Wednesday, July 18, 2012

About Food

I seem to discuss eating and food quite a bit with family and friends.  
It seems that everyone wants to eat healthier and more frugally.  
I'm writing this stuff out because I want to share it with you and family and friends.  
This is a compilation of things I have learned over the years and have implemented into our life.  
There is a LOT of information out there, but I've tried to sift through it and find facts and focus on what we believe.  
We tend to believe that whole food and real stuff is better than processed or low-fat.  
I've also spent a lot of time figuring out how to make the most of our dollar.  We live on a single income and we feed a family of four and try to do it as healthy as possible.
I'm not writing this to make myself sound great or like such a good mother.  Or even to tell you that you should do these things.  
I just want to share what we are doing and maybe you can get some ideas for your family.
What we are doing to eat healthier-

  • We are eating more whole foods.  Now, we are by no means going paleo, I love my breads and pastas! We are eating lots of fruits and vegetables.  Right now, because it is summer, there are a lot of our favorites "in season."  During the winter months, we eat a lot of fresh broccoli and carrots and many frozen veggies.  
  • We cook at home most of the time.  I like to know what is in my food and what I'm eating.  I've done a lot of research over the past several years about food, and it can be alarming what you read.  I've tried to make changes here and there to eat as healthy as we possible can.
  • Not only do we cook at home most of the time, I make more things from scratch.  This goes back to knowing what is in my food and knowing that it is healthier.  Also, most times, it tastes better!
  • I worry about processed foods, but I also worry about chemicals/pesticides on my fruits and hormones and antibiotics in my meat.  
  • I still buy commercial fruit, but I wash it very thoroughly.
  • I try to incorporate vegetarian meals into our weekly plan.  Some of ours are: purple hull peas and cornbread, tortellini and white sauce, bean burritos, pasta primavera, and vegetable soup.
  •  We eat very little beef these days.  We usually only buy ground beef when we are making burgers.  We do buy steak on occasion to grill.  For most recipes that call for ground beef, we use ground pork.  We had used ground turkey in the past for lower fat content, but I found the difference was not very substantial.  Also, growth hormones are not permitted to be used in pork.  Hallelujah! I know when I buy ground pork that it at least does not have the extra hormones in it.  The same can not be said for most chicken/beef that you buy.
  • When buying chicken, I look for packages that specifically say "no antibiotics or growth hormones."
  • We eat a lot of tilapia.  I try to have fish on the menu once a week.  Between fish and vegetarian meals, it reduces our dependence on meals with meat in them.  I buy a big bag of frozen tilapia from Walmart.  I'm not 100% sure of it's origin and what chemicals may be in it, so that is one thing I need to do some research on.  Other fish choices we do are: meals with shrimp, salmon cakes, pan fried salmon or a meal with tuna in it.
  • When buying deli meat, I have began buying Hormel Natural Choice deli meat.  It does not contain preservatives, no nitrates or nitrites added(these are thought to be cancer"ish"), no artificial ingredients, minimally processed, no msg added, raised withough added hormones, gluten free, AND I think it tastes better than the other deli meat!
  • We do have some processed foods in our pantry, but I have noticed that they sit in there for a pretty long time! We just do not eat them as much anymore!  With all the fruits we have for snacks, we rarely eat the crackers and such.
  • I also stay away from food dyes and high fructose corn syrup.  I know there is conflicting studies about whether food dye is harmful or not, but I am trying to limit the amount of chemicals that my children ingest.  So, I will err on the side of my preference.  My kids always want cereal that is sugary and has food dye, but I rarely buy it.  They usually get Honey Nut Spins, which is Walmart's version of Honey Nut Cheerios.  As far as high fructose corn syrup, that stuff is in so many things!  Thankfully, many companies are realizing that we don't want to eat that kind of stuff.  I have noticed a lot of products are now touting "no HFCS" and this makes me very happy.  I'll eat sugar all day long, but I don't want HFCS. 
  • We buy whole milk these days.  This article explains our reasons why.  Also, I was buying our milk at Braums so I could get milk without artificial growth hormones.  I'm happy to say that Walmart's Great Value milk now states that they have pledged not treat their cows with rBST, so now, I am buying milk from there again.
  • We eat full fat products like butter and mayo.  We do eat them in moderation.  I just believe that they are better for you.  They have less ingredients than the low fat versions.
  • We eat eggs.  I eat a lot of eggs for breakfast.  They are chock full of good things for your body. I'm also one of those people that cannot tolerate sweet things for breakfast. It raises my blood sugar too much.  The protein in the egg levels me out and I feel so much better.
  • I try to buy breads and pasta that are made with whole grains.  And to get the best effect, I buy 100% whole grain bread and pasta.
I'm gonna stop there a minute and say, I'm not a 100%, full-fledged health nut.  I still make cakes and cookies with white flour.  I have switched to unbleached flour, but it is definitely not whole wheat flour.  I did try it for a while, but it is definitely something that is hard to get used to when you have baked with regular flour all of your life.  I sometimes do a 3:1 ratio with white flour to whole wheat flour.
I also love white sugar.  I don't buy many sweetened drinks, but I do make my own sweet tea and lemonade and yes, I use white sugar!

