Real Food: Change of Pace

June 30, 2013

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I’ve lost 70 pounds in a year.  I didn’t really plan to lose that much weight.  My life has changed and as I look back, I think about the days in between where I kept looking forward, making good food choices, being patient with myself and weeding out the foods that were harmful to my body…and one day I looked in the mirror and realized I had reached my goal.  It just took some readjusting of priorities and choices around here.  I credit Weight Watchers with teaching me portion control and teaching me how to plan in advance what I eat for the day.  I credit Vani Hari and Lisa Leake for teaching me about real food and harmful additives in all the processed foods I was eating (including weight watchers packaged food, sorry :o/).

I want to share with you a little about our routine (at least the framework and goals, please know that it doesn’t always happen this way!) and what our weeks look like in regards to meals and snacking.  One thing I would like to stress is that eating unprocessed food on a budget requires planning and prep work, two things I’ve never been great at!  It’s something I constantly work on and I continue to give myself a ton of grace while pushing myself to grow in this area of my life.

Every weekend I sit down and plan our meals for the week.  I plan my Trader Joe’s trip accordingly, usually early in the week.  There are so many things I love about Trader Joe’s…the prices, the small size of the store that allows me to get in and out quickly, the fact that they are committed to *non GMO ingredients in their Trader Joe’s brand name items…It takes me 25 to 30 minutes to get there but it’s totally worth it, even if I have both kids with me.  My goal is to spend no more than $100 at TJ’s and I am able to buy almost everything we need for a seven day period.  I spend a little more when I need to fill up on staples such as cold pressed olive oil, honey, maple syrup, coconut oil, etc…And keep in mind this means I am making a lot of our food including bread, waffles, granola balls, snack bars, etc…Packaged food costs extra $$ even though it saves time so eating real food on a budget means making a lot of our snacks.   I always plan my Homestead Farms trip for Tuesday or Wednesday morning, depending on when we run out of goat milk.  I allow some extra money to spend at the farm on peaches, produce, eggs, butter or yogurt because I love supporting them and there is nothing like farm fresh food.  Nothing.Like.It.  Moving on.
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Mondays is our day to stay at home.  I try to say no to play dates and outings on Mondays as much as possible so that I can get our week started right and prepare some food with Noah’s help.  He loves helping me.  It’s not a chore to him, it’s an activity we can do together.  I used to view cooking in such a different light.  I would look at my friends and think “How does she have time to prepare those healthy snacks? How on earth does she cook dinner every night?”….I would beat myself up thinking I was a terrible mother.  The reality was that I needed a paradigm shift on my view of cooking and meal preparation.

Cooking is an activity, not an inconvenience.  Just like a playdate or a trip to the park or bounce house.  But the great thing about cooking with my kids is I’m teaching them a life skill.  And we are learning that life skill together.  Taking my children to the grocery store and the farm and letting them be a part of what goes on in the kitchen teaches them the value of spending time on the food we put in our body.  And eating food that nourishes our bodies does take extra time.  Rather than running to and fro, from a friend’s house to bible study to the park and then “oh my goodness, we are hungry, let’s grab something!” my goal is to teach them how to think in advance about what they are going to eat for the day in hopes that as they grow older, they will make food choices that fuel their bodies so that they can enjoy life!
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So back to Mondays. Here is a plan for a typical week of meals and snacks for our family, specifically this past week:

PDF:  Real Food Meal Plan

Keep in mind that I am still new to all of this so I don’t have a huge menu of meal options.  I am just sharing this with you to give you an idea of how I plan for the week.   We eat different versions of the same things every week right now, but I’m okay with that as long as everyone’s bellies are full and we are eating nourishing real food!  My goal is not to become a master chef.  My goal is to feed my family real food.  I think Noah actually does better with the same meals each week because he knows what to expect and doesn’t do well with change at this point in his life!  And Monday prep days are so very fun!  Making waffles for the week together, letting Noah pick the fruit that goes into the waffles, baking bread, making hummus, filling my freezer with snacks for the week makes my heart happy.  I hope he remembers these special times with his mommy when he gets older because I already treasure them in my heart.  And we may or may not stay in our pj’s all day on Mondays!

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I hope this meal plan helps you if you are looking to make some changes in your schedule or weekly menus.  We are simple people who eat simple things.  For me, it is a weekly, sometimes daily decision to say no to fun things in order to stay on track in this area.  But it is completely worth it.  My kids need to know that food isn’t something to take lightly.  The food choices we make determines our risk for obesity, cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and every degenerative disease.  It affects our mental health and overall well being.  It affects our ministry to others and our ability to serve and help people.

