Living Naturally: If I can’t afford organic, where do I start? (part 3)

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OK – I promise that this will be the last installment of this particular topic, but as I sat down to write today’s post, this was the most fitting conclusion to part 1 and part 2!

In the first two articles, we looked at HOW and WHY to buy organic foods, as well as where you could cut corners and get the biggest nutritional bang for your buck!  These “tricks of the nutritional-trade” will start to feel more normal the more you implement them into your family’s menu, but today, I want to highlight something that Chris alluded to in yesterday’s Money Matters’ Post…it’s better to do something than nothing at all.

Trust me, I KNOW that the Traditional Foods world can seem daunting and foreign  (and there are certain foods that I still can’t manage to muscle past my gag reflex!), but the point is not that you feel guilty or overwhelmed, but that you are encouraged to start making small changes that will eventually lead to over-all lifestyle changes.

Learning to balance the season of life that your family is in with the changes of eating whole, traditional foods can sometimes be totally overwhelming, and just like any new “fad diet”, if this isn’t something that you are easily able to implement and stick with, you’ll go running back to your Cool Ranch Doritoes and Diet Coke, but once you get the hang of it, it really becomes second nature and “normal”.

Now, I don’t want to make this sound like a walk-in-the-park…eating Traditional Foods that are naturally prepared can sometimes be hard.  Not because the ingredients are expensive or because they taste weird – but simply because we aren’t used to cooking this way or thinking ahead.  For those of us in our 20’s and 30’s (and even now into older generations), we grew up cooking with Chef Boyardee and anything that could quickly be prepared in the microwave.   These things couldn’t be farther from traditional cooking…which takes time and uses whole, all natural, unprocessed ingredients.

Sometimes the biggest hurtle to eating Traditional Foods is the culture shock of taking the time to naturally prepare your foods and to truly cook – not just warm things up.

This is the same principle that Chris mentioned yesterday in regards to money; small changes that you stick with are considered SUCCESS – whether it’s money or nutrition.  If you were able to give your kids a home-cooked meal last week, but then you realized that the salad dressing had Canola oil in it, and Jr. was begging for a soda before the night was over, don’t beat yourself up!  You’re still making progress, no matter how small, as long you continue to be aware of what is going into your children’s bodies!  I don’t expect you to read these posts and automatically throw away everything in your fridge and start sprouting and fermenting things on your counter.  If you do, kudos to you, but that’s not realistic for most people just setting out on a Traditional Foods journey – and that’s OK!!!  Over the next few weeks, we will be including “Traditional Food-based meals in a hurry” – things that are truly nutritious and traditionally prepared, but that won’t keep you in the kitchen for hours.  it really is possible!

In the mean time, I want to share with you a a few things that I started with several years ago, that will at least get you heading in the right direction.  I used to fill my cart with the standard stuff – frozen pizzas and burritos, soda, chips, all manner of sugar-free and low-fat items (because that was what I thought was “healthy” because it said so on the box) and good ol’ white bread.  I have made HUGE changes in how we eat, but this took a loooong time and did NOT happen overnight!

So here are some places to start if you are just getting ready to overhaul your kitchen and delve into traditional foods (please know that the things I’m listing here are not necessarily traditional foods, but these are the happy medium and better alternatives to the standard, unhealthy fare that most of us are used to.  Don’t stop here, but use these changes as the starting point to get used to adapting your grocery-shopping habits and your family’s taste buds) (and for the reasoning behind WHY I started shopping like this, check out part 1 and part 2)

So here is my Beginner’s List – more condensed than the last 2 posts, and the best place to start.  Eventually you can think about sprouting and fermenting, but for now, start here! (and you can print this post by clicking on the button at the end of the article)