What we are doing to eat more frugally-
I have spent a lot of time over the years trying to figure out how best to stretch our dollars.  

  • I make a monthly menu for our family and then I make my grocery list from that.  I find that this helps me to not be distracted at the store to just "stock up" on unnecessary items. It helps to even make a weekly menu if a monthly one is too ambitious for you.

With that said, I do try new products, but not all the time. 

  • I only use coupons if it is for a product that I already use.  I find that generic brands are often cheaper than a brand name product with a coupon.  

With that said, we buy mostly generic products.  Walmart's brand, in my opinion, is just a good, if not better than major brand products.  This has saved us TONS of money. 

  • I ad match at Walmart.  I love using the Aldi ad for waaaay cheap produce prices.  You don't even have to have the ad with you to use for ad matching!
This has really helped us save money AND eat healthier!
  • By cooking more at home and more whole and simple, we have saved a lot of money.
  • I use the "envelope" system for our groceries and it works so well for us.  We make a family budget and have a section for groceries.  Each time we get paid, that amount goes in the envelope.  We rarely go over because I have a good idea of how much we need to eat well for our family.  AND if we have money left over at the end of the pay period, I set it aside for family fun stuff like bowling or something!
What I'm eating to help with my IBS

I still have a lot of trouble with stomach pain, but I am trying so hard to battle it!  There are few things that I have found that do help:

  • I eat less.  If I eat large meals, I am in severe pain.  So, I just eat less.  At restaurants, Tim and I will share and entree, or I will order from the kids menu.  At home,  I just give myself very small portions.
  • I have stopped drinking soda.  I have quit cold turkey because I was always bloated with a capital B.  It was so uncomfortable and painful and made me hate the way I looked.  I did not stop because of caffeine or sugar.  I still drink coffee and sweet tea for those things! I truly feel TONS better since quitting the carbonation!

How I stay organized-
I know that as busy moms, it is so easy to get off track.  These are a few things that really help me to stay organized:

  • Menu planning.  I can't tell you how much this helps.  Go, do it NOW! I love having my menu planned and having shopped for the ingredients!  It makes dinner time go so much smoother!  I'm one of those people that used to start thinking about dinner right before it was time and it was so stressful.  Plus, I didn't always have on hand what I needed!
  • Always have sides like frozen veggies and russet potatoes on hand.  Or even a box of instant mashed potatoes.  If I have things like this on hand, I can usually come up with a meal at the spur of the moment that is yummy and healthy and quick!
  • Prep for dinner at least a few hours early if you can.  Or prep certain things on Sunday for the whole week.  If you know breakfast will be hairy, cook a bunch of pancakes up and throw them in the freezer for a quick go-to breakfast.  If you know you will need chicken for meals during the week, cook it on Sunday.  And then you can shred it and divide it up for the meals.  Cut up fruits and veggies so they are easily accessible and ready for a snack or meal.


  1. Great source of info! :) Since we started going gluten and mostly dairy free I make most of what we eat and home from scratch. I bought a 1/4 pasture raised cow and get venison from my inlaws because eating healthy meat is important and the produce I dont' get from my inlaws garden is organic as I can afford. I buy local eggs from some friends who have a farm! Eating healthy is very important to me but yes- you need to be organized. Menu planning is so important and reading this is a good reminder that I need to do this better! :) Great post!

    1. Thanks! And thank you for your great tips as well! I think healthy eating is SO important!

  2. I just found you through another website while doing some research on IBS. I have it as well and just finally started letting people in on my secret because it hass become more and more of a problem with not wanting to do much on bad days and cancelling plans without explanation, etc,etc. Anyway, not to bring up the lousy stuff first, :) but good it's good to finally find someone else in the blog world with similar experiences! Thanks for being willing to share about it!!

    1. I'm so glad you found me! It is always great to find someone who has similar experiences. I hope you continue to read and hopefully my sharing will help in some way :-)

  3. These are good tips! I'm working on doing a better job of meal planning and organizing. I'm kind of a food snob though and think the generic food is TERRIBLE! Maybe it's just Kroger brand? I do use a lot of Target brand things though - paper towels, baggies, cleaners, etc. I think they're great!
    I may try giving up diet cokes for a week and see if I feel better. I just love it so much! ::sigh::

    1. Most of what I do is through trial and error- just gotta find what works for you!


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