Follow along as I try to create every meal from scratch for a month in the “30 Days of Real Food” challenge.
What is “real food”? To me, real food is eating something that once grew in the ground, or on a tree or in a bush. It also means living bacteria such as those found in yogurt and fermented foods. It can be interpreted as you, in your kitchen, baking and cooking what you’re going to eat from scratch, too.
Simply put, it’s making dishes with basic, non-processed ingredients that you can pronounce and that are nourishing. It’s cutting out unnecessary salt and sugar and adding them in yourself to highlight a dish versus using it to make up for a lack of flavour or freshness. It’s finding a connection to what you’re putting into your body.
As you’ll read in the post below, I’ve decided to try out something new for the month of June: eating only whole foods and meals that I’ve made myself, from my daily meals down to my own condiments.
Here’s an example: Let’s say I want to make myself a veggie burger with all the fixings and some sweet potato fries. To do this, I’d have to: make the burger myself from scratch (including toasting and processing my own breadcrumbs from pieces of homemade bread if the recipe called for that, plus re-hydrating and boiling beans or lentils); prepare the vegetable toppings; make my own homemade ketchup and mustard from fresh ingredients; create the dough for my buns, let them rise and bake them; and chop my sweet potatoes into fries, coat them and cook them in the oven.
Phew. All that for a simple burger and fries? Yep. That’s what this challenge is about.
And I want you folks to follow along with me.
Eat only homemade foods and whole foods (no packaging or prepared ingredients/meals) for 30 days. If there’s any way to make it, then make it!
- Complete the “30 Days of Real Food” challenge!
- Eat healthier by avoiding fast food and restaurant meals.
- Reduce my consumption of added sugar, sodium, artificial sweeteners, unhealthy additives, etc.
- Become more familiar with whole foods and how to incorporate them into my diet.
- Continue on my weight loss journey.
- Get more creative in the kitchen.
- Learn more about fermentation, low-sugar canning and other types of preserving, and eat more of these foods.
- Spend less at the grocery store.
- Save money by not eating out or buying convenience store snacks.
- Eat ONLY homemade foods for a month.
- No eating out at restaurants.
- No grabbing pre-made snacks, drinks or meals from convenience stores or hot bars.
- Endeavour to eat plant-based as much as possible and use up the entirety of my two CSA boxes during the month.
- No pre-chopped, canned or prepared vegetables or fruit (frozen fruits and veggies with no added ingredients allowed, mostly because I love frozen berries).
- No store-bought canned or bottled foods of all types.
- All sauces, dressings, condiments (including nut butters and jams) and bread items must be homemade. When in doubt—try to make it!
- Try to limit refined sugar consumption as much as possible.
- No alcohol or soda (mostly because these are unnecessary things to drink and are empty calories).
There are always exceptions. In this case, I won’t be making my own cheese, carbonated water (my favourite drink), yogurt (such a pain, I think I need to find a new recipe!) and obvious things such as cocoa powder, wheat flour, sugar, bread yeast, etc. That being said, I will be making my own butter, bread, cornmeal and more. Basically, small things that I’ve already made and I’m comfortable making.
Why Am I Doing This?
First, I’ve always wanted to try something like this, just for the novelty of it. I’m a little bit (read: a lot) obsessed with BuzzFeed’s articles and videos that detail 30-day challenges, and I wanted to do my own. I already make the majority of my food myself and figured I’d challenge myself to go 100 per cent homemade and see what happens.
Also, as I’ve been eating better, I’ve found that when I have lapses in willpower and scarf down a package of sugary gummy candies, a huge block of milk chocolate or a greasy mega-sized hamburger and french fry meal, I’ve felt legitimately sick to my stomach. A few days ago, I binged on a pint of indulgent ice cream and immediately felt like I was having heart palpitations. When I eat a pile of oily fries, I feel bogged down and sluggish. I always thought people were stretching the truth when they said these things, but now that I’ve experienced it first-hand, I can’t deny it. My body needs healthy food, especially from meals made of ingredients I’m familiar with.
(Of course, I love sweets and will never give them up. In fact, there will be a few dessert recipes I’ll be documenting this coming month. But moderation, I’m learning, is key!)
I’ll be posting sporadically on my social media channels throughout the “30 Days of Real Food” challenge, especially Facebook and Instagram. At the end of the month, I’ll write an in-depth post about the experience, including any changes in my body and mood, how my food budget was affected, what challenges I faced and lessons learned. I’ll photograph what I ate and will link to the recipes I used. I might even throw in a few recipes of my own. If not, those will follow in the coming months.
Want to Help?
What are some of your favourite completely from-scratch recipes? Do you have a go-to healthy, seasonal lunch or dinner recipe you want to share? Or maybe you just have some advice? Let me know in the comments below!
T-minus nine days to 30 days of real food, folks. Here we go!