I plan over the weekend, go to the grocery store early in the week (preferably Sunday but doesn’t always happen), stay home on Mondays with a primary goal of preparing staples for the week with Noah’s help, rarely ever eat out during the week unless it’s planned in advance because of the *GMO issue, and carry a mini cooler with real food snacks and fruit with me when I go places throughout the week.  We’ve subbed fruit snacks for fresh and dried fruit.  It hasn’t been a big deal and it’s cheaper.  We’ve traded store bought granola bars for these no bake energy bites and other no bake bites I’ve tried from mywholefoodlife.com.  Again, cheaper and Noah has never complained.  It’s just a change of pace, a change of priorities.  A slowing down to focus on what’s important.  And food is more important than I once thought.  Ironic how spending more time planning your week around food can lead to weight loss and improvement in health and vitality!

I am not perfect and there are days when we do go through a drive through.  There are days when I eat half the bag of the dark chocolate covered pretzels from Trader Joe’s because I just want to (ahem, that would be tonight when it took me two hours to get my kids to sleep while Nelson was at the Rangers game).  So just know that I’m human.  I’m a mom.  And it’s really hard to be a mom these days.  We are so very hard on ourselves.
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So if it makes you feel better I have laundry that needs to be done and friends who need to be called.  I have a playroom that needs a major organization intervention and furniture that needs to be painted.  I have a car that needs gas and hair that needs to be washed.  I have a toddler sleeping on a pallet in my room right now because I don’t want him to wake me up in the night for the umpteenth time asking to sleep in my room.  I haven’t exercised in over a week and that is another area I need to make time for.  But don’t worry, I have blueberry flax meal waffles, veggie nuggets, zucchini coins, coconut cream popscicles, and baby food in the freezer,  hummus and leftover quiche for tomorrow, and a wonderful Sunday ahead of me with our sweet church and my precious little family.  I can’t do everything but I can do something.  And I try to make that something count!  Hope your weekend is full of love and family and good food!

If you are a working mom who eats real food I would love to know how you organize and plan meals for the week!  Also if anyone has any tips or does things differently I’d love to know what works for you!

*If you would like to know more about why I avoid GMO’s, visit this site:  http://gmo-awareness.com/all-about-gmos/gmo-risks/ For GMO foods to avoid click here:  http://gmo-awareness.com/avoid-list/overview/

  • Debbie Bryant

    Love this, Lauren! Congrats on a magnificent switch in paradigm and lifestyle. Bravo for the advances for your health. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks Debbie! I really want to come to Austin with Lori sometime and let you take me to some yummy restaurants!!!!!

  • Vanessa Jones

    Way to go lauren!!! So encouraged by you!! And proud of you!!

    • Thank you Vanessa! Your kids are precious, I know you are the best little momma!!!!

  • Melodie

    Ugh since being out of town for a loooong stint and baby #3 I’ve fallen off the wagon. But this gave me a little extra motivation. 🙂 I noticed you’re almost completely off meat from your meal plans. I love that! I did watch forks over knives since we talked. Wow!!

    • I’m glad it motivated you! I know, that documentary is a game changer!

  • Jenny Holmes

    This sounds a lot like how I plan our meals. I plan on Sunday and shop Sunday afternoon. I did the same thing when I was working, but I just had A LOT less time to prep everything. We are doing the same thing as you described on Mondays…staying home, prepping foods for the week and shopping if it just didn’t happen on Sunday. 🙂
    I’m so proud of you for all you’ve done! So glad we’re friends! 🙂

    • Me too Jenny!!! Share any new EASY recipes you find:o)!!!

  • www.gmo-awareness.com

    Thanks so much for the link, for becoming aware, and for helping to raise awareness!

    • Thank you for your site! I’ve learned so much and can’t help but be burdened to share with anyone willing to listen!

  • vicki lawshe

    love you!! So proud of you and what you’re teaching your kiddos!! Love learning from you 🙂

  • La Shai

    Wow!! So encouraged! Thank you for sharing your heart!! I’m a working mom who is working out every other day and exclusively breast feeding. We just started our healthy diet and exercise plan June 1st and delayed results can be discouraging

    • Hi La Shai! Thank you for commenting! I’m so glad you found my blog and hope it continues to encourage you. You inspire me, as a working mom, exclusively nursing and working out, now that is a feat!!!! Keep it up but don’t be too hard on yourself!!!! Blessings!

  • Claudia Smeltzer

    Wondering if you had any links to those recipes?

  • Claudia Smeltzer

    Also, love the realness of your post. Im a sahm to 3 boys. A 4 and 2 yr old and a 2 month old. Its challenging but so worth it. We’ve been on this journey for a yr and its still challenging but life changing and worth it!

    • Hi Claudia, thanks for commenting! I am still new to blogging and am working on some posts with my recipes!!!! I am trying this week to document what we are eating and will post as soon as I can! I’m sure you know that with young kids, it’s hard to find time for these sorts of things, but I am very passionate about helping other moms so God willing, I will find the time!!!

  • Lindsay Brown

    Do you have a shopping list that you could share…. possibly one that corresponds to the meal plan you provided? Thank you, friend!

    • Lindsay Brown

      Also– have you shared the bread recipe you’re using? And… any idea what your grocery budget is? Thanks!

  • I love this post!! Your story is so inspiring. I’ll be sharing this with my followers on Facebook. 🙂 I hope you are having a great week!