It’s already over a month into my Real Food, Real Homesteading Challenge, and I have to say–I’ve learned a lot!
Eating a real food, traditional diet can be hard. It requires time and commitment, and usually, time is something most of us are seriously lacking these days. Since I’m currently only working part-time, I’ve been able to use my time more intentionally when it comes to real food. Even then, I still find it can be hard to fit it all in!
When you take serious responsibility for your food production, there are a lot of details and tasks to be attended to and worked out.
Maintaining a sourdough starter.
Baking your own bread.
Making your own yogurt.
Brewing your own kombucha.
Preserving the food you’ve grown and harvested yourself through some mean or another.
Cooking wholesome, delicious meals from scratch. Every. Single. Day.
It’s a lot, people! Anyone committing to this lifestyle gets that. And it can be seriously discouraging. Sometimes, I really just want to hop in my car and hit up the nearest drive-through joint, rather than sort through my fridge, freezer, and pantry to figure out what the heck I have to make.
That’s why, this week, I’m going to be focusing on stocking the basics of a real food pantry (as well as what I try to always have stocked either in the fridge or freezer).
Stocking a Real Food Kitchen
The biggest way to stay committed and be successful in a real food diet is to have a well stocked pantry. Real food means using real ingredients, from scratch. And that can certainly get overwhelming quickly, especially when you don’t have what you need on hand. By keeping your pantry/fridge/freezer stocked with some basic ingredients, you will eliminate stress, save time (not to mention frustration), and continue to feed yourself nourishing, wholesome foods.
Below, I’ll list the food/ingredients that I try to always have on had, divided by whether it’s a pantry, fridge, or freezer item.
Flour (White & Whole-Wheat)
I always have a bag, or two, of flour on hand for baking. I don’t often use flour (or eat bread, for that matter), because I’ve found it makes me bloat, but there are times when I crave it, and when I do, I bake it! I know baking bread seems difficult, but I’m here to tell you, it totally isn’t! I was definitely one of those people who never baked bread because it looked way too complicated, and I didn’t think I could. After all, there had to be a reason everyone simply bought it from the store, right? RIGHT?
Wrong! It’s so easy! I’ve found it’s more time-consuming, than anything. And when I say time-consuming, I mean it has to rise for hours. Not that you will be working on it constantly. The reality is, baking bread is pretty simple, and definitely healthier for you. Not to mention, totally frugal. I love this method for baking a delicious, crispy loaf of bread using white flour. If whole-wheat is what you’re looking for, this recipe is good, too!
I adore honey. Seriously! Nothing beats raw, local honey, people. I always have a jar on hand, because I use it for a million and one things. Really, I’ve counted. Not only is it a delicious, natural alternative to artificial sweeteners, but it can also be used in your beauty and healthcare regime. Honey has natural antibiotic properties, and has been used for thousands of years to heal wounds, as well as a variety of other ailments.
I try to buy my maple syrup local as often as possible, and always organically. Recently, I found someone 5 minutes away that’s selling it! Local is best, man! I use maple syrup as a sweetener in many recipes, while also using it in my morning coffee to add a hint of flavor. I think it pairs beautifully, since it’s more of a heavier type of sweetness–if that makes any sense to anyone but me ;).
Nuts & Seeds
I always have some assortment of nuts and seeds in my pantry. I almost always have pecans and walnuts, as well as chia and flax seeds. I add them to tons of recipes. Generally, they’re always found in my yogurt or smoothies. They go great in salads and other recipes–be creative! Nuts and seeds are a great, natural source of potassium, fiber, magnesium, and vitamin B6 (walnuts & flax seeds are also high in Omega-3 fats!).
Rice & Quinoa
Rice is always on hand! It’s a favorite around here. It can pair well with almost any meal, can be added to soups in place of pasta, or can be made into it’s own meal with some simple, wholesome additions! I usually always have brown rice, but have been known to stock other varieties, as well (basmati, wild rice, jasmine). Along with rice, I always have quinoa on hand. Quinoa contains every amino acid, while also being rich in lysine (promotes healthy tissue growth). Stellar grain, my friends!
I have jars upon jars of spices in my pantry. It’s a simple way to add that extra punch of flavor to any meal. If I had to pick only a few I could have, they would be: Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Pepper, Cayenne, and Garlic. I generally use those the most.
I have a love affair with peanut butter. THERE. I said it. It’s true–PB is all that is good and right in this world. I may or may not also have a jar of almond butter on hand that I generally neglect for my homemade peanut butter. I love this recipe and use it often.
I always have some meat thawed/thawing in the fridge for whatever meal its for. I always have chicken (pastured) and some sort of fish (wild-caught). Sometimes I have beef, though grass-fed beef is so expensive. I’m considering buying into a co-op from the next town over. Local, grass-fed beef?! Yes, please!
The key to using said vegetables and not letting them go to waste (ask me how I know this) is to properly prepare them when you first get them home. I take the award for buying tons of organic, fresh veggies and then either forgetting half of them are even in there, or being too lazy to prepare them when I need them. The trick I’ve found the most helpful is to get them all washed, cut, etc. right when you get them home, so they’re ready to pulled out and eaten/cooked with minimal, if any, effort.
I buy my raw milk from a local farm about 15-20 minutes from my house, for $8 gallon. Usually, I take a ride there once a week, to every other week, depending on how much we go through. Do you know how delicious raw milk is? And how great it is to have raw cream from said raw milk?! It’s the bees knees, people. I use the cream for coffee, as well as to make butter. Be still, my heart.
Believe it or not, I almost never refrigerate my eggs. Usually, they’re perfectly content to sit on the counter. If unwashed, the natural bloom is left in tact, effectively sealing off the egg from any outside bacteria. However, if we DO wash them (chickens aren’t the cleanliest of animals), they get popped into the fridge. To test whether an egg is good or not, simply float it in a glass/bowl of water. If it sinks, you’re good to go. If it floats, toss it. Our chickens are raised on non-gmo, organic feed and have ample room to free-range, if you’re wondering what type of eggs we eat ’round these parts.
To round out my fridge supplies, I keep stocked an assorted variety of different condiments. Ketchup, salad dressings, mayonnaise, etc. I’ve really tried to cut down on the clutter in the fridge and stock only what’s needed, as I found there was tons of stuff sitting in there we really never ate, and that didn’t adhere to what I would consider real, traditional foods.
I always have a variety of staples stocked in the freezer. I’m the type of person that likes to have some back up in case we are snowed in, lean on money, etc. I think that being prepared is important, especially for those that homestead. Part of being self-sufficient is being prepared for whatever situations may arise. Having extra food in the house is part of being prepared!
I always have a jar or two of bone brother frozen in the freezer for when I need some. I add it to tons of different recipes to give it that extra nutritional boost.
Whew! That was a lengthy one! I wanted to make up for missing last weeks update 😉
If you’re still with me, thanks! I’m sure your eyes are glazed over at this point.
Let me say now, your pantry/fridge/freezer may not look like mine. That’s totally okay! Real food is very much a personalized diet, I believe. It won’t be the same for everyone, as we all have different tastes and dietary needs/restrictions.
Keep it real, y’all!