We've almost made it!! Tomorrow is our last day of the official revolution. How did we do? Am I going to continue on this journey to making better food choices? Did it break the bank (this is what most people want to know)? Over the next two days I will answer these very questions.
How did we do?
For a family that had absolutely no interest in eating better whatsoever, I think we did great!! Did we eat "real" food for every meal and snack for the entire 30 days? No. I've already shared that we cheated.
Our biggest success: for the past 30 days I did not purchase: ice cream (or any frozen treat), microwave popcorn, boxed cereal, regular syrup, frozen pancakes/waffles, chocolate covered granola bars, baked chips or regular chips (less the bag of tortilla chips that I did buy for a taco night but these had less than 5 ingrediants), animal crackers, gold fish (I miss the fishies!!), fruit snacks/roll ups, cookies, trail mix with chocolate chips, flavored yogurt/go-gurts (when I read what those really are I about puked!!!!!) boxed cake mix or boxed brownies, white noodles of any kind, pudding, cheese it's (no cheese in these crackers), frozen pizza (this one about killed me!!!!), salad dressing (I about died with this one too!!), Kraft American cheese slices and the list could continue but I am having a brain blank. Our cupboards remained largely empty because the products that I bought were either refridgerated or could be left out. What did I buy? Whole wheat flour to bake with (Great Harvest sells it for $1 a pound which is a GREAT deal for a good whole wheat flour!), honey whole wheat bread (pricey at Great Harvest but worth the expense!!), a lot of fruit, a lot of veggies, a lot of eggs, 1% milk (I changed to this from skim milk after reading a Michael Pollan book and may go to 2%), chicken, natural peanut butter (less than 5 ingrediants), sugar free raspberry jelly (also a Great Harvest find), Pirate's Booty as a snack, almonds, peanuts, cheese sticks (there are several with less than 5 ingrediants out there), good cheese slices, bacon, and olive oil. Obviously I bought more than this but again can't quite remember.
Did every recipe work? No way!! Some worked better than others and some I won't make again. I tried to keep our meals simple and enjoyable. I now embrace using up ALL of my food products-i.e. left overs-even when we had pasta for 3 days!! It helps to stretch that food dollar nicely. My goal for July is to bring back meals that we used prior to the revolution but revolutionize them so that they fit our continued goal to eat better food. For instance, I brought back the "easy" joe last week which the kids LOVE. For the sauce I used low sugar ketchup (no I haven't made my own yet), low sodium worscheshire sauce (5 ingrediants), and whole wheat buns from Great Harvest (if you call ahead they will make them special-they are HUGE so one bun will fill your peeps up). It was an oldie but a goodie. The kids also love chicken pesto. I plan on buying whole wheat noodles (which I've been using this past month without any issue) and will make my own pesto-I'm growing sweet basil and have pine nuts, so it's easy.
What about the cheating? I was so hopeful that I could remove all processed sugars and foods from our diets for 30 days. It didn't seem impossible or a stretch for that period of time. I was wrong!! Life happens. Sleepovers happen. Cook outs happen. Desperation for a quick meal happens. I will admit that I felt very guilty when the first slip occured-and it occured pretty early in the month. We went to a graduation party and the kids flipped. They wanted cake, and quite frankly so did I!! We talked all the way there about moderation-how taking one treat was acceptable but taking platefuls was not. But how do you monitor 5 kids while trying to socialize? How do you give them the evil eye when a nice Grandmotherly type is giving them a cookie? I chalked it up to the 20% and moved on. Then there were the Sunday School treats. Every Sunday the kids get candy (no, I do not believe that food should be used as a reward in any situation but friends it is and I accept it). It got to the point where the kids were shoving the candy into their mouths so I woudn't see them eating it. This was when my issue of hold on a minute this is not a good think with the hiding food started. I learned over the past month that there are situaitons where we all are going to have junk. Whether it's a cookie at the office, or candy at church. It is what it is. My long term goal is to instill in my kids self control and the ability to make good food choices for themselves. Isn't it better to teach them to eat one piece of the candy verses 3 or 4 and feel sick? Isn't it better to allow a special root beer at a cook out then have to waste my time policing my kids and missing out on meaningful conversations with family (meaningful being those chit chats with my sisters inlaw where we discuss very important topics like books and Pinterest!! I never had sisters so I love these chats!!)? Again that falls into the 20%.
So overall YES I think we did awesome!! I would say that way over 80% of the time, my family ate "real" food that was very good for them!! They didn't always like it, but that is not a result of the revolution-I have kids that don't like anything!!!!!!! It wasn't as hard as I anticipated but it was a challenge. I spent a lot of time in the kitchen (which I love) and got to spend some meaninful moments with my kids making new recipes (homemade poptarts were huge!!).
Did it break the bank?
Let's be honest. Anytime you are trying to feed a family it is expensive!! Feeding a family of 7 increases the likelihood that the budget will be stretched beyond the envelope. Please know that our food budget is stretched every month. I will stick to my statement that it is NOT too expensive to eat heathy food!!!!!!
For the month of June, I did go over budget. As of today, I am over budget $23. This is not a new phenominon. It is not like this is the only month that this has ever happened!! Last month (please note that for the month of May I did the breakfast revolution and was buying good food products) I had extra money so there are a lot of variables. The month before I was WAAAAAY short. Our budget is fluid and fluxtuates.
What I do notice is that the "healthy" snack choices are what cost the most. For instance, it was my choice to buy the Lara bars at Sams that cost $15. Did I need them? Nope. Could I have saved that $15 and bought 3 container of eggs, or milk, or cheese, or fresh fruit/veggies-yes!! There are also some things in our food budget that were more expensive but they were worth it. The 100% maple syrup was $13 a container at Sams but it lasted a long time. The honey was $12 and it also went a long way.
I did make more frequent visits to the store as the kids ate the fresh fruit up quickly!! Which obviously increased the cost factor, but I did save money by not purchasing the industrial sized chips/snacks that I typically purchase (big containers of gold fish, pretzles, etc) and fruit roll ups.
There were trade offs that I will continue to uphold. The biggest expense, in my opinion, is the bread. I did purchase all of our bread at Great Harvest for about $5.25 per loaf (I think it was $10.50 for 2 loaves). Initially comparing this to a $1.50 loaf of bread at Walmart does sound like a huge increase, but I was buying what I thought was good whole wheat bread (p.s. it wasn't good) for $3 per loaf that had ingrediants that I can't even pronounce. Now I will admit that if my kids wouldn't eat this costly bread, I wouldn't buy it!! But they do love it and to me it is worth it!! Plus they love going to see Anita and her staff-those free slices of yummy bread make the errand worth it!!! This is one of those "shake the hand that feeds you" moments that I feel good about. I know that Anita makes this bread with wholesome ingrediants and puts out the best product possible!! She and her staff know our family (it's pretty hard not to when 6 of us swarm the store a few times each week) and we have built a relationship. In this day and age, that is pretty remarkable.
How will we handle the budget for next month? I'm not sure. I am actually considering the creation of a new envelope that would break some expenses out of the grocery budget. It is time to revisit the expectation of including items like toilet paper, paper towels, laundry detergent etc. being included in the grocery money. I like the idea of making this change, so we will see. I do know that I am going to be very aware of the "snack" items that I do buy. Perhaps waiting until mid month to purchase things like the Lara bars or extra bread will help to stretch the food dollar? I do know that I will not be going back to purchasing the snack items of the past-much to the dismay of my kids, chocolate covered granola bars will not be making an appearance in our grocery cart!!!
Tomorrow's post-where do we go from here?????