I strive to feed my family a real food diet, which for us is defined as food that is made with actual food ingredients, not food dyes, MSG, BHA/BHT/TBHQ, artificial sweeteners, HFCS, or weird chemicals. Our family further defines real food as antibiotic, hormone, and GMO free meat and ingredients, and as food that could be made at home in the kitchen.
But I do compromise. My husband works 70-80 hours a week, and I work, too, writing online.
Why? Compromising on making everything from scratch saves us money, and that’s a major consideration for our real food lifestyle, too.
We have to eat, and it is so helpful to be prepared with something that can be whipped up quickly for crazy nights, days when the meat doesn’t thaw in time (or when I forget to take it out entirely), or times when there’s a disaster of some sort (recently our disposal broke, leaving the entire kitchen sink useless). Otherwise, we’ll end up ordering pizza or out at a restaurant, which is fun and tasty but is definitely not frugal or real food.
So I make allowances and stretch the rules a little, which keeps us from breaking them altogether.
Food is such a personal thing, especially when you start talking about real food and unprocessed foods. What does “from scratch” mean, for example, in making a cake? Does it mean you baked it in your oven (even if you used a mix), that you made it from ingredients (all of which from the flour to the eggs were bought at the store), that you threshed the wheat and gathered the eggs on your own land?
A few compromises our family makes (which may not be compromises for other families, at all), and why:
Jarred spaghetti sauce:
Why do I have that? Because I’ve stopped buying canned tomatoes, as I am trying to avoid BPA and tomato cans, even organic brands, are lined with it. So it’s fresh tomatoes or glass-packaged for me, and jarred spaghetti sauce is less expensive than buying imported fresh tomatoes in the fall and winter.
Plus, it’s easier. As a homeschool mom of many, I am a de facto working mother and sometimes when we hit the end of the day, there are just not enough reserves left to whip up a big pot of homemade, fresh marinara. Sorry to burst anyone’s bubble; homeschooling is work. I make it fit our real food diet by buying a brand that doesn’t contain sugar, HFCS, or soybean oil, and that contains tomatoes, water, and spices.
I keep these around for when friends are over or I need something quick and kid friendly. Yes, they are processed, but not in any way that I couldn’t do at home – and they are all natural, don’t contain soybean oil or trans fats, and are food color and BHA/BHT free. Plus, the vitamins and fiber. Keeping all natural fries in my freezer keeps me (and, ahem, hubs) from running out for a bag of tator tots to fill out a meal.
It’s just as good as fresh, but I don’t have to wash the garlic press every time I need garlic (which is every night, around here!) Sure, it only saves 5 minutes or so- but that adds up to half an hour or more in a week. Not to mention, it’s cheaper than fresh garlic which goes for 50¢ a bulb around here!
Whole wheat pasta:
Let’s just face facts. I don’t see myself making pasta for my family any time in the near future. Yes, it’s a convenience food, but the ingredients are literally “whole wheat durum flour”. One ingredient, whole wheat, and saving me an hour in the kitchen? Sign me up.
Whole wheat bread:
Another compromise, and this one’s not frugal. I’ve done the math, and making your own bread is cheaper. And my family likes it better. But at this season of my life, it doesn’t happen on a daily basis. So I compromise. I make it work with our real food lifestyle by purchasing bread made with whole wheat (not wheat colored bread), that contains at least 3 grams of fiber per slice, and doesn’t contain HFCS, soybean oil, or transfats.
I also have some ‘emergency rations’ and things my husband just likes. He has to live here, too. And when it comes to waffle mix – he doesn’t care about ‘real food’ at all (well, except for the real maple syrup part. He’s all over that.) I have canned veggies leftover from our hurricane stash, and I’ll keep those. In case of Armageddon or the Zombie Apocalypse, BPA can linings will be the least of my problems.
I buy Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper for hubs. He’s a big boy and that’s what he chooses to drink; I cook most of the food but I’m not going to stand over him and nag him about everything he puts in his mouth. I wouldn’t want him to be my food police either. Encourage and support healthy eating, yes. Condemn and annoy, no.
So tell me what food compromises do you make? How do you handle it when you want to eliminate a food for health reasons, but your husband (or wife) doesn’t agree?