October #Unprocessed Wk 1 Meal Plan

October Unprocessed Week 1

This shit is hard.

I’m not joking.

I do our grocery shopping mid-week, generally utilizing coupons, ad sales, meal-planning and general basic math and food knowledge to maximize our options and minimize our grocery bill. Perhaps it was meant to be that I shopped this week sans meal plan, with only a sparse list of essentials and an envelope stuffed with coupons. I hadn’t spent the hour (or more) planning for my grocery trip and I had put ZERO thought into meals for the week outside of knowing I would be buying for the start of October Unprocessed.

My mom graciously watched my (teething)son while I shopped this week. When I have The Bear in tow, I can usually hit two different stores and be home in about 1.5 hours. This week, it took me TWO HOURS to navigate the two stores solo, since my thought process for every item went something like this:

“Is this item considered processed?”
“I don’t think so, but let me check, anyway.”
“Oh, damn, there’s some random additive in this. PROCESSED!”
“Ok, good, not processed. But, wait, what?! It’s how much?!”
“Well, maybe I have a coupon for that.”
(Rustles through crinkled, disorganized coupon envelope)
“Ok, well, I’ll get it anyway.”
“I can’t spend that on THIS!”
“Is this just going to be one of my ‘exceptions’ to the rules?”

Ah, the rules. If you haven’t checked out eatingRules and the discussions surrounding what is and is not considered processed, do so, but be prepared to feel like everything you knew about healthy eating just got balled up, spit on, and thrown back into your face by the bully at your middle school lunch table. These people are SERIOUS. (For example, someone took issue with baking soda. BAKING SODA.) So, you can see why I second-guessed everything. I don’t want to be the gung-ho blogger out there who’s “Doing October Unprocessed” but is really just the know-it-all nerd everyone is snickering at from the back of the classroom. (Sidebar: Do you think I have latent school issues?) It all becomes further complicated when you consider that we don’t eat too much dairy and have limited options for fresh produce and meat.

So let me Show & Tell what I bought:

I also bought but didn’t photograph: 2 lbs organic chicken thighs, london broil, baby carrots, cabbage, frozen peas, frozen spinach, frozen berries, whole wheat flour, and yeast. I also bought some other items like granola, ice cream, and kid-friendly organic snack crackers, that are definitely considered “processed,” but they were on sale and I had coupons, so I stocked up. And if you have a cranky toddler, you know that back-up plans are essential!

You’ll note that I buy a lot of frozen veggies and fruit. This is because local, organic options are quite difficult to come by. The same goes for meat and dairy. Local, organic meat is at least an hour drive away at an organic CSA farm that also stocks eggs and dairy items. We may make more of an effort to get there, but the reality of that is slim right now.

A loose meal plan for the week is:

Breakfast: oatmeal with fruit –or– yogurt/cinnamon/flax with fruit and homemade bread

Lunches: leftover dinner, Sunbutter sandwiches and fruit, quinoa or rice with veggies

1)crockpot chili,
2)baked chicken/rice/veggie,
4)butternut squash soup w/homemade bread,
5)roasted,glazed chicken/acorn squash/quinoa,
6)london broil w/sauteed mushrooms & onions/potatoes/carrots,
7)Something From Nothing Meal–maybe these? with homemade buns?

So, I might have done okay except for my coconut milk (processed) and kiddie cracker purchases. Only preparation of the meals will tell the truth…

Here’s What I’ve Learned So Far

1) It’s no wonder that more people don’t eat Unprocessed. It takes an incredible amount of planning, not to mention cooking skills, and a working knowledge of food practices in the U.S. I’d say that the number of people in this country who know how to prepare a meal has declined. And those who know how to prepare meals are working with a skill set they’ve grown accustomed to using. I’m working on a post for next week which addresses these ideas.

2)Yeah, “this shit is hard,” but I’m thinking outside of my comfortable, little box. I felt pretty confident in our eating habits (and I still do), but it’s good to reevaluate once in awhile. Additionally, I’ve been brainstorming some ways to inform my community about an Unprocessed way of life!

