lazy gals survival guide : simple eating

Hey guys! We’ll be returning and covering some more of The Great Purge aspect of the Lazy Gal’s guide asap. Don’t worry…we haven’t quit. Or fallen again. Or died. Yet. I have plenty more to share on that topic alone.

Today, we wanted to take a break from that and discuss another aspect in the queue. A few weeks ago the TV was on a commercial break for the kids (which is an entirely different subject matter on the topic of simplification and what we allow to infiltrate our homes in the form of media… but alas digression at its finest) and this cereal with a dancing animal was parading around proclaiming: “NOW, with even MORE COLORS!” (Cue neon colors in small sugary balls floating on the screen. Cue my children proclaiming that they WANT THAT!)

And for some reason a light bulb went off. It irked me in ways I couldn’t quite put my finger on. I wondered, Do we realize how stupid we sound? I mean, seriously. The ad with said dancing animal is promising to inject our children with more dyes. And sugars. And various other processed whatnots.

Hurray! Take me to the store now! I want to fill my children’s small, growing bodies and developing minds with more crap! I mean, isn’t this like the 50’s where pregnant women smoked and drank all in the name of good times? And now we look back and realize how idiotic we were. What will we be saying about ourselves and the choices we made in 20 years? How about 40? And most importantly, why are we listening to a dancing rabbit?

And then the second realization hit me that’s always looming there, waiting with guilt in the background: I haven’t been that diligent about what my children eat. I’ve actually, if I’m being really honest all in the name of survival mode, been pretty lax. And I love Trix.

avocado

Why is figuring out what to eat so difficult? Is it because we’re plugged into a society that promises us weight loss instead of a healthy lifestyle? The answer is pills in the place of purer foods? Fancy packaging and celeb endorsements and expensive programs and brighter colors marketed to our children as soon as they can watch television… rather than simply eating better?

Let me clarify, if I haven’t been formerly crystal: This is my journey. I’m writing this because I want to do better. You guys are probably already ahead of me on this one. While I’m not terrible, I certainly have my vices. Dark chocolate is to die for, and everything is better with cheese. Palmetto cheese with jalapenos in particular is something I’ll be locked away for when you try to take it away from me and I shave off your eyebrows in protest. I love a good hamburger, pizza, and brownies with ice cream. We won’t even touch Cadbury Eggs or Krispy Kreme. I think we’re allowed to enjoy our lives. But the key here, just like everything else in this series is striking a balance. Striving for better.

It’s not the thing (insert stuff or food or item, here) alone that is bad. It’s the excess of it. Which brings me back to the original question:

Why are we bogged down with so much excess? Everywhere?

home_made_bread

I’m on a quest for simple living. Pure eating is a part of that. And I want to share it, just like our purging process, here with you. It’s a part of that, after all. This lifestyle change I’ve been referring to, isn’t contained in it’s dainty little box to one section of my life. It’s slowly bleeding past the borders of my pretty preset boundaries… and it scares me, in a good way. But I’m also terrified when I step back and realize how negligent I’ve been.

I don’t have to do a perfect job. This will be a journey. When it comes down to it, I want to empower my children to make healthy choices and in turn, have a healthier life. Most importantly, I don’t want healthy eating to become a chore for our family. Isn’t that the key? It seems overwhelming to worry about dinner, when there’s two tests and a report and a deadline for work… and a box of hamburger helper waiting to be thrown on the stovetop. It has to be attainable.

homemade_bread

Simple home made bread made with this recipe (whole wheat flour, substituted)- It didn’t rise just like I wanted, but I’m super proud and it’s super delish… minus all the unnecessary additives.

But I think it’s time I asked some important questions. I think it’s time I questioned what we’re eating. Why people in our country have some of the health problems that they do. I think it’s time I asked who on earth is really in charge of what we put into our bodies.

I want to enjoy food from the ground as God intended it. That’s something of a rarity, these days. It’s embellished, packaged, enhanced and bedazzled.

oven_roasted_tomatoes

Here’s a few things happening now on our end that we hope to share:

• Meals have become a family time. 

While this may sound silly and we’ll share more on this later, there are ways we hope to include the kids in our meal prep, as well as the meal itself, in order to get them interested in the process of food, and thinking about ingredients. They’re at an impressionable age. They’re also picky eaters. We’re doing things like baking our own bread (Why does store bought bread have so many complicated ingredients? Why is it pushed on us as “okay?”) Jamin is a total foodie, and while he doesn’t realize it yet, I’m challenging him on this one. I am to food as he is to purging. It’s time to make a change, and we can’t wait to share some recipes with you.

