How it all got started – July 29, 2011

The family project of not eating any more “processed” food started in January of 2008, another idea by my wonderful husband. The catalyst was a visit to the doctor, where he was informed (not for the first time), that his cholesterol was… well, not “that” high, and definitely not yet in the “bad” range, but “borderline”, and creeping up, rather than down.

 The doctor’s recommendation: Medication.

 The husband’s recommendation: Try a different diet first.

 He noted to the doctor that his entire family, to his knowledge, had *borderline*cholesterol; that in fact if there was a family in which the cholesterol stayed just outside of the “bad” zone, he belonged to it. Nevertheless, the doctor stated, if medication was not started, there was only one direction the cholesterol would go. It wasn’t down.

 It was along this time that (mainly out of his deep-seated hatred for pills) he started wondering if the cholesterol would lower itself (in time) if we didn’t have so many processed, ground, powdered, liquefied, pre-mixed and other products in our pantry, along with cans, jars, and other additives for said products. He wondered if we would learn how to eat a balanced meal that didn’t come from a freezer or a box. He suggested that, instead of canned vegetables with their salty, metallic taste, a diet slightly higher in fiber and seasonal fruits and veggies was in order. I think, in the back of his mind (though he didn’t say it, sweetheart that he is) he wondered if his wife would learn how to cook.

 Wait…cook? I did cook! Hamburger Helper – yum! Kraft Mac’N’Cheese was the perfect side to the rotisserie chicken I picked up at the supermarket. Lunch for the kids? Pizza Rolls and Tater-Tots! Ro-Tel could be added to Velveeta for the perfect game-day snack. Betty Crocker Au Gratin Potatoes were the greatest thing since pre-sliced Wonder Bread as an addition to the pot roast cooked in Lipton Onion Soup Mix. Mexican night? Not a problem – those Taco Bell Dinner Kits were on sale anyways…right?

 Well, thanks to the Home Cooking family project, those are all gone now…and continue to stay gone.

 I’ll be the first to admit that, in the beginning, I resisted. I did not throw out the boxed mixes and kept right on buying them, despite the looks he gave me. I rolled my eyes right back at him and continued cooking the way I always had.

 But then, something wonderful happened. I chanced one day upon a cooking show and tried a recipe from it. From scratch, I made chowder, and managed to make something edible (for once). Encouraged, I moved on to other things: meat loaf, chicken pot pie, and spaghetti sauce, to name a few. If I could find a recipe for it, I ran it by my husband, who was far more experienced than I in how food should taste (and how it should get that way!). If we decided together that it could work, I cooked it.

 With each recipe my timing got better and my food tastier. I began relying less and less on packaged mixes and more and more on solid ingredients. Hamburger Helper disappeared from the pantry, along with the Mac and Cheese and other boxed items. Rice a Roni was a thing of the distant past.

 Now, three years later, I’m proud to say that the only real packaged items in our pantry are Raamen Noodles (for hot days), a couple of cake and brownie mixes (even though we rarely use them), and a few other canned goods only because they were on sale. We are now totally committed to cooking from scratch, and I enjoy it much more than I ever thought I would. Dinner takes slightly longer to plan, and maybe a few minutes longer to make, but it’s worth the effort to know exactly what goes into the food – and where everything came from!

 Stay tuned for further updates – with family recipes! 🙂

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