Meal Plans from “100 Days of Real Food”
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Meal Plans from “100 Days of Real Food”

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The Leake family photographed by:

Written by Lisa Leake, Guest Writer

At the beginning of last year our eating habits were just like those of any other average family. We thought we were making fairly healthy food choices, although we certainly didn’t mind the occasional fast food meal or bag of chips. Then came a series of events, including an Oprah show, a book by Michael Pollan, and the documentary Food Inc., which forever changed the way we looked at food.

As it turned out, a lot of what we thought were “healthy” food choices were actually highly processed and not the best choices at all. I felt compelled to make some immediate and drastic changes to our diet, but I honestly didn’t know where to begin. I lost a lot of sleep over what I would feed my family if I could no longer rely on Goldfish, Suckers, Whitewheat Bread, and Fruit Snacks.

So, after some extensive research and a lot of label reading, my “all or nothing” personality decided to take my entire family, including my husband and our three- and five-year-old daughters, on the journey of our lives.

100 Days of Real Food

Beginning in May 2010, our family started a blog called “100 Days of Real Food” where we promised to go 100 long days without eating a single ounce of highly processed food or refined ingredients. We devised some basic rules to live by including no white flour, no sugar, and nothing out of a package with more than 5 ingredients. I started blogging about the highs and lows of our journey online in the hopes that we could inspire others to follow along.

The response from both readers and the media was amazing, but there was one piece of feedback we could not ignore. While everyone thought real, local, organic food sounded great they also thought it sounded too expensive. So once we completed our initial real food pledge we decided to take another 100-day pledge except this time we did it on a “food stamp” budget. For $125 a week our family of four survived on real food and real food only.

While our experience was of course difficult at times I just had to prove this could be done. What I did not expect were the amazing changes to our health or the profound and surprisingly permanent impact on our eating habits. After focusing on foods that are more the product of nature rather than, as Pollan says, “the product of industry” this new way of life has finally become our new normal.

I know there are many other families out there that want to transition from highly processed to real, wholesome, local, organic, fresh food as well, which is why I created three extremely detailed meal plans to help them get started.

Here’s what you can expect from these FREE 100 Days of Real Food Meal Plans:

  • Three 7-day practical “real food” menu plans designed for busy familiesMeal Plan Ad
  • Complete meals listed each day for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner
  • Food quantities calculated for a family of four
  • Corresponding grocery lists showing what to buy (in order of the store) and total cost for each item
  • Budget-friendly prices compatible with what a family of four would receive on full food stamp (SNAP) benefits – $167/week – with additional cost saving opportunities because:
    • Coupons were not used
    • Sales prices were not used
    • Prices for organic items were used in most cases
  • All underlined recipes are available on – check out the Recipes & Resources Page for a full list
  • All recipes are working mom/dad-friendly, including tips on what to make in advance over the weekend
  • Almost every item listed follows our strict “real food” rules (including no white flour or refined sugar!), with just a few minor exceptions to keep the plan realistic for those busy working parents

Here’s the scoop on how to download these three FREE meal plans:

  1. Go to the “Meal Plans” link on the 100 Days of Real Food Facebook Page
  2. Click “like” if you are not already a fan
  3. Click on the image you would like to download. The top image is “Meal Plan 1,” the middle image is “Meal Plan 2,” and the bottom image is “Meal Plan 3”

Are there others out there who have also recently jumped into a “real food” lifestyle? What did the transition look like for you?

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  1. this is awesome. I was expecting there to be a catch like “only 39.99 a month!!!”. I started the real foods transition. Corn syrup was the first thing to go. I made some good changes in my diet and the kids are following along. The husband is still a work-in-progress although he did cut out soda which was a huge step for him! I’ve been eating less meat and now have been giving the kids less meat and def less processed foods. My eczema improved and now I can pinpoint which foods aggravate it like the half a glass of wine I had last night and the Chinese buffet we had as a treat last week after my son’s pre-K graduation. My digestion and energy improved ten fold. My skin cleared up. It was a mess for a while. It really does work if you work at it. This week’s small victory was that I got my older son and husband to eat a bread OTHER than Wonder Bread! They both will eat potato bread which contains whole grains.

  2. My husband and I went on a Daniel Fast in January, and we both saw such incredible changes in our lives in just those 3 short (I guess it didn’t feel short then!) weeks. Relying on only whole foods and whole grains with NO SUGAR for those 21 days was difficult at first, but we both felt so much better at the end of the fast. We participated in the fast along with our church, for spiritual reasons, but I was so surprised at how much better I felt physically. My biggest challenge seems to always be what to give my children for breakfast and snacks. I’m still working on that one!