• We’re cutting back on eating out 

We started to look at our budget and living lives of excess. We were amazed at how much of our money went to food …and how much of that money for food went to eating out. When we’re in control of the kitchen, we know what we’re putting into our bodies. This also means basic things like no more Lunchables for our kids for lunch. (That one sounds easy. It’s not. Three prepped meals the night before when I just want to lie down and watch The Vampire Diaries? It’s exhausting. First world problems. But worth it for my kiddos, and attainable by planning ahead. Digression again.) We’re slowly whittling away at the bad stuff. The filler foods. The junk. It’s taking some time, and it’s a lot to tackle. But we will get there.

quinoa_recipe

Quinoa recipe : oven roasted tomatoes, grilled onions, avocado, feta + quinoa. Inspired by Kasey Buick via Instagram

• We’re growing some of our own food

I think there’s a lot to be said about being self sufficient in terms of, wait for it… gardening. Everyone who has ever known me, is now officially howling with laughter at this moment in time. I’m afraid of bugs and I don’t really like to touch dirt because I have this ridiculous fear that a huge spider or roach or giant tracker jacker is waiting to jump on me and slaughter my face. The fact that I haven’t a green thumb in my body, isn’t deterring me as it would a rational person. But I believe if I can get my children involved in the process, there’s a greater chance of them being excited about actually cultivating their own food, and ultimately consuming it. It’s also kind of a duh factor, that if we can grow our own food, we will most definitely survive the inevitable looming zombie apocalypse. {Hello… the back yard bungalow isn’t for playing. It’s for guarding our home at night} All stupidness aside, valuable lessons to be taught and learned on that end alone. I believe we were given the earth to care for it, and in turn, see what it rewards us with in terms of produce. We can’t all be farmers, but I think we can do a little something in our own back yards. How awesome is that simple process? I’m using it to plant seasonal flowers and then pout because they die when I don’t water them. I think we’re missing out on something potentially great.

I long for a simpler life.

It will take a while.

I intend to savor the process of getting there.

I hope you’ll join me.

simplicity

(I thought you’d enjoy this nice little reminder, if you’re fired up like me. Free printable, from the super sweet Sam Wilcox, here. I am touched, and had to share that she made this beautiful little work of art!)

So it’s your turn. What processes have you guys already started in your own homes? What do you do? What do you struggle with? What topics do you wish to cover?

Please share! I’ll ask it again: Who’s with me?

For Narnia! {And zombies!}


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58 Responses to lazy gals survival guide : simple eating

  1. jaime says:

    I’m with you! We cut out Lunchables this year too. It takes more planning, but once it becomes a routine, it’s not so bad. I have gotten the kids to start helping with making their lunches, and it has eliminated the complaining about what is in them.
    Have you tried Artisan Bread in 5 a day? So easy & so good! http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/2010/02/09/back-to-basics-tips-and-techniques-to-create-a-great-loaf-in-5-minutes-a-day

  2. Denise says:

    I have come to the realization lately that I am to blame for my kids poor eating habits. Really they will eat what I put in front of them, I just don’t put much of the healthy stuff in front of them. Because honestly the pre-cooked, pre-packaged stuff is easier and faster. But, I have been feeling convicted lately. I know that we should all be eating healthier. I am trying, slowly, but never the less trying. Bought a bunch of fruit instead of cookies for snacks this grocery trip. Keep on keeping on!!

  3. Pretty, thick gardening gloves. They are my savior. I also hate spiders and worms and centipedes, OH GEEZ CENTIPEDES, but the gloves do it. Also, we built a small raised garden (maybe 3*5) and I swear there are less bugs in there.

    Good luck! Loving the journey!

  4. Lilias Lewis says:

    Hi Ashley, recently found your blog thru I heart organizing, and I love it! I feel like I started on a similar path to simplify over the past year from decluttering (work in progress), and being more mindful of our eating habits. I found a lot of inspiration on eating better from http://www.100daysofrealfood.com and also http://www.melskitchencafe.com. I also love The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila.

    Good luck on your journey (and ask for a bread machine for your birthday)! I look forward to following your endeavors of 2013:)

    Lilias

  5. Kathleen says:

    I too am trying to make changes similar to yours. I am diligently planning our meals for the week. It makes grocery shopping and my life so much easier for the week. I get the my kids and my awesome husband’s input as to what they would like for the week and we write the menu on the chalkboard. We try to eat a wide variety of things and I love to try new food just to keep life interesting. BTW, raised garden beds are the way to go. You can control the soil and the weeds aren’t quite as bad to control. Best wishes !

  6. layla k says:

    Um, this healthier food looks deeeelish. We’ve been wanting to eat simpler, as well. I am with you!

  7. Jenna says:

    I am with you!

