Post Pledge 4: The Truth and a Special Announcement

Okay, so in my last post I said we’d figured out some new guidelines to follow (now that our official real food rules are over), and that we were embracing our new freedom of flexibility. Well, as it turns out, all of that is easier said than done…for me at least. My children seem to have no problem whatsoever scarfing down something that I consider downright nasty (pizza from the school cafeteria anyone?), but my husband and I on the other hand feel that we are just going through the motions of pretending it’s okay to occasionally eat “junk” food when we are out. Now that we know the hidden truth behind all the junk out there it’s just turning out to be harder than expected for us to truly feel carefree about eating something with an unknown origin.

So the truth is…most of the time I am just putting on an act that I have no problem scooping some dip (that contains mystery ingredients) with store-bought tortilla chips when in my head I am really thinking I wish I had brought some Triscuits in my purse. Now, I am the first to admit this is unusual behavior for me because I used to eat absolutely whatever I wanted and not care. For example, I used to order ice cream even when it was only supposed to be for the kids, and I promise I would have almost never ordered a salad for my lunch. So in summary, I still can’t say I’ve found my optimal place between the processed and real food worlds, but I am working on it. I guess it is a longer process than expected so I am slowly but surely learning the instances where “rule-breaking” truly is okay vs. not (and I’ve had the stomach aches to prove it).

Pictured is one of the few examples so far where we truly had no problem breaking our previous “100 Days of Real Food” rules. I know the sweet potatoes and BBQ sauce most definitely contained sugar and the bun was obviously made from white flour (here I go again breaking down the ingredients in my head!), but what you see here was a plate from a recent Farmer’s Market sponsored BBQ. The pork was raised locally and smoked all day. The side items were provided through a partnership with local farms and restaurants. The event, which ended up being on an evening with absolutely perfect fall weather, was just lovely, and as it turns out it’s been one of the few situations (so far) where I truly felt at peace with my “rule-breaking” meal. So clearly I still have a long way to go before I find that “new normal” that will work for me, but in a weird way I consider all of this newfound knowledge progress!!

On a completely different note, I would like to announce that I’ve decided to take on another real food project (why not?). I truly appreciate all of the people who take the time to read this blog and as a tribute to those readers I am going to do something with your feedback top of mind. I am going to take on another 100 Days of Real Food pledge, but this time on a strict budget! And I need your vote (through the comment section below) to help me decide what my new budget should be. We are a family of four eaters, and I will be tracking our food budget weekly. Things like household products, alcohol, entertaining, food while traveling, and eating out (which doesn’t happen often and will be tracked separately) will not be included, but just about everything else will be coming out of this weekly budget. I will also add that we will mostly be following our original real food rules, but since a strict budget is the focus this time around some “rule-breaking” in moderation will be allowed. I have been doing some “research” on facebook and am personally landing somewhere between $125 – $150 a week. I want it to be challenging, but reasonable…and I would love to get your input on the final number!

Before you cast your vote though, let me share that this whole budget thing is going to be a real challenge for me. I know there are a lot of meal budget and couponing blogs/websites out there, and most of those people are clearly experts. I will be the first to tell you I am not one of those experts. I have shopped on a strict budget before, but never while also focusing on real food. Our first pledge was the best way for me to learn about shopping for real food, but now it could get scary when I have to do it all on a strict budget. I admit that I haven’t been paying enough attention to my spending and can easily drop 200 dollars at Earth Fare …and then another hundred at Harris Teeter (…and then another $60 at the Farmers Market – don’t tell my husband!) So I obviously have a lot to learn and plan to blog about my trials and tribulations along the way. Stay tuned and don’t forget to leave your weekly budget vote below…I will be getting started very soon!

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  • Comments

    1. |

      We have been a family of 8, & the past two years have eaten for right at your #, $125/month/person. Yep it adds up for 8. 4 of those are teenaged/young adult boys!

      My son just got married and said they upped their budget to $30/person/week and it was going pretty well.

      Here, we get a side of grass fed beef once a year and also have some chickens to slaughter, as well as eggs. The gardening has gone down the tubes the past couple of years, but am hoping to reverse that this year :)

      I teach nutrition classes for parents and the biggie is “it’s expensive to eat well”.

      • TLSF |

        Freida, I am glad that there are people out there like you that can teach parents that it does NOT have to be expensive to eat very well. A big pot of red beans with gluten free bread is a lot less expensive than a 10 dollar frozen lasagna. A spinach and mushroom frittata is less than 8 dollars, with free range eggs, even! Pair that with a pumpkin and coconut milk soup or garden salad, and you are still feeding a family very well, for a small amount of money.

        I am sorry to hear that your garden has been sub-par for the past couple of years, and I hope that it flourishes this year!

    2. christy |

      I know my comment is late so I will just say that we feed 9 people on $300 and we try to eat real food as much as possible. But the organic meat would kill our budget. We try to eat meatless meals as often as 3 times a week but my teenage boy loves his meat.

      I am happy to see this new challenge and will be following along. I just your site via Pinterest.

    3. |

      I think it is great your family is doing this. I vote for $125. Cut out the alcohol and add it to your food budget. Whole food plant based is the way to go. Think of all the money you could spend on whole foods if you didn’t buy processed foods, meat, eggs and dairy products! Read The China Study if you want to learn more. Knowledge will always be in your head trying to come out in action.

    4. Missy |

      I vote for a budget of $100 a week. I know I am trying to feed my family real food on about that much and sometimes a little less….I would LOVE some research. It seems to me that every month I am a little short- any help would be appreciated.

