Introducing the first of four families to receive a Real Food Makeover! Each week, I will be highlighting a different family and offering suggestions and resources to help them along the road to eating more real, whole, healthy foods.


Meet the W. family: Mom “D” (37), Dad “M” (35), son “I” (3) and twin daughters “G’ and “S” (1).

How they currently eat:

A mix of both whole, homemade foods as well as plenty of convenience foods and packaged snacks. They eat out or have take out meals about 1-3 times per week (usually fast food). Milk, eggs and about 1/3 of their produce are organic. They enjoy a lot of comfort type foods, including milk, bread, cheese, pasta, cereal, etc. They currently eat some fruits and veggies, but know that they could be eating a lot more.

Their goals:

To learn to make cooking/shopping more efficient and organized, so that healthier and more homemade meals come together with less stress and without resorting to packaged or fast food. To improve their overall health, including losing the few last lbs of baby weight for Mom, increasing immunity for Dad (who gets hit hard whenever he gets sick), and working with some minor health challenges like asthma (Mom) and skin sensitivities.

They would like to drop some sugary and processed foods (including highly sugared coffee for Mom), and add in more whole foods, especially vegetables. They have good access to farmer’s markets and a natural foods coop, but need to get organized and learn how to take advantage of these resources.

Time for their Real Food Makeover!

3 Baby Steps for Them to Take:

1. Improve organization so that meal planning comes together easily, allowing for healthier meals and less eating out.

2. Improve the quality of many of the foods they already eat. Keep eating the same types of things, but some better versions of them.

3. Add a few important supplements, including cod liver oil and greens.

chicken rice casserole

Image by idovermani

Getting Organized with Meal Planning, Shopping and Cooking

“D” described how her meal planning often goes- she sits down to do it on Sunday afternoons, and begins to get tired and uninspired as she plans. She asks her hubby for ideas, they both get distracted, and ultimately meal planning only truly happens 1/2 to 1/3 of the time.

She really enjoys cooking and trying new recipes, but doesn’t have a lot of time to come up with ideas. She also needs a way to make her meal planning and time spent in the kitchen very effective.

Here’s what I would suggest:

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Putting in a bit of time to get herself really organized in the kitchen will enable “D” to use her kitchen time more efficiently, and be able to consistently pull together a meal plan so that she can stick to home cooked meals.

  1. Create a 21 meals list– This gives her a very quick and simple tool to use while meal planning
  2. Next, make herself a kitchen binder. It could ultimately be a homemaking binder, but doesn’t need to be. She can put her 21 meals list in this binder.
  3. Write out a few favorite meal pages, to help consolidate the recipes/meals they enjoy and give her some more easy references for when the 21 meal list just isn’t doing it for her. Keep it simple and start by focusing on main courses and sides. Add these to the binder.
  4. Make a place to either write down a list or even add printed recipe pages of new recipes that she would like to try. When lacking inspiration, she’ll have a quick place to look.
  5. Add a grocery shopping checklist. This is a great tool to allow you to just check off items as you run out or think of something you want to buy, minimizing grocery store trips and ensuring that you have what you need when you need it. Simple Mom has a downloadable grocery shopping checklist, and ListPlanIt has one that you can either print out, or you can customize it with a Download membership.

Don’t try to add all of these things at once. By doing just one thing from the list every week, she will slowly have built up a VERY useful tool for all her kitchen and shopping planning.

Now, when Sunday afternoon arrives, the ideas should flow easier. There should be no need to ask hubby and get distracted. 🙂 In fact, the best time to get her hubby’s input would be for “D” to ask him to list some of his favorite meals and recipes while she is making her 21 Meal List and Favorite Meal Lists.

Finding Good Recipes to Use

One thing “D” mentioned is that she enjoys trying new recipes, but lacks the time to do a lot of searching for them (although she reads quickly, so a new cookbook or two would be helpful for her). She also hasn’t begun soaking her grains or really looking into that at all, and is unsure of where to begin.

I would recommend that she buy 2 new cookbooks. Here are my top suggestions:

jamie's-food-revolution-bookJamie’s Food Revolution: Rediscover How to Cook Simple, Delicious, Affordable Meals (Jamie is inspiring. He loves cooking, love whole foods, and has fantastic ideas)

Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats (This is the ultimate book that I must recommend to everyone. Some of it will be daunting. Some of it is easy. Start with what you can do, and know that as you grow in your skills and knowledge, this book will become more and more important and helpful)

super-natural-cooking-bookSuper Natural Cooking: Five Delicious Ways to Incorporate Whole and Natural Foods into Your Cooking (Heidi is another whole-food lover, with beautiful, appealing recipes that are often quite simple. Also lots of vegetarian meals, which the “W” family enjoys, although they also eat meat, eggs and dairy)

Sue Gregg’s Introducing Whole Grain Baking with Blender Batter Baking and the 2 Stage Process (the best, easiest book I know of to teach how about soaked grains and how to easily incorporate them into your diet)

Another excellent way to find good recipes is to read some real food blogs. I like to either print out the recipes I find that appeal to me and add them to my recipe binder (or “D” could just put them in the “new recipes to try” section of her kitchen binder), or else use a bookmarking system like Delicious to store them online.

A few great sites to get simple, family friendly recipes from:

More to Come…

Later this week I will continue to give the “W” family their Real Food Makeover, by creating a week’s worth of menu ideas for them, discussing some of the changes that they can make in their buying habits, and some suggestions for their specific health struggles.

Additionally, look for an upcoming post on simple ways to prepare vegetables and easily add them to your meals! I know that this is a challenge for the “W” family in particular, but I’m pretty sure that it is a common challenge for many families who would like to up their vegetable intake but aren’t quite sure how to do it.

What are your biggest challenges when it comes to eating and serving real food in your home?