Real Food Challenge – Week #4

For 14 weeks, the family and I are undertaking a Real Food Challenge (put forth by the awesome 100 Days of Real Food blog). I’m hoping to check in about any struggles and successes along the way each week. Our ultimate goal is to cut down on our dependence on processed foods and start using some cleaner fuels to energize our bodies. And stuff.

So, here’s how it works. I’ll get an email every Thursday for the next 14 weeks (the actual eating challenge will start on Sunday or Monday for 7 days, so there are a couple of days of grocery prep built in). Each email outlines the “rules” for that particular week. It’s up to each participant as to whether or not they’d like to try each week independently or build on top of the prior week. In other words, continuing doing the prior weeks while attempting the new weeks, if that makes sense. There’s also a very active Facebook group (I’ve actually joined an offshoot that’s super supportive and far more focused) that’s there to share, answer and support.
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Review of Week #3: So, this week was all about cutting back on meat consumption and eating only locally-raised meat. I loved the idea of the thing, but had to get a little creative to get our hands on some. Our favorite local market was during a different weekend, so we missed it. Instead, I sent my savior husband to a local store that happens to provide local, organic, grassfed meat. I was disappointed at the cost of pork and the fact that they had no chicken, so we grabbed two pounds of ground beef and went with it.

I’ve just gotta say that during this whole challenge, the way to succeed is MEAL PLANNING. I do it in a casual, less structured way — by creating a list of possible meals for the week rather than saying “Tuesday is taco day and it’s set in stone!” For example, we usually eat pizza on Fridays, but for some reason I was jonesin’ for it on Wednesday. So, I sauteed some onion and a handful of the beef (our first meal with meat for the week) to top the pizza with, served it with salads and TADA! Simple. Plus, keeping the list written on our fridge’s dry erase board lets me get home from school and start cooking right away rather than racking my brain for ideas.

So far, so good. We still have the weekend to go, but we’re doing fine. I had to run to the store for some supplies last night, which delayed my cooking (but I didn’t have the stuff on hand to make a slow cooker soup…double-edged sword), but it’s a first-world problem.

Week #4 Challenge: This week is going to be E-A-S-Y. The challenge is twofold: No fast food (sit-down restaurants are okay, which is AWESOME because we’ve got a date night planned) and nothing deep-fried. We don’t use things like hard taco shells (deep-fried) and if we eat fries, they are healthily baked. I’m also thinking that I’d like to try baking some chicken fingers just to see how it goes; I did it once before, but I didn’t like the mess of the method.

Soooooo, purdy easy. We have the option to either stack the challenges (so that by the end we’re doing all 14 things habitually) or try each week separately to see how it works for our families. Right now, I’m trying to maintain the 6-fruits/veggies a day challenge, having little to no sugar in my coffee/tea, and now think that I’ll try to keep more local meats in the freezer and attempt more vegetarian meals each week. It’s actually easier than I thought, although I’d like to put more thought into the balance of nutrients we’re getting. So, I’d say that we’ve got a “modified stacked” approach going on, and I like it.

Here’s my meal “plan” for week #4:

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