The best way to avoid processed foods is to keep them out of your kitchen. This week you’ll do just that by taking three simple steps:
- Purge your pantry and refrigerator of processed foods
- Restock your pantry with real food
- Enjoy the Real Food Recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Step 1: Toss unhealthy foods
Spend 15 minutes purging processed foods from a different shelf in your pantry or fridge every evening this week. You already highlighted a number of processed foods in your journal from last week, so you can start by pulling those off the shelves. (Rather than tossing them in the trash, donate unopened packages to a local food bank or homeless shelter.) Next, take a look at any packaged foods still standing. Using the real food–processed food guidelines from last week, group them into two categories: real (keep it!) or processed (toss it!).
Step 2: Restock your kitchen with real food
Sound expensive? You might be surprised to learn that buying real food can be cheaper than piling processed fare into your grocery cart. Here’s the proof:
- Boxed flavored rice mix: 15 cents/oz. vs. Real brown rice: 6 cents/oz.
- Boxed high-sugar cereal: 32 cents/oz. vs. Rolled oats: 9 cents/oz.
- Frozen fish sticks: 30 cents/oz. vs. Canned tuna: 17 cents/oz.
- Boxed potatoes: 26 cents/oz. vs. Fresh potatoes: 4 cents/oz.
*Before going to the grocery store, print a copy of the Real Food Shopping Tips (below) and put them somewhere that you’re sure to see during every shopping trip—in your coupon binder, say, or your wallet.
Real Food Shopping Tips
• Golden rule: Read the ingredient list on each package. Yes, the black-and-white nutrition facts panel listing serving size, calories, fat and fiber grams is important, but your eyes should first check for a simple and pronounceable list of ingredients.
• Produce: Spend most of your time filling your cart with fruits and vegetables. Purchase 2 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables per day per person.
• Grains: Check for the word whole in the ingredients list. If an ingredient says enriched, it is not whole grain.
• Protein: Choose lean meats and low-fat dairy. (Go low-fat only when you’re buying dairy. Most other reduced-fat and diet foods add fillers and sugar to make up for the fat taken away, and they are not good values.) Avoid processed luncheon meat and hot dogs.
• Condiments: Aim to purchase fewer prepared condiments such as dressings and marinades, which tend to be high in salt and sugar, and instead use more fresh and dried herbs and spices, vinegars and oils for flavor.
• Convenience: If you don’t have much time for prep work or batch cooking, buy healthy convenience foods such as canned beans, canned tuna, frozen vegetables, canned unsalted tomatoes and precooked unseasoned brown rice.
Step 3: Get cooking!
Here are recipes for real-food breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack options. We’ve provided a grocery list to simplify your shopping.
Happy, healthy eating! Look for Week 3 next Friday, May 14th.