During lunch time today, I was just thinking about our pantry and the meals that I have planned out for the week and how I can start reducing the number of boxed and canned food items that we use.
As a general rule, I try to stay away from most boxed and processed foods and make as many things from scratch as possible, with the obvious exceptions of pasta, cereal, sandwich bread, peanut butter, and crackers. Any baked goodies that we consume have to be from scratch, mainly because I feel as though I'm "cheating", or not using my full potential as a baker by using a mix from a box. Daddio often comes home from grocery shopping (yes, he does the grocery shopping, mainly because he is the one with the job, and therefore access to the money, and because I got sick of him complaining when I stick to my list and don't come home with any "treats" or "snacks"), with packaged mixes for brownies or peanut butter cookies (hint, hint). This drives me nuts because I hate using a mix to bake with. Although I fully understand the convenience of them, and admit to using them in a pinch, I hate doing it because I have brainwashed myself into believing that cakes, and cookies, and brownies etc. are no good unless you have poured every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears into producing them. But that's just me.
Getting back to my original topic, I try to avoid processed foods and would like to cut more out of our diet. I make my own from scratch chicken fingers, macaroni and cheese, soups, and meatballs. We don't buy hot dogs, Spaghetti-Os, or french fries, among other things. I think that the boys will be better off for it in the long run because they won't be trained to eat only processed foods. They will have a taste for the "real" thing, which will hopefully make them less picky eaters (fingers crossed).
The main culprits that I still use right now are just diced tomatoes, green enchilada sauce, chicken broth, instant oatmeal and spaghetti sauce. I have stopped using recipes that call for cream of ____ soup (unless it is a favorite recipe that I have to make). During the summer time I try to use fresh tomatoes in place of canned, and have started using recipes that use homemade sauces. I understand that it is going to be unavoidable to get away from ALL canned foods, (most homemade tomato sauce recipes call for canned tomato paste), but I'm trying to limit it as much as possible. Ideally, I would like to use all fresh fruits and vegetables (I hate it when Daddio comes home from the store with canned fruit for the boys!), as opposed to frozen, but depending on the season, it does get rather expensive.
Part of my New Year's goals is to try to eat and cook healthier. Any tips or words of advice?
*I'm using the term 'friend' loosely here as it really came from a guy I went to high school with. He's a bit of an ass, but every now and then, he comes up with something actually worth listening to, which is surprising.