Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Real Food Experience Week 6 - Read Labels & Pick 5

I'm back with more on our Real Food Experience Challenge from Juggling Real Food and Real Life. If you missed the previous weeks of our challenge you can find them here:  Week 1 – Eat More Fruits & Veggies, Week 2 – Eat More Whole Grains, Week 3 - Avoid Artificial Colors, Week 4 – Natural Sweeteners, Week 5 - Drink Milk & Water.

This week's challenge is a two week challenge because it is difficult. We are reading our food labels and only eating foods that have 5 ingredients or less. What??? 5 ingredients or less? This is a hard challenge, especially for me. I've mentioned in previous posts how I regularly have processed food in my freezer. If you have ever read the label of a frozen meal, they most certainly DO NOT have 5 ingredients or less in them. 
 
How are we going to do this? First of all, we are going to use all the tools we learned in the past 5 weeks. This challenge is the crux of the real food experience – remember we are supposed to be eating REAL FOOD. Real food has real ingredients. Christina also mentions in this week's post, an easier way to eat foods with only 5 ingredients is to shop on the perimeter of the grocery store and not venture into the aisles. I have heard this advice before, but if you think about it, it makes perfect sense. What is located around the perimeter of the store? The produce, meat, seafood and dairy. All real foods with limited ingredients. 
 
How does someone like me with a freezer full of convenience foods survive on this 5 ingredient challenge? First of all it's going to take some conditioning. I have been fighting the frozen meal battle for quite some time. This one is a marathon, not a sprint. How do I get rid of the processed foods? Reader April, from The 100lb Countdown, had some excellent advice for me. She freezes 1 portion of each meal she makes as ready made, healthy meals. Simple! The meal is already made, you just need to freeze a portion for later! This is such an easy solution for when you are in a hurry or when you have no idea what to eat. It will also save money on buying those expensive frozen dinners. This is the plan I need to implement. I need to get some re-heatable freezer containers, and save 1 portion of each meal I make to put in the freezer. Voila! Homemade freezer meals chock full of real foods!

How are you going to eat foods with only 5 ingredients or less?

50 comments:

  1. What a great challenge! I am in a nutrition class now and we just covered food labels. Boy was I surprised at what I learned about food packaging. Yes limit it to 5 eat fresh and freeze...success is right around the corner. Have an awesome week! Visiting from BYB

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  2. 5 ingredients or less? Yep, that would be a tricky one for me too! I hadn't heard that about shopping around the perimeter of the store, but now that I think about it, it makes perfect sense!

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  3. Great job on making these changes! Does the five ingredient rule apply to home cooked meals? I couldn't imagine preparing a dinner with five ingredients or less - I tend to just throw a bit of everything into a pan to make a pasta sauce, or chili or whatnot. Hm. That would be difficult.

    Another idea - can you have a freezer meal cooking day with some friends/family? I love cooking, but I'm not going to spend a day in the kitchen on my own. If you get together with a girlfriend, have a glass of wine (or whatever you like), and make up some healthy meals, it could certainly be a lot more enjoyable.

    I tend to keep a homemade pasta sauce, chili, and some soups frozen at all times. Like you wrote, I freeze parts of meals that I am cooking anyway.

    I also freeze some fresh fruits/veg that I buy on sale. It makes cooking a lot quicker, aside from saving money because extra produce doesn't go bad!

    Good luck with your challenge!

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    1. I wouldn't think that you could only cook meals with 5 ingredients. My take on it is that each ingredient you put in the meal should have 5 or less - so if you use carrots, broccoli, and other veggies - they are real foods so only have 1 ingredient - carrots! It's more for the labels so we eat mostly real foods. :) I have been cooking one or two large meal for the week for a while. We mostly eat leftovers all week (which is why I LOVE my slow-cooker so much). Getting together for a freezer party sounds fun. I've often wondered how people do those, "30 freezer meals" things. We have also been freezing more fresh produce too. We got sick of throwing out the produce, and a light bulb went on!

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    2. Oh haha! That's good! I was thinking - whaaat... how is it possible to make every meal with only five ingredients, but if veggies are all one, then that's definitely doable. Difficult nonetheless, but definitely doable.

      I also love freezing fresh veg because it gets my husband to cook on the weekends, too! So just one more advantage!

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  4. I agree with April, we meal plan and take leftovers from a large meal (like a crock pot dish or chili, etc) and freeze the leftovers to avoid the quick fix processed foods. The hardest part for us cutting out processed foods was getting into the habit of a longer meal prep process, but now that we've been doing it for a year or so it's second nature. I strongly suggest meal planning for all meals and snacks and sticking to the scheduled meals!

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  5. I love that idea of freezing a portion of each meal. Can you buy aluminum plates that have dividers, like the frozen dinners come in? Those would be ideal for this. Do that should cut down on the leftovers too.

