Thursday, February 6, 2014

5 "Staples" I Don't Buy Anymore

Over the past two years, our pantry has certainly changed a bit.  I've learned about the importance of whole foods, and been slowly weaning us off of processed stuff.  We are still definitely a work in progress, but the Lord has been great at bringing resources and blog posts to me at just the right time.

Here are five simple changes we made.  Five processed things I used to buy that I no longer do. Also included are the things I replaced them with--that was the really important part for me to learn about.

1.  Chicken Bouillon Cubes

I used to use these all the time! Do you know how much junk is in these?  Buying the high quality ones weren't really in the budget, so I needed another solution.

I learned how to make flavorful chicken broth from the chicken carcass.  Now I have chicken broth in the fridge or freezer, and use that.  It's way better for us and cheaper (since I'm using the bones on the chickens we raise).  Storage isn't as convenient, but we have the freezer space, so it works out. 

In a week, I typically use the crock-pot to cook a chicken.  Since I use water with this method, I get an initial batch of broth.  Then, I strip the meat off the bones, add water and some seasoning, and let it go all night in the crock-pot.  I usually get a half-gallon.  I strain the broth, put it in a jar in the fridge to cool, and repeat the process.  This time, I add a small splash of Apple Cider Vinegar to the bone/water/seasoning mix.  It cooks all day, and I usually just set the crock in the fridge to cool.  That's another 1/2 gallon.  One chicken.  At least one gallon of stock.  Pretty amazing!

This website has some great information about bone broth. When I have it simmering all night, I love to pour a fresh mug of it in the morning.  Add a bit of salt and garlic powder, and it's a tasty way to start a cold winter day!  Just the nourishment my body needs to get going on chores.

2.  Cream Soups

I used to always have these on hand.  Typically cream of mushroom, though celery and chicken were in my pantry occasionally.  Now I make my own.  I don't store the finished soup in my pantry though.  It stays in the fridge.  It's super easy to make.  Check out more details in this post of mine.  

3.  Kool-Aid 

Um...embarrassed to say, but we used to go through a gallon of Kool-Aid a day.  And that was with a family of six (5 eating)  instead of eight (7 eating).  How gross is that?  And do you know how much sugar we drank?  2 cups with every gallon, every day.  We were going through a 25 pound bag a month.  Easily.

The dental decay on my young children caused me to take a long, hard look at our habits.  Too much sugar.  Too many sweet drinks.  Had to go! I stopped buying the Kool-Aid.

But, weaning off of the sugary drinks didn't happen overnight.  Instead, I began offering raw milk (chocolate style) and homemade lemonade.  Both of these instantly reduced the amount of sugar (only 1 cup for a gallon instead of 2 cups) and were still seen as sweet, delicious choices. 

I also began increasing the amount of not sugary drinks (water, raw milk, yogurt smoothies, hot chocolate made with a little honey, etc.) until we reached a place I was happy with. Now I usually reserve the lemonade for the weekends when Bryan is home to enjoy it with us.  During this cold winter, we drink hot chocolate almost every morning. We have smoothies with lunch or dinner occasionally.  Chocolate milk is an occasional treat.  And my children (and I) now drink a lot more water.  Way better for us.

4.  Refined Sugar

White, refined sugar is not a really good choice when it comes to eating.  We used to go through at least 25 pounds a month.  Now?  I've learned to enjoy the taste of unrefined sugar.  It's a bit different, but in a good way.

Now I know that it's still sugar.  Which is why we cut back.  We now go through about 15 pounds a month.  We added two people and cut down on 10 pounds--way less individual consumption!

I made this change when Sydney was a baby.  She is the first of my kids to not have cavities by the age of 2.  I'll stick with unrefined.

When I was first going this route, I bought organic sugar at Costco.  But, it was pretty expensive.  Now?  I buy an unrefined, non-GMO option from Wal-Mart.  At about $4.50 for 8 pounds, it's a really reasonable option.  Costco was $11 for 10 pounds.  A difference that definitely affects the grocery budget.

5. Canola Oil

I used to think I was making a healthy choice by choosing canola oil.  The modern food industry certainly does a good job promoting this reasoning.  But...after doing some digging of my own, I learned how dangerous it can be.  The book Nourishing Traditions helped me to see how healthy real fats can be.

I now buy butter.  And coconut oil.  And olive oil.  Eventually I'd love to buy palm shortening to use for frying, but I haven't found it yet at a store I already go to.  I don't like running all over town for new ingredients, and I haven't yet started grocery shopping online.

Lard is another good fat.  I rendered some in the crock-pot the last time we butchered pigs.  It sure made a great pie crust!  Be careful about buying lard though.  If it's on a shelf, it's probably hydrogenated.  

These fats nourish our body.  They help us to digest food.  And they taste great!  Bring on the butter!!!

For more information on the benefits of eating real fats, check out this post.

There are other changes I've made, but these have been five easy steps in eating more real foods. Have your shopping habits changed as well?

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