What To Feed Your Family? Your Fridge & Pantry
People are always asking us what we eat? Are you Paleo? Are you vegan? Are you Gluten-Free? Dairy-Free? Sugar-Free? FUN-FREE? With so much hype over these different diet plans it can be confusing what to feed your family! Today we are going to focus on the refrigerator and pantry.
It doesn’t require being a genius to know what you should be eating. Since we are just getting warmed up with nutrition, let’s keep it basic. If you can harvest it or it had a mommy or came from something that had a mommy, it’s probably okay. If it comes out of a box or requires a nutrition label and has ingredients other than itself listed, it’s probably not.
Today we are going to start with the assumption that you have a pretty good idea what you should be eating and focus on why you aren’t eating it. Open your fridge. Open your pantry. How many of those items are in their original “live” state? Are you seeing fruits, vegetables, meats and nuts? Or do you see packages? Can you prepare a meal for your family in 15 minutes? Or is it going to take 30-45 minutes because you actually have to dice, saute, bake or broil your meal?
Victor would tell you that I complain a lot about how much time and money I spend on feeding the seven of us. It is exhausting! But he also reminds me that our entire family loves how we eat. We love feeling good and there’s no way around food. If you want to feel good and look good, you have to eat good. And I’m not talking about an occasional salad. Ninety percent of what goes into your body needs to be micronutrient dense (huh? we’ll save this for another day).
There is one thing you do every single week that can make the difference between feeling tired and not losing weight and feeling awesome and looking the way you want. . . . grocery shopping. This is the key to achieving what you want. The biggest problem is making bad decisions when you are tired and hungry. That’s not a problem in our family. If my kids want a snack the only thing available in our house to grab is an apple with peanut butter or some other form of fruit (rarely dried fruit) and nut. By cutting snacks in the house, my kids have learned to eat real meals, made with real foods. Their “treat” is a bag of kettle chips and I buy only a few bags per week (and they are saved for hiking/climbing) so they have to ration them out. That’s not to say that they don’t get other treats occasionally throughout the week, but I just don’t keep them in the house.
If you want to feel better and change your families eating habits, you have to create an environment that sets you up for success. My weakness … I love IPAs … so if they are in the fridge I will definitely be drinking one while cooking dinner. If I don’t buy it, then it’s not a temptation. So learn to surround yourself with what you do want to put in your body because it will make a difference over time.
You have to learn how to shop. I almost NEVER go to a traditional grocery store such as Vons, Albertsons, Ralphs! The flip side, I try not to go to Whole Foods too often. I love Whole Foods, but it isn’t realistic to keep my family fed and not go broke (I have to say it was my 15-year-old son who made me realize that we were spending too much by shopping there).
- My weekly grocery cart usually has iceberg & romaine lettuce, spinach, kale, carrots, cucumbers, celery, bell peppers, mushrooms, beets, brussel sprouts, green beans, sweet potatoes, russet & gold potatoes, tomatoes, and cauliflower. And that’s just for the basic meals for the week!
- Meat and lots of it! If you don’t want you or your kids reaching for junk or processed food then you need to be giving them more protein. Please remember. . . the source is EVERYTHING! Probably the best thing I do is keep a lot of grass fed beef and free range chickens in my freezer. Remember to always have one or both of those defrosting in your fridge so it’s ready to go. It becomes the “go to” meal in a bind (which seems to be most days). Kids are hungry, what do I do. . . cook 2# of grass fed ground beef, throw some rice in the rice cooker and give them a salad or sautéd greens. Also, I always have turkey bacon, regular bacon, and sausage ready in the fridge to cook. Did I forget to mention, source is EVERYTHING!
- There are always free range eggs in our fridge. Running out of eggs for us is a catastrophe. My boys always want eggs for breakfast and we use a lot of eggs for any gluten free baking we do so a dozen a day seems to keep everyone happy.
- A milk alternative is also a necessity. We are not always dairy free, but for ninety percent of the time, we do use coconut milk or almond milk in our smoothies, pancakes, and cereals. (As much as I love to make my own almond milk, it isn’t always feasible, so you have to decide if you have the time.)
- Lots of legumes. This is probably the biggest area we differ from a Paleo diet. We eat a lot of beans and peanut butter. I get it, if you are trying to drop a lot of weight or know you have an intolerance to nuts then this might not be for you. But our family is really active and we need the calories and fiber these foods provide. And if you are reading this, then you too probably want to Live A Playful Life!
- Where are your healthy fats? There should be avocados, nuts ready to grab (soaking is ideal, but we’ll save it for another day), extra virgin olive oil to whip up a salad dressing, coconut oil to cook with, grass fed butter to bake with, nut butters to snack on by the spoonfuls.
- Antibacterials, please! Make sure you are buying and using lots of garlic, onions, and fresh herbs such as parsley, cilantro, basil or thyme. Add turmeric and ginger to keep your tummy flat and healthy!
- And the best for last … Organic Coffee and Dark Chocolate!
So where do I shop? Local as much as possible. Find a local CSA for your meat and vegetables (get $35 dollars off a box of organic fruits and veggies delivered to you here), shop at farmers markets, and I LOVE Trader Joes to fill in the gaps.
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