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For the past four weeks, we’ve been making significant strides towards a cleaner, fresher and healthier kitchen and grocery budget. The progress made this month has been extraordinary! Give yourselves a big pat on the back – you’ve made it to the end!
Today’s final challenge was originally going to be to review your grocery budget one last time. Is your grocery budget so important that it warrants three separate challenges? Absolutely yes, but a different topic has been weighing on my heart that I believe may benefit you all much more in the long run.
Day 22 – Don’t Give Up
Your challenge for today, and for the rest of your real food journey, is to not give up.
Eating wholesome, nourishing foods in today’s fast-food and convenience-oriented society is not easy. Whoever says otherwise is deceived. There are roadblocks at each meal planning session, fake food at fellowship pot-lucks and times where you feel defeated for buying tortillas with trans fat.
Your friends may not understand why you threw out an unopened jar of jelly and your family may think you’re crazy when you make clean-out-the-fridge soup for dinner instead of buying more chicken two days before payday.
But that’s ok.
Simply don’t give up. Remember why you started this journey 22 days ago in the first place.
- Nutritious Food
- Better Health
- Leaner Budget
So what have we learned so far?
Day 1: Clean Out the Fridge – we tend to keep food that isn’t good for us, and food that we don’t know what to do with… and every now and then, things get lost in the shelves…
Day 2: Eat Leftovers – eating up leftovers that DO taste good is one of our strong points… something to keep in mind when creating our menu plans
Day 3: Create a Grocery Budget – specific numbers for our budgets is all over the board, but one thing is common among us all –we realize the need for one and rejoice when we follow it
Day 4: Ditch Hydrogenated Oils – our eyes have been opened and we now know that no food is safe… we may make exceptions, but those are much fewer and far between
Day 5: Clean Out the Freezer – like the fridge, food gets lost easily in the freezer… this is something we should continue to work on and use to our advantage
Day 6: Eat a Simple Meal – simple meals are common and welcomed in our homes… another idea that we should use to our advantage
Day 7: Make Money – we seem to disregard income when it comes in small amounts… yet these can add up and really have a significant impact on our budgets if we let them
Day 8: Bake Bread – we enjoy baked bread, but struggle finding the time to actually make it… accounting for this in our menu plan and daily schedule should be given more thought
Day 9: Plan Meals for One Week– creating menu plans that fit our busy lives and seeing them through is a struggle for us…fortunately practice makes perfect and every week allows for another opportunity to practice
Day 10: Clean Out the Pantry & Cupboards – food isn’t rotting away in our cabinets, but the quality of the food we’re stocking is questionable… we’ve made it a point to use up what we have and replace it with better options
Day 11: Create a Signature Company Dish – this was tough for us, but we pulled through when we realized that hosting company is an opportunity to show hospitality, not stress
Day 12: Use Food Twice – using food twice wasn’t hard for us when we had ideas to get us going… again, something to keep in mind when meal planning and cooking
Day 13: Budget Check-In – being conscious of our budget since day one made a huge impact on how we spent out money and how we viewed our food… a fantastic frame of mind that should continue going forward
Day 14: Try a New Fat – we’re willing to pay more for quality fats, but we’re also very aware of the impact these have on our budgets… balancing the two and getting the most from our fats will be something we continue to work towards
Day 15: Make Something from Scratch – we are not afraid to step outside our comfort zone and make something from scratch… fantastic when most boxed and pre-packaged items are filled with unnecessary additives
Day 16: Ditch High Fructose Corn Syrup – this was found hidden in “healthy” foods and medicines… like trans fats, our eyes have been opened and no label is going unnoticed
Day 17: Create a Back-Up Plan – our well-meaning plans needed this, even if it’s unoriginal and “boring”… merely knowing what our options are alleviated the stress of failure
Day 18: Save Money – a natural counterpart when you have a budget to adhere to… not always easy to employ, but another simple tactic that can add up to great rewards
Day 19: Make Yogurt – we want to do this, but haven’t figured out the recipe that works best for us… fortunately there’s numerous ways to achieve the end result… we must continue to try and find the one that our families enjoy most
Day 20: Address Medications – unless we’ve had a personal experience with these, medicine isn’t something we’ve given much thought to… perhaps this will change as time goes on and the seasons change
Day 21: Go Meatless – collectively we enjoy meatless nights and surprisingly, so does our family… our budgets are fatter and our taste buds rejoiced… a tactic to definite keep and utilize
Every step hit each person differently. What was easy for one was very difficult for another. Our strategy going forward? Keep your eyes focused on the prize and continue to move forward. Do your best to make as many best choices as you can, as often as you can. Don’t worry if a poor decision slips in there. If it happens (and chances are it will), serve yourself a scoop of grace and keep going. A bad choice is not failure – it’s an opportunity to do better next time.
Don’t let your travels stop at day 22!
Day 21 Update
In January 2012, I challenged myself to make one meal each week meatless. Now one year later my family of four eats the equivalent of one chicken each month. When viewed in meal terms, we now eat meat twice a week.
Cutting back on our meat intake has been HUGE to our grocery budget, but it certainly did not happen overnight. We’ve learned to eat (and enjoy) beans, eat vegetable-based soup at least once a week and save meat-focused meals for special occasions. We’ve upped the vegetables in baked dishes, aren’t afraid to add good cheese and enjoy homemade yogurt nearly every day.
On top of all this, we’ve tried new spices and ethnic dishes that I ordinarily wouldn’t dare put on the menu – yet they’ve been requested over and over!