I know how to cook from scratch. I know the benefits of cooking from scratch. I know it’s better for the environment, my bank account, and my family when I cook from scratch. But there are some things I’ve settled on for convenience, sacrificing as little health as I can in the process.
Be careful, that in an effort to provide the best food for your family, that you’re not sacrificing sanity, recreational activities, or sleep. But at the same time, don’t let your desire for sanity, recreational activities, or sleep dictate that you revert back to junk food. Health-giving food can come in packages as well.
These 5 packaged foods make their way into my grocery cart more often than not:
1. Apple sauce cups.
These are in lunch boxes just about every day, used as ‘dessert’ more often than not, and are a great way to hide supplements in capsule form. Choose organic, apples are heavily sprayed. I usually find them at Costco, but Amazon has them as well.
2. Frozen vegetables and fruit.
I would buy my Costco membership JUST for access to these awesome frozen vegetables. They make stir fries a snap. I like the cauliflower/broccoli/carrot medley and organic green beans. Frozen berries (choose organic when you can) make their way into smoothies, muffins, and scones regularly.
3. Epic Bars.
This is the first ‘food bar’ that I haven’t felt is a huge compromise. Epic bars are mostly meat, the liver ones are great as well. I keep a few in my car for breakfast most mornings. I still buy Lara Bars, but being nut and date based, those are more of a cookie that can hold you over until the next meal than a meal substitute. (My favorite is the beef, habanero and cherry)
4. Sparkling water.
A little more festive than my plain water with apple cider vinegar, more hospitable to offer to guests than my normal, “um, we have…. tart cherry juice, milk, or water.” And mixed with a little lemon juice and tequila, it makes a great weekend drink without sugar. Grocery stores have it (this is the brand I buy) for around $3/12 pack.
This is a treat, but it’s in my cart once a week. We like to mix it with sparkling water (#4), or use it in gummies. I buy lemon juice in bottles too – it adds a light flavor to recipes so easily. I limit purchase to one container a week, but juice does make it into my shopping cart most weeks.
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Cara, do you also drink the flavord sparking waters? From what I have read, even natural flavoring is not so natural, and my daughter’s reactions to natural flavoring are almost as bad as her reactions to food dye. But I like the flavored sparking water myself. I suppose an alternative would be just to add a bit of juice to the plain water.
I only buy the unflavored one, I add lemon juice to it sometimes.
We buy the applesauce (organic), too. They are just right to add to the following gluten-free recipes that I make: cornbread, pancakes, muffins, sandwich bread, and probably something else that I’ve forgotten. The applesauce helps moisten and hold the GF foods together! And I also usually add buttermilk powder for moisture and flavor because it’s something my dairy-free daughter seems to be able to tolerate well in recipes.
Have you tried True Lemon? It’s dry lemon in little pkgs…seems a bit pricey, but I keep it on hand for those times when I don’t have a lemon and we like the flavor. I also freeze cut up organic lemons for times when I need a little juice or flavor and I suppose that is better for us than the dried stuff.
I’m going to have to look up the Epic bars…we don’t use Larabars after I read the sugar on the label. Yes, I know they contain fruit and fruit is high in sugar, but we still limit the fruit and sugar. We buy Fuji or Granny Smith apples. Sometimes a few berries or frozen banana goes into smoothies or homemade breakfast granola. And I will buy some fruits in season from our local farmer’s market: we have a couple of neighbors who sell at the farmer’s market and don’t spray their fruit or veggies. They don’t claim organic, but they are so close, they deserve my business and my family benefits from the healthy food!
Juice is used as an occasional treat here and occasionally to flavor water, but we’ve all grown to love water. I’d add lemon to water, but somewhere I read that it is hard on your teeth to drink it like that.
Frozen veggies…yes! We can’t always afford or find good fresh veggies…especially in the winter in Iowa! When a little tiny package of zucchini is $4, we have to just do with frozen that I froze last summer even tho it’s mushy and needs to be mixed in with something to flavor it! Can you tell that I’m already looking forward to farmer’s market? And I do have a bit of space in the backyard…my zucchini and other plants are waiting for the storms and high winds to pass tonight and they’ll go in the ground before or after work tomorrow. Seems late, but then again it is Iowa and my peonies and lilac buds froze this spring…24 degrees overnight.
Love to read and get ideas from your posts. Thank you!
Hey neighbor, we are just north of you in MN (twin cities area). Yep, this crazy northern midwestern weather with the high tomorrow expected to be 47. YUCK!
After over 2.5 years on GAPS, we are coming off it, but still mostly on it. I figure that since we are still exhibiting the same issues we had before starting GAPS, we may as well have these “packaged” cheats. We have also allowed the occasional maple syrup (local farmer that also de-foams with real palm oil), sweet potato, and coconut sap sugar. So a little more Paleo other than we don’t do some of the thickeners like arrowroot. Making it into my cart as needed are products from Go Raw. They have little cookies made with soaked/dehydrated flax seeds and are sweetened with dates. They have more savory flavors also. As well as some coconut shreds flavored with fresh lime juice or chocolate covered (cacao/coconut sugar). They also have some sprouted seeds like pumpkin seeds with sea salt and sprouted watermelon seeds (they are tiny and white and delicious). We also have as rare treats stretch island fruit company fruit leathers and fruit chews. A few of the flavors options list “natural flavor” and we stay away from those. We only get the ones that have pureed fruits. Trader Joe’s also has 4 different fruit bars that are just dehydrated fruits put together in a bar, other than one of the flavors which has coconut as well. Jackson’s Honest Sweet Potato Chips make it into our cart as well. The chips and fruity treats are good for when my kiddo is participating in things with other children who eat SAD. After the 2.5+ years, my daughter is delighted at her still fairly healthy “treats” that she also gets to have out of a package. Although to be honest, her bringing home made items never really bothered her. And either due to where we live (MN) or just her attitude about her food, which is not embarrassed, and if anything she is proud to have home made food and we talk about how home made food is special because it is made with love, and most of the kids wind up asking her if they can have some! Anyhow, not all of the food gets into our cart weekly. Trader Joe’s is a bit of a drive, so I will stock up on a full box of each flavor bar, which will last us many, many months. We mostly use those sweet types of treats for special outings where other people are eating junk, such as birthday parties or movie theater outings, rather than daily or even weekly food items. The Go Raw stuff we do typically eat more often. Oh, and sometimes the squeeze containers of fruit show up as a treat too. We also sometimes get the Heavenly Organic mint patties, which has 3 ingredients…organic dark chocolate, raw organic white honey, and peppermint oil. They have a few other flavors that are also 3 ingredients (like an almond patty with almond extract).
Thanks for this post. We buy Jacksons Honest chips, kombuchas, and Amy’s frozen pot pies for my child.
I don’t have the budget for Epic bars, but I do have a freezer full of grass-fed ground beef and this recipe:
I’ve only made it once and am anxious to play around with new flavours (cocoa and cherries and nibs! wasabi and ginger! i don’t know what else!), but these are fantastic.
I followed the method exactly, although I did only use half as much coconut, as it seemed to be a LOT. I also used unsweetened coconut, but with the cranberries, the bars were plenty sweet. I can’t emphasize how easy this was: mix together with hands, press into cookie sheet, put into oven, cut into bars, you’re done–way easier than Rice Krispie squares ;-)! Only difference was, mine was ready in 4-6 hours (can’t remember which): definitely didn’t take 8 hours.
I store them in the fridge, but wouldn’t hesitate to have them at room temperature for a day while transporting them.
Everyone who tasted them thought they were great. I wasn’t expecting them to be that good—and filling!