  8. JT says:

    These are some really great thoughts. Things I’ve been on the brink of for a while now, but I think it’s time to try something different. I can not wait to see what you are up to! I love this idea. Great thoughts!

  9. Anna says:

    I am all about some gardening. I can not wait to see what you guys do!

  10. So, we had guests this past weekend and we ate out on Friday (ahem…actually every) night and on the way home we stopped at KK. I don’t even need to type out the acronym because I’m sure we all understand. Long story short, we all inhaled a dozen, or 7, and then passed out just shy of a diabetic coma. The next evening after dinner, our 9 year-old asked “Are there any donuts left?” When she was told no, she proceeded to fall apart right before our very eyes. “Are you serious? (Insert “Yes”) What’s for dessert? (Insert “Nada”) “What?!? Ugh. I was really wanting dessert! Can we go back to KK?” (Insert “NO.”)
    At this point I began to realize that maybe we are setting a poor example by having a “snack” most nights after dinner. Is it really necessary? Of course not. I’m so glad that I’m not the only one with a body that has been craving less JUNK….in all areas of life.
    Whew.

  11. Bethany says:

    I’m in. We’ve been doing a lot of simplifying in our lives lately. It’s way past time. We’ve been married 15 years and have never once had a budget. We don’t balance our checkbook and I have no idea what’s in our checking account (my husband just says “take it easy until pay day” and I do). That’s a ridiculous way to live. So are now using Mint (on our computer, ipad and iphones) to track everything and I mean EVERYTHING. It’s amazing how we’ve noticed how much money is wasted on eating out and other stupid thigns. So we’ve budgeted ourselves to one dinner out a week. Funny thing is we haven’t been to dinner out in 3 weeks and I don’t miss it for a minute.
    I enjoy cooking at home. Taking care of what God has given me. Doing things with my son rather than buying things (thankfully this is nothing we’ve ever struggled with – we are doers not buyers).
    My husband and son have recently taking up hunting (and they scored three huge deer this season) and while I’m not a HUGE deer fan yet, it’s good and super healthy – so we are being intentional about cooking it (which is also helping our food budget).
    I’ve recently purged several closests (and have a few more to go), the kitchen and garage. I either gave stuff away, or chucked it. It’s so freeing.
    Regarding a garden – I’ve always done one but skipped it last year and I regretted it all season. This year I will be doing one again. It’s not to big, but anything helps and is a fun hobby.
    I look forward to following your process and see how your garden turns out. Please share as you can what you are doing/planting/harvesting when the time comes.

    • Cindy says:

      Hi Bethany-

      My husband is also a hunter, and I’m not a huge venison fan. I usually cook with half venison meat, half something else. We’ve had success with that, because free meat! Here’s to baby steps and to acquired tastes.

    • Amber says:

      My husband hunts too and I mainly use ground venison! Healthier and you can’t taste the difference when it’s in something. I’m starting to like it more!

  12. Definitely with you on this one!

  13. Tania says:

    Love this post…well, pretty much feel inspired by all your posts! Thanks!

  14. Sarah says:

    I love, love, LOVE this post! One of my goals this year is to live simply…and we are well on our way. The house has been purged of a lot of ‘things’ and we haven’t stopped there. Yet somehow food didn’t immediately make it into my consciousness when embracing a simpler lifestyle. I have an oh so picky eater, and although he eats well, it could be better. As a full time student, mom, and wife, I often put my own healthy eating on the back burner in favor of my family’s needs. I needed this and will likely refer to it regularly. It sounds like we are having similar epiphanies as of late, and I look forward to more of your insights.

  15. I’m so with you, Sisterfriend!

    I just made rolls — with YEAST! And they worked! Feeling so rockstar right now.

  16. Lynsey Braggs says:

    Ashley, this post is wonderful. I feel like you’re in my brain!My husband and I have been talking about doubling our garden this year and putting more fresh foods up. Canning and freezing and such. Can’t wait to read more of your journey!

  17. Cindy says:

    I started making my own bread years ago and haven’t regretted it. It takes more time and planning — after all, half of what you pay for in the store is the convenience — but it is way worth it. I remember standing on the bread aisle at one point and staring at $2 bread and suddenly realizing, “Women with less time, less money, and less equipment have been doing this by themselves for THOUSANDS OF YEARS.”

    My struggle is to remember that I am on a journey and that I don’t have to do the whole thing all at once. I once heard an environmentalist say, “Just find one thing that you can do sustainably, and do it. Then when you’ve done it, find one more thing.”

