Evaluating Eating Habits in a Busy Season

The following post is from Jessica of GoodCheapEats and LifeasMOM:

source: Jessica Fisher

Last week Mandi shared some ideas for evaluating our eating habits as the seasons change. For her, life is settling into a calmer rhythm and mealtimes are as well. Unlike Mandi’s household, our family schedule is only picking up speed! Summer was as laid back as could be, allowing me ample time to play in the kitchen and do a lot of cooking from scratch. Fall, on the other hand, is busy, busy, busy.

Not only am I homeschooling six kids, but I’m also running them to swim and piano lessons, park day, art co-op, science lab, and hockey practices and games. If I don’t watch it, I could fall back on more convenience foods and takeout dinners than I would ever care to admit.

Make it as good as possible.

As the seasons of life change, so do our eating habits. I used to be able to skip breakfast, scarf down a candy bar and Coke mid-morning, eat a few slices of pizza at mid-day, another Coke in the afternoon, and a full meal of whatever sounded good at supper.

What I could get away with at sixteen is no longer possible — or even desirable. Blech! Don’t tell my kids I had such a horrible diet.

Twentysome years later, I’ve reformed my ways. I’ve kicked my soda habit and reduced our family’s intake of processed sugars. But with each season — whether it’s a season of life or another few pages on the calendar, I find that adjustments are always needed. Reevaluating my eating habits — and those of my family — becomes a regular ritual.

photo source: Jessica Fisher

I love good food. I think about food multiple times during the day. I cook at least thrice. So it only makes sense that I’d consider how to make my family’s diet as good as I can make it.

Here’s an evaluation of our family’s eating habits and how I hope to keep them as delicious — and nutritious — as possible:

Ingredients to Avoid

Allergens: My youngest daughter has allergies to eggs and nuts. This changed a lot of things from how I shop to how I cook and bake to how I order at a restaurant. I have to keep her safe. As a result, we typically allow no nuts in the house, substituting sunflower seeds and pepitas when we want some crunch. She can still have eggs in some baked goods, but I don’t prepare big breakfasts that feature eggs in a starring role. And I’m learning to include alternate proteins, like greek yogurt, in her breakfasts.

Hormones: Recently, I did some interesting food reading and am thinking hard about foods to avoid. I’m not gonna get all hyper; I promised my husband I wouldn’t. But, I do want to be more intentional in our food choices and take some more baby steps toward better eating.

While I’ve always avoided hormones in the milk we drink, I never gave it a second thought in the other dairy products I was purchasing. I’m now making a conscious effort to read the labels of the butter, cheese, yogurt, and powdered milk that I buy.

Sugars: I’ve been meaning to kiss white sugar goodbye for quite some time. This month I’m doing it. Through a bulk health food co-op I’m replacing granulated sugar with evaporated sugar cane juice and increasing my use of maple syrup and honey as substitute sweeteners.

photo source: Life as MOM

Working in Organics

Grocery prices have significantly increased over the last few months. However one thing that I’ve noticed in my locale is that organics have not seen the same increase as their conventional cousins. It makes it easier for me to include more organic products in my shopping cart. If I’m going to pay the price anyway, why not go for the good stuff?

Last month I signed up for an organic produce co-op that delivers an abundant box of seasonal fruits and vegetables for a great price. We’ve enjoyed some of the best foods we’ve ever eaten.

Supplementing Our Diet

As Mandi pointed out, flu and cold season is just around the corner. I want to give my family the best advantages possible against illness, especially with such a busy school year ahead of us.

In addition to watching our sugars, added hormones, and pesticides, I’m trying to make sure that we all have good quality multi-vitamins. My own recent medical tests revealed I’ve got deficiencies in iron as well as vitamin D. So, I’m adding those supplements as well as looking for good natural sources to incorporate into our meal plan.

photo source: Good Cheap Eats

Balancing My Schedule

All this gives you a glimpse of where I want to go in feeding my family great food. Sure, there are even more improvements I could make. But, I would go crazy if I tried to cook everything from scratch, grind my own wheat, grow my own vegetables, and still have time to breathe. I have to balance my good intentions with the time I have available — as well as the budget I have to spend.

Meal planning, make ahead meals and freezer cooking all work together to help me pull off healthier meals for my family. And having a few pantry meals at the ready doesn’t hurt either.

Today we’re eating better than we were ten, five, even two years ago. And I hope that in another couple years, we’ll eat better than we are today. Yet, I have to remind myself that taking baby steps is the only way toward long-lasting growth and improvements.

Regardless of where we’ve been or where we’re going, though, I am so thankful to be able to have so many choices. Not only can I put food on the table, but I have so much freedom to do so. I can feed my family good food — my way.

Are you in the process of making some food changes at your house? What does that look like for you?

A foodie at heart, Jessica Fisher has learned to reconcile a tight budget with her love for great food. As a busy mom of six voracious eaters, she regularly shares healthy, delicious and budget-friendly recipes at GoodCheapEats. She also writes at her parenting blog, LifeasMOM.