I just spent an hour on the phone with my sister talking about the movie Food, Inc. and we talked about how the processed food world is out to get us by killing out health, immune systems, and pretty much the human race as we know it.
We also talked about how she is practically a single mother who has fallen into a routine of chaos and crazy with no light at the end of the tunnel on how to get healthy meals in front of her beautiful children without incorporating all that processed garbage.
Then we talked about some ideas and processes to make life easier during the week without going totally nuts... Here are just some simple reminders for her when she goes to the store. (I'm also publishing this post for anyone who has a crazy busy life, whether it be kids, animals, school, career, whatever!)
Coffee Creamer - My sister likes coffee creamer sweet and vanilla-ish, but doens't like plain coffee with milk. Instead of buying insanely processed coffee creamer with tons of ingredients you cant pronounce, choose a slightly less processed one that is made with only 4 ingredients.
Dinners - I have posted on this before, and I will make a new post soon... YOUR CROCKPOT IS YOUR BEST FRIEND. My crock pot doesn't have a timer, so I attached a Christmas light timer to the outlet, and voila, I have a crock pot on a timer. I spent an insane 6 hours making about 20 or 25 gallon sacks of meals that I just had to set out the day before to thaw, and then put in the crock pot in the morning, and turn on the timer. Maybe make some potatoes/noodles/rice when I am ready to eat. Done. I will make a post with recipes soon. I promise!
Breakfasts - I will do a post on this soon too, I swear! I am not a breakfast food fan, as in I would rather eat dinner leftovers for breakfast, and usually do. But here are some good quick breakfast ideas... Oatmeal (quick and dirty, self explanatory). Pancakes - don't but a boxed mix. I will post my premade pancake mix recipe in the soon to come breakfast post. BUT make a bunch of extra pancakes, then store in the freezer. Homemade toaster pancakes. Same goes for waffles. Making a big Sunday breakfast? Make DOUBLE! then pout your extra eggs, bacon, sausage, whatever into english muffins and store in the freezer. Homemade Jimmy Dean breakfast sammies.
Lunches - I am a salad fan. I am also really bad about making lunches. How about when you make dinner, just make extra! Making baked chicken breasts for 4? Make 6 chicken breasts, and cut up the leftovers to put on salad. Same goes for fish, steak, beans, pork, whatever you like. Dont want to make a salad every day? Yeah, neither do I. Pick up your salad greens in bulk and make 3 salads in advance (who wants to eat salad every damn day?), and just grab out of the fridge when you grab your coffee fixins. Got kids? Me neither, so I am working on those ideas.
More Dinners - Making meatloaf on Saturday or Sunday? Make TWO! Bake the one you want to eat now, then store the other in the freezer for a rainy day. This idea can be applied to so many things... Meatloaf, seasoned chicken, marinated pork, seasoned fish (as long as your proteins haven't been previously frozen. And if they have been, just toss a different cut of meat into a marinade and store in a freezer bag (also in a tray to prevent leakage) and then make that cut of meat later in the week. Buy bulk spices and make your own blends and store in mason jars. This takes time, but it is worth it to not have extra salt, soy fillers, and strange chemical preservatives. Scared of them going rancid? Store them in the fridge or freezer. I will post recipes soon!
Veg and sides - Frozen vegetables are awesome, just dont turn them to mush! I toss mine into my little steamer thing, into the microwave, and I have perfectly crunchy veg in 4 minutes. Rice? Cook up a bunch and store it in the freezer. All you have to do it microwave in a covered bowl with a splash of water, and you have fresh(ish) rice. If you buy quick cooking rice, then it will only take 10 minutes, so you really dont need to make it ahead.
Breads - not everyone has time to make bread. Just try to choose brands with as little added sugar (especially high fructose corn syrup) as possible, and choose whole grain. If you have a local bakery, even frickin better! You will get FRESH bread once a week, AND support a local business. You probably will be able to even talk to the actual person who baked the bread and you can find out where they get their flour, and what the ingredients are. And I'm pretty sure you will be able to pronounce them all.
Snacks - I really think the freezer can be your best friend. Making muffins? Make extra and store in the freezer. Same for brownies, cookies, quick breads, etc. Make granola bars, they last forever in the fridge. Choose baked snack chips or crackers rather than fried. Choose whole grain crackers with reduced sodium.
Meats - My sister has this on lock! SHe has her own beef, pork, and chicken, AND fresh eggs, so she doesn't have to worry about CAFOs and factory farmed disgustingness. But for those who don't have that luxury, try to buy organic, free range, grass fed options. Find a farmers market. Find a CSA. Find a farmer. Find a local butcher who will at least be able to tell you where their meat comes from.
Dairy - This one can be tricky. I am not a big dairy eater, so I don't think about this much. Try to find a local, organic milk supplier. Here in Ohio, Hartzler dairy is becoming HUGE. They are originally a family owned operation, and still are I think, but getting bigger... They raise their dairy cattle on grass, no hormones, etc. They also use low temperature pasteurization to preserve healthy enzymes and it is NOT homogenized. This means if you let the milk sit, you can pour off the lovely layer of cream at the top on the bottle. YUM. However, it is really expensive, BUT if you recycle the glass bottle back to the farmers market/grocery store to which you bought it, you will get $1 off your next gallon. And just don't drink so much darn milk! (Easier said than done for some)
Sugar - is the damn devil. If you are trying to reduce your sugar and calorie intake, BEWARE of NON-fat options... they typically have added sugar to make up for the lack of richness of no-fat. Sugar stored in your body's cells turns into, guess what? FAT! If you want sour cream or cheese, just get the real versions and be satisfied rather than eating the non-fat option and not feeling even remotely satisfied, and then overeating to make up the lack of satiation.
Now granted, I am not a licensed dietitian (YET), so not everything I say or reccomend will work for you or your lifestyle. These are just things I know to be true, and things I believe in.
Do you have any other ideas or suggestions for my sister to try??? She is pretty much open to any and all help. And if you try to post mean comments about my suggestions, I won't publish them, so don't waste your energy.