Baby Inspired the Whole Family to Eat Real Food (Reader Story)

Today’s reader story is by JoAnn Shull, a working mom of two young boys (Luke who is 2 ½ and Isaac who just turned 1). She is originally from St. Louis but now lives two hours east in Columbia, Missouri, working her dream job in Catholic campus ministry and raising her family with her husband, Kyle. If you’d like to submit your own real food story, you can do so here.

Baby Steps (Pun Intended)

Our journey started in 2012 when my oldest son was getting ready to start solid food. The more I read up on our choices, the more it seemed so easy to make baby food and such a waste of money to purchase those tiny jars that often had more additives than actual food. So we started exclusively feeding our son food that was made in our home.

Our next hurdle came once he started to wean off the pureed stuff. The food we ate certainly didn’t match up to what we fed our son. What kind of example were we setting with our food choices? And I was certainly not going to become a short-order cook making multiple dinners every night!

As a working mom with a husband who had a long commute, we had to figure out how to make the choice to eat real food a reality in our home. We started looking for recipes I could cook that we felt comfortable feeding our son. Enter 100 Days of Real Food – what a lifesaver! I am still so happy I stumbled upon this blog one day.Baby Inspired the Whole Family to Eat Real Food - Reader Story on 100 Days of Real Food

Back to Basics

With new recipes came A LOT of education…

How can you cook a casserole without a cream-of-whatever soup?

Can you eat Mexican without pre-shredded cheese from a bag?

Each recipe taught me something new. I learned how to cook with new foods I had never used before. I learned how to make a roux and that garlic comes in bulbs, not jars. I learned that not all ingredients are created equal.

It took SO MUCH work – at first. It did get easier as we figured out what worked for us. Some of the biggest surprises to me have now become the cornerstones of our real food life.

What I’ve Learned

  • Find a meal planning routine that fits YOUR schedule
    I had to learn how to meal plan, shop in season, plan for leftover ingredients, and prep during down times, so we could eat healthy, regardless of our busy schedules. I meal plan on Fridays with my trusty white board and grocery list. Then I hit up the Farmer’s Market and grocery store on Saturdays and prep on Sundays. I lay out our family schedule and my work schedule so I know if we need to have leftovers on a particular evening. Planning lets me have the freedom to enjoy my family while knowing that meals will be on the table for the week.
  • You will need to modify your budget
    Changing how we ate was a huge overhaul to our budget. But as our grocery bills increased, money spent dining out and medical expenses went down dramatically. We learned to travel smarter and spend in ways that were tasty, healthy, and filling. It took a while to level out, but our overall budget has not dramatically changed while allowing us to lead a real food lifestyle.
  • Your tastebuds will change
    As we cut out the extra sugar and additives in virtually everything we ate, food that we used to flavor or sweeten heavily didn’t need that anymore. It’s been so surprising to find food that I love (ginger, for example) that never had a chance to shine in processed foods.
  • This transformation doesn’t stop at food
    We now compost our food waste. We’re also in the process of changing out our cleaning and personal care products to ones that are better for us and the environment. And, most importantly, we’re teaching our two boys about where food comes from and to be thankful for the people that grew and raised what we eat.

Anyone else inspired by their child to clean up their diet? Please share with us in the comments!

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3 thoughts on “Baby Inspired the Whole Family to Eat Real Food (Reader Story)”

  1. Even though my husband and I haven’t had the best track record with nutrition, the thought of contaminating our new baby with commercially-produced, chemical-laden, preservative-filled products, when he was so perfect and pure, was a bitter pill to swallow. I had an awareness of this website well before we were even pregnant, but, but it was fear of somehow defiling our baby that actually pushed me towards purchasing both cookbooks, and really diving into a real food lifestyle. We started with researching organic formulas like crazy to end up ordering a product from Germany that we found acceptable. Then when I began making and freezing real food baby purees, my husband surprised me with a Blendtec (thanks to the video comparison on this site and a MONSTER deal from Bed Bath & Beyond). Then, when it was time to begin feeding our little guy solids and finger foods, our pediatrician said, “He can start eating what you guys eat.”, and we were like, “Whoa! Frozen pizzas and Pop-Tarts aren’t gonna cut it for our baby!”. That’s when I ordered Lisa’s first cookbook, and pre-ordered the second one. Similar to JoAnn’s story, we made the decision that our baby isn’t going to eat what we eat; we’re going to eat what our baby eats! He’s made it to thirteen months without having chemicals, without commercially-produced items, without added sugars (except for the 1yr birthday cupcake, which… he might as well have taken CRACK)! The process of improving our adult habits has been challenging, and not automatic, but we have made a ton of improvements, nutritionally. The tactical bits of planning, shopping, and prepping have been the most challenging, I think, because if you miss any one of those pieces, things kind of fall apart. With that said, though, I’m so grateful to have Lisa as a resource, sharing SO MUCH WISDOM with the world! If not for Lisa and the wisdom and guidance shared through this site and her cookbooks, my husband and I would probably still be eating junk, and my baby would end up eating organic, nutritious homemade baby puree for the rest of his life!

    1. I don’t know if you’ve had this same experience, but my kids don’t particularly like the taste of the processed stuff, including excessive sugars. My oldest turned down a mexican casserole once because it had fake cheese. And my youngest turned down his first birthday cake — and it didn’t even have any sugar! One of the biggest things I’ve learned is that kids are NOT hardwired to only eat chicken nuggets, mac and cheese, and white bread. If you don’t give it to them, they won’t want it! They can have just as a sophisticated palate as any adult if you give them the opportunity to develop one. With that said, my sons now have a relatively expensive taste for premium items like house cut bacon and steak (which we have occasionally at home), so I don’t feel bad that they don’t eat the junk that is labeled “kids food.” :)

  2. I, too, stumbled upon 100 Days of Real Food when my first born was a baby. I had been making her baby food and decided that my husband and I should be eating healthier, too. We haven’t looked back since!

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