We've been a "box free" family for over 7 years now, staying away from preservatives in most of our food. We do still buy bread from the store, granola bars, bags of chips, but no more packaged dinners. We are happier and healthier. The transition wasn't fast. It takes a long time to get used to cooking with more steps, seasoning your own food without little packets and mixes, making things from scratch. But, we found inspiration in the process. We practiced and got better and we can't go back now... really... it makes us sick when we eat out at chain restaurants :P We also eat less food now that we're getting real nutrition and our bodies aren't screaming for something more. Here's a few tips we follow.
Tip #1: filet chicken breast so that it's nice and thin and you will eat less of it. I've fed a family of 5 with only 2 and had leftovers
Tip #2: put your salad on your plate, not in a bowl on the side... it will take up all that space you were gonna save for mashed potatoes and gravy ;) It should take up half.
Tip #3: wean yourself off of the pre-made dressings and go for olive oil and vinegar, plenty to choose from! I prefer balsamic or white wine. You can also add some herbs, get creative!www.ehow.com/list_6021853_health-advantage
Tip #4: make your own sauces!! I swear you can do it!! Pre-made sauces are really high in fats, sodium, preservatives, and sugars. It doesn't take much more time and it's much better for you. Remember it's not healthier just because you put it together at home.
Tip #5: buy bulk, not boxes/jars/cans. Don't get hamburger helper, kraft, pasta-roni, pancake mix... you CAN COOK. Buy a bunch of pasta and figure out some new flavors! Buy a big bag of flour and make cookies like grandma's! Make pancakes without the mix :O make your own biscuits! Buy cans of diced tomatoes and tomato sauce to make your own chili or spaghetti sauce or minestrone or beef and vegetable soup. Learn your herbs and spices, have fun with it! I swear to you it's possible to make tuna casserole without opening a single can of Campbell's.
Tip #6: try new grains. Flaxseed, barley, cous-cous... there are some great blends out there that have more than just white rice! Whole wheat/grain pastas or veggie pastas are delicious also and healthier options. USE BEANS!!! They don't have to be dried, but learn to love them. Beans are especially good for those of us (like me) on a budget.www.riceselect.com/Default.aspx
Tip #7: buy and cook with what is in season. Your food will taste better and have more nutrient content.
Tip #8: shop on the outside perimeter of the store. That's where the produce, raw meats, and dairy are located. Try to stay away from the preservative-packed boxed and canned meals. The frozen food section should only be used for veggies: plain un-seasoned, flash frozen vegetables. OK, an emergency pizza and some waffles too ;)
Tip #9: drink more water. stop drinking soda... don't switch to diet, just don't do it. Wean yourself off if you gotta. The amount of calories and sugars in soda is mind-boggling. Diet soda is not better! Artificial sweetners are chemicals instead of something natural so it's not doing your body any favors.
Tip #10: do what you and your family can handle. Make your changes gradually so they will stick. Diets don't work, lifestyle changes DO! Teach yourself and your family about nutrition and talk about it, get excited about it, and change together.