  18. Colleen says:

    Oh yes, I’m with you and have been “already there” with certain aspects for years now. I stopped drinking any kind of soda about 6 years ago. I drink water and ice tea (unsweetened) (don’t worry you get used to it) and occasional alcohol (wine, beer, rum :) We grow a garden every year now and I have to say that heading out to the garden with my little basket to harvest what we’ve grown is a seriously satisfying moment for me. I love it and it’s almost like a form of meditation. I heard someone say once that if you can’t grow it, you shouldn’t eat it. That pretty much says it all. No processed food. I will get there someday, but I’m not quite there yet. I buy organic whenever I can (fruits, veggies, meats) and stopped eating things like Cheetos and other garbage that has GMO’s that our bodies have no idea what to do with because it does not recognize it as a food. It’s not easy making a transition from the habits we’ve all formed as kids and now adults, but doing something to make a step in that direction is better than nothing at all. The FDA and other agencies are not working in the best interest of the consumer, they are run by special interests and driven by the almighty dollar. It’s really every man/woman for themselves in the fight to find healthy choices. I watched a few great documentaries that you might like to: “Food, Inc.” and “Food Matters”. Watch them and you’ll never see our food supply the same again. Good luck! Just remember, baby steps…

  19. Colleen says:

    One more thing about bread. I was just talking to my mom about making our own bread and she mentioned that she bought a book at Costco about starters, so we’re going to make a starter for bread and share it. Real good yeast has antioxidant qualities, etc., and is good for you. So no need to buy that package of yeast from the store that has all the other junk in it. I can’t wait to try it out!

  20. Chaney says:

    Oh my, what a great (and challenging!!) post, Ashley. I’m feeling the need to do so many of the things you mentioned. We’ve started cooking more at home recently for budget and healthy-eating reasons. You have to, you know, plan ahead, and stuff… which is hard! :) I’m with you in this one – accountability is so key!

  21. Tennille says:

    Still with you Ashley. And I’m so glad you’re covering this part of making life simpler because so much is connected to what we put in our bodies. My husband and I have been on this journey for about 8 years and in the process have lost a combined 150lbs!!! It all started with butter and bounce sheets. Maybe I’ll write a book on the process someday. I could offer you tons of advice but I’ll just share a few things that were really pivotal for us. First of all, “Everything in moderation” is CRAP!!! You would never say this to a heroine addict so why would you say this to someone who is addicted to sugar and processed food? Some things in moderation yes, and some things not any more. For my husband and I, although we were not huge pop (what you call soda) drinkers we decided that other than a few cans of gingerale on hand for xmas punch and the annual round of the flu, pop was no longer welcome in our home. Which leads me to point number 2. If you don’t want to eat it, don’t bring it into your home. You won’t want it if it’s not there but will find yourself hiding in the pantry shovelling handfuls of potato chips into your mouth, barely breathing in between bites if it is. Third, eat real food. Plain and simple. Although you will probably have a bit of a panic attack when you realize the price difference between butter and margarine your body will thank later. A friend once said to me, “would you rather spend your money on food or medication?” I choose food everytime. Next, try to automate at least one meal a day until you feel like you have a handle on your healthy eating habit. For us, this means we ate the same breakfast every morning for about 5 years. I started out with a poached egg on a slice of whole grain toast with a banana and a glass of milk. Everyday. Eventually, it progressed to boiled eggs, no toast, grapefruit and a latte. I now have a variety of things but it still usually includes a protein and some fruit, a latte and very few carbs but some fiber. Food should be fuel and if we wake up thinking “what do I FEEL like eating today” we’re going to get ourselves in trouble. I don’t know about you but most days I’d rather eat six choc chip cookies for breakfast rather than a boiled egg. Or at least that’s what I used to think. Lastly, and there’s so much more I could add, it’s really important to educate yourself about food. Don’t buy into the whole low fat, count calories craziness. A hundred years ago people ate red meat, full fat milk, cream, butter, cheese and were a whole heck of a lot healthier and dare I say thinner than we are today. Watch Food Inc. Lastly, if you want to be truly successful you’re going to have to go through sugar detox. I’d recommend at least 21 days but aim for 30. It sucks at first but once you get through the first week you’re good to go. Then, take a little extra time when you’re at the store to read food labels. Swap out your favorite p-nut butter for all natural. If the kids hate it add a little honey until they get used to it. Find your favorite salad dressings made without sugar or better yet learn how to make your own and sweeten them with liquid stevia if you need a little sweetness. You can do this and you will feel, sleep and be a much better you once you have seriously limited your sugar in take and filled your belly with yummy nutrious food. Check out thenutritiousgourmet.com for some healthy recipes.

  22. Vicki says:

    Such a great post!

    I’m also trying to eat healthier. I’ve cut out most processed foods. Although it is less convenient, I do feel a lot better about myself. I’d love for you to share some recipes!