    Julie
    I Create Purty Thangs

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    1. Aluminum pans are such a good idea! I'm sure they are much cheaper than the plastic ones as well. I'll have to look for them.

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  6. Wow what a challenge! Good Luck! My son has PKU so we are constantly reading labels and looking at everything... It truly becomes a life style. Visiting from BYB!

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  7. That would be a tough challenge around here. I think we *usually* eat pretty healthy but I know the labels on a lot of our foods aren't that short. It sounds as if you have a great plan for it though. I love freezing leftovers for quick meals later.

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  8. Great challenge! Since having to go GF, I've had to give up so many prepared foods, it's not funny...but, on the upside, I think most of the things I buy now probably fit in the 5 ingredient category.

    Found you via BYB

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  9. Interesting challenge. I can see the benefit and look forward to hearing how it helps and benefits you. I think that it totally makes sense and we, as a family, have been going to more clean eating which has very little extras but, i'll admit, we aren't hard core and certainly fall off the wagon fairly regularly. I hope we can have the conviction to do something like this challenge soon. Thanks for sharing.

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  10. Interesting challenge. As my family and I have gone more to clean eating, this is kinda what we look for but, i'll admit, i fall off the wagon regularly, this would be something to consider. Can't wait to hear how it goes.

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  11. Wow! I am impressed! That definitely seems like quite a challenge. I think I might go hungry.... A few times I have given up meat for lent -and this was a challenge for me. Perhaps this year I will take on your challenge...

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    1. I say start easy...maybe with one of the other challenges like more fruits and veggies or whole grains first. This one certainly isn't easy!

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  12. weaning yourself off of easy frozen meals is tough. i am always so tempted when i go to the store (especially when i go to trader joes because they have some pretty enticing frozen entrees) sounds like a wonderful challenge.

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    1. I wanted to check out Trader Joe's vs Lean Cuisine, because I heard they were good. I wonder how many ingredients they have...

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  13. I could do this challenge I think, I am not a lover of frozen meals at all, I love to make fresh each day.

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    1. I hope you took this on! If you love cooking fresh - this should be easy for you!

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  14. I love the idea of keeping packaged foods to 5 ingredients! I typically shop on the periphery of the grocery store, but the packaged foods I do buy could use some improving. Good luck!

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    1. Wow! Good for you for shopping mostly on the periphery. I really should...but then the bakery us there, and I try to avoid that. ;)

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  15. I love this challenge. I have more on my plate than I can handle right now, but when things slow down I'm going to try this.

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    1. This challenge is something that can be taken a little at a time, or you can just try one small change. Just one change can make a big difference in your health. Check out the other week's challenges and find one that will be easiest for you to implement.

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  16. This is quite a challenge when you think about it. Although we do eat a lot of whole, fresh food and prepare most of our meals there are still things we are adding to those meals that need to be looked at. Geesh, now you've got me thinking lol! Dropping by from the BYB challenge

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    1. I'm so glad I got you thinking!! This part of thr challenge is pretty hard, a lotof food have more than 5 ingredients. This one is going to take a while to master.

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  17. As a mostly whole-food eater, I am glad to see that you are making the steps towards having real food! It's hard for me to even recall what it was like to not know how to cook real food (though at one time all I could cook was ramen noodles and mac & cheese). Now when I go grocery shopping over 90% of our groceries are whole foods. It's been a great, tasty change!

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    1. I think it's become easier to eat real foods with all the extra junk that is being put in foods. What helps keep me on track is I look at the grocery belt and see what I have there. I try to imagine what a stranger would think if they saw my groceries - am I eating well? Do I have a lot of "kid food" ? Or the "oh my!" I have mostly junk here...sigh!

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  18. What a great challenge!!! We eat mostly real food, too. I can't imagine anything else!

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  19. That's quite the challenge. In some cases I do really well at this. But I think when it comes to sauces and condiments mine have more than five.

    #BYB100

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    1. I think THAT is the real challenge right there, since I am certainly not making my own ketchup!

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  20. WOW! I don't know if I could do it... Though, I can certainly see the appeal, I wonder if the food challenge is hard on the budget.

    Best of luck!

    -Cristyl @ www.MyCHillThoughts.com

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    1. This challenge isn't too hard on the budget. I'm learning to freeze things I'm not going to eat right away that might go bad - like bananas for smoothies or other fruit, or we bought bulk broccoli and froze half of it.

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  21. Scarlett - one of my favorite websites for recipes is 100 Days of Real Food. My family and use their crockpot chicken recipe all the time. It's a challenge, but reading food labels helps so much. Good luck with your efforts! #BYB100

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    1. I wil have to check out the site. I've received a couple if comments about it. And I'm all about my crock-pot!

