Real Food: Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Ready for a post with photos of groceries that directly contradict the message in the post?  Okay, then.  Here we go!  ;)
groceries

Oftentimes when talking about changing eating habits, I’ll hear people say, “I just can’t help myself!”

I get that.  There are all sorts of foods and drinks that I may mindlessly eat or really enjoy eating if it’s in front of me.  I’ve also found myself eating junk just because it’s there and then wondering why on earth I did that!  One of my favorite strategies for better eating?  Out of sight, out of mind.

If you don’t want to eat it, don’t keep it in your house! 

“I can’t keep the kids out of the cookies!”  Well, then, don’t have cookies in the house.

“My kids aren’t making good snack choices.”  Well, then, have only good snack choices available.

We complicate this real food thing.  Simply keeping good for you food in the house always and bad for you food in the house rarely would solve a lot of problems (says the girl who has to drive 20 minutes to grab something she “needs.”)  What’s available to eat in your kitchen?

Create a menu plan, including snacks, and have only those foods available.

No need to torture anyone with beets and swiss chard if that’s not your thing, but do make the effort to plan your meals, ensuring plenty of fruits and veggies will be added.  Then, stick to that plan.  Have those good for you foods available.  Might there be whining for candy and cookies?  There might, but there’s no temptation to give in if the food isn’t there.

And about that gallon bucket of ice cream in the freezer?  Maybe go for the quart next time.

Grab and Go with good for you snacks.

We like what’s easy and convenient, yes?  Make that work to your advantage.  Keep washed and sliced fruits and veggies front and center in the fridge.  The kids will grab what’s handy.  I will grab what’s handy.  I’ve long said I truly enjoy a big salad for lunch, but it’s such a pain to make that salad every day.  If everything was washed, chopped, cooked, and crumbled (mmmm, bacon!) it would be easier for me to toss that salad together, and I would likely do it more often.

Make just a small amount of sweets and treats.

I like to bulk bake as much as anyone, but if there are 3 dozen cookies on my kitchen counter, you can bet they haven’t been there more than a day.   We eat what’s available, especially if it’s a treat!  One thing that works well for me is to stash all extra baked goods in my freezer.  In the basement.  Out of sight, out of mind. 

If I’m making cookies, I’ll scoop the dough onto a cookie sheet, freeze it, then store those frozen cookie balls in a ziplock in the freezer.  That way I have some “convenience food” to pop in the oven if we need it, and when we do indulge in a cookie, it’s fresh.  (Because really?  Fresh out of the oven is the only way to eat a cookie.)

Hide the junk.

It’s one thing to stash a few convenience items for _________ days (rough, busy, sick, whatever).  It’s an entirely different thing to stash them at full price.  Who wants to do that???  (Not me!)  Don’t stress about the boxes or cans that you grab on sale to rely on once in a while.

I do find, though, that the box of cereal is much more tempting to use when we don’t need to if it’s in my kitchen.  When I snag a deal on fun or convenience food, I try to stash it in the basement, either on my pantry shelves or in the freezer.  Less temptation on a daily basis, but security in knowing we have it for a crazy day.

Don’t buy it.

If you know you shouldn’t cook with canola oil, don’t buy it.  If you know margarine isn’t good for you, don’t buy it.  If  your goal is to eliminate refined sugar, don’t buy refined sugar.

I was stubborn with this one, keeping one container of canola “just in case” for quite a long time.  And I kept having to by another “just in case” bottle sooner than I’d hoped.  When I quit buying it completely?  I rarely missed it, and I learned healthier substitutions with butter, coconut oil, and olive oil.

While there is certainly a learning curve with some real food topics, I’m a firm believer we are making this more difficult than it needs to be.  Keep the bad stuff out of reach and the good stuff handy.  Easy enough, right?  How do you keep temptations away?

 

groceries1

Ah, so proud to show you my junk food purchases this week.  ;)  Here’s how the shopping went down:

Dollar General:  $5.67 ~ oatmeal cream pies and swiss rolls for our son’s soccer team snacks

Alco:  $2.16 ~mad dash for more swiss rolls and peanut butter bars between games, because our daughter’s team didn’t have snacks so they used part of our snacks for the son’s team ~ shew!  no-snack travesty averted

Dollar Tree:  $10.70 ~ This was my first ever visit to the Dollar Tree, and let’s just say it’s probably a good thing that the store is located over an hour away from my home.  I grabbed animal crackers for my kindergartner to take for class snacks, pretzels for strawberry pretzel dessert, chocolate sandwich cookies so I can make dirt cups for my oldest’s birthday treats at school, 2 packages tortillas, and three loaves of bread (100% whole grain, no HFCS)

Dillons:  $12.64 ~ sour cream, ranch dip, bananas, oranges, romaine  (Funny story.  I was in the living room.  Hadn’t put the groceries away yet.  Heard commotion in the kitchen.  Investigated, and saw the 2yo with the fridge door open.  “What are you doing?”  “I’m putting the oranges away!”  Ha!  He had a bag of them put in the correct drawer before I ever snapped a photo.  Glad someone’s on the ball around here.)

Walmart:  $15.89 ~ soy sauce (Yes, I know.  bad!  Should try liquid aminos.  Have you tried it?)  peanut butter, cumin, dried cranberries

Total this week:  $47.06

(I forgot to add 10 pounds of carrots that I split with a friend in my last Azure order.  That was $12.50.)

