Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Biting Off More Than I Can Chew

When I initially proposed the idea of eating healthy for a month, I didn't do a very good job thinking it through.  There is so much involved with changing your eating habits!  Even the word "healthy" is problematic.  Healthy means something different to every person/specialist.  I thought about what eating well would mean to me and jotted down some notes.      

Here are my Goals and Guidelines for the All-Healthy April challenge.

Goal 1:  To see if one can eat well on a $300/month food budget.
Goal 2:  To improve my eating habits.
Goal 3:  To try new recipes.

Guideline 1:  No heavily processed foods (Cheetos, Kraft mac and cheese, Totinos pizzas, etc.)
Guideline 2:  No fast food (duh - see above)
Guideline 3:  Make meals mostly from scratch
Guideline 4:  Be realistic!!

I'm not going to say "no carbs" or "no sugar" or "no dairy."  For me, this challenge is primarily about the financial aspect; the health aspect is secondary.  My budget is $300.  I want to see how far I can go with this, infusing my diet with more fruits/veggies and refraining from processed, prepackaged foods. 

Not-so-shocking confession:  I have a tendency to go overboard with things.  I'm an all or nothing girl, which can be a roadblock when I try new things like this.  To keep it real, I am trying to be very conscious of my limitations.  I need to be realistic! 

Let me give you an example of what I mean by "be realistic."  It is tempting for me to want to start from scratch; to clean out my pantry and fridge and buy everything new.  But it doesn't make financial sense for me to buy a new jar of all-natural peanut butter when I've got an existing jar of Jif sitting in my cabinet.  If I swapped out every item in my pantry, my $300 food budget would be spent before I even got through a week of my challenge.  Instead, if I've got it in stock (and it's healthy-ish), I'm using up what I've already have before I buy a healthier replacement.  Examples of this would be things like peanut butter, jam, pasta noodles, rice.  But any replacements I buy will be of the Trader Joe's variety.  See?  This is the kind of realistic compromise I'm talking about.

I also realized that being realistic would mean making a few exceptions to my All-Healthy April eating plan.
- If someone else is paying, I can order whatever I want.  Eating out is supposed to be enjoyable!
- If I'm dining at someone else's home, I will eat whatever is served.
- Holidays:  Easter, my birthday, my sister's birthday, my husband's birthday (yep - lots of birthdays this month!)

I'm only a couple days into this challenge, and already I'm finding it very difficult.  I desperately need to do a better job menu planning.  In fact, I'm going to spend a day of my spring break just going through recipe options, creating a menu calendar of sorts, and grocery shopping. 

I am so appreciative of everyone who has offered me tips or links to resources.  I've been slowly sifting through all the goodness.  Thank you!  I'm sure I'll have lots of updates for you this month!

(Oh, as a side note, Brian and Cooper are not participating in the challenge.  If you know my husband, you know there is NO WAY I'm getting him to eat asparagus or quinoa!)

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