  23. Mary says:

    Wow! I hear you!! I too am on a journey to a more simple lifestyle and food has been a big part of that journey for me the last few months-among other things! It is so much more difficult than one would think, with so many powerful food companies trying to sway us- and honestly- trying to deceive us as well!
    I have been devouring books on simplicity and organization and eating clean, as well as your posts!! :-) I am reading a book now called The Zero Waste Lifestyle by Amy Korst in my effort to reduce/reuse/recycle which, goes hand in hand with clean eating, as well as a simpler lifestyle. Would love to find out your opinion/methods for the 3 R’s!! It takes some effort to set yourself up- but once you have a system, it should be easy to keep up. (We will see! Still working on it!) :-)

  24. Vanessa says:

    The first change I made several years ago was to buy butter instead of margarine. As I learn about healthy food, I am slowly making changes. Now I am making my own chicken stock and just started making my own yogurt. I am also ready to try making my own bread. I grew up in what I call the Kool-Aid generation and that is all we drank. I still struggle with sugar addiction and am trying to drink more water this year (some days are better than others).

    I am also hoping to start a garden this year. This is major progress for this city girl who killed every single houseplant that I have had over the years! We are planning to start with a small raised bed garden and I am looking forward to getting started in the spring.

    I am excited to read more about the changes you make and make some changes myself.

  25. Megan B says:

    Thank you for cutting out Lunchables. I’m convinced they are the devil! It took every ounce of self-control to not tell a lady to just put down the Lunchables at the grocery store yesterday. That’s how much I detest them.
    I really like to cook so we eat most things from scratch, and thankfully, my kids aren’t picky. BUT, one of my issues this year has been snack at my son’s school. At the beginning of the school year, I just packed an extra fruit or vegetable for him to eat at snack. It was great–an extra serving of something healthy each day–yea! Then the teacher (who I love, but….) decided to assign the parents a day each month to bring in the snack for whole class. I thought it would continue to be something healthy, but man does my kid now ingest a lot of crap! Teddy Grahams, Goldfish, Fruit Roll-ups (seriously?). I don’t mind crackers in general, but when my son chose to fill up on them instead of eating the nutritious lunch I packed, I was kind of annoyed. Thankfully, he’s learned a little bit about moderation and even skips snack some days because he’s busy at the other centers in the classroom. And I just make sure his lunch is junk-free, but still…..an extra serving of processed food wasn’t really part of the plan when he started school.

    And that ends my rant. Sorry about that! I’m totally going to make the bread recipe you posted. Thanks!

  26. Jamie says:

    I am with you! Im the opposite of most moms, my daughter HATES that I let her eat lunchables, frozen foods and fast food. If she had it her way we would grow everything we eat and I would cook it every night! So, I have started us a garden this year, and have made it my goal to feed us both healthy snacks and dinners at least through the work week and then we can compromise on the weekends, cause momma has to have her pizza at some point ;o)
    Thanks for another great post!

  27. Jane says:

    You are so on the right track and so many people are trying to eat cleaner so this is a really great, inspiring post. No matter how you dice it (!!), cooking simple healthy food is not as simpler as it sounds. It takes good planning, more time and thought in shopping for fresh food and ingredients, and some thought into what you make so your kids will like it and want it again…it takes time to get into good habits but then it will become second nature. I am by no means a stickler for healthy foods, We eat our share of junk and order out, but at least five nights a week I cook and try to come up with something creative. Eating together is a fun idea, too. It makes everyone feel included in the goal of a healthy, simpler way of eating.

    Wow, I hope I don’t sound too preachy!! I’m really not like that all. I’m trying to lose weight, one daughter won’t eat anything but chicken, another one will eat anything but chicken, and my hubby is a big meat and potatoes man!! I had to do a lot of heavy thinking to get to this point. But it’s worth it and you are starting early with your young family. Lot’s of luck and keep us posted on how it all works out! :)

    XO,
    Jane

    • Jane – you are not preachy at all. I feel like I’m in good company with your kind comment! it is SO challenging. Sometimes, carrot sticks and organic chicken and green beans will suffice for a great meal, too. Sometimes we just stick to the super basic. It doesn’t have to be gourmet, and I have to remind myself that or we will never make it! So we are just really working our way there because it is a LOT of work. I am putting that fresh bread in their lunches tomorrow, and preparing for the backlash. ;} They are SO picky!!! Thank you for being so encouraging. ;}

  28. Mindi says:

    I love love love your blog and this is a topic so close to my heart at the moment as well!!!
    I have been struggling with the “baby weight” and still have 25 pounds to lose. Maybe I should mention my baby is 5… ahem.
    Anyhow, I have started working out more regularly and making healthier meals. One thing I think you will notice once you start getting rid of the artificial is if you need to go back to it “just this once” just how artificial it tastes! Our taste buds have become accustomed to fake flavors. It’s crazy!!
    It was hard for my kids to give up their pop tarts but once you quite buying them they eventually quit asking.
    I am so excited to follow you on this journey! I can’t wait to see what great things you are going to do!!

