May 29, 2013

How We Homestead - Part 3: Real Food

This is Part 3 in a 5 weeks series called "How We Homestead" hosted by Staci at Life at Cobble Hill Farm.  You can find Part 1 here. Be sure to visit the other lovely women, linked to at the bottom of this post.  

Homemade apple pie

I have to admit, I was so excited when I saw Real Food in the list of topics that Staci gave us. This is something I am very, very passionate about and if you give me the chance I could go on and on and on about real food and what it means for your body. (Seriously. Just ask Ben... And my sister... And my sister in law... And my mother in law...)

My journey into Real food sort of started out of necessity early in our marriage and parenthood. The pre-made food was just too expensive. We were spending $600+ a month... for two people (the boys weren't eating solids yet.) It got to the point where I really needed to look at our budget and how we were spending money on food.

While I mostly cooked meals - as in, not just microwaving TV dinners, but actually using a stove and more than 5 ingredients - I was still using processed and boxed/canned ingredients.

I think not only being a mother opened my eyes to food and nutrition, but being the mother of preemies was an even stronger factor. I not only had new little lives to take care of, but new little lives that were fragile and sensitive, and needed strengthening.

So I started watching our budget, shopping carefully, and cooking things mostly from scratch.

Then I found this book.

I threw away our shortening and kicked as much soy out of our house as I could. I returned to the goodness of butter.

And then I found this book.

I bought lard, and removed (almost) the rest of anything processed and fake.

Homemade granola

I have been trying to cook with raw, simple, basic ingredients ever since. Some things we can't quite do because of expense (I still buy pasteurized milk and meat from the store, raw and pasture-fed are too expensive), and some things I am getting better about (I'm now buying organic just-plain-peanuts peanut butter, and I've moved from regular all purpose flour to at least unbleached as well as adding in whole wheat), and some things we're doing pretty darn good (I am trying to grow most of our veggies, and those I don't I now get from the farmer's market.)

Nourishing Traditions really opened my eyes. It is food and facts that make sense. I believe that we should eat food in the purest form possible, as close as possible to the way God made and intended it. And the current state of the nation's health is a good indicator that what the smarty-pants doctors are saying isn't actually good for us.

And cooking real food is fun! I love being in the kitchen chopping and stirring and boiling and tasting and knowing that what I am making is not only good tasting but good for us.

Drying plums in the oven

I can tell you, that since we have changed our diet to real food that we are very rarely sick now. And the times we do get sick? We've either been naughty and gone on a fast food binge for a week and/or our bodies have been weakened from being over stressed and over tired.

It is more work, I won't lie. It's not easier. It takes a bit more effort - either to find the good ingredients, or to prepare them (although it doesn't take all that much longer). But it's worth it. Cooking with real food, to me, doesn't just feed the body.

It feeds the soul.

And isn't feeding the soul what homesteading  is about?

~ * ~
 Visit the other women of the How We Homestead series:
Daisy from Maple Hill 101
Tammy from Our Neck Of The Woods
Amber from Making A Home 


Farm Girl said...

Excellent Post Meg! I was thinking about that book just this morning. I think once I get to the part that is called summer vacation it will be my next read.
You have done incredibly well in nourishing and feeding your families soul.
You feed them very well. I need to focus on getting good snacks over here.
I love this whole chain of reads. It is good.

no spring chicken said...

Yes. I don't have a homestead but I have a homestead heart and you're nailing it Meg. I love how you said that cooking with whole foods isn't easy but it's fun. I so agree. Cooking isn't any fun when you take the creativity out of the task! Just like anything.. it's the creative decisions that we make during the process that keeps cooking from becoming monotonous! Another great post dear. :)

Blessings, Debbie

Staci at Life At Cobble Hill Farm said...

Beautiful post! You had me laughing at the beginning. I get to talking about this a bit much too because of my passion for the subject so I have a hard time not coming across as preaching about it. :) I love how it all came together for you {and those photos....yummy!!}.

Our Neck of the Woods said...

Yes, feeding the soul is what it's all about! I am also very passionate about eating real, whole foods and my family knows me as the one who always brings something "weird" to potlucks. Hah! Even though they usually end up loving it :)

I try really hard to keep up with cooking everything from scratch, but sometimes I do cheat. We eat out on a very rare occasion. We are still sort of at the beginning of our journey and learning more every day!

daisy said...

Your passion is evident, Meg. Our kids will often spur us to do better. Enjoy your time in the kitchen!

Liz said...

This was a great topic that you ladies wrote about this week. It is so darn scarey trying to read the ingredients on some of those pre packaged foods. And fast food joints, don't even get me started! Love your homesteading posts!

From Beyond My Kitchen Window said...

I also eat as clean as possible. I haven't bought boxed cereal in a year. I buy as much organic food as my grocery budget allows. Grass fed beef is so expensive though. I am saving for a down payment on half a cow. It is a lot cheaper that way.

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