30 Days of Real Food Challenge–Intro
When we got back from our vacation to ABQ I mentioned my husband and I were going to be starting a new personal challenge–30 days of no processed foods. We will only be eating REAL foods. Nothing that has been chemically altered, genetically made or modified, and nothing that is “artificial” Basically, if I can’t make it from scratch, or I have no idea what is in the ingredient list–then we aren’t eating it.
Throughout the time we have been together (almost 8 years!!) we have changed the way we eat several times. We first met when I was still in college, he had just graduated and was living the bachelor life. The first few months we dated I lived at home (and enjoyed awesome homestyle meals from my wonderful mom) and he ate whatever fit into his budget–which you can imagine wasn’t that great. Once I moved out and started buying my own groceries, we were right on par for the typical college diet–Ramens, mac and cheese, hotdogs–you know, all of the CRAP that college kids can afford. Luckily I had a roommate that was and still is health conscious and made sure I didn’t eat myself into early heart disease. After my husband and I started living together, our diet changed some. We still bought our normal stuff, but we started eating more meats, fruits, and veggies. I started cooking a little bit, although most of my cooking skills left much to be desired. My husband was, and still is, the best spaghetti and fried egg maker. I can’t even begin to compare to his. A few years ago, on a whim, my hubby decided that we should try to eat Vegan. I was appalled–being a lover of all things meat and cheese, I didn’t see how my hubby or I would pull this off. BUT he was serious, and for a good 3 months we were very careful about what we were eating. Of course, this was during the summer time, and he didn’t have a full course load at the time. Once he went back to school, the time we both had to cook and prepare meals diminished. We didn’t completely revert back to our old ways, but we did start buying meats, dairy, eggs, and more convenient foods. If anything, we had at least broadened our palates, and learned how to eat better. We became accustomed to eating a lot of Asian and Middle Eastern dishes, as well as always making sure we had fresh fruits and veggies. In the last year, we have been eating like many American families do–not the healthiest, but not as bad as in our college days.
During our long drive home from ABQ we had time to reflect and talk about getting our eating habits back on track. Maybe we didn’t want to go the extreme and go back to Veganism, but we wanted to do something. I know last year–and probably even before that–the idea of eating REAL, WHOLE foods was a hot topic around the blogosphere. We talked about it a little and decided a 30 day challenge would be great for both of us. Certainly after 30 days, we should be able to change our eating and make eating real foods just a part of life. So here we are.
Before we begin, my husband and I decided on a guideline for eating real foods. Just like I mentioned above–if I don’t know or can’t pronounce something that is on the ingredient list–or if I can’t take those ingredients and make it myself at home–then we don’t eat it. Simple enough..right? Do you have any idea how hard it is to find something at the store that only has a few simple ingredients in it? Even my pancake mix I was looking at today had about 30 ingredients in it. Something that I could make easily at home with 3 or 4 ingredients–but it had 30?! Wow. AND yogurt! Something that is supposed to be so good for you–but the type I’ve been eating has all sorts of artificial stuff in it. This may be a little harder than I expected.
I also plan, as much as our budget will allow, to purchase as much organic produce, grass-fed beef, and cage free chicken and eggs I can. I actually scored an awesome deal at Target yesterday on their grass-fed organic ground beef. Normally $5.99/lb they were marked down $3 because they needed to be used or frozen by today. So $2.99/lb for lean grass fed beef. That’s cheaper than what I normally spend on regular ground beef. I bought every last pound they had marked down!
The only exception we have put into place–and have only done so purely for monetary and waste purposes–is we will allow ourselves to use up the coffee creamer currently in our fridge. I have 2 unopened cartons and that stuff is like liquid gold. It costs just about the same too. There is no way I’m dumping that stuff down the drain, nor will it last until our challenge is up. I do promise though, that as soon as it is all gone we will go to a healthier, more pure alternative.
By taking these steps to eat better, we are hoping we can achieve a level of satisfaction with what we are putting in our mouths, without the guilt. Not only that, but there are so many health benefits to eliminating all of the extra stuff the food manufacturers put in our foods. Since I started this blog as a way of sharing tips, tricks, and personal challenges with everyone, I will be completely honest about this challenge. I am hoping by eliminating all of these chemicals, hormones, and preservatives that my headaches will diminish, my fatigue will disappear, my energy level will spike, and my fertility problems will resolve. Am I being unrealistic? I don’t think so. Only time will tell!
We are officially starting this challenge tomorrow! We will be finishing up the last of the crap food tonight for dinner, and in the morning for breakfast, then it’s nothing but real, wholesome foods! I will be sharing our weekly Meal Plans with you, as well as our budget and thoughts/feelings along the way. The stores we will be shopping at tomorrow are Trader Joe’s and Sprouts. (I did cheat a little and got a few things from HEB and Target that were on sale yesterday though!) I am so excited to be starting this new adventure and can’t wait to share it with all of you!
If you want to join us in this challenge feel free to comment and let me know. I would love to hear from all of you and your thoughts!
Curious to know if we stuck to it? Read more below!
Real Food on a Budget Challenge
Plain greek yogurt is wonderful, all I eat now. I mix mine with frozen fruit and honey. Also, Newman’s Own is a good brand for “clean” food. Truly all natural, pronouncable, ingredients. Plus, their profits go to charity. And just curious… why not HEB? They have clean food you can prepare meals with. They’re a locally, Texas, owned store that supports local farmers. Trader Joes can be expensive, why make healthy eating more expensive than it has to be? Like I said, just curious as to the reason.
I’ve been using the plain greek yogurt in my smoothies, sweetened with a little agave. We also use it to replace sour cream! So far we only eat the vanilla flavored greek yogurt with fruit and granola. We do shop at HEB mostly. I’ve always been impressed with their produce selection both regular and organic, as well as the prices. I have noticed some of their organics products have natural ingredients, but you have to be careful to read the label. Some things still have added chemicals to them. I wanted to check out Trader Joes to see what all they had to offer. Their produce selection was OK, but yes it was more expensive. We didn’t get a lot of food there, but we did get the basics, eggs, milk, yogurt, etc. Prices on those products were pretty comparable to HEB and Sprouts and since we were already there (which was a 30 minute drive), we went ahead and bought. From now on though, I will stick to HEB and Sprouts for what we need.