Let's chat about food. First I want to disclose that I am no stranger to a frozen pizza, my child will tell you her favorite food is a Wendy's cheese burger and I definitely fall to that occasional box of Mac and Cheese; however, I try to stay within the 80-20 rule, eating REAL food 80% of the time. Growing up on a farm, we had a pretty balanced plate majority of the time. A meat (so often beef as that my grandfather raised 1,000 head of cattle every winter), a vegetable, and a starch (which was usually some sort of potatoes. Yup, that stereotypical Idaho potato farmer, my wonderful Gramps, Richard Wood). I went away to college and quickly starting packing on the pounds and was having trouble with my health....like what in the world happened?!?!?! Processed food happened.
So often, out of convenience and habit, we find ourselves running to processed foods and feeding it to our families. I do believe that our society today is becoming more aware and moving in an overall healthier direction, yet a large majority of us are still feeding our children cereal for breakfast, hot dogs, chips and chicken nuggets for lunch, and are scraping together dinner based on frozen foods. I'm not judging you, trust me I get it. If I had those food's in my house I would eat them too. So I want to encourage everyone to start feeding their family's real food, and start by cleaning out the bad. If it's not in the house, you won't eat. Packing your pantry and refrigerator with real foods forces you to eat them.
Sometimes the idea seems overwhelming. But let's start with a plan of action to make it easier. This doesn't mean you have to jump ship completely, and some of the things I am going to suggest are still considered "processed," just much less on the scale. I want to give you some ideas for breakfasts, snacks, lunches and dinner meals. These are just my suggestions based on what we usually have in our house. But if you do a little research, there are so many more options for non-processed meal and snack ideas. I'm sure you can find something that's appealing to you and your family.
Here is a list of some of our favorite breakfasts:
- Eggs. I'm pretty sure we eat eggs for breakfast at least 5 days a week. Over-easy, scrambled, hard boiled. We all love them. I feel like I could scramble almost any veggie in with eggs and they are delicious. Spinach, bell peppers, and even broccoli. Great source of protein and energy.
- Oatmeal. We like to add berries (fresh or frozen), walnuts, and a pinch of brown sugar if that makes you happy.
- Toast. Our favorite brand is the Killer Dave's Organic. We loved it topped with homemade raspberry jam. You can find my recipe here!
- All natural Peanut Butter (We love Adam's) and Organic Honey
- Waffles made from Kodiac Cakes. Organic with no artificial ingredients
- Homemade Muffins - Here's my zucchini muffin recipe.
Waverly has gotten so used to these being her breakfast options, she doesn't hardly know what sugary cereal, pop tarts or frozen waffles even are. We are doing our best to instill good eating habits into her at this young age.
Snacks to have around:
- Vegetables sticks (carrots ,celery, bell peppers)
- If your going to need chips or crackers, we love Food Should Taste Good, no artificial anything.
- All Natural Peanut Butter
- Green Smoothies (Banana, Frozen Berries, Kale, Spinach, 1 cub Almond Milk, 1/2 tsp Vanilla)
- NATURAL deli meat. Make sure you are getting an all natural product, because deli meat can be extremely processed and high in sodium.
- Avacados - Make my table side Guac here!
- Popcorn. I use an air popper, real butter and sea salt
Lunch and Dinner Ideas:
- Quesadilla's with shredded chicken. Find my favorite recipe here
- Tacos. Beef, fish, chicken or even vegetarian with black beans and guacamole.
- Enchiladas. Beef, chicken or vegetarian
- Taco salad
- Stir fry with brown rice, veggies and meat of choice
- Roast with potatoes, carrots and side salad
- Meatloaf, potatoes and green beans
- Whole wheat pasta, pesto, chicken with asparagus and yellow bell pepers
- Roasted or grilled Chicken with Kale and Quinoa Salad
- Roasted or grilled Chicken, Pork or Steak with Greek Vegetables
- Roasted potatoes and vegetables with over-easy (or scrambled if you prefer) eggs
- Hamburgers (make your own patties), grilled onions, cheese of choice, lettuces, tomatoes, pickles and whole wheat buns. I like to throw in fresh corn on the cob and a salad.
- Homemade Stew
- Simple Meal: Meat or fish of choice, veggie or salad of choice, starch of choice (quinoa, brown rice, yams, potatoes or whole wheat pasta or bread).
Every Sunday night I make a tentative Monday through Thursday dinner meal plan and create a grocery list based around what I need. I also tend to think about a Saturday morning brunch and possibly a Sunday crock pot, come home form church sort of meal. I make sure my pantry and fridge have their snack essentials and pick up my groceries Monday morning. Doing this will set you up for a successful week. When buying groceries, you should think about staying around the perimeters. That is where you will find all the fresh, REAL ingredients, the produce, meats, dairy products, eggs. If you are wandering into the middle of the store, the food is getting more processed. Obviously you'll have to wander in to get your dry items such as oatmeal, rice and COFFEE (yup, I get the mom life)....Don't by instant potatoes or boxed rice, get the real stuff and prepare it how you like. We love to start our shopping at our local farmers market to buy the freshest, local ingredients. If you are an Idaho dweller, the Lakeview Fruit Stand is our favorite! I like to let Waverly help pick out the fruits and vegetables, this gets her more excited about eating her veggies.
Now that you have a meal plan, the ingredients, and no other "convenient" foods around, you will be forced to make these meals and eat them. They say that doing something for 21 days creates a habit. So I challenge you to do a month, at least Monday - Thursday of eating unprocessed foods. So cheers to delicious home cooked meals and teaching your children the best of eating habits. What is their health worth?
If you need more meal ideas and recipes, make sure to follow along with our Cooking with Kitchen Craft blog as well!