Week 24: No Frozen Dinners
Year to Real Challenge
If you’ve read my story, then you know that I have bought more than my share of frozen pizzas. The truth is, I also used to regularly buy Hot Pockets, Bagel Bites, Stouffer’s Mac and Cheese, Fish Sticks, Chicken Nuggets, Eggo Waffles, and more. Even though I still have lots of room for improvement in my diet, I have come a long way since the days that I used to buy those frozen prepared foods. In the past, I could not imagine what would go into my freezer if I didn’t buy those items. Now I can’t bring myself to buy them, yet my freezer is full (of healthy, real foods!).
If you are not there yet, don’t despair. As you pass through the frozen foods aisle, my best advice is to say to yourself, “I don’t buy those anymore,” and walk on by. This is not going to be easy at first, because you are likely to wonder what you will eat/feed the kids instead. If the temptation is too great and you end up with a frozen meal in your hand, take a look at the ingredient list, remind yourself that real food is far superior to eating all of those chemicals, and put it back in the freezer case. Gambling with your health and the health of your children is just not worth the convenience of a frozen dinner. If you are worried that now you have nothing to serve for dinner, go grab a dozen organic eggs and some organic greens and call it a day. Little by little, start collecting simple, real food meal ideas you can make in a pinch using foods you typically have on hand. You WILL figure it out (and it will be so much easier if those processed foods are not in your freezer to lead you astray!).
When I stopped buying frozen dinners, I had to learn to plan ahead for those times when I knew I was going to need a quick meal (which at certain times of the year feels like every day!). I am still pretty bad at the planning ahead part, but I have remained committed to my pledge to not put those “un-real” frozen items into my shopping cart. Somehow, we manage to find SOMETHING real to eat among the (real) foods available in the house, and now (most of us) don’t even miss the Bagel Bites, etc. In preparation for five days when I would be out of town, I did leave the kids a few frozen meals with “not-TOO-bad” ingredients that I had purchased at Trader Joe’s (but even there you need to read the ingredients lists carefully – some items are better than others). Hopefully it goes without saying that these types of meals should be the occasional exception, and not the rule.
You may have noticed that preparation (ugh) is a common theme among Real Foodies. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m more of a “it’s-4-o’clock-so-I’d-better-start-figuring-out-what-to-make-for-dinner” kind of gal, but having a plan and preparing ahead of time definitely makes it easier to stick to a real food lifestyle. There are so many resources on-line for simple recipes, meal planning, using a crock pot, preparing freezer meals in bulk, and prepping foods before the start of the week. Find something that works for you, and give it a try. I’m still working on this as well, so I’d love to hear your ideas for steering clear of frozen food entrees and keeping it real! Let’s take this Year to Real Challenge seriously and support one another as we say good-bye to those beloved Bagel Bites and continue taking steps in the direction of real food.