Well folks--our month of going au natural is over. We had our ups and downs but overall I think we learned a lot about our eating and the way that we can cook.
If you missed the first and second update--check out those posts. But I'll sum everything up here again and include some of our favorite recipe discoveries as well.
The Goal: Eat as naturally and unprocessed as possible for the month of March.
**Lack of planning makes it tough to grab something spur of the moment. This was especially true for snacks. I can snack easily on fruit, but because of Scott's allergies he can't. Easter candy might also have been a problem.
**I suck at making bread. No, I haven't given up yet, but I never did make a successful loaf of sandwich bread.
**It wasn't until the last week that I figured out what to eat for lunch. Salad! Duh!! I also made some peanut butter and freezer jam. While I still had packaged bread, it was still satisfying to know I mostly made my own lunch from scratch.
**Eating out. Stupid eating out (mmmmm, eating out).
**Not realizing that dry beans should soak overnight before cooking them. Ha!
**Delicious recipes such as spaghetti sauce, pizza, tortillas, desserts, stuffed pork chops, roasted sweet potatoes.
**Dinner was the best meal of the day for both of us. Everything was more or less from scratch (the exception was ingredients such as apricot preserves or ketchup, etc).
**Spending time together in the kitchen and realizing that we both enjoy to cook (even though I'm a bit grumpy upon the discovery that Scott is the better cook).
Homemade food tastes awesome. But it does require planning, and it does require at least some upfront work. I could not have done this without Scott's help--well, I could have but I would have been really stressed out and crazypants. While I do think that we can kick the box habit, I do not think that I can give up storebought bread. I'm also going to try to make a better effort to ditch the frozen SmartOnes meals I eat for lunch. It doesn't take that much longer to make a sandwich or salad (when I don't have leftovers).
People have asked me if I think that cooking the way that we did in March is less expensive and I think it might be! It's hard to tell for sure because I always buy miscellaneous stuff at the grocery (shakes fist at Target and its awesomeness), but what I did notice is that my grocery shopping was much quicker as I spent less time in the aisles and I came home with much more fresh produce and meats. I did have to go to the market occasionally on non-grocery shopping days to pick up produce but as long as I'm a good girl who doesn't wander into the Easter candy aisle, these trips shouldn't be costly.
I don't feel any different physically. It wasn't that we were eating unhealthy before--it just wasn't as fresh as it could have been. And I don't think I've lost any weight. Again--this wasn't a diet and we weren't eat badly before. Maybe over the long-run we would notice some differences but I'm guessing the change is all stuff that might show up on a bloodscreen rather than the scale. You know?
The big win for me was spending time with Scott in the kitchen and both of us getting excited over the creations.
Favorite Recipe Discoveries
Crockpot Meaty Italian Spaghetti Sauce via Betty Crocker
Steel-Cut Oats with Cinnamon and Apples via The Yummy Life
Pizza Sauce via Allrecipes.com
Tortillas via Tasty Kitchen
Roasted Sweet Potatoes (why hadn't I tried this before?!)
Boston Baked Beans via Allrecipes.com
Old Fashioned Pancakes via Allrecipes.com
Viniagrette Dressing with 8 Variations via Food.com
(for peanut butter we literally poured peanuts into the food processor and let her whirl)
Where do we go from here? Well, at the grocery store the other day, Scott may have stocked up on Mac and Cheese. I kindly told him that I could make it for him from scratch, but... Ha! Regardless, we came away with some new favorite recipes (yay homemade pizza!) and will be much more aware going forward.
What do you think wins? Convenience or Freshness?
Beth Fish Reads hosts Weekend Cooking. "Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs." Hope you'll join the fun!