Simplifying Our Food

One of the goals of our Simple Year project was to focus on simplicity in our lives, and that includes our kitchen and what we choose to eat. We’ve also been spurred along by Stephen’s celiac disease diagnosis. We had to learn about foods that contain gluten and make sure we weren’t using it in our kitchen.

I guess we started out doing what a lot of people with a new diagnosis do: we tried to find gluten free replacements for the items we used to buy without thinking including bread, cereal, cookies, and crackers. Those things are expensive, let me tell you. A loaf of gluten free bread can easily be $6-7. For one tiny loaf. So, in the last few months we’ve started reigning the grocery spending in. It was getting insane with two tweens and a husband with celiac. And, in general, I’m trying to move to a more plant based diet and am eating tons of produce. The local health food store is crazy expensive and I’m not a big fan of meat that’s been injected with tons of stuff. I’ve read too much. (See Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.)

So, we found our way to our local farmer’s market. And there we found not just produce, but a local beef and pork farmer (grass fed, no hormones) and a chicken/turkey/egg/honey farmer (free range). I feel like we’ve won the lottery!

We went this past weekend and I purchased some beef, including fajita beef and some steaks. The farmer also makes little beef jerky sticks without all of the additives and junk you’d find in traditional beef sticks. My kids love them and I can use them in their lunches for school. Our chicken lady wasn’t there (we arrived late in the day), but I still had a whole chicken in the freezer from the last trip.

We go to the same produce guy and because we buy so much (it fills up the trunk of my car), he gives us a good deal. The produce in these pictures is what we got this weekend for $88.

Produce2 Produce1Our meals have transitioned to produce heavy, meat as a garnish, and simple preparation. For dinner I will do a meat of some kind (smaller portions), vegetables (usually roasted) and a fresh fruit. Sometimes I’ll add rice or beans.

RoastedVeggiesThis was my lunch the other day:

LunchI instagram a lot of food pics, so if you want to follow along, I’m @KandiceBridges over there.

Our purchasing habits have changed for sure with respect to food. We rarely eat out and I pack everyone’s lunches. I work from home, so I eat from home. I’m still trying to get the food spending lower, but right now I’m happy with what we are buying and eating.

Question for you all: my kids eat more than I do. Like seriously. I’m not alone, right? Right?

18 Responses to Simplifying Our Food

  1. My 8 year old frequently eats more than I do, and when my daughters were tweens and teens, I couldn’t believe the amount of food they would pack away! Awesome pictures, do you feel like you spend less at the farmer ‘s market? It’s always more expensive where I live, I just figure it’s better quality.

    • I definitely spend less at the farmer’s market vs. the local grocery store or Whole Foods. The volume of food consumed in this house is amazing, but when I think about it whole foods are not as calorie dense as processed foods, but they are more nutrient dense. So, there you go. 🙂

  2. My son (now 11) has been eating more than I do, or my husband does, for yeaars now. And he is not overweight. At all. (I buy him slim jeans and he wears a belt to keep them up).

    I’m amazed at the variety of produce you get where you live! We get lots of citrus and avocado, but not the tropicals — bananas and mangos. Where do you live? (I feel I should know this, but I’ve forgotten.)

    • I live in Dallas, Texas. The fruit came from a produce dealer, so I’m sure it gets shipped in from Central or South America. The last trip to the market they didn’t have any mangos. Sadness. We love mangos around here.

  3. I have such farmers’ market food envy! In the PacNW we never get anything like you’ve shown here. Lemons!?! That’s amazing. Our food bill is sorta high because I am not a fan of prepackaged… and I buy a lot of organics… and I’d rather spend a few extra bucks and support a local farm than get a deal on something trucked in. I figure it’s an investment in health and community. Um, that’s called justification. (Also: I realize my family is blessed to be able to afford it.)

    And it’s weird, right?, that a bag of chips are cheaper than a bag of apples? It’s sad that whole foods (organic or not) are the least affordable option.

    Both our girls (14 and 9) regularly eat me under the table. Actually, our 9-year-old frequently eats more than my husband. Both are tall and slender and seem to be constantly growing (my teen is almost 6′).

