I get some version of these questions a lot:
I can’t get my family to eat real food. They’re used to the processed stuff and they complain when I serve them homemade food. They just want the stuff that’s familiar to them.
I can’t afford real food. It’s just so expensive! How am I supposed to feed my family all natural and organic when we have such a low budget?
We can fix those problems. Really! There are 10 ways to help your family eat more real food, no matter what your budget or how much they complain.
1. Eat More Pizza
For real! Learn to make soaked whole wheat pizza dough (use some white flour to make it lighter if your family isn’t “there yet,” but mine loves this as is). Top the pizza with organic tomato sauce, real mozzarella cheese, and lots of meats and veggies. You can stretch the more expensive, healthy meat and organic veggies further since they’re on a pizza, lowering the price. Plus, everyone loves pizza, right? They won’t even realize it’s good for them!
You can also serve the dough as breadsticks or mini-pizzas, or use these pitas to make personal pizzas.
2. Hide the Liver and Veggies
Make homemade sloppy joes, tacos, chili, and other thick, meaty recipes. But instead of using only ground beef (buy the best you can afford), add 1/4 lb. of chopped liver. Pureed or shredded carrots, zucchini, and other squash can be hidden as well. I do this sometimes and I’m honest that it’s in there. I don’t really like to trick people. But, if it’s the only thing you can do at first, then…go for it.
3. Make Healthier Treats
Nobody wants to feel like eating real food is all about eating twigs and leaves, right? Try these chocolate chip cookies (based on garbanzo beans!), these power bars, or these chocolate brownies (based on almond flour!). A lot of great foods can be in treats, like real butter, whole milk, pastured eggs, and more. Keep the sugar low and don’t bake too often, but enjoy a treat now and then.
4. Don’t Feel Guilty About Starch
We’ve heard for so long that all grains and starches (think potatoes) are bad for us that you may feel bad for relying on them. Don’t. A diet based heavily on refined starches is bad, for sure. A diet that includes a moderate amount of whole grains and real potatoes is fine, and they do contain a lot of nutrients too. Serve rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, carrots, whole wheat, and don’t feel bad about it. These foods are cheaper than many, and are familiar to most people.
5. Eat More Tacos
For real! Pile on the healthy grass-fed meat, organic beans (they’re cheap if cooked from dry), raw cheese, real sour cream, salsa (get organic cheap at Costco or make your own), lettuce, tomatoes, guacamole, and so on. Make it a salad if you prefer; it can be customized to be grain-free, vegetarian, etc. This is a really healthy meal and many of the additions are pretty cheap. Only the guacamole and meat are really expensive, but they stretch with everything else. Plus, everybody can make it how they like and most everybody likes it!
6. Make-Your-Own Casseroles
Try out lasagna with added veggies and healthier ingredients. Make a simple beef and potatoes dish, and add veggies on the side. Use what you have to make things your family likes. Make your own basic white sauce and cook chicken and rice in the crock pot. You can make family favorites pretty simply with a few swaps for homemade ingredients. Even the famous green bean casserole!
7. Don’t Buy All Organic
I don’t. I buy what’s on sale, what’s local, or…what I can afford. You’ll see plenty of frozen peas, non-organic broccoli, non-organic cauliflower, and so on. Really beyond potatoes, tomatoes, and apples, not much of our produce is organic. I personally choose to prioritize high-quality animal products, so we do get raw milk, grass-fed butter, pastured eggs, organic yogurt, local pastured meats, etc. But you choose what is most important to you. It doesn’t have to be everything.
8. Get Excited About Dinner
Tell your family you’re making them something delicious for dinner. Make it sound amazing. Don’t approach it from a negative, apprehensive “I hope you like this.” If you believe in it, they’re more likely to eat it -- and even love it.
9. Stretch the Scraps
“Trash” can be turned into some pretty delicious stuff. Extra egg whites can become meringue cookies (low sugar and kids love them). Apple peels can be sprinkled with cinnamon and dried to be “chips” (kids love these too). Potato skins can be sprinkled with salt and dried as “chips” too. Leftover mashed potatoes can be mixed with eggs and fried in coconut oil. A tiny bit of taco meat can be layered with potatoes and cheese and baked for a taco casserole. There are so many delicious things you can make with things you might otherwise throw out!
10. Give It Time, Do What You Can
Patience. Nobody’s diet changes overnight and nobody’s diet is perfect. Real food bloggers who’ve been “at it” for years still go out to restaurants sometimes. They don’t buy 100% organic, perfectly sourced food. They eat too much sugar sometimes. They live a real life, just like you. If today you served something new and your family ate it, you win. If you tried a new recipe, you win. If you upgraded a food purchase from ‘okay’ to ‘better’ then you win. See? One step at a time.