‘just eat real food’ – I can’t remember where I read this, it could have been a random facebook post, something and nothing – but the phrase kept coming right back at me.
There didn’t seem a better way of putting what I myself wanted for me and my family when I thought about improving our eating.
It can, I suppose mean different things to different people. But for me it meant food that hadn’t been modified and/or hadn’t been made by someone else; I wanted more of that sort of stuff.
So in my minds eye, my shopping list was supposed to look more like this: (real food)
than this: (not real food)
My problem, and I suspect the problem for thousands of average work a day families the western world over is that, all those glorious wholesome foods at the top don’t actually look like meals that families are going to tuck in to – they are raw ingredients to meals that need preparing, and making in to something they all like. And if those thousands of families are anything like mine – they want it done quick.
There are several very good reasons why the ‘not real food’ list features highly in family life – it’s meal like; it’s convenient; it’s quick and kids don’t try and feed it to the dog under the table – 4 very big ticks loved by Mums like me everywhere!
I’m no different of course. But for my H Plan – my food choices had to change, and of course it’s almost impossible to have H Plan type food for me and the processed stuff for everyone else – that is too time consuming, too expensive and pretty much defeats the objective.
So I had 2 choices – just don’t bother or force a change.
In order to change, it’s boring I know, you need to put in some serious thought and planning. Indeed I have come to realise that thinking and planning is something that doesn’t stop once you’ve made the decision to change, so if you can’t be bothered with all that, change isn’t for you.
My first thought was that I had 3 separate issues – Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner and I decided to start the change with Dinner. Dinner was the biggest family meal, took the most consideration generally and was the area where quick go to choices happened the most frequently.
I then had to consider what my week days looked like – by that I mean, who does what and when? For example my husband comes home from work on a Tuesday evening and has about 1 hour tops before he scuttles off our to a big band rehearsal and he isn’t home again until about 10:30pm – so the meal on a Tuesday, to accommodate him, needs to be a quick turn around jobby. I know this, it happens almost every week and I can pre plan for that eventuality. Our weekends are often busy but by and large there is slightly more time available to contemplate longer, more complicated meals.
The key is, each family knows in advance what it’s timetable is going to look like, yes we all have unforeseen happenings, but largely we are creatures of habit and so I was able to use that fact to start identifying in my week where I had to be super quick and where I could spend more time.
Armed with that information – I hit the cookbooks and on line recipe finders and started writing down some ideas.
I was determined that processed food was going to be reduced as much as possible, but I wasn’t in any competition as to who could get there fastest – I knew I could do this by degrees, gradually start changing my shopping habits, slowly starting to drop the odd thing here and there whilst working out how I was going to tackle the lack of time and need for speed.
‘just eat real food’ really was probably THE central tenet of my H plan – but it was no principle at all if I couldn’t stick at it in real terms so next week I will talk more specifically about planning, and dinners specifically, and discuss how I tackled the down side of eating whole foods instead of chicken kievs out the freezer – but the good news is, it is altogether possible, I just needed to make the effort.