Each and every week your shopping trolley is filled with mountains of processed packaged foods and you can’t miss the fact that the plastic waste from these foods fills your weekly rubbish bin to the brim. And you know that’s it not so good for your family’s health. “Eat less processed, packaged foods” “Switch to wholefoods” may feature on your list of goals for 2020, like it was for 2019, and the year before BUT it seems so hard. So to help you really make a change in 2020, I’ve come up with a few tips to get you started.
Step 1: Understand your ‘why’
In order to succeed at your goals, you need to understand the why. What is driving you to strive for these goals? Do you have a #child who suffers chronic health or #behaviour issues? Do you want to reduce your family’s environmental footprint? Do you want to reduce your grocery bill? Do you want to prevent health problems in the future?
Write down your reasons. Make it beautiful. Put it on the fridge. Be prepared to justify why you are making these changes.
Step 2: Feel supported
You are more likely to succeed if you are supported. Now that you have acknowledged your why, it’s time to share these reasons with your family. Is hubby on board? Are your kids open to change too? Can you work together as a family unit to make the switch? This also extends to the wider family/friends if they are significantly involved in looking after your family. It’s not going to work if Nan looks after the kids 3 days a week and feeds them biscuits, cakes and lollies!
Sit down with the family and talk about your why. Listen to what they think they will find difficult. Work through the obstacles together.
Step 3: Audit your pantry, fridge & freezer
It’s time to get organised. Go through every shelf in your pantry. Take out the food and clean the shelf. Discard items that are beyond their ‘use by’ date, mouldy or otherwise inedible. For items, that have gone beyond a ‘best before’, they are probably still OK to use up soon. Now, isolate the items that are processed/packaged eg chips, biscuits, sauces, put them in a box for now. Only return items that are just #wholefood or #realfoods eg rice, beans, nuts, seeds, flour, honey, tea, coffee etc.
Repeat this process with the fridge and freezer
Step 4: Plan your meal
Take an hour (this will get quicker, I promise!) to plan your week’s meals. If you’re not used to cooking, you may need to find recipes online (I like wellnourished.com, and also use taste quite a lot too). Include breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks in your plan. List all the processed snacks your family eat and find alternatives together. Snacks can be nuts, seeds, fruit, veg sticks & dips, baked goods like veggie muffins, cookies etc. Get the kids and hubby to give ideas for dinners too.
As you meal plan, make your shopping list – I like to order mine into sections of the supermarket or the different shops I visit eg butcher, fruit & veg, bakery etc. Don’t forget to check back to your pantry/fridge/freezer to see what you already have or needs using soon.
If meal planning and finding recipes is in the too hard basket for you that's fine; I have ready made meal plans available for purchase here.
Step 5: Shopping
Time to go shopping! Arm yourself with your list and make sure you read the labels. Look for foods that only contain #wholefoods, so this means avoiding those with lots of numbers, words you don’t understand or very long ingredient lists. Also watch out for sugar – it’s added to so many things. Compare brands eg one brand of peanut butter may be better than another. As a general rule, stick to the perimeter of the supermarket where the fruit, veggies, meats, dairy are found. Also be careful in the ‘health food’ section, as these are not necessarily what they may appear to be – they can often hide chemicals and be highly processed too.
Step 6: Weekly Food Prep
Before your week starts, you may need to get a few things prepped or baked ahead. I often bake muffins or slices and keep in the freezer until needed. I also cut up some fruit or veg for the next day, hard boil a few eggs or roast a chicken. This helps with lunchboxes and weekday dinners. The more prepared you are, the more likely you are to succeed and less likely to fall back on convenience foods and takeaways.
It won’t be easy to start, but the school holiday is a more relaxed time to begin. With the kids at home, you can enjoy baking and prepping together and trying out new foods. If they are reluctant to make the switch, don’t give in. Don’t let them help themselves to the box of foods you isolated in step 3.
Now, what to do with that box from step 3? It’s up to you really – either use the items up as occasional foods over the coming weeks, but don’t replace them when you go shopping, or my preferred option is to get rid of the box. It seems wasteful to just throw away into the bin so you might know of someone who isn’t ready to transition their family to wholefoods in which case if they are buying these items anyway you may as well pass it on, alternatively, there may be a local food bank or person in need who can make use of the items.
Your switch to wholefoods is totally do-able in 2020. It may not go smoothly, there will be ups and downs but with your ‘why’ in place, support and lots of planning, it is achievable. With a couple of weeks left these school holidays, why don’t you make the switch?