Homesteading has several core values: grow (or raise) your own food, preserve your harvest, prepare for an emergency and cook your own food.
Why is cooking your own food a core homesteading value?
Cooking your own real food means knowing how it was cooked and the ingredients that were used.
Cooking real food is a big part of homesteading because we want to know where our food came from and what was used to produce it.
Characteristics of Real Food:
- Real food is not made of ingredients, it is ingredients.
- Real food is whole food such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, meat and dairy.
- Real food usually doesn’t come in a box or have a label.
- Real food doesn’t have added sugars, preservatives or chemicals that are bad for us.
- Real food nourishes our bodies and clears the mind.
- Real food gives us all of the vitamins and minerals our bodies need to thrive.
How to incorporate real food into your family’s diet:
- Add real food to what you are eating already. Add fruit to your breakfast, salad to your lunch, and an extra vegetable to dinner. Once you add good food, you won’t have as much room for the not so good stuff.
- Make substitutions where available: olive oil for vegetable oil, butter for margarine, honey for sugar, etc. Most of the time, the substitution tastes better than what you were using before.
- Cut out the really harmful ingredients: high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, GMO foods, Aspertame and other products I discuss in this post.
- Make sweet treats that are healthier for you: homemade ice cream, real fruit popsicles, etc. These can satisfy the sweet tooth without harming your health (in moderation).
- Commit to buying more food from the outer rim of the grocery store and less from the processed middle. If available, shopping at the farmers market will be even better for your health.
- Start a garden so that you can eat real food that your family has grown. We discuss beginner gardening in this series of posts.
- Make freezer meals or crock pot meals ahead of time so you aren’t tempted to eat out (which is usually very unhealthy).
- Meal planning is very helpful in preparing to cook real food. In this post I share the meal planning solution I use for my family.
- Pick one dinner a week to make from scratch with real food ingredients. If you find it is something your family loves, add it to your dinner meal rotation. Then try a new one next week.
- Stock your pantry with real food. Don’t buy anymore of the junk food/processed food. This will help you wean your family off of the bad stuff and help you focus on cooking with the good stuff (real food).
- Adopt the 80/20 rule. If you can eat real food for 80% of the time, eating less than ideal food the other 20% won’t kill you. We are striving for health, not perfection.
- Last but not least, keep trying. The transition to real food can be hard, but it is worth it. You’re family will be healthier and they may even decide they like the good stuff (although they may not want to admit it).
One of the best things about cooking real food is that it is a homesteading value that you can do anywhere! It doesn’t take 40 acres to cook real food in your kitchen. You can even do it in an apartment or tiny house!
Here are some resources I’ve found to be helpful in beginning a real food journey:
Frugal Real Food Meal Plans by Tiffany Terczak
Real Food Planning Challenge by Kristin Marr
100 Days of Real Food by Lisa Leake
Cooking real food is so important and it is a skill that is getting lost in our modern society. I could go on and on about how food is affecting our health in the modern world. We weren’t made to eat chemicals and additives.
The closer we can get to a real, whole food lifestyle the better off we will be. Baby steps towards this goal are better than non at all.
Do you have any tips for eating a real food diet? Please let us know in the comments below. Thanks!