    I love this post, and I’m looking forward to checking out the Facebook page. Thank you! 🙂

  3. We recently made the change as well! I am so thankful for some meal plans – we occasionally get into a rut with the same meals over and over. Our journey began when I heard about GMOs for the first time. We stopped eating anything genetically modified, then we started eating only organic, then we started eating locally and seasonally… in the process we have become “almost” vegetarians, but we are still eating too many processed organic foods. Your blog is inspiring as we make the next change by removing processed foods!

  4. Hello!

    The link to the FB page in the three steps isn’t working – it says the page cannot be found.

    Just FYI! 🙂

    (and, I can’t wait to check this out!)

    1. I also cannot get it to work-I’ve found the website, but it doesn’t take me to the meal plan options or anything. Can’t wait to get started though!

  5. I’m also having trouble with the FB page. It seems like it is sending me to her personal profile, and there’s no option to “like” or anything listed about meal plans.
    I’m very excited about the meal plans when we’re able to see them!

  6. Such a great post! I watched Food Inc. a few years ago. My sis and brother-in-law introduced us to it. It was a real eye opener. We had already been making stuff homemade and trying to buy less processed stuff. However, it is a little expensive like you said. I can’t wait to try out your menu plan.
    Thanks again.

  7. I have food allergies, and a lot of the items on your meal plan won’t work for me. BUT, I’m totally inspired by your project, and I’m sure there’s a lot I could learn from your blog! If I can cut back my real food budget in other areas, perhaps those expensive special ingredient purchases won’t hurt so much. Great post!

  8. Thank you so much for this timely post. I have 7 children, and my friend Jenn has 4, we are taking all of them on a cross-country road trip in September and are committed to no fast food for the whole trip! I’m looking forward to implementing some of your recipe ideas on the road.

  9. What a great blog idea!! What a wonderful inspiration! Thank you for sharing your friend with us Stephanie. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your ideas with us Lisa. I will definitely be book-marking your site for future reference. We are constantly upping our diet to more and more *real* and *whole* foods. I laugh (quietly inside) when I think back to what I used to think was *healthy*! All the best in your endeavours!


  10. I can’t wait to check out these meal plans! I’ve been making changes in our diet for a couple of years, my kids are more compliant than my husband, who refuses to give up pop. My youngest stepson lives with us (he’s 16) and rarely eats here (because there’s “nothing” -translation- no junk food – to eat in this house). Even though my grocery budget for 5 is under $100 a week, I still don’t buy processed foods. We are blessed to live close to an organic, grassfed dairy farm where I can buy raw milk for $4 a gallon and the friend that “turned me on” to real food lives close and has an awesome flock of chickens so especially in the summer I can get lots of fresh, healthy eggs for free (or we trade for something she needs that I have). We unfortunately don’t eat as much fresh produce as I’d like, but we are at least not eating tons of additives. It’s frustrating at times, not being able to buy what I want to but I do the best I can with what I have. And pray extra hard at meal time (;

  11. This is a true answer to prayer! This is exactly what I have been trying to accomplish on my own for the last 3or 4 months and I have just been meeting with frustration and blank pages. Thank you SO much. You have no idea what a blesding this is. I was in tears yesterday wishing I could unlearn everything I knew about nutrition and happily feed my family junk. I am starting July 1st!!!

  12. Great post on a great topic!

    I had read her blog before, and my only hang-up is that the “budget” is not realistic for a lower-income family. The writer lives in my same state, and my family of 4 eats 90-95% real food on a MUCH lower budget (about $300/month). When someone told me about her “budget” I was super excited to read how she was able to do it, but, honestly–nearly $700/month?! That would be like heaven if my family was able to have that budget. We would be eating like kings! I e-mailed the blogger, and she was very respectful and suggested cutting costs other ways, but we already do the things she suggested (no cable, paying cash for cars, shopping for things used). In fact, after reading her post, I was curious about the qualifications for food stamps. It turns out that on my husband’s salary alone, we qualify for food stamps (he is a teacher w/ a masters degree…NC teachers are one of the lowest-paid teachers in the country). I work from home as a newspaper writer and columnist to supplement his income. My income just over-qualifies us for food stamps.

    All that said, we pretty much make it on her rules except that we can only afford to eat some organic, and we cannot afford local meats. We do not eat as much meat because of this.

    Can’t wait to download her meal plans! 🙂

    1. @Erin, I’m in the same boat–if my family were able to qualify for food stamps, our grocery budget would increase by about $220/month! I was pretty stunned to discover that. So I’ll probably have to make some adaptations, too, but I’m still excited to see what’s in these meal plans.

