Building a Real Foods Pantry, Step 1: Have a Plan and Start Small
There’s a lot of talk about eating Real and Organic foods lately. When you eat real foods
you empower yourself with healthy living while becoming an active part of your local
food community, and you join a growing number of people who want more farmers
touching their food than factory machines.
At GRUB, we hear a lot of desire to eat healthy, along with two main obstacles: time and money. The latter, especially, is a growing refrain that pops up even on the national level, “You have to be rich to eat well” dogs us through our food decision-making or stops us from even trying to begin.
So I want to share an outline on how my family has made eating real, whole foods that are mostly organic work for us: we won the lottery! Just kidding! Over the next few weeks I’ll cover topics like buying in bulk
(no, not Costco paper towels, but those bins of food with plastic bags and twist ties near them), storing food, cooking from scratch, snacking and shopping.
We’ll begin with shopping: have a plan of action at the grocery store. We all know
the adage, “Don’t shop hungry,” and this is a pearl of wisdom, especially when combined
with, “Make a list.” When you’re hungry, you’re more likely to make impulse buys;
when you’re with your hungry kid you’re more likely to make please-stop-whining
impulse buys (hence the stacks of brightly colored candy options at check-out when
everyone’s bored, tired AND hungry). No one should be in the grocery store hungry.
And if you are hungry, put on your blinders, look only at your list, and power-walk.
This part of the plan also includes: know the terrain. Do you need to walk down that one long aisle entirely inhibited by chips (and all of their bagged, fried and baked cousins)? NO! Don’t even use it as a cut-through to the dairy. Ditto with the soda and candy isles.
The middle of the grocery store is where the packaged foods are, which means you will pay more for less (packaging is expensive!) and pick up extra additives and preservatives- even jars of tomato sauce have added sugar in them. And don’t get me started on what makes that blue-boxed staple of childhood that intensely unnatural shade of orange!
It’s time to step away from the packaged food, which brings us back to the second pearl
of wisdom: make a list. Actually, a few lists. First, think about all of the foods you and
your family love to eat, and write ‘em down. Don’t be shy! Granola? Pizza? Tacos?
Mac and cheese? Creamy soups? Do you make packaged, seasoned rice for a side to
your meat dishes three times a week? What are your go-to meals after a crazy day? What
must you have when you feel blue and overwhelmed?
The good news is that all of these meals were, once upon a time, a home-cooked meal
from scratch (or were at least inspired by something whole and nutritious cooked in
someone’s kitchen). Which means they can become that again.
So start a second list: which of those meals could you make yourself, but maybe don’t because it seems too difficult or time-consuming or you don’t know where you’d start but you remember overhearing that mom who always seems more put together than you talk about having made it. Sit down with those who will be eating, and choose one to make from scratch.
Just one. I’ll give you a hint: seasoned rice, pizza and granola
are pretty easy to make, and there are about 5,000,000 recipes on-line for each of them (just type “homemade ________” recipe into your search engine, or make the recipe below; yeah, I’ve got your back).
If you choose “pizza” you can even start slow by
buying a crust, a jar of sauce, and any toppings you like; even made this way it’ll be more
nutritious and cheaper than ordering in, and spreading toppings on pizza is a great way to
get kids involved with cooking.
Add the ingredients you need for this single from-scratch meal to your grocery list,
fortify with a healthy snack (raw almonds and dried apricots are favorites in our house),
picture the store lay-out and imagine exactly where everything you need is, grab your re-
usable bags, and begin your first step toward eating Real Foods.
What was your first step toward eating from scratch? What favorite meal have you
figured out how to make yourself?
Next Week: Bulk Bins, Don’t Be Afraid to Help Yourself!
Seasoned Rice Two Ways
2 cups Jasmine rice (white or brown)
1 can (13.5oz) coconut milk
1 cup water
1 tsp salt
2 tsp dried thyme*
Combine rice, coconut milk, water, salt and thyme in a medium-sized pot over high heat,
and bring to a boil. Cover, turn heat down to simmer, and cook for 30 minutes, or until
rice is tender. Stir well before serving.
*When I make a stir-fry, I like to add mild curry powder instead of thyme. Or sometimes
I just add powdered turmeric for bright yellow rice (which my daughter loves).
2 cups Jasmine rice (brown or white)
2 ½ cups water
1 tsp salt
½ tsp dried marjoram
½ tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried dill
Combine rice, water, salt and herbs in a medium-sized pot over high heat, and bring to a
boil. Cover, turn heat down to simmer, and cook for 30 minutes, or until rice is tender.
Stir well before serving.
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