  29. Sue Lambrix says:

    Ahhhhhhhh……………..love, love this post. It is so the direction I am headed more and more every day. My kids are grown, but I so frustrated with all the recipes I have accumulated and continue to stack up. Time to throw them away and get back to basics and what we enjoy. I will forward this to my daughter…………she will love it
    Thank you

  30. Darcie says:

    Our family (we have 4 young children) has been on a very similar journey. We started just a few years ago & already we’re surprised that they don’t complain about green smoothies anymore, whole wheat bread/pasta/rice taste JUST fine to them, & they actually dislike the thought of school lunches. :) Give yourself grace — take itty, bitty baby steps…ones you’ll be so grateful that you took! There are a few books that have been very helpful to us in understanding the consequences of what we feed our family. Michael Pollan has written two great books — one is called The Omnivore’s Dilemma and the other, In Defense of Food. I also loved Barbara Kingsolver’s book called Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It is about a complete eating transformation that took place in her family’s life. It is FILLED with tons of information about how food gets from the ground to our table. FASCINATING!
    Blessings to you on your journey!

  31. Rachel says:

    I love love love your thoughts on this. I feel like we’re kindred spirits – especially when you mentioned Krispy Kreme and shouted “For Narnia!” at the end, haha. Totally loved it. But seriously, I do long for a simpler life. The husband and I have already started cutting back on eating out, and meal times are always family time. And I really want to start growing some of my own food. I do believe the Lord gave us the earth to till the ground. I want to partake in that simplicity and beauty.

  32. Alison says:

    I am SO with you Ashley! Reading you ‘Lazy Gal’s Guide’ is just like reading what’s been happening in my life, what I want to happen, and want I want to write about….only I’ve been too lazy to do so. I’ve started out Great Purge – and I ahve a receipt from the skip bin company (not sure what you call them in the US, bulk rubbish bin), that says they took away 1.013 TONNE of rubbish from my house. Not all my rubbish, but still. And then the Salvation Army came and took away about 20 garbage bags of items, boxes of books and household items and various other goods. And there is *still* more. But it’s underway, and it is good.

    I just posted today about the changes I want to make, and knowing that I cannot make them in my own strength. ‘Cleaner eating’ is one of my top priorities, especially as I have some health issues that are related to diet, and made better by eating as ‘whole’ as I can. Our eating is always *so* much better when I menu plan, but like most things in my life, this has been something that has been sporadic, so I’m currently doing the Meal Planning Boot Camp ( http://inspiredtoaction.com/2013/01/join-our-meal-planning-boot-camp/) over at Inspired to Action (in conjunction with Plan to Eat (www.plantoeat.com) I respond well to ‘step-by-step’ processes, and I love a good challenge, so this is perfect for me! I’ve learnt that if I know what I’m making for tea on any given night, and I have everything in the fridge and pantry ready, then dinner time isn’t a hassle. It’s when I’m not organised that I ahve that feeling of dread in the afternoon of having to work out what to cook. I have high hopes for Plan to Eat!

    The main thing I struggle with, and this applies to pretty much everything, is motivation. I really am a lazy gal!! I’d much rather hang out on the couch with a book, or movie, or just with my kids than actually get things done around the place. So everyday I have to fight wanting to just veg to make sure our house + life keeps running. When I have 3 other people dependent on me, that makes that part easy! But it’s the ‘things’ that I would desperately love more ‘natural’ motivation for – DIY around my house, being active, writing, blogging, crafting, study. I can easily make excuses not to do something if I simply don’t feel like it. I really do have *make* myself do something so much of the time. Left to my own devices, I’m very slack by nature, and that’s not how I want to be. Simply put, I’m not disciplined, and that shows in my life.

    I am finding the Lazy Gal series so encouraging, and so many times I sit here shouting ‘yes, yes, YES’ (in my head!!) at your words, and they reflect the state of my life.

    Thank-you for your encouragement, and for asking us to share.

  33. Cali says:

    I really like what you say about balance. When you begin talking about the coloured cereals I feared this will become “I’ll never give my kids this stuff!” which is a terrible idea. We should strive to have as much home cooking as we can because it’s healthy and good for our families. But a treat every now and then is important, like those cereals or chocolate eggs.
    Good luck in your journey!

