My time is valuable.
And making/eating Real Food takes time, creating a big dilemma: Do you sacrifice time in order to eat Real Food or do you “settle” for less of it?
When I have “settled”, my experience has been the feeling of regret and guilt knowing that with a little more advance thought and planning I could have been feeding my family more Real Food.
In fact, I recently polled readers on my personal Facebook page and asked this question: “Assuming everyone would WANT to eat more Real Food (health benefits, etc), what are the main challenges holding you back from doing so?”
Here’s how they commented:
“The amount of time it takes to prep, especially if you sprout, ferment, make everything from scratch.”
“Time, money, effort.”
“I do the best I can every day, and while appreciate all the healthy food/living bloggers efforts to educate, sometimes I feel like I do more wrong than right. I make the best choices I can for meat, chicken, fish, eggs, oils and grains. But I know there are things slipping through the cracks. Sometimes I feel more discouraged than helped when I read new blog posts.
“Time and Money.”
“All of the above. Sugar cravings.”
“Conflicting information on what’s good for us. I feel like most sources of food info I get seem to originate from one of two sources: The government (e.g. eat low fat dairy products and avoid all saturated fats) or Weston Price. I’d love some info from some fresh sources!”
“Understanding labels like organic, natural, free range, etc…”
And I’m guessing they aren’t alone in these Real Food “Roadblocks”, right?
I’m hoping to offer you a few tips to help save time when preparing Real Food for your family. Here are some things I have found which help us eat Real Food, (at least 80% of the time, that is!)
1. Plan Your Meals (dinners mostly).
This is probably the MOST important step. Without doing this, you will daily have the issue of “What’s for dinner?”. I hate that feeling, don’t you? Ugh. Makes me cringe just thinking about it. A great solution is to take a hour or so per month to sit down, plan out the meals and grocery list. You will be thankful every day, I promise! I share how I plan out my meals over at 30 Days of Dinner: My Menu Plan.
This is really important as oftentimes when you are eating Real Food it means soaking beans, cooking more, chopping up more veggies, and making more from scratch. If you can plan your dinners for a month you can schedule more “complicated” dinner on the days you have more time. Or, you can prep your meals ahead of time (ex. cutting up the veggies you will need for the week, etc). Reminders like soaking/cooking beans can be written into your meal plan.
2. Cook Whole Chickens in your Slow Cooker.
Seriously. This sounds like a weird “tip”, right? But here’s the reason: The day you cook it, you can have it for dinner with a side of veggies, potatoes, etc. Then, a day or two later you can use the leftover chicken in another dish or a casserole. In between, stick the bones back in the crockpot (this is the one I use) with some other goodies and make Homemade Chicken Broth Then, put it in containers in freezer to use for future recipes and soups. I usually do 2 rounds with the bones to make broth.
So, if you spend $13-$18 on an organic, pastured-raised chicken, you can easily get 2 meals PLUS 16 cups or so of good, real bone broth out of it. Not only is this frugal and easy, but it also saves time when you need chicken broth for a recipe or soup.
3. Save Your Veggie Scraps.
I have a large Ziploc bag in my freezer that I toss things in to use in my homemade Chicken Broth later. I put in things like broccoli stems, celery leaves or celery stalks that are getting “rubbery”, leftover onions (they don’t last long in fridge anyway), any any other pieces of veggies that you don’t want to throw away but aren’t sure what to use them for.
Then, when you are read to make Chicken Broth, you have some great veggies to throw in the pot. This saves time (no need to chop anything up) AND money as it helps prevent throwing away valuable food.
4. Double Your Recipes and Freeze Some.
This is perfect for those busy nights or long days when you don’t feel like starting a meal from scratch. There are so many recipes that can be doubled and then frozen so you have an easy meal for another time.
5. Join a Food Buyers Club.
If you aren’t sure what a Buyers Club is, you may want to read my post “Join a Buying Club” to learn more. Basically, you order together with a bunch of families, thus saving money buying in bulk and obtaining better prices. It saves TIME because it’s sort of a one-stop shopping. You generally order once a month (another reason monthly meal-planning can come in handy!) and pickup your items once a month. No running from store to store to get different items that you need.
*I’m moving this summer to the Zeeland, MI area. If you live near there and would like to be a part of my new Real Food Eater Buyer’s club, please contact me!
More Resources for Cooking Real Food:
Real Food Meal Plans – 4 wks at a time, with shopping lists, prep instructions and recipes (yours or theirs)
12 weeks of online classes (that you can access at your own pace) and more for learning how to Cook Real Food!
Do you have time-saving tips to add to this list? If so, please leave a comment so we can learn from each other!