So I kept track of the types of foods I ate last week. How much was prepared? How much was fresh or homemade? Keeping track really made me focus on what exactly I mean by “packaged, processed, prepared” foods. First of all, some foods are minimally processed (canned vegetables) vs. highly processed (i.e., boxed dinners). The former are about as good as fresh, but the latter are steeped in preservatives and chemicals. I finally decided that what I mean is foods you buy prepared vs. you could buy the ingredients and make it easily. I found myself writing lots of notes on my food journal, suggestions, excuses, clarifications, etc.
So the good, fresh foods I ate were:
Coffee with sugar and ½ & ½
Whole grain bread
Tuna with mayo
Whole grain crackers
Whole wheat bagel
Peanut butter – natural
Smoked gouda cheese
Curry rice with peas and raisins (homemade)
Egg sandwich (homemade: bread, egg, cheese, turkey, ketchup)
Pancakes (from scratch)
Bbq beef with bbq sauce (homemade)
And the prepared foods I ate were:
Ham lunch meat
Reese’s peanut butter cup
Pancakes (whole wheat mix)
Guacamole (store bought)
Yogurt (with food starch, pectin, lots of sugar and too many other ingredients)
Cake (boxed mix)
Sushi – CA roll (store bought)
Fiesta Salad (store bought)
Chicken wrap sandwich (store bought)
Wheat pizza dough
Bottled spaghetti sauce
Chocolate-dipped goodies (pretzel, graham cracker, English Toffee, Oreo)
Smoothie (to go)
Iced mocha with whipped cream
Girl Scout Cookies
(I listed each food once, although I might have eaten it multiple times in the week.)
Overall, I have to admit, I had a stellar week! I ate a lot fewer prepared foods than I’d expected. I’m sure a lot of it has to do with planning out dinners in advance and writing a grocery list.
Some of the little notes I wrote were: for sodas, drink one can per day maximum. For grain products (bread, cereal, tortillas, pasta, bagels, etc.), buy whole grains (1st ingredient). Instead of mayonnaise, use mustard or hummus when possible. Lunch meats, like ham or turkey, have a lot of nitrates, which are bad for you. I wrote yogurt in both lists because I had two different kinds. Yogurt can have a LOT of sugar, fillers and preservatives in it. Check labels and find the brand with less of all that and very few ingredients, like it used to be. Yes, I eat a little chocolate almost every day.
So am I going to try to eat fewer prepared foods than I did last week? No. Considering the total quantity of food I ate last week, only 15-20% was prepared foods. Most of it was homemade. A slow cooker helps. Cooking too many homemade waffles on the weekend helps us eat leftover, toasted, homemade waffles during the week. Planning to cook the evenings I have time to and planning on leftovers the evenings I don’t helps. Stocking up on fresh foods every week helps. Lots of little things help, just like in the rest of life. It’s never one big thing; it’s always the accumulation of little things that make the difference.