Real Food Makeover: The "W" Family
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Real Food Makeover: The “W” Family

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?

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  1. This is absolutely awesome. Will you do this for my family too??? Please!!! No, I am not begging. I am really starting to look at what we eat because of my fibromyalgia and just because I want my family to be healthy. I also will be starting a lose weight challenge with next week. I need to menu plan so the tips above helped me. Just let me know when you want to do another family. I have me with fibro who needs easy recipes cuz cant stand long in kitchen, hubby who only wants midwestern meat (beef and pork) kids who eat nothing mixed, 8yo who loves meat as much as dad except prefers chicken, 4 yo that will only eat chicken nuggets but now getting picky on which kid of nuggets! Yes, this is all my fault with the kids issues but now we are trying to resolve with “try its” at dinner . So if you ever want to tackle a difficult family, let me know! By the way, I love your blog and do follow!!!

    Have a blessed day, Karen
    .-= Karen @faith family fibro´s last blog ..Join Me in the Get Dressed Challenge =-.

  2. Thanks for the great resources. By the way, the recipe site links need fixing, except for Tammy’s Recipes. They have your website at the beginning of them.

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

    Being a college dining hall chef is my biggest challenge, mostly because I am way to tired-mentaly when I get home and just don’t feel like cooking anymore.

    But my husband is extreamly encourageing in this. He sits in the kitchen with me and does his Hebrew grammer for class and keeps me company. Some days its the only time I see him.

    Keep going and you can eat real food all the time.

  4. My biggest challenge is obtaining whole foods while sticking to a tight budget. I just can’t do it all, so I need to pick and choose and find the cheapest sources possible It definitely takes extra effort to get whole foods though bulk sources, farms, etc.! I have switched to soaking and sprouting whole grains, making yogurt (and soon kefir!), and slowly switching to all natural sugars. I have a sweet tooth, so that has been a slow process. I am finding it most difficult to switch meat and dairy, mainly for the expense. I found a good source for raw milk, but right now it is a once-in-a-while thing.

  5. one of the biggest issues for me is really the budget constraints. We’ve stretched the grocery budget pretty far so we could include “clean” meats and dairy products and many organic produce. But, oh my goodness, does it get expensive!

    We’ve been making lots of great changes to our diet and we had a better diet than most Americans to begin with. I sometimes get overwhelmed at all the possibilities, but then I stop and realize that I don’t have to make ALL the changes other people make. I can pick and choose the things I feel the strongest about and then I take new steps each time I need to go to the store to pick up items.

  6. Thanks for these make overs. I’m looking forward to seeing this makeover particularly because I feel like it is very close to where we are as a family. (And I didn’t get an e-mail to you fast enough to get our family in! :-))
    My biggest challenge is my own bad habits. I feel like we have resources enough in our area (farmers markets, co-ops, dairy, etc) and we have made good strides as a family towards eating whole foods. But I am stuck on choosing foods that aren’t the best (mostly sweets) because I like them! I am in the middle of the GNOWFLINS course, and am enjoying that, too. But I can’t wait to see your ideas for the “W” family. I’m going to use them for sure!

  7. What an awesome idea! My biggest challenge is probably getting my husband on board with making whole food changes and managing the budget to do it. Most of the time he likes eating healthier, so it is not about the flavor or benefits, but about cost and potential waste. We live in Alabama, and honestly, natural living has not caught on here like in the NW, so that is also another challenge – finding the proper resources. Also, our kids are picky, so it is hard to get them to eat the things they should be eating. If they were never given other choices, maybe they would eat better.? They are still young yet, so I know we could tun it around for them. Do you have any suggestions for these challenges?
    .-= Jamie´s last blog ..A Trip to Alfredo’s =-.

  8. Probably my biggest challenge now (now that I have implemented many of the things you describe above) is money. Seriously, trying to find good food, that fits our budget. We’ve cut many things out of our budget, but good food is important to us. I do find though that I often have to do less than ideal (meaning I use non organic things, or don’t take something that would be really great to take, but we can’t…or something like that…I don’t go do processed food.)

    The biggest help has been my menu planning binder, which was pretty good before, but now it works SO well thanks to your posts. I used the same idea as the List Plan it lists (but no money to spend on them, so I just did mine similarly) and made my lists of each kind of meal, and assigned a type of meal to each day of the week…now my menu planning serioulsy takes less than half the time it used to, and I no longer find it stressful. I also made a list of the “steps” in menu planning (1. is determine budget, 2. is check fridge and freezer for items needing to be used 3. is check flyers (the odd time there is something that works for real food eating) etc. and it streamlines the process for my tired mind.

  9. @Karen – have you investigated the link between MSG and fibro? My dh has been suffering from pretty severe fibro symptoms for over a year and we’re just now learning about this connection. And MSG is just about everywhere in some form. You really have to make all your food from scratch. Check out

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