  13. I try to cook real food as much as possible, for health and budget reasons. Question — does anybody know of “real food” or “frugal cooking” blogger or website that feeds families with TEENAGERS!! Seems like the folks with the time to blog about it are feeding tiny children. My two kids are ravenous teens, who are also rebelling about “home food” and want more packaged snacks and edibles (and sodas and energy drinks — I can’t control everything . . .) . They won’t eat homemade cereal, or snacks, and want more meat and sandwich slices. Ideas needed!

    1. Anna – I don’t know if this would help, but on my blog I love to recreate “junk” food with unprocessed ingredients. Things like – oatmeal cream pies, corn dogs, devil snack cakes, etc. Maybe it could be of help to you!

  14. As many others have commented, my family and I have been on a slow but steady course towards organic, whole foods over the past 6 years. My kids sometimes balk at new veggies or foods, but we just ask them to try one bite. One thing that has really helped with my kids is having a backyard garden. Right now they go out and snack on our fresh strawberries. Later on they will snack on peas, green beans and many other things. Another thing that has really involved the kiddos is having chickens in our backyard! We have two chickens and my kids think it is the coolest thing in the world to eat eggs from our own chickens.

    I really enjoyed this post and I cannot wait to go and read through the 100 day blog! (Due to a gluten allergy, I also cannot use several of the recipes, but I can modify many of them!)

    One question: which of Michael Pollan’s books did you read? I looked him up and found that he has written several. Which one was so inspirational to you?

  15. I have seen some of the posts from your blog and thought, “Wow, if only I could convince my hubby (and myself) that this would be easy and cheap!” I have been struggling with the food my family eats for about a year now. A friend just sent me this post and I almost started crying! I don’t know what I was so scared of before. And furthermore I no longer have an excuse! You have done all the work for me and I truly appreciate it. Thank you for setting this example for the rest of us.

  16. I am totally interested in this blog! I have so much wanted to change the way we look at food and what I buy, but haven’t felt motivated to do so. Granted, we don’t drink soda or eat/drink things with HFCS. I try to use whole wheat products and things that are “healthy”, but it’s amazing what even so-called “health” foods have in them. Definitely an eye-opener. I plan on watching Food,Inc. and taking the 10 day pledge very soon! Thank you so much for your encouragement and the information you put out there for all of us!

  17. Well now, this is very exciting. I’ve been working on baby steps towards more real/traditional foods in our home. I think my first step awhile ago was to cut out hfcs. I’ve since tried to add more pastured meats and eggs although it’s not what we have all the time. I’ve also done a few recipes with soaking grains but haven’t gone whole hog with that.
    I do feel like I need to be more intentional with my baby steps. It would probably be good to sit down and figure out a bit of a step plan, I’ve also just started receiving an email baby step thingy which I hope will help in the process.

  18. This is so neat! Our family has gotten on a budget for the first time and we’ve been slowly adding in my real, whole foods but since we’ve started our budget it has been a challenge and I’ve been feeling like we’re getting into a rut with out meals…this would be awesome to have but I don’t have Facebook and DH rather I not sign up for an account. IS there anyway to get the meal plans at all?

  19. My family (just hubby and I and baby #1 due in September) have been working towards eating real food. It is pretty expensive here in Saskatchewan but we are doing our best.

    The meal plans sound great- I always plan our meals in advance. However we do not use Facebook- is there any other way I can access them?

  20. What a great post and an inspiring challenge! My husband and I watched Food Inc. and it really changed the way we think about what we eat. People always look at me like I’m insane when I say it was a documentary that really changed the way we think about what we eat, but it really did! We save quite a bit by cooking from scratch–I’ve been baking all our bread for a couple weeks now and it tastes so much better and isn’t full of ingredients that I can’t pronounce. We’ve also decreased the amount of meat we eat (organically and humanely raised meat is fairly expensive, so we’re kind of limited on how much we can eat), but we are eating a bigger variety of veggies, fruits and other sources of protein. Great post!

  21. My family is in the midst of the transition to whole foods right now. We’ve cut out about 90% of sugar, are making fresh soaked breads, and are using organic, free range, grass fed, etc. We buy cage free eggs, but are excited to one day own chickens, so that we can have “farm fresh” every day. We do have a friend with chickens though, so that’s a start. 🙂

    Check out my families blog on our journey to health.

  22. I am all about “real food.” It is amazing the impact that “real food” can have on the way you feel! Like the old saying goes, “You are what you eat.” If you eat well, and subtract all the processed food from your diet, you will reap the positive benefits from it.