    • In all honesty, the produce came from a produce dealer. And, I agree that a bag of apples should not be more expensive than chips. It’s terrible. I am surprised by our food bill, but like you am grateful that we can afford to eat so well. Both of my kids are trim, too. My son isn’t that tall, but he’s VERY thin.

  4. My kiddos out-eat me and Hubby . . . 13 year old boy (no surprise) and 11 year old girl. Both are way active and healthy, so it’s good! Have you considered joining a co-op? Not a co-op really, but one of those things where you give the farmers money. They use the money to plant and grow the veggies (just veggies). Each week, like on Tuesday, a box shows up on your door-step with that week’s harvest (depending on the farmer, you may have a local pick-up day and location). I haven’t done it, yet – I’m close to trying it – but my friends who have done it love it because VOILA! food shows up. What they’ve liked most is the cost is reasonable AND they get all kinds of fun stuff to try along with the traditional veggies. And they know EXACTLY where the veggies come from – they can drive by the farm and see it if they want.

    Your eating changes are inspiring me to change some habits here . . . LOTS of habits here. I’d love to see more of how you’re simplifying in the kitchen as those types of posts become blog-worthy 🙂 We just moved and have a giant green-house . . . I am awful at gardening (however, my mom loved/loves it!). The kiddos are excited to try growing things to eat. Kids are awesome that way 🙂 I guess I’ll be along for the ride on this one.

    • We’ve tried a CSA and a co-op, but found it was too heavy on the greens. At our farmer’s market we can buy our meat direct from the farmer and the fruit comes from either a produce dealer or direct from the farmer – depends on the season.

  5. You should look into joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). You team up with a local farm and pre-pay for the quarter in return for great local produce every week. The one I have breaks down to $25/week for a variety of local, organic fruits and veggies. We choose to do every other week since there’s only 2 of us, but something tells me you could easily do it every week! You just have to be prepared to try things you might not otherwise buy, but it’s fun and tasty!

    Also, sometimes our CSA teams up with a local ranch and you can buy 1/4 of a cow or pig, usually the cheapest way to get quality meat like that.

    • We did try a CSA a couple of summers ago. It was way too heavy on the greens and not enough fruit. We actually tried more than one, same problem. I’d rather go to the Farmer’s Market and buy what I know we will eat. But I totally support the concept of buying direct from the farmer!

  6. No you are not alone. My 4 year old eats a lot more food than I do. As for a bread you might want to see if you can find Bobs Red Mill gluten free flour and just make your own if you want to or some other flour that is gluten free by the same company. Good luck it is not easy.

  7. Kandice, I am gluten free also, in fact recently had to remove ALL grains from my diet. It is a huge undertaking, but one that is well worth it as I am feeling better. One blog I LOVE that you might want to consider checking out is She has many recipes that are modified easily and most are based in produce. They are all delicious and what’s more…many have 5 ingredients or less and take 30 minutes to make. Amazing stuff! Great job and I love reading your blog!

  8. Its not at all difficult to make a decent gf loaf or rolls that cost much less than buying it. Also, if I am traveling I have been able to buy gf bread in Austin, Houston and Seattle supermarkets that cost a lot less than $7, freezing it and taking out slices for the gf person wouldn’t make eating gf bread that expensive.

    • Thanks for commenting Linda. It really does cost that much for a loaf of GF bread near me. I’ve checked Whole Foods, Tom Thumb and Sprouts. $5.99 is the lowest I have seen. And some weeks my husband will eat two loaves if his lunches are sandwich heavy. Not to mention he can put back half a box of cereal in one sitting. It adds up! I’m trying to substitute produce for processed GF items now. Maybe one day I will learn how to make GF bread but it’s not in the cards for now.

  9. Hi Kandice, My mom has celiac and I find that I feel better when I eat GF, too. America’s Test Kitchen just released a gluten free cookbook with a ton of great recipe ideas and GF baked goods including things like pizza dough, pancakes, etc. I ordered mine from the ATK bookstore but their books can also often be found at Costco.

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