So that's it. Real food takes time. That is the biggest reason, I think, we don't eat more real food. Our lives are so busy already, who has time to be in the kitchen every evening and all weekend making the bread, making the snacks, grating fresh cheese, making fresh juice, etc.??! This is one of the hardest parts about trying to eat REAL food. I wonder if the bloggers that write about the importance of eating real food do other things besides blogging and raising a family? Is that why they can make so many amazing snacks and meals?? I don't know. I'm sure they are busy just like the rest of us. My thoughts are you have to decide what priorities you have for your family and fit everything into the schedule. For example, many folks think that exercising is important so they schedule that into their day. Cooking must be the same thing - it must be scheduled. Our little one is getting to the age where she can actually help in the kitchen. Some people will put their 2 year old in the kitchen to "help". My definition of "helping" obviously is very different from theirs. Anyway. This way I can spend some time with her while I am making things for the week. Even still, the time factor is a major deterrent. It is so much easier to just go buy the loaf of bread or buy the box of granola bars. So how do we make this work? Well, this is a work in progress. The first thing I have realized is that you have to first decide that this is a priority for your family. It has to be at this point. Our health depends on it. Not just our asthma issues but also our weight and overall mental health depend on it.
So the first step is pretty clear. Next we have to fit it into our day. I tend to spend 1-2 hours a night cooking dinner and a good bit on the weekend. I feel like I'm in the kitchen all day on the weekends so who knows how long I'm in there. So this isn't sustainable. I wanna see the outdoors some time!! I'm thinking I am going to have to do more "freezer meals", more crock pot options, and more batch cooking. There's that pesky time issue again. It takes a lot of time not only to cook the food but to plan to cook it. Right now I plan weekly menus. But maybe that will have to change and I will need to incorporate some monthly meal ideas in there too? That's a thought. Making double and triple batches of freezable snacks is something I will probably start doing as well. It doesn't really take me all that much more time to make two batches of granola bars and they freeze really well. But see there is the planning to do that. Sometimes I make a list of my weekend "to cook" list and I will get distracted and forget I meant to double something or forget to buy one ingredient and then the whole plan is shot. It takes planning and focus. No wonder no one wants to do it. So let's say we don't have the time, we don't have the energy, or we simply don't want to spend the time doing it...all valid points.
Well, then you opt to buy all the REAL food. Well, that can get crazy expensive. Buying all REAL food is definitely possible on a budget. In some areas easier than others, but it is definitely possible. The thing that I realized this week and over the last couple months really is that it takes TIME to find affordable REAL food. It is out there, you just have to search. So, we have amazing farmer's markets up here. At the beginning of spring we planted a 16x4 raised bed garden and set aside some money to join a CSA for our spring, summer, and fall produce. We preserved a lot of that produce in the hopes that we can eat on it through the winter and save some money. So far that is working out. I think next summer we will try to preserve even more. The prices of food at farmer's markets is often significantly lower than the grocery stores and the quality is always better. Plus you are supporting your local farmer in the process. Growing your own food is the cheapest. Seeds are super cheap and sometimes even free! The soil is an investment but we joined a community garden and that was free. The kicker is the TIME we put in to keep it growing and producing. So, you can grow your own food, buy food at the farmer's markets, seek out the sales and deals on produce and other Real food items. It has taken me weeks if not months to find places that sell what I am looking for at the prices I'm willing to pay. It's that TIME factor again. Spending time to decrease the amount of money spent is a priority but it's a lot of work. FYI - our weekly grocery budget is usually $100-125. That's a lot to may folks and we are so grateful to have it!. Interesting point about the budget is that food is our life force basically. It is what nourishes us and keeps us going. Have you ever looked at what you spend weekly or monthly on food?? Why does food tend to get the least amount of our budget?? My thought is maybe raise our weekly budget to put 1/2 of it toward food. 1/2 of it toward nourishing our bodies and our minds. That's a culture change I think. I also really like browsing Target and buying a lot of useless crap so I don't know if I can do that...priorities right hmmm....
It's almost as if the food system is designed to "force" you into purchasing the processed products to save time and money. A lot of folks have written books about this issue so obviously I'm not tackling the food system in my little blog/journal, but it does make me think and makes me irritated a bit. Why isn't this stuff readily available to us?! I guess years ago we were hunters and gatherers. This task of eating REAL food is basically modern day hunting and gathering. I don't like guns but I do like shopping so my hunting is "hunting" for deals! :)
This week we have chosen to stick with our first challenge - no preservatives or chemicals. We aren't in a position to just throw food away, so we are using up all our conventional snacks and ingredients before moving onto the next challenge of switching our grains from processed flours to only whole grains. That should be fun!! :) I will say this week we have definitely had more energy. It is definitely too early to report on the asthma impact but for what it's worth we haven't had any attacks. We will see how it goes!