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  22. This is a great idea! We don't eat a lot of convenience foods anymore, because they're expensive! I have recipes my family likes, and we try to keep ingredients on hand so I can pull meals together. I'm sure one thing I should get rid of is lunch meat, but that's a staple around here. I am sure reading labels will help you get rid of those convenience foods! Cooking your own food doesn't have to be terribly labor intensive. When had gestational diabetes, we ate a lot of grilled meat with vegetable sides. Simple, and easy to count carbs if you need to do that. For lunch, we usually have a sandwich or quesadilla, with cut up veggies and fruit on the side. Mealplanning101.com has good recipes, and I like the 100 Days of Real Food, too. Good luck!!! #BB100

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    1. I'll have to check out those sites. I hate figuring out what to have for lunch. I have limited my lunch meats, but I love sandwiches, so every once in a while I get a craving for one. Funny about the GD. I too had GD when pregnant, and I joked that I ate my best while I was pregnant. I've tried to continue to eat that way, but the bad suff just seems to sneak it's way back in.

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  23. This sounds like an amazing challenge, one I should try! In the past I have froze portions of meals for quick lunches and found it really helpful! Good luck on your journey!

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    1. I do really need to get some meals in my freezer for lunch. I am usually at such a loss at lunch time. Thanks for stopping by!

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  24. That is a fantastic challenge- I tend to eat quite well but I do rely on things like rice cakes, bread etc so my bread machine bread would be OK I assume? That has oil, sugar, flour, yeast, and salt. Might make me use my bread maker more often rather than running to the store for a loaf!

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    1. There is nothing like homemade bread - my favorite - yum! Check out week 2 of the challenge when we were eating whole grains. Homemade bread is great, but you want to sure you're making whole grain bread.

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  25. Hi there! I'm stopping in from Let's Get Real today. You are really doing a fantastic job embracing these weekly goals. Before switching to real food, I was hooked on frozen meals for lunch. They were quick and I didn't have to think about it as I was racing out the door each morning. They certainly are NOT inexpensive. I have to say that I was also gaining weight eating Lean Cuisine. How can that be? I am far better off eating real food meals where I control the ingredients. I've had some interesting lunches. Nuts, cheese, fruit. Nothing glamorous, but certainly all real and filling. Leftovers are also a favorite lunch for my husband and I. We even plan to have leftovers when I make my meal plan out for the week. It doesn't take any longer to boil the whole box of pasta than it does to boil half of it.

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    1. Thank you so much! This challenge certainly hasn't gone off without a hitch, and this pick 5 challenge is truly hard. When I started doing Weight Watchers I was eating a lot of frozen meals for lunch - they're healthy...right? Our leader pointed out the amount of sodium the meals contain, and advised us to eat no more than 2 a week. This opened my eyes, so now I also check the sodium contents on the labels as well.

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  26. Christina has given some great challenges. Many times for lunch, I redo leftovers from the night before. Once you get in the habit of reading labels and eating cleaner, it becomes so much easier. My family and I have been eating cleanly for over 3 years. I'm stopping by from the Let's Get Real Friday party. Thanks so much for sharing this and linking up with us. I hope you'll join us again on Friday.

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    1. Since I have an MSG sensitivity, I've gotten into the habit with reading labels. MSG seems to be in absolutely everything, so our eating has become cleaner just out of necessity. But it's certainly not perfect, there are times I am just too busy or tired. I will say having a blog has helped me try new dishes or try to be more creative in my approach to a dish as well.

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  27. Wow, I'm so impressed with you really sticking with this challenge week in and week out! I'm sure you and your family's lives will be so much better because of this even if you can't necessarily see how at the moment. I love that you took April's advice, too. I'm sure she will really appreciate the shot out. I honestly enjoy cooking, so I'm not sure what advice I could even give because I tend to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I do use my crock pot for prepping for Sabbath now and I use real ingredients in that and it lasts us for several days. But I'm careful with how I cook things, etc because not everything should go in a crock pot or with veggies you might have to throw the ones you're eating in there at the last minute so they aren't completely mushy. As you are seeing, there is some prep involved and it takes time, but going through all of this will definitely help you figure out what works best for you all so you can stick with it. :) Thanks for sharing this with us at Countdown in Style! Don't forget to stop by Friday to see if you are featured :)

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    1. The prep is always the worst part for me. Since I'm a fairly new mom, it has taken me a little bit to readjust the way I go about my cooking and planning a little better. Knowing I don't have a lot if time makes me have to think about prepping the night before or when I can use my crock-pot.

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  28. Great advice! Thanks for linking up with the Let's Get Real party last week. I hope you'll join us again this week.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by! I've really tried to embrace this challenge.

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  29. I'm so glad you were able to use what I suggested. Changing your eating is hard, and it's especially hard when you have to make NEW food just for you to eat. I've also been learning how to make soups out of the leftovers that don't have "enough" on its own. Thanks for linking up with Countdown in Style.

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    1. It's funny about the soups - I've been seeing stuff like this on Pinterest, and it makes me feel like I should spend more time in the kitchen with my mom and Grandma. They certainly figured this all out long ago. ;)

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