So how do we eat more REAL FOOD in real life?
Good question. Sometimes I wonder this myself! I definitely try to always have a plan of what I’m going to do for the week ahead (and sometimes further out than that) but often I don’t do the plan or I do – but then things don’t work out as planned! Here are some things that have worked for me with helping my family eat more real food more of the time…
Here are my 10 tips for more real food in real life:
1. Have a weekly meal plan.
I work to a rough plan so I know more or less what we are going to eat for the week and what Dom will have in his lunch box (this is mostly left overs from our dinner the night before).
2. Buy in bulk.
I try to do this as often as possible ordering online or with good deals at supermarket. A couple of times for our meat (1/4 pig and 1/2 lamb) from organic free range farms. I know everyone will not be able to do that but for us it worked out well as if you buy in bulk you can get the meat for comparable price to supermarket.
3. Set aside one day a week to batch cook.
We cook up portions of meat for freezing into lunch portions (lamb, chicken, pork etc). I also make up a couple of mince meat dishes (usually pork and lamb mince) and freeze into portions. I also bake grain-free muffins and/or loaves and slice these up for the freezer as well. I do do this most weeks but there are weeks I don’t and then I really notice it. As in it’s extremely difficult and much more time consuming on a daily basis!
4. If you can – invest in an extra freezer.
I did this and keep it in the garage. It’s been very helpful part of making our real food journey. [EDIT: We’ve recently moved into a smaller space so our freezer is in storage. Not great! So I’m channelling more my inner French person for more frequent shops.]
5. Buy organic where you can but don’t stress out about this.
Try to always buy local (so seasonal). My aim is to buy seasonal, fresh, New Zealand grown produce. This has been going moderately well but to be honest sometimes I’m too tired and just grab what I can. Plus all our bananas and coconut products come in from overseas. I have stopped buying grapes on a regular buy based on them being an import (generally) and the high fructose content. (Not that they’re not fine for a sometimes fruit but Dom was having them everyday.)
6. Eat mindfully. Eat together if you can.
I set the table for most of our meals. With table mats and knives and forks etc. That means sitting down and eating almost every meal with Dom at the dining table. For the breakfast I either sit with him or he has his breakfast while speaking with my Mum in the UK via Skype. When it’s just Dom and me we talk about the day we’re about to have or what we’ve done that day. We say what we are GRATEFUL for having happened that day.
Except sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we don’t sit down with Dom in the evening and spend the time cleaning up the kitchen. Then it all seems OK but it’s really not ideal. And (not surprisingly) those are the times he’s more likely to be fussy or have bad manners. In comparison when we’re sitting down with him as is more usual I’m reminded immediately how much more forthcoming he is and how much more connected we are. He’s so funny when he says to me “How was your day Mummy? What did you do?”
7. Talk to your children about food and where it comes from?
Dom’s very helpful when it comes to putting all the groceries away and has learnt most of the names of the fruits and vegetables. I haven’t taken him to do the actual shopping as much as I might have so am aiming to get him more involved in that. (Such as printing him a pictorial shopping list with different fruits and veggies and getting him to find them.)
Dom has spent quite a bit of time on a working farm when we were living in the UK but I’ve been a bit slack since then. We do have some friends on a small lifestyle block with chickens so that is at least something but really intend to put more effort into this area as I believe it’s so important to maintain the connection for children to understand where the food they eat comes from and the whole “cycle of life”.
One thing we have been doing on the weekends is watching some documentary (or cartoon) shows that educate children about the whole food production process, farming and animals and so on. Of course Dom is always keen to watch anything on the iPad so you have to be careful he doesn’t just end up in watching another Thomas Tank Engine show! But he’s certainly very interested in learning about the origins of food and animals and I always learn something too!
8. Offer food for tastings and offer many times over in different ways.
Mostly Dom eats what food I present to him. But many times he’ll say “I don’t like it” and then may or may not proceed to refuse to eat it. I try not to make a fuss of it either way. But even when he says things like this – 99% of the time if I do choo choo trains or aeroplanes or something else then he’ll eat it no problem.
9. Make up funny names for the food.
Sometime it’s as simple as making up a funny name for whatever it is. Something that looks weird and inedible (or that your child has simply decided they don’t like) can become instantly desirable when called “Dinosaur Eggs” or “Monster Mash” or the like.
10. Re-consider frequent snacks and food after dinner.
One thing that I do (and not saying this works for everyone but it seems to be working for us): We have similar meal times and a very stable routine for wake ups and bed times. We don’t do desserts unless it’s a special occasion (birthday or special visitors) and Dom doesn’t get anything after dinner (no fruit, no anything) except water.
So there are just some tips I’ve found helpful in our real food journey to date. Of course things change from moth to month and by no means are we living some 100% real food life. But we do eat more real food than we did last year and more than we did the year before. So it’s all a progression and every little thing counts.
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