I've been taking my family on this wonderful, crazy, challenging, totally un-American journey into real food for nearly two years now. It's time to stop trying new things and stick with the basics that are working. So, I am taking a big ole break from incorporating new recipes, making new beverages, and trying to convince my sweet hubster that spaghetti squash tastes just like Ronco pasta!! You know it does! :) I've finally figured out how to make delicious bread, granola, and many other recipes that fill our bellies and nourish our bods. For now, I'd like to take it easy, enjoy nutritious food and live a little outside my kitchen.
2. Get back to my food-budgeting roots.
My man and I got hitched in November of '03. For the first two years of our marriage, our food budget was less than $125 a month. Yes, it's true. We were squeaking!! It was awesome. Actually, I mean, it wasn't really awesome because we definitely ate some processed junk, but I loved the feeling that resulted from conquering the food budget. I was large and in charge and my man was happy. Seven years and three kids later, our food budget is way, way, way more than $125 a month. That figure just makes me laugh. I've given myself plenty of time to get used to eating real food and lots of wiggle room in the budget. Now that I've tackled feeding my family real food, it's time to take this budget DOWN! My goal is to cut it down by 40%. I know that seems extreme, but hey, if you're gonna set a goal, why not get crazy!?!?
Here are some ways that I plan to save some cizash:
• buying wonderful pastured eggs from the farmer who gives me the best price. This is not super convenient, but a gal's gotta do what a gal's gotta do.
• ordering most of our organic produce from Azure Standard. Azure has already saved me a load of money. They have great products and dang good prices.
• continue buying our meat in bulk. I buy our pork and chicken from Cove Creek Acres and our beef from Falling Sky Farm. I know these farmers personally and they are great people who work hard to bring the best grass fed meats to my table. Buying meat in bulk has saved me literally hundreds of dollars.
• continue meal planning. I am a die hard menu planner. I love, love, love to plan a good menu. Makes mouths happy.
• once-a-month cook what I can so that we have great meals prepared when we are pressed for time and tempted to eat out.
• eat out less!!! My man and I are trying our darndest to not spend a dime on eating out for the entire month of January. So far, so good. Only 20 something days to go. That's not too bad, right? Right??? I've begun twitching slightly when we drive past Layla's on Rodney Parham. They miss me, I know they do.
• ask my farmers if they will trade with me. I make lots of bread and am happy to trade. Making bread is easy. :) Shhhh...don't tell.
• grow some seriously good veggies this summer. We had a garden last year and it was fabulous. My children snacked out of the garden until there was nothing left. We saved a ton of money by gardening.
I think that's all I'm resolved to do at the moment. When our children are older and don't need every single ounce of my attention and energy from the hours of 7 a.m. till 8 p.m., I will likely add some more food goals to my plate. Get it? :) For now, I'm enjoying feeding my family well, but mostly, I'm just enjoying my family. Happy New Year, friends!!!
++++++++++++++++Well, how did I do in 2011?
Thankfully, I was able to meet many of the goals I set for myself.
I brought our food budget down quite a bit, but not 40%. I would say it's down by about 15 to 20%. Since I posted last January, we have had the privilege of becoming foster parents for the state of Arkansas. We have a very hungry one year old in our home. Adding another real food eating, milk loving baby has definitely increased our food budget. I am convinced that feeding this little one nourishing food while he is in our home is more than worth any extra expense or time in the kitchen.
Though it may not be cheaper than the grocery store, my husband and I have decided to support Kellogg Valley Farms and buy a CSA basket. Kellogg Valley grows local, chemical-free produce and getting chemicals out of my food is important. Though I plant a garden, it just doesn't produce enough for our family.
Speaking of time in the kitchen, I have successfully spent less time in the kitchen this past year. My husband is happy and so am I. Julie and I will continue our batch cooking extravaganzas, and I will continue with my basic standby recipes: oatmeal bake, granola, and soaked sandwich bread.
As far as real food resolutions for this year, I plan to continue cutting back on eating out and make my mayonnaise taste less like olive oil and more like Miracle Whip. I know, don't cringe. I'll admit, I like Miracle Whip and so does my husband. I'll keep you all updated on any mayo making successes.
After a few years of real fooding, I think I've finally come to a happy medium. I am comfortable with my 80/20. Yes, there is almost always a bag of wavy Lay's potato chips in my pantry. There will always be a few things that I like and choose to eat even though it's not nourishing. The main staples of my family's diet are nourishing, whole foods. I encourage you all to embrace freedom and not perfection when it comes to real food. Each one of us can only do so much. Focus on what you can do, not on what you wish you could do, or what someone else seems to be doing.