Final Thoughts on the Real Food Challenge

Whew! No posts all week? Geez, Meg, what’s up with that?! Things have been weird getting back into the post-vacation routine, plus the hubs came down with another nasty illness. So, just, craziness. I’m hoping to get back on a schedule of at least twice weekly posting next week!

Anyhoo, this is our LAST POST about the “14-Week Real Food Challenge”!!! Let’s all breathe a huge sigh of relief, ‘kay? 

In all honesty, our last week wasn’t quite a failure…but we didn’t adhere 100%. It was all about eating items with 5 ingredients or less, so half the battle came in finding a locally-produced, 5-ingredient Italian bread (which you can honestly use for just about anything). We did, admittedly, go out to eat once, and I haven’t felt much like making huge meals if Dave’s stomach can’t handle it, so one night involved store-bought (organic) chicken soup. And crackers. None of which had less than 5 ingredients. Far from it. *sigh*

But, in general and for the most part, we actually did pretty well considering our lack of focus. I’d say that at least two meals a day were within the limit, some days more. So, yeah. Not a horrible week.

So, now that we’re done, I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learned as well as the things we’ll definitely take away into our future eating habits. Ready?

Final Thoughts on the Real Food Challenge - image blogger-image-271086656 on

– Without planning, you WILL spend your child’s college fund in food. You just will. And I have. Gotta get back to this a bit more, but planning a general idea of what you want to eat for the entire week (breakfast and lunch included) was tremendously helpful to me (and my wallet). I always left room for adjustment – like when I had chicken down on my grocery list but natural pork tenderloin or organic ground beef was on sale, I’d switch the plan – and would sometimes shift the day we’d eat a particular meal, so we weren’t sticklers. But, this is definitely a big help in not using up your savings. 😉

– We’re not whole wheat people. I made whole wheat pancakes, whole wheat muffins, whole wheat cookies, whole wheat bread…everything. But, I discovered that Dave wasn’t a huge fan and, sometimes, neither was Hadley…OR me. So, while I love a good whole wheat bread (and found the perfect one! – yes, store-bought), this part of the challenge won’t be coming along for the ride in the future. The fact that I cook with an organic flour helps, and I may still find a “white whole wheat” flour to try out.   

– Something that works for someone else won’t always work for you and your family. Take, for example, Larabars. I. Hated. Them. Everyone involved in the challenge LOVED these. So, yeah. It is what it is.

– We’re an 80/20 family. At least, I’m an 80/20 person, and I know Dave only followed along with this thing (like a trooper, I might add) to try it out. I think that I’m, in general, this type of person; I can’t give something up 100%, but if you give me a bit of leeway to “cheat” or not be hard on myself, I succeed very well. So, while I’d say that we usually lean more to the 80-90% range, the 80/20 rule of “80% organic/natural/non-processed foods to 20% of less healthy foods” is okay. (When I say “less healthy” I actually mean non-organic {like the nuts we buy}, processed {like organic granola bars or traditional croutons}, and the rare-but-okay meal out at a restaurant or family’s house.)    

Aaaaaand, my biggest takeaway of the whole shebang is simple but one we all can do…

– More fruits and veggies. Again, I haven’t been counting my servings like in the beginning of the challenge (I should do that again, hmm), but they tend to be cheaper in organic form and definitely had me feeling healthier when I adhered to upping their intake. This is by far the one thing I hope to maintain for some time to come.

So, am I glad we did it? Definitely. Were we perfect? Nope. But, I am proud of some of the sacrifices we undertook and, as a whole, the experience was very cool.