  23. Unfortunately, this budget and meal plan i unrealistic for us. I have a family of 5 (3 teenagers) nd until 2 months ago we received food stamps of 247.00 a month. My food budget a month is a max and I mean an absolute max of 300 a month.
    We would love to be able to eat this way if possible but do you think you could achieve it on 300 bucks a month and with teenagers? That is a challenge I would like to see.

    1. @Jill, Jill — I don’t have an answer for you but am in the same situation. Teenagers are pickier and eat WAY more than the small children in most of the blogs I see. My best solution is lots of brown rice and beans, with tasty things like curry or Chinese flavors on top. And stretching ground beef with beans & rice. They complain some, but do eat it. Lots of it!

  24. This is a very inspirational story, and I would like to see the meal plans, but the FB page appears to be a pledge page, and I feel like I can’t click “like” without also taking the pledge to eat only real food for 10 days. That would take some preparation and I don’t want to feel like a liar by clicking it anyway just to get the plans. Am I on the wrong FB page?

  25. Yay! It made me so happy to read this. So many people I talk to think it’s too expensive to eat organic/real/whole foods and so they don’t pursue it. But it’s just not, and I really want to help others see that. I was also quite surprised, frankly, to see that for a family of four, the food stamp allotment is $167 per week. Wow. We have always had a food budget much lower than that, and currently as a family of four (plus a newborn) we only spend $105 a week, and I feel like that’s quite comfortable, but I do stay at home which does allow for more flexibility than if I was working. Anyways, loved Lisa’s post and her blog!

  26. I’m so glad you highlighted Lisa! She’s doing such an amazing job encouraging others to make changes.

  27. This is great! And thanks so much for making it free :0) I am hosting a “One step up” challenge on my blog, for those who want to eat healthier, but don’t know where to start, and don’t want to go cold turkey. I saw the movie Food, inc too, and since then, I make sure to buy free range eggs (because I learned that just Organic isn’t good enough), I buy organic milk from cows that have been grass fed, and am considering buying a cow! Wasn’t that an amazing film? I am going to link to you and download your printables. I started a few months ago buying healthy food, mostly organic, and when you have that mentality, it’s great how easy it is so skip the cracker aisle at the store. If you stop buying the junk snacks, you make room in your budget for the healthy berries :0) I make my own snacks, or we have bananas instead, and the kids have no problems with that.

  28. Great job and thanks for all the information. However, I won’t be joining you as this isn’t the right season of life for me to participate. Dave, my husband, has terminal cancer and he is eating processed food; that’s okay with me as he needs to gain weight…more than twenty pounds of the thirty he initially lost. I don’t think processed food as nutritious but at this stage of the game, it’s calories he needs. I’m still cooking from scratch, it’s a learned habit and have been doing it for more than 45 years -smile- and he gets three squares a day but when he wants junk food, I cheerfully accommodate him.
    Thank you for teaching young women how to cook, plan meals, etc. I learned at my mother’s knee and she at her mother’s knee and so forth. When I was going to high school, we had home economics and loved it then and love it now. Life is made up of cooking, cleaning, sewing, home repairs, etc. and those who have the basics at hand, have an easier time in life. This I do believe.

  29. Love the idea of your blog. I’ve never been to it, but will be reading it regularly now. And I must say that I love love love the family picture with the raised garden as the background. So simple and rustic without that fake artistic feeling.

  30. $167 a week? Or even $125 a week? My current budget for our family of four is $50 a week! Granted we don’t eat as healthy, but wow! I should get food stamps-lol! Seriously, someone needs to teach food stamp recipients how to shop and cook. But I guess that’s another topic.
    Neat challenge, though. It would be even better if someone made the same challenge on a lower budget. Maybe I should challenge myself. 🙂 I will check out the meal plans to gain ideas for healthful meals!

    1. @alyssa, I also thought the amount was high. It’s higher than our budget, which I certainly wouldn’t consider a poverty or bare bones budget, although we try to keep it as low as we can.
      I would imagine that the amount really depends on where you live. I’m not sure where Lisa and her family are, but it may be that the live in a higher cost area and that in other parts of the country, food stamps would amount to less than that? Perhaps someone else knows?

  31. Any resolution for non-face bookers? I checked out the blog and the link from the sidebar gives the facebook directions for downloading the meal plans. And the comments were full of people without fb accounts…

  32. I would love to download these meal plans for my family of four but we don’t participate with Facebook. Is there any other way to get these?

  33. I got tired of looking at labels and finding out how many chemicals are in food. My diet, The All-Food Diet, simply recommends buying foods with one ingredient. Bingo, it’s real food.

  34. I realize your post is older, but I gotta tell you THANK YOU! Your plans, ideas and recipes have saved me so many times. thank you for sharing your experiences and what you have learned.

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