We know that making changes to your diet can seem incredibly overwhelming, but taking things one step at a time can make the process incredibly manageable. Here we’ve got a few tips to help you, and we recommend picking one item per week (or every other week), to get the ball rolling.
You CAN cut out processed food! As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and cutting out processed food can take time. But just remember: slow and steady wins the race! Here are our tips to help!
1. Keep Breakfast Simple (and prepare it ahead!)
Sure, we all love reaching for a frozen waffle on busy mornings, but it takes the same amount of time to toast a piece of whole wheat bread, or reheat a homemade whole wheat frozen waffle! Try to keep things like egg muffins and whole wheat waffles or pancakes in the freezer for those busy mornings and you won’t have to stop for a Mc-something on the way to work! We also love smoothie packs for the freezer – measure your ingredients and store them in freezer bags. Just toss them in the blender in the morning and drink up!
If you plan elaborate frittatas and egg bakes and smoothie bowls for every day of the week, youll probably burn out! And nobody wants to waste precious morning minutes. Make your meals ahead of time and keep the AM prep super simple.
Frozen Smoothie Packs (100daysofrealfood.com)
Whole Wheat Waffles (100daysofrealfood.com)
Egg Muffins (frugalnutrition.com)
Single-Serve Overnight Oats (frugalnutrition.com)
Paleo Sausage Egg McMuffin (nomnompaleo.com)
2. Befriend Your Freezer (and sometimes, your pantry)
Nobody wants to spend 10 hours a week in the kitchen making every meal from scratch. Which is why you should get super close with your freezer. You can cook in bulk and separate the meals into individual freezer bags, and you can keep emergency items like frozen vegetables, cooked beans and meat, and homemade snacks to keep you from making impulse purchases on your way home from work. Cook in bulk and freeze the extras!
You can also buy certain staples in bulk, such as nuts, oats, lentils, and other beans, to keep on hand at all times. It is easy to pull meals together when you have quick-cooking lentils (for lentil bolognese), oats (overnight oats!), and nuts (easy trail mix).
3. Replace Fake with Real
This one seems the most straightforward, but it isn’t as simple as it seems! Many of us grew up thinking our favorite brands of maple syrup (Log Cabin, Mrs. Butterworth’s) were legit, but they’re fake imitations of the real deal! And if you were born in the 60s, 70s, or 80s, you probably had your fair share of super processed food items masquerading as the real deal. Other common imitations to replace immediately include: margarine, vanilla “essence,” coffee creamer, jelly and jam, and anything with “flavor” in the title. Vanilla Flavor is NOT vanilla! You can even make your own butter, coffee creamer, and vanilla extract if you dont want to buy it.
Homemade Vanilla Coffee Creamer (getfreshsd.com)
Homemade Mocha Coffee Creamer and Iced Mocha (getfreshsd.com)
Homemade Butter (justataste.com)
Vanilla Extract (100daysofrealfood.com)
Easy Raspberry Chia Jam (frugalnutrition.com)
4. Make Homemade Salad Dressings and Sauces
This one is EASY! You can make an awesome salad dressing with olive oil and balsamic and never miss the bottled stuff. There are tons of delicious salad dressing recipes that we highly recommend! It is as simple as adding a few (sometimes only 2!) ingredients to a jar and shaking it vigorously. BOOM: easy salad dressing. There are tons of other sauces and condiments you can slowly begin to replace with homemade versions. Toss out those jars and bottles crowding your fridge door you probably dont use half of them anyway.
Balsamic Vinaigrette (thekithn.com)
Simple Mustard Vinaigrette (100daysofrealfood.com)
Basil Lemon Parmesan Dressing (frugalnutrition.com)
How to Make Kale Pesto (frugalnutrition.com)
Homemade Paleo Sriracha (nomnompaleo.com)
Paleo Mayonnaise (nomnompaleo.com)
5. Eat All the Junk Food You Want – As Long As You Make It Yourself
This tip comes straight from Michael Pollan, and we couldn’t agree more. It takes a little bit more time and effort to make junk food – from perfectly crispy French fries, to homemade cookies and brownies – so they’re not something you would make everyday. Therefore, if you vow to make your junk food, you will automatically consume less of it. And the stuff you do eat will be free from artificial additives and preservatives. We’ve got a few recipes to get you started. [Also if you use unhealthy ingredients like white sugar and brown sugar in your homemade junk food, theyll still be about a thousand times healthier than the boxed mixed and store-bought varieties!]
Peanut Butter Banana Chocolate Oat Cookies (frugalnutrition.com)
Baked Curly Fries (frugalnutrition.com)
Easy Cheesy Crackers (100daysofrealfood.com)
Bacon-Wrapped Almond-Stuffed Dates (iowagirleats.com)
Article: The Importance of Junk Food (100daysofrealfood.com)
Real Food Recipes to Replace Favorite Junk Foods (deliciousobsessions.com)
6. Read Ingredients, NOT Calories
Many of us look straight to the calories and carbohydrates when reading labels at the grocery store, but more importantly, we should be checking out the ingredients! Calories dont tell you how processed a product is, but ingredients sure do! Watch out for anything you cant pronounce, and try to only buy items that have 5 ingredients or fewer. If you want to look at the nutrition label, look at sugars and sodium if those two are incredibly high, thats a hint that the item is probably highly processed.
Bonus: Let Us Help!
We weren’t going to leave you hanging – we’re always here to help! You can order healthy Get Fresh SD meals for everyday of the week, and we’ll do all the work!