  1. Stop buying skim/low fat milk and switch to full-fat milk.
  2. Ditch the margarine and faux-butter (YES, I CAN believe it’s not butter…) and get the real thing – full fat butter, preferably organic or from a local source.
  3. Instead of pudding or jello cups, buy whole-milk yogurt (and you will more than likely be able to find a brand that is sourced from cows that are not given rBGH {growth homromes})
  4.  Use olive oil, palm oil and coconut oil for cooking instead of crisco, Canola or other vegetable oils.
  5. Start buying higher quality meats.  If you can get them from a butcher, great!  If not, look for meats that are either organic (which will cost you!) or, at the very least, that were not given antibiotics or hormones.
  6. Instead of buying chips, make popcorn and keep it in an airtight container for munching, and look into dried fruits and nuts, veggies and fruit, cheese cubes, and organic crackers (prepared without Canola or soybean oils) as snack options
  7. Instead of cold cereals, start buying unsweetened oatmeals and hot cereals (especially in the colder months) and sweeten them yourself with honey and plenty of butter.  For warmer months, go for the naturally sweetened granola and some yogurt or kefir.
  8. Switch from white bread over the a whole grain option that does not have high fructose corn syrup.  The fewer ingredients the better.
  9. When shopping for produce, it’s ok not to buy organic on certain items!  Use the Environmental Working Group’s shopping guide for help!
  10. If you purchase dairy-free beverages, switch from soy milk to almond or coconut milk.  And for that matter, don’t buy SOY ANYTHING.
And my last tips:
  • The first time you are really ready to make some shopping changes, go to the store when you have plenty of time, and no kids.  Those adorable boogers will lovingly distract you and talk you into oreos every.single.time.  You’ll feel rushed and annoyed, so take your time.
  • Don’t worry about couponing. (gasp!)  Start looking at quality FIRST and then decide where to cut corners.

Like I said, not everything in the above list are “Traditional Foods” (and for any of you Traditional Food bloggers that are reading this, don’t hate me or write me off!)  But I want to give you some grace and a place to START (but not end!) on your journey.

Its easy to believe that if we aren’t lacto-fermenting veggies on our counter, or soaking our beans that we are Traditional Food flunkies.  ANY change is a HUGE step in the right direction, so give yourself some grace and ease into it, making changes that are truly attainable and will last.  You really can do this.  I know its weird and a total change in “cooking culture”…but you really can do this!

What has been the most challenging part of switching your diet to Traditional Foods? 

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This article is posted on Traditional Tuesdays and Monday Mania

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10 Responses to “Living Naturally: If I can’t afford organic, where do I start? (part 3)”
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  1. For me it’s simply having the time. I make most things from scratch (fairly common in New Zealand), but there’s way more I’d like to do if I had the time e.g. make my own cheese, make more bread etc.

  2. Joy

    The most challenging thing for us in our switch to Traditional Foods was the shock factor of price. Because I already love to cook and bake, I tried to make as much as I could by myself, so I could control the ingredients and the price. And after a few years, we are still making gradual changes in the amounts of sugars we eat and what to do when we can’t get raw milk. It’s so much easier now that processed food literally makes us feel sick if we eat it. We’ve learned to just do without some things.

  3. Cynthia

    The hardest part for us right now is having the quick snacks. I quit buying the crackers like I used to and it seems like the kids are always hungry. I want to make my own bread on a regular basis but that isn’t happening. I had started grinding my own wheatberries but have learned that I need to add the step of soaking them before hand. This is continual process of learning and changing habits. I really appreciate the way you write and encourage us to make the small changes. Keep writing! Blessings!

  4. …and it seems that sometimes the ‘doing without’ feels like you’re moving backwards, when you’re actually moving forwards. We’re in the same boat and sweets and snacks are always the hardest things to supplement/replace. – kelsi

  5. I totally agree! I have a house of little ones and snack time seems more important to them than meal time! We’re also on the go alot, and soon we’ll be covering “quick” kid friendly Traditional food recipes here on the blog! thanks for checking us out and keep plugging away and making little changes – they make all the difference! – kelsi

  6. angela

    I have started keeping dark chocolate in the house… even if its a back of chocolate chips… from a good source… it is amazing how a small handful of these along with a healthy banana or something is curbing our sweet tooth.

  7. I love your steps. It can be a bit of a shock to step out of our over-processed, over-sugared artificial world into the “real” world of fresh foods and products. This post was awesome as always.

  8. These are good steps for those who are waking up to the filth that has over run our local grocery store’s shelves. I personally try and get organic food as much as possible and for specialty items like grass fed beef and organic cultured dairy I go with Beyond Organic – you can learn about that company on my blog.

  9. jwaggie

    Loving your blog so far. It’s just what I need! Please keep going.

  10. Thanks! Welcome to Cheeky Bums!