3)I’m doing what I can. After I snapped the photo of the groceries for today’s post, I snapped this one (at 5:30 am, mind you):

This is the other side of the countertop where those groceries were photographed. And this is a good day regarding mess. It’s kind-of a snapshot of our life: a stroller in the kitchen, since we have no storage space other than the back of our Jeep Liberty, recycled and reusable goods, ready for their next life, a to-do list, broken down by hours, a National Geographic, for pleasure reading (hahahahahahahaha), the baby monitor, ticking down the minutes until I become a quinoa-banana-covered heap scrambling for an audience-less moment to pee, a breast pump, not for pumping, but because our son loves to turn it one and let the hoses suction his tongue (::facepalm::), and gum, which is PROCESSED! but we all have to freshen our nasty mouths sometimes, you know, because shit may be hard but we don’t have to smell like it.

Maybe tomorrow I’ll try making my own baking soda. (This is the part where you join me in a good guffaw.)

So how do you think Week One will go for you? Do you have a plan? Let’s support each other through it.

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16 Responses to October #Unprocessed Wk 1 Meal Plan

  1. Amanda @ The Eco-Friendly Family September 30, 2011 at 9:32 am #

    Wow, that’s seriously intense! I was exhausted just reading about your shopping trip. I remember how long it use to take me when I started trying to eliminate hfcs and various other ingredients. It looks like I should really take part in this and learn more.

    Thanks for the great post!

    • HealthfulMama September 30, 2011 at 10:37 am #

      Thanks for reading! I’m hoping next week’s shopping will be easier; I’ll be prepared!

  2. nsees September 30, 2011 at 7:30 pm #

    I’ve certainly had those shopping trips, especially when Lance did a sugar, corn product, and there was one other factor he eliminated. Definitely made me more aware of what we’re eating though!

    My meal lists sound a lot like yours so I guess thats a good sign for me :)

    • HealthfulMama September 30, 2011 at 8:21 pm #

      That’s great that your meal plan looks unprocessed! I figure you can’t go wrong with the veggie-grain-protein combo. It’s when you start trying to “go easy” that the processed part comes into play (and with snacks, too).

  3. Sarah White September 30, 2011 at 8:13 pm #

    Wow! I’m glad you’re putting in the hard work so I don’t have to! Just kiddins. This is seriously inspirational because I, too, feel pretty good about my family’s eating habits, but this October Unprocessed thing is really shaking up how I view my grocery list!

  4. Sarah @ MindfullyFrugalMom September 30, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

    Also, can you make my list this week? All I have so far is sausage, beets, and brussell sprouts. :)

    • HealthfulMama September 30, 2011 at 8:27 pm #

      How about sausage and peppers one night topped with tomato sauce and maybe quinoa or homemade crusty bread on the side?

      Roasted beets with an orange vinaigrette and goat cheese paired with chicken?

      And brussel sprouts are just good on their own ;)

    • HealthfulMama September 30, 2011 at 8:29 pm #

      Not sure how kid-friendly you find those, though :)

    • Sarah @ MindfullyFrugalMom October 3, 2011 at 7:17 am #

      Those all sound amazing. And oddly, both of my kids love any kind of sausage or pork product.

  5. Lisa October 1, 2011 at 8:12 pm #

    I’m seriously going to consider it a success if I cut our processed food item consumption in half this month. Thank you so much for sharing your menu!

    • HealthfulMama October 1, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

      That would ABSOLUTELY be a success!

  6. Brooke October 3, 2011 at 10:56 am #

    I didn’t find out about October Unprocessed until Oct 1, so there was no shopping in advanced for me. Fortunately, my farmer’s market was the next day so I stocked up there. I’m sorry you live where it is so hard to buy fresh organic produce. And it’s the shame of America’s grocery system that most of your produce is not. It’s a little late in the year, obviously, but do you have any space to grow your own?

    • HealthfulMama October 3, 2011 at 11:20 am #

      Brooke, great idea! A garden is on the agenda for next year. We’ve had quite a bit of construction happening around our property this year (county road construction) so we have been delaying putting anything into the ground until we’re sure our crops won’t be tampered with.

  7. christine October 3, 2011 at 11:50 am #

    I love this idea, but I need to be honest with myself and know that I am just not ready to make that leap. I would be happy though if I can get through October with less than one or two eat out or takeout dinners a week. And, if the dinners we eat at home are as unprocessed as I could make them.

    Tonight’s menu is an Asian Flank Steak. Not much processed in that – no, I didn’t squeeze my own OJ, or make my own soy sauce, but the marinade is made by me and not out of a bottle. It’s a start!

    Thanks for doing this and letting us follow along.

    • HealthfulMama October 3, 2011 at 8:18 pm #

      I’ll be honest with ya: I’m not making my own soy sauce, either, chica!


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