Preparing for the “Love Your Food Challenge”

by The Glowing Gazelle on February 21, 2013

When it comes to making change, we can think about making change all we want, but it won’t happen unless we take action. Until we make it happen. Until we honestly want it to happen. And I’ve finally come to a place in my life where I am finally ready to ditch the foods that don’t make me feel good–the foods that aren’t good for me.

Last fall, I took two weeks and ate nothing but healthy, real foods. And I never felt better in my life. It was like a fog lifted from my brain and my body had twice as much energy as normal. But when the busy blogging season hit, I fell back into my old routine. I hadn’t been fully prepared for switching my food lifestyle at the time. I wasn’t prepared mentally nor was my house prepared for the changes that needed to be made. It’s one thing to clear some unhealthier foods from the shelves but it’s another thing totally to turn it into an ongoing lifestyle.

Recipes needed to be found. My kitchen needed to be organized to help reduce the time needed to make healthier meals. And I needed to find alternatives for when the sweet tooth hits or when I was craving something salty.

For the past two weeks, I’ve been working on a few things as part of the “Love Your Food Challenge” to get me on the right path. My plan is to ditch the unhealthy foods starting March 1st. So here’s what I’ve been up to:

1) Remove Unhealthy Food & Inventory What’s Left- I spent quite a bit of time going through my stockpile. It felt like I was wiping out a good part of my shelves. You can see what was left of one of my cabinets. (You can see more in my  “how-to-stockpile sensibly” post.) It was easy to determine if some foods should go, while others were a little tricky. I did keep a few non-Organic items if they didn’t contain sugar or unnatural additives. Everything that came off the shelves went into a Rubbermaid container. When I was done, I went through and made a meal plan with some of it, pairing them with fresh veggies/fruit, and the rest was donated. My first instinct was to donate it all, but I wanted to have one week with no grocery bill so I could put that towards next month’s bills. Healthier food isn’t always cheap so you have to prepare yourself financially! While I was taking inventory, I went through and organized the shelves so I could find everything much easier in the future. I’m still learning all the tricks to reading food labels as they sometimes try to sneak something unhealthy in under an alternate name. This is the reason why it’s best to stick to as many whole real foods as possible.

2) Check expiration dates on Spices – One of the ways to keep foods healthier is to add spices instead of sugars, excessive salt, etc. I went through my Spice Racks and pulled out any old ones and took inventory of what I was low on and what I needed to replace immediately. I then placed one larger order through Penzeys Spices to replenish my stock. I’ve had good luck with their spices and they are reasonably priced. I also pick up some Organic spices at Trader Joes sometimes when the price is right. I have 3 of these spice racks – two in my pantry and 1 in my kitchen with the spices that I use the most. It’s such an easy way to quickly grab what I need for each recipe.

3) Finding new snacks and food products- I wanted to have a few Organic/Natural snacks on hand so I placed an order with Nuts.com. I picked up some Organic raisins, Organic sunflower seeds, (to be also used on homemade breads), Organic almonds/walnuts and I even picked up some Organic graham flour to try to make my own graham crackers. I also splurged on some Organic peanut butter until I can make my own. They were nice enough to throw in a free sample pack of Organic Quinoa. What’s great about that site is you can order sample packs of some things before picking up the bigger bags. The order showed up lightning fast–just make sure you make the most of your order for the shipping costs, perhaps ordering with a friend and splitting the fees.

I also ordered some items from Vitacost. I was out of Organic Coconut Oil and picked that up. They had an offer for free shipping with $25 in Vitacost brand products so I added some Apple Cider Vinegar to the order to take advantage of the deal. If you are new to them, you’ll get a $10 credit on a $30 order. My favorite products they sell: Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate, EnviroKidz Organic Cereal, Organicville BBQ Sauce and Annie’s Organic Ketchup. (Good luck trying to find a ketchup without some type of sugar!)

And I made one final order to Drugstore.com. I’ve had really good luck with Traditional Medicinal teas this year – especially the Echinacea Plus one. I also order some vitamins and probiotics from them when they have deals. I go through Ebates first to pick up the 6-12% Cashback that they often offer and then earn another 5% with Drugstore.com Dollars. You’ll get free shipping through Shoprunner or with $25 in qualifying items.

4) Finding healthier recipes – One of my first go-to places for healthier recipes is the Clean Eating magazine. It is, by far, my favorite magazine that I subscribe to and I subscribe to quite a few! Not only have I found great recipes in it but I am slowly learning ways to convert some of my current unhealthier recipes into much healthier versions. I’ve also been scouring the Internet for some others. I like to keep the recipes to around 5 ingredients or less (not counting spices, usually) as this is a great way to save on your overall grocery budget.

So these are what I’ve been doing so far. And these are my goals for this final week:

A) Re-organize my kitchen – Time to get rid of all those gadgety-type things that take up space but don’t lead to much benefit. Part of the reason homemade meals can take so long is because we can spend far too much time digging around for supplies.

B) Pick up baking supplies – I am low or completely depleted on stock for items I need for making homemade bread goods. This will be part of the focus of this next week’s grocery budget.

C) Buy some Fresh Organic Spice Plants – Since I was able to maintain a chives plant throughout the winter, I’m feeling more confident that I can remember to water a few more spices to keep them alive. I’ll have to see what’s available but I’m thinking some basil and parsley. This spring/summer, I’ll get a few more planted in my garden. This will save me money on fresh spices. It’s only a few bucks for seeds/plants but usually $2-$4 for each little spice packet in the produce area. Just one little way to save money and a way to add more flavor to meals.

D) Cook up some meats for quick meals – Did you know that you can cook up meats, such as hamburger, and then freeze them for future use? This has been a huge time-saver for me since I discovered this years ago. I’ll probably cook up a few chickens, several pounds of hamburger and make some sausage patties. This will reduce my cooking times during the week. I found some great deals on freezer bags ($.50 a box!) so I’m stocked up and ready to go!

E) Snack Chart – I want to make a chart of the snacks we have on hand so the kids can visually see their options. I’ll share the finished product when I’m done.

I’m hoping that if you’ve been wanting to eat healthier and get rid of that fog that seems to hang over your head that you’ll convince yourself that now is the time to start. I’ll continue sharing my progress and the ways I’m finding to lead a healthier lifestyle.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

meg February 23, 2013 at 2:54 am

What a WONDERFUL POST!!!! You are so inspirational! Ever since I hit my 40′s, I have been in a state of nothing but “fog”. Thank you so much for everything you do. I love both of your blogs and read them every day.

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The Glowing Gazelle February 25, 2013 at 6:34 pm

Aw, thank you so much for the kind words, Meg! I felt like I’ve been in a fog for years. It was so nice for those two weeks when it was gone. I’m looking forward to a fog-free future soon!

Thank you so much for reading both blogs! I love having you here!

Blessings,
Jaycie

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