Total for April:  $434.21  (We’ll talk more about budgeting later, but let me just say it now… do not compare your numbers with anyone but yourself.  There are far too many factors and variables that go into buying food.  You’ll likely make yourself feel overly accomplished or terribly inferior for.no.reason.  Stop it!)

 

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Comments

  1. Angela Ford says:

    I have a question, probably from your last post, on real butter. Do you keep it refrigerated or out on the counter? My husband would eat it, but he hates how hard it gets. Do you have any thoughts on that?

    • Here is what we do at home. I use stick butter and when either I or hubby get ready to cook, we take the butter dish out of the refrigderator to allow to soften. This way by the time I really need it especially if doing something like buttering bread, corn on the cob, etc, it is soft enough to use. Then directly after dinner we put it back in the fridge. If I am just using butter for a sauce or to saute in, then I use a sharp knife.

    • I keep the bulk of my butter in the fridge, but I always have one stick in the butter dish which sits on top of my microwave. In the winter it’s still pretty hard to spread; in the summer sometimes it gets a little melty. But I’ve never had it go bad, if that is your concern over keeping it out on the counter.

    • We keep one stick out ALL THE TIME in a covered butter dish. I’ve done this all my life and never had a problem. The rest stays in the fridge for baking.

    • I do what everyone else commented, I think. We almost always have a stick of butter out on the counter on a plate. I had it in a butter dish until one of the children dropped that on my tile floor… now I just use a small plate.

  2. I have to agree with you on this. I know when I was trying to lose weight, it helped me also to keep my counter top completely clear of all foods, healthy and not.

  3. You do quite well on your grocery spending for a family of 7! Great job!
    Do you buy meat in bulk or directly from a butcher? (Just curious)
    Thank you!

    • I’ve got 1/2 a pig coming in August and I normally buy 1/2 a beef each year. My uncles don’t have beef right now, so while we find some I’m using Tropical Tradition credit to get meat from there. I do have some spendy bulk buys throughout the year, for sure!

  4. Try not to buy it and when we do have it be more for special occasions like road trips or what not. I also don’t bake a lot of desserts for just our family (but our family is only 3 soon to be 4) and save if for small groups and other such functions.

    I bought Bragg’s Liquid Amino Acids from Azure last time I ordered and we actually don’t mind it. I’ve used it in stir fry and fried rice. But my mom said when we were all at home we didn’t like it as well as soy. (Someone my husband works with uses just Bragg’s for her salad dressing everyday for lunch.)

    • That’s a good one. Baking desserts to take somewhere. My kids always ask, “Who’s that for?” or “Where are we going?” when they see dessert on the counter. ;)

  5. I agree with this SO very much: “There are far too many factors and variables that go into buying food.” Yep! Which is why I brag about my stellar deals to my husband. ;)

  6. Hi Amy — As always thanks for sharing. I have a topic that I would love for you to discuss, and I mean no offense by asking it so please don’t take it that way. :) I noticed the oatmeal cream pies and swiss rolls for your sons soccer game. This is a situation that my sister and I talk about and struggle with ourselves. My sons first year of preschool i sent real fruit (fresh strawberries, bananas) etc to preschool snack days for the entir e class, or for the entire soccer team when we had snack duty. We try to eat real food at home….but it costs more money of course. So my question….why can people spend money on their own family for real food but when it comes to feeding a group of preschools or ones turn to take baseball snack the Red Dye and corn syrup-y stuff comes out? I’m guilty of this….and I just wish there was a way for all moms to band together and say “enough” – let’s supply healthy real foods for group times too!

    • No offense taken at all! :) I’ve talked about my 80/20 rule before (and will again), but to keep it short, game snacks are a part of my 20. I work hard to keep us eating quality food at home 80% of the time so that I can “let it go” 20% without guilt. Most of that 20% is when we’re out and about.

      Now, would it be nice if everyone brought healthy team snacks? Absolutely! Am I willing to risk my kid’s embarrassment at having *that mom*? Nope. (Well, not at snack time on the ball field, anyway. ha!) Not picking that battle. Plus, my kids think it’s super fun to pick that junk at the store once a season. Kudos to the mom who supplied string cheese and grapes after a t-ball game last year, though. That was awesome!

  7. Since we were on a no refined sugars for April, I took everything I could find with refined sugars/sweeteners and put them up for the month – sugar, cereals (even the healthy kind but still had cane sugar), Miracle Whip. I will say my hubby balked a little about Miracle Whip as that is the condiment of choice for sandwiches around here, but it was only once. He did drink his Diet Dr Pepper as he is having a hard time giving that up despite what I’ve shown him about aspartame. I can’t win them all. My daughter and I have continued even when out. I made an incentive – lunch at Cheesecake Factory, so tomorrow we have a lunch date. :) We both feel a lot better and have even lost a few pounds as well.

  8. Kim Kauffman says:

    I like coconut aminos even better than braggs liquid aminos. But I often wonder if I just think things are good because I have forgotten what the “real” version tastes like…so I might not be the best judge! ha!

  9. I just love that Nature’s Own bread. It makes the tastiest PB & J sandwiches!!!

  10. I was actually shocked that we liked Braggs amino acids. It’s very similar in taste, so when it came to using it in dishes, we couldn’t really tell the difference. There’s obviously a difference if we just toss it on top of some rice, but not even in a bad way.

  11. Bailey says:

    I am just curious about the “Soy sauce – bad” part. Is it the soy, is it the high sodium? I am just not very familiar with liquid aminos. I thought it was more a vegetarian/vegan thing or allergy thing, rather than healthy eating.

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