Keep in mind that some of the links in this post are affiliate link, and if you go through them to make a purchase, I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. I link these products because of their quality and not the commission I receive from your purchases. The decision is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy something is completely up to you.
1.Budget — Starting here is important because providing real food to your family should not break the bank and can be accessible to everyone. Let’s start with protein…one of the best ways to save here is to track sales on high quality protein and stock up. In general, pasture raised eggs, grass fed ground beef, and most cuts of pasture raised chicken will be the most affordable options, and there’s a lot you can do with these. However, you may occasionally want another cut or to branch out to say lamb or bison. Buy these in large quantities when they go on sale and freeze them. It’ll feel like a lot of money at the time, but when you pull a steak out of the deep freeze in 4 months, you’ll be glad you did! For produce, shop smart by using the Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen to make decisions about when it’s necessary to splurge on organic. Frozen produce often is more nutrient dense fresh than “fresh” produce, so don’t discount using frozen or canned. Consider an option like Imperfect Produce, which can save you as much as 30% on produce if it’s available in your area. For pantry staples, consider making your own condiments instead of buying prepared; prepared clean condiments are pricey. If your family is large and/or you have storage space, consider a warehouse store to buy brown rice, gluten free pasta, oils, and grass fed butter in bulk. Less is often more when you’re eating a real food diet, too, because the food is more flavorful and eating a balanced plate keeps you fuller longer, so consider that some “staples” could be skipped.
2.Make Shopping Make Sense — My goal is for you to get as much done in as few stops as possible. Pick a grocery store option that gives you enough variety to purchase as many pantry staples and fresh items that can’t be bought locally as possible. From there, consider what you may not even have to go to the store for! For meat, consider joining a local cow or pig share or using a subscription service such as Butcher Box. Network at the farmers market to find local eggs. For produce, try taking a family outing to the farmers market (or stop by a weekday farmers market on your way to or from work), join a CSA (many deliver!), or look into options like Imperfect Produce. Consider starting a container garden for easy to grow produce or herbs. Thrive Market is a great option if you don’t want to go to the grocery store for pantry items or don’t live near a store with options that work for your lifestyle or dietary needs. (I don’t work with most of these companies, but I feel really good about them. If you’re into the container garden idea, check these pretties out: https://amzn.to/2jG5C6t or https://amzn.to/2l9tRKI)
3.Meal Prep in a Way That Makes Sense — I’ve worked with advocates of the “prep all at once/batch prep” approach as well as those who advocate the “cook individual meals each night” approach. Here’s my approach: pick what works for your family and roll with it. You may find that one or the other of these approaches works for you 100% or you may play with a combination of these approaches. Think about what you need to be happy, what you can ask your partner to help with, and what works with your family’s lifestyle. For example, if you love cooking and it makes you happy, you might want to take time to cook each evening or prep 2-3 days at a time instead of a whole week. You may want to discuss having one partner taking the lead on bulk prep and the other taking the lead on day of assembly; if one partner totally takes the lead on food prep, it’s ok to ask the other partner for help with clean up or childcare. If you have kids with weekend activities that keep them out of the house for several hours at a time, consider knocking some batch cooking out during this time.
4.Keep Your Macros on Hand — I’m not saying you need to count them…who has time for that?! Macro nutrients are protein, carbs, and fats. It’s a good idea to keep easy, healthy proteins, carbs, and fats on hand and ready to throw together to make sure that all plates you serve have a combination of these three. This also will keep bellies fuller longer and prevent extra snacking between meals. Easy proteins might be canned salmon, tuna, or sardines; filets of fatty cold water fish (cook quickly); a rotisserie chicken; nitrate/nitrite free deli meat; grass fed beef or pasture raised chicken (batch cook and keep it ready to go); pasture raised boiled eggs (boil a bunch when you batch cook); goat yogurt; and pre cooked quinoa. Easy carbs might be that pre cooked quinoa; fresh fruits and veggies (serve raw or sautée quickly); sweet potatoes (I like to bake several when I batch cook); and gluten-free pasta or brown rice (usually cook quickly). Easy fats might be nuts and seeds (or their butters); healthy oils like avocado, coconut, or olive oil; jarred olives; avocado; grass fed butter; and the fat from your meat, if you’re eating a fatty fish or fatty cut of beef. (Throwing macros together to make a balanced meal? Quickness is key, so consider an Instant Pot: https://amzn.to/2l9RToX)
5.Take Advantage of Leftovers — Anytime that you’re already slated to be in the kitchen and cooking, consider maximizing your time and doubling the amount of food you make. Use serving-size Pyrex or high quality silicone containers to portion out your additional food into single servings to use for lunches. Both of these container types are safe and can be used in a conventional oven, toaster oven, or microwave. (I love these containers: https://amzn.to/2l9jjeB or https://amzn.to/2l7plfz)
Thanks for reading! Please feel free to ask any questions below. Be sure to check back frequently for more updates or subscribe so you never miss an update!
The views expressed in this blog are not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition and should not be substituted for medical or nutritional advice.