Sometimes I have to remind myself that many of you are visiting my blog for the first time and are completely new to the world of ‘real food.’ However, you likely came here or my Facebook page because of one goal: to rid your home of processed food.
Easier said than done, right? At this point you are probably feeling overwhelmed, completely confused, and unsure of how to make it all work within your current lifestyle. You may be asking yourself:
How am I going to cook every night with two young kids at home or after working a full day at my day job?
How do I know what is real food or processed food?
Where should I start to clean out my pantry?
Will my family like this new healthy food?
How do I make all of these recipes – the only thing I know how to do is scramble an egg or boil water for pasta!
I know you are asking these questions because you ask them of me all of the time. I know first-hand because I too was once brand new to real food. It has taken me over 10 years of taking baby steps to get to where I am now. I opened my eyes to processed foods when my food intolerance, allergies and asthma became unbearable. I, too, went looking for solutions to heal my body and feed my family better.
So I am going to take a step back in time and share 30 tips with all of the real food newbies out there. Then I am going to share with you some resources that will help you even further as you follow your own real food journey of ditching processed and fake foods for good! Want even more tips? Join my Real Food Homemade Mommy Community on Facebook here.
30 Tips for Real Food Newbies
- Take baby steps, changing one thing at a time as you learn more and get more interested.
- Cut out the complete junk food first and then fine tune to real food principles.
- Do not buy anything with long ingredient lists or ingredients you cannot pronounce.
- Avoid the center of the grocery store, opting to shop the outer edges…better yet avoid the grocery store altogether.
- Find and shop at your local farmers market.
- At first, try to find time to go to food shop by yourself so that you have time to read ingredient lists and ask questions.
- Get inspired by good, simple recipes and make them your own.
- Slowly get rid of the processed foods in your pantry as you finish them, stop buying them, and then replace them with real food.
- Eat food that you make at home more often (stop buying take out).
- Replace soda with water or if you are adventurous, kombucha (you can even buy it in most Whole Foods these days).
- Ditch foods in boxes, packaged with marketing hype and bright colors.
- Build a plan and learn how to make one new ‘real food’ item per month starting with the basics – fermented condiments, fermented beverages, traditionally prepared grains/breads, grain-free baking, refined sugar free baking, bone broths, how to properly cook grass fed meats, healthy saturated fats, etc.
- Give your taste buds time to adjust – you didn’t like beer the first time you tried it? Real food will grow on you, and sooner rather than later fake food will taste vile to you and your family.
- Determine if you need to eliminate any foods to allow your body to heal (grains, dairy, eggs, etc.).
- Understand the difference between whole foods and traditional foods. Differences in production, processing and preparation can make all the difference in how your body can handle various foods.
- Buy organic.
- Buy local.
- Join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)
- Understand your values about food and what is important to you (how your meat is raised, raw or pasteurized dairy, soy-fed, no GMOs, etc.).
- Meet your local farmers and start to be comfortable asking them questions and get to know them to see if they meet your real food values.
- Learn to cook from scratch.
- Get the help you need to succeed – cookbooks and resources (such as meal plans) are invaluable so that you do not have to struggle.
- Enlist helpers you need in the kitchen such as your husband, kids, and even paid help to prep or clean up if you can afford it.
- Make extra – leftovers are key.
- Real food is not a diet – it is a lifestyle change. Understand the difference.
- Focus on nutrient density and quality over mainstream nutritional dogma. Look backward at traditional diets vs. forward to chemical $h*t storms.
- Focus on what you CAN have, not on all the things you can’t. Hooray for butter, coconut oil, and raw honey!
- Keep it simple and delicious and remember: fat adds flavor.
- Follow the 80/20 rule and be kind to yourself.
- Have fun with it!
Pin this helpful post here so you can refer back to it later! Want even more tips? Join my Real Food Homemade Mommy Community on Facebook here.
Resources to help you get started
The introduction section of Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon Morel is a quick and easy read that is so powerful in opening your eyes to what is real and what is fake. The 700+ recipes will help you get started with pretty much anything made from scratch and prepared in a traditional manner.
However, while Nourishing Traditions is certainly the real food bible, I found it not to be enough for most real food newbies (I know it wasn’t for me). This is because Sally assumes you know how to cook and understand basic cooking techniques. This is why I wrote my eBook, The Homemade Mommy Handbook. It is full of cooking techniques such as roasting, braising, fermenting, stock making, etc.
I am excited to announce that I am putting the finishing touches on my new eBook, The Real Food Survival Guide for Busy Moms. It
will be is NOW available by the end of the month! It will have has a lot more tips for real food newbies and busy moms alike + tons of my recipes.
Right now you can get both of my eBooks for only $29. That’s 20% off!
Hannah J @ Dreaming of Perfect says
Loved this! I’m not quite new, I’ve known about real food for a year, but I’m still not quite doing everything I should. It’s hard being a first time mom, to an 8 month old now, and trying to eat real food. Pinned this =)
I have a blog link-up on Fridays, called Free to Talk Friday, I hope you’ll come and join at dreamingofperfect.weebly.com
This is so helpful. Most of all, it is great motivation. I changed my eating habits at the beginning of the year after being diagnosed with PCOS, and struggling with infertility. It has made a HUGE difference in my life, but it is still hard to stay motivated from time to time. This list really helps!
Thank you for taking the time to post it!
Health & Organic Wellbeing (H.O.W.) says
Thank you for sharing!
thank you! this is an excellent list and I would agree with every step, it is very instinctual and it brought me down memory lane. When people talk to me about how they want, or should, make the switch to whole foods lifestyle, I would give them the very same tips! Seeing the similarities in our experience is confirming and encouraging in that this is a journey towards health that works for everyone and is long-lasting 🙂
ologsinquito at organicataldi says
I think so many people are afraid to take the first steps because it will mean a lifestyle change and it will take some work. If people only knew how much better they’d feel eating real food, they’d happily upgrade their menu. That’s why your advice on taking “baby steps” is so good.
MomMom @PassionateParent.com says
Thankful for your website and what you share. I’m curious about buying local and organic- is it not as important that something be organic if you buy it locally?
Lindsey G. says
Thank you! I prioritize local over organic. I am happy to eat fresh local peaches (no one has organic peaches where I live) than buy the awful tasting organic ones from the supermarket that were flown in from who knows where. This is a seasonal item so it isn’t like I am eating them all year round. I think it is worth it to eat something seasonal like that!
Lindsey G. says
To add – I think the important thing is to always ask questions directly to the farmer – if it doesn’t meet your requirements then move on!
This is a great list and I’m sure will help many people starting this journey!
Lindsey G. says
Thank you Terese!
Read this article before, but I really needed it again! I’ve been feeling totally depressed about not being able to afford real food. So tip #27 was incredibly just what I needed to hear! I CAN have raw milk, fresh, pastured eggs, coconut oil, the occasional pasture fed steak, and my mother in law kindly supplies my freezer with plenty of grass fed ground beef. And organic yogurt! What would I do without it!
Lindsey G. says
You just made my day with this comment! I know this can be discouraging and I am so happy to be of some help!
pleaseexplain the 80/20 rule. thank you