    5. Beth |

      Our family of 9 has eaten on $75/week for years. I know it seems ridiculous, but it really is very doable. We don’t eat 100% healthy food, but the vast majority of our food is whole and unprocessed. We eat very little meat or dairy. Lots of beans and whole grain pasta, brown rice, soups, stews, etc. Oatmeal for breakfast…lots of ways to change it up and make it yummy. I have made all our bread/tortillas/rolls/sweet treats (cookies/cake/granola/muffins/etc.) for years. Scratch cooking is SO MUCH LESS EXPENSIVE!! We rarely eat out…a few times a year at most. Our most-consumed beverage is water…we have a good private well and filter it in a Brita pitcher. Even adding the cost of filters to my grocery bill it is still a super economical beverage. I think one important thing is to buy in bulk. Large bags of beans/rice/oatmeal/flour are less expensive than 1-2 lb. bags at the grocer. Another thing is to PLAN AHEAD. Don’t get caught without a meal or you will end up making poor or expensive choices. Have LOTS of different spices/seasonings on hand. The flavor of food is so important. We eat beans 3 times a week, but I work hard to keep it interesting. Researching the food of other cultures helps…lots of the world eats very frugally. I try to incorporate new flavors/textures/ingredients often. And lastly HAVE A GARDEN! We have grown at least a portion of our own food for over 25 years. We now are blessed to own 10 acres, but when we started out we grew food on the balcony of our apartment in hanging baskets and containers. In our suburban rental homes we did raised beds, and in one house I converted all the flower beds to vegetable beds. We eat an abundance of fresh fruit and veggies that we have grown and we enjoy them throughout the winter by preserving them…canning, freezing, and drying. Oh…also gathering. We have a friend who has a lovely set of apple trees. She doesn’t want to eat the apples and each year we go, gather all the apples and make quarts and quarts of applesauce, dry apple slices, freeze for pies, and make delicious apple butter. (We do use some sugar in this.) In the same way we gather the blackberries that are indigenous to our area and dry them, make syrup and jam out of them. There are 2 friends who have Meyer lemon trees and let the fruit rot…we gather this and use it through the year. Freeze the juice and freeze little packets of the zest. I guess the point is that it doesn’t matter where you live (rural or urban…house, apt., acreage) a healthy and INEXPENSIVE lifestyle is completely available if we will learn and then WORK to apply what we have learned. I do not want to come across as a know-it-all. This is just what has worked for us. We are now blessed to be able to raise and process the majority of our own meat (pork/chicken…we are trying a beef steer this year), maintain a laying flock, and have dairy goats for milk and cheese. However, we were committed to healthy eating and economical living LONG BEFORE we had the property to accommodate all we have now. I love your blog and follow it religiously…your family is an inspiration! I am thankful for your transparency, balanced views, and encouraging can-do attitude. All the best to you and yours from me and mine!!

      • TLSF |

        Beth, you are my HERO! I do not think you come off as preachy in the least. I get the feeling that many people could learn at least one things from you in regards to kitchen husbandry.

      • Jamey |

        I love this blog and I’m trying to get the courage to take the pledge. That being said, where do you buy your oatmeal, rice, flour, etc. in bulk?

        • |

          Hi Jamey – Glad to hear you are enjoying the blog. We get those items at our local Earth Fare grocery store. Prices vary but bulk is roughly 50% less than packaged equivalents! Good luck with the pledge…maybe start out with the mini-pledges if you find yourself procrastinating.

    6. Victoria |

      I’ve read through several of your posts on your project. Fascinating – I’ve learned a lot. I am wondering, though, if you can speak to how you FELT by eating no processed foods? Health, energy, skin, hair, medical issues going away, weight loss, etc.? I would think there would be tremendous health benefits to doing this, but didn’t see you describe any of that in the posts I read.

    7. Renee |

      Just discovered your blog and am excited to see what you have learned. I can’t do most processed foods due to a soy allergy and am always looking for recipes to make from scratch that are both economical and yummy for a family of 4.

    8. |

      I have made my way through your 100 days the past week and have thoroughly enjoyed it( and i realize this is an old post)!! I have already been thinking about making January our family’s month of real food( shhh, don’t tell them). Then I got to this post and my heart sank. Our budget for a family of 7 is $100 a week here in Indiana( 2 adults, kids ages 13, 12, 10,8 and 1 1/2). I knew it would cost a little more to get organic more fruits and veggies and so forth but man, I don’t know that we can afford to wipe out processed foods based on this =( I know it saves on medical bills down the road but I can’t make money appear out of thin air to supplement our budget. Feeling very discouraged(but will continue reading!).

      • Assistant to 100 Days (Amy) |

        Hi there, Jen. Do not be discouraged! Read through the budget posts as well as the comments that follow. There are readers out there eating real on much smaller budgets than Lisa’s and they also have a lot of great advice to share. And remember, you do not need to strive for perfection just improvement. Take it one step at a time and know that stretching dollars some weeks might be more difficult than others. :) ~Amy

      • Anetra |

        I am on a food money budget as well….Sometimes I am unable to buy fresh, organic green beans. Libby’s at Walmart had no salt green beans on sale for 50 cents a can. With a large family, Costco, has an abundance of offerings for large families on tight budgets. I am not sure of the cost to join. I like Earth Fare, but it is to far away for me to travel to. I rely upon Walmart and farmer’s markets for real veggies, etc…I need to begin a small garden in plant containers. I think that would make me feel well-grounded. I would love to especially grow spices and fresh mint.

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