  34. Julie says:

    Such an inspiring post! The quinoa looks delicious! Could you please post a link to it? Thanks!

    • Hey Julie! There really is no link. It’s pretty much just cook the quinoa, roast your tomatoes, grill your onions and mix the ingredients in. They’re so good! Kasey put this on instagram, so I linked to all the recipes on her site, but there is no quinoa. What you see is what you do. It’s delish! ;}

  35. Totally with you! (Hi, recently discovered your blog–really enjoy it.) I struggle with this area because our kids are picky eaters (who each like very few things and who all like only about 3 of the same things), I don’t know much about how to cook, and I don’t enjoy cooking. But I’m still trying!

    About a year ago I read something that’s really helped me: The 5 ingredient challenge. Try not to buy anything with more than 5 ingredients on the label, and that contains only ingredients you know/can pronounce. Not so easy! But what it got me doing was reading labels, and that’s become second nature now. While I love the convenience of pre-shredded cheese (and sometimes still indulge in it), I’m not such a fan of whatever artificial thing they add to the cheese to keep it from sticking together.

    We’ve recently started planning weekly meals, and although it’s a pain and I’d sometimes rather skip it, we’ve noticed that it’s making a huge difference in what we eat and what we buy. And the time we put in upfront is saving us time in the store and in meal prep.

    Wishing you luck. Looking forward to seeing how this goes for you.

  36. Tania says:

    Amen! I am right there with you- tired of all the artificial chemicals and junk in our food- I’ve been eating simple, healthy, mostly vegetable based meals for the past 3 weeks and it feels amazing!

    Of course, there always needs to be room for cheese and cake ;-)

  37. Good luck with the food plan! It’s not really different from removing clutter from closets – you’re just removing food clutter from your diet. You’ll find that being “organized” about food is easier when you adopt weekly menus and shopping lists. I hate to admit it, but this is one area where I need to improve greatly.

    By the way, most kids love gardening! They might actually eat what they see growing in their own yard. I was shocked that my 7-year-old ate okra last summer. Several times. When e went to pick up our share in a CSA, we were encouraged to taste different vegetables. It would never occur to me to buy okra at the grocery store. What would I do with it? Who would eat it? Certainly not a fussy 7-year-old who isn’t always open to new food adventures. Unless she is at the farm, talking about bats and worms to the person who grew the food. Who knew?

  38. Tiffany says:

    Definitely with you, and it’s definitely been a process for us! My little person just turned one, and I want us to be on top of this by the time she’s eating “normal” meals.

  39. Staci Amy says:

    I love this post…and wanna know something funny…and gross….????? I had just sat down with a jar of gummy bears to read some blogs :( I’m soooooo bad ;( It’s gotta start with me…and I’m the worst with sweets ;( But again, you’ve challenged me to do better!!! Thanks! Annnnd nowww, I will put the gummy bears awaaaay :)

  40. Anne says:

    THANK YOU. Thanks to you, Ashley, for sharing this with all of us, and another big thank you to all the extremely helpful resources listed in all these comments! I’m a mother of two, at home raising them, so I feel particularly lame when I sling Hamburger Helper at them because I feel I should be doing better, because it is my JOB but I am still human. And mama is tired. Which brings me back to exhibit A, which is that – hello – I NEED TO EAT BETTER because I am the CEO of this joint, and not only do those little people answer to me (and my husband of course…) but I have got to be able to keep up with them and even enjoy them once in a while!
    I will add another resource to the suggestions made here. Just this month, I joined a group led by Nina Manolson over at Smokin Hot Mom. She lives and breathes this stuff, and I am slowly learning to live and breathe it, too.
    Peace and wellness to all you hard-working, loving, sincerely wonderful moms out there.
    Anne

  41. Nathalia says:

    More on the topic of purging than on food, but I think it fits the topic of “less is more”.
    My professor was talking about consumerism the other day, and I immediately thought of you and your purging project. He mentioned a book called Affluenza by James de Graaf, which you might find interesting. (Affluenza as a mixture between Influenza and Affluence). It’s about having a lot of stuff, but not growing happier in proportion.
    This is a link to the wikipedia article for it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affluenza

  42. Valarie N says:

    I’m with you! I look forward to each post in this series. I’ve been on a journey of simplicity for about 2 yrs now with my husband and 4 children. It all started with my 8 yr old getting migraines, how horrible for a child to get migraines, and I felt horrible knowing that what she ate( what I fed her) could be causing it. So I started researching, which brought me to 100daysofrealfood.com, awesome site and so inspiring. Since switching to real food, my now 10 yr old has been migraine free!!! It was not an easy process, but so worth it. My kids behavior has improved drastically, as well as our health. the first 6 months was pretty rough, mostly because they wanted those cereals they see on Tv, and they would always request them. But we have all gotten used to it. I say “no” less often simply because we don’t have junk in the house that I have to control. They can eat anything they want, because it is only good options. Living simply has naturally spread to other areas in our life!!! Keep at it because it is soo worth it for you and your family!!!

