my first stop. But I also do check ALDI’s labels for country of origin before I buy; they have a ton of processed and canned foods from Mexico and China which I don’t buy at all, period. The fresh Mexican produce is hard to say no to tho, and like you the 99-cent strawberries I’m getting!! Well . . . every once in awhile. (ALDI’s now has frozen organic strawberries.) And so I was not surprised when I checked ALDI’s granulated & brown sugar labels to find it is not CANE sugar.

    The stores I go to in my area that have sales on CANE brands of sugar, are BILO (mostly) and Food Lion (occasionally). Walmart used to carry cane sugar in their generic brand, but didn’t last time I checked. I can get small 1-lb boxes of Domino (powdered, brown, etc) for 50 cents because Dollar Tree dollar store started accepting coups this year. The 4lb bags etc I get usually at BILO, on sale, with doubled coups. I make a separate trip for a coupon run to Dollar Tree about every 4-6 weeks, and look at the ads online of BILO, ALDI’s, Fodd Lion etc the rest of the time. But ALDI’s is always my first stop, on the way to the grocery store. I don’t know but assume multiple store stops (or even just 2) would be extremely difficult with your kids.

    Personally, it has helped so much to just switch to whole fruit instead of sugary anything. Yesss!! the oranges in your pix are a Clean 15 killer deal at ALDI’s right now! But there are still those times you need (or want) sugar . . .

    So I’m good on the sugar thing, and I don’t buy GMO sugar, which means I buy organic whole cane sugar when I can afford it, and white cane sugar & brown cane sugar on sale with coups when I can’t. Now I have to improve REAL FOOD SKILLS on the rest of the package, which you are far ahead of me on.

    So don’t let anyone dog you or gripe. You’re doing good . . . great I would say, with all those kids, and this blog, and being a wife and mother and new baby.

    I want to learn to soak grains and do so much more . . . container garden and window sill herb garden . . . but all those things will have to wait until I can find a job and get back into my own apt.

  39. By the way, there is a petition before the FDA right now (comments accepted til May 21st; please comment) by the dairy industry, IDFA and NMPF, to change the definition of milk so they can add UNLABELED aspartame & other artificial sweeteners to it. This will affect milk, cream, yogurt, etc., 17 dairy products; and I assume everything else that is made from milk (cheese etc). So soon, even if grocery store milk is FREE, is STILL won’t be a good buy.
    https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/02/20/2013-03835/flavored-milk-petition-to-amend-the-standard-of-identity-for-milk-and-17-additional-dairy-products

  40. I realize I’m late to this post but I just wanted to say thank you for being 100% honest here… Our family is at the first steps of eating more whole… Not entirely by choice… But by need… my 2 year old has a condition called FPIES and because of that she can not have ANY dairy, soy, blueberries, peanuts, tree nuts, raspberries or whole wheat (she’s fine with the berries just not the germ – not sure why but it’s how her body reacts)…

    I make all bread, rolls, pita etc from scratch, my husband does all the cakes, cookies and muffins… we make our own version of rice a roni (it’s one of our older 3′s faves) and we have an entire 2 shelf cabinet dedicated to our spices, we grow cilantro, mint, chives, basil and oregano, though I want to grow more BUT my ability to keep plants alive seems to be minimal at best lol…

    I do buy from stores that use local produce and I try to get glass packed veggies or frozen ones when I can’t get fresh at a decent price… but sometimes I use canned (esp in the beans department) because I struggle with remembering to soak my beans properly… and I always seem to mess up dry beans because of that… My goal is to learn how to can my own dry beans & hopefully even make my own vanilla extract (hopefully in the near future!)

    and now that I’m done running on… lol… Thank you again!!!!

    • I’ve never heard of FPIES, but it sounds cumbersome. :( Kudos to you for doing what you need to for your family!

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