  43. Laura G. says:

    OH MY GOSH, I LOVE PALMETTO CHEESE!!! :-)
    Seriously though, it’s crazy that you are posting this, because Baron & I have been trying to do this same thing! Last summer he was reading up on the Paleo diet, and started to become interested in it. We decided to make a lifestyle change, and use the Paleo lifestyle as inspiration. We don’t follow that diet by any means (we love beans. and milk. and cheese.) but we have cut WAY back on our processed foods (bye bye, Kraft mac & cheese, Stouffer’s, & party pizzas) and have increased our produce consumption. And we want our kids to eat the same way. Kudos to you for starting this journey! It’s tough for sure. Yesterday I ate Doritos & felt super guilty. It’s a process. :-)

  44. Pamela says:

    Congrats on the start of your journey. Like any trip, there will be detours, but just smile and get back on the path. This is a wonderful time in your children’s lives to make this change as well. Once they hit the pre-teens/teens, they need more food and will be partially responsible for their own food choices (I’m talking Jr high and High school lunches). You will be thankful that they eat an apple and yogurt instead cookies, and for-go the Red Bull, etc., because it just tastes weird!
    Also, I’ve found the following blog to be an excellent site for both recipes (she even has a healthy homemade poptart recipe, listed under bread and breakfast), and inspiration. http://heavenlyhomemakers.com/

  45. Momof5 says:

    This school year I started to make my kids’ sanwiches for the week on Sunday evening. We put them in the freezer for them to grab each morning while packing their own lunches! We have made ham, turkey (both with cheese & condiments) and PBJ. The kids say they taste like a fresh made sammy! Big time and money saver and healthier than a lunchable!

  46. Nancy says:

    I try to keep healthier versions of various foods in the house, but we are by no means all the way there. When the kids whine about wanting fuit rollups or other foods that they see advertised on tv, I have them look at the ingredients list and nutrition labels and compare the ones that I won’t buy to the ones that I would deem acceptable, (fruit as the first and primary ingredient.) One day during a heated discussion in the cereal aisle, my eldest DS, then about 9 or 10 yrs old made a Freudian slip and called the cereal that he wanted to pick out “Craptain Crunch” and I replied, that is exactly why I’m not buying it! On a rare occasion such as a holiday or birthday, I will pick up a box as a special treat, but I try to remind my boys that it is all about balance. Healthy food before treat food and that no food is truly forbidden, it might mean that you only have it once a year (if that.) It’s about teaching them to read the labels, to understand the difference between 100% juice vs. juice cocktail or juice beverage; to look at the fat content, amount of fibre and sugar and what the first ingredient listed is.
    As for my kids arguement for Kool Aid, I tell them I buy it to dye fabric and wool for craft projects and if something I dyed 20 yrs ago is still as bright and unfaded as it was when I made it, then imagine what it is doing to your insides.
    While I like the idea of planning meals out for an entire week or month, in reality I find I tend to get inspired by what’s on sale or looks fresh in the store. I try to pick up several options which include some meals that can be made quickly for fright night when there are several activities going on and some meals that take longer, but all too often in my life, I plan to make something in particular and then before I know it, 6:00 rolls around and I haven’t started dinner and it is too late to start what I originally planned which brings me back to plan b, (or plan c…)
    Thanks for the inspiration to pay more attention to what I put our plates.

  47. Gina says:

    We are totally on this food journey too! Just the last couple months we have been in purging out pantry and refigerator/freezer mode. The main things we are doing is tryng to eat just whole foods and everything non GMO. We switched our wheat flour to non GMO wheat and it has already made a big difference in my husband’s health. We have never been hamburger helper type people,but did slip a lot in stuff like graham crackers with HFC and well a lot of condiment type products with HFC in it. Also did the cake mix and cool whip thing a lot along with too many sweets in general. Some big helps fpr me have been heavenly homemakers,don’t waste the crumbs,and kitchen stewardship. They have lots of great recipes that are so super easy. I was totally succumbing to the whole more gourmet cooking light type recipes which I still do like to make sometimes,but these recipes are so simple and doable on an everyday basis. Totally recommend these blogs. Think healthy versions of hamburger helper,awesome mac’n cheese(cook the noodles in milk instead of water to create the sauce-who knew!). I still have a lot more to learn and do,but at least we are headed in the right direction. Healthy bodies for the Lord is our goal!