Do You Have Kitchen Gaps?

[ The Granny Plan was originally inspired by a weekly series I wrote back in 2013. I thought I’d share some of the original for new readers … just click thru the links to get a little taste of the book from the linked post excerpts. ]

We’ve come very far in The Granny Plan over the past couple of months! In the beginning there was just you and your kitchen in whatever shape it was in. You have systematically brought some structure and routine to your kitchen … I’m really happy for you and so proud! Now that we are working our way toward the end of the series we need to consider any kitchen gaps.

What are Kitchen Gaps?

Since this is a program that is structured very generally to fit everyone there are bound to be gaps. Things that apply to you and your family and nobody else really. For instance, suppose someone in your home has diabetes or a severe food allergy. Then the food coming out of your kitchen will need to be adjusted for your situation. Maybe there are some adjustments to your pantry or your routine for cooking meals.

Or say you have a shift job. You work 12 hour days 4 days on 3 days off. Or your spouse does. You most likely can’t or don’t want to cook much on those days. If so then you’ll need to work out a plan that allows you to pre-prepare food for the days you have to work a lot. Or if you have a long commute. You’ll want to adjust to allow for quick breakfasts and easy to carry lunches that don’t skimp on the nutrition.

Or say it’s you that is sick. If you’re already ill with a chronic ailment you’ll want to approach The Granny Plan at your own pace. And you’ll need to make adjustments to help deal with any bad days where you just can’t get much done. Cooking ahead a bit when you have a good day is helpful, for instance. Making freezer meals works out well.

 

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Building up a Real Food Pantry

[ The Granny Plan was originally inspired by a weekly series I wrote back in 2013. I thought I’d share some of the original for new readers … just click thru the links to get a little taste of the book from the linked post excerpts. ]

We’re rounding that last curve around the track to the finish line in “The Granny Plan” this week. Oh, we still have a few more steps to cover but we’re getting so close! Today we’re going to talk about ingredients and the logistics of keeping what you need to make what you want on hand. Most times this is where people start talking about menu planning, but I’m not going to talk about that. While menu planning is a step up from panicked runs to the grocery store on a daily basis it still falls far short of ideal. And pantry cooking is so much easier than menu plan cooking that we’ll just jump right in. You’ll want to be prepared to make most anything you might usually make at all times. A good pantry reduces a lot of the work of scratch cooking.

The Pantry Principle

In my series “The Pantry Principle” I talk about how having a pantry full of ingredients keeps real food costs as low as can be and makes cooking faster and easier by eliminating multiple runs to the grocery store.

But how do we get there? A big backlog of real food sounds great but virtually impossible to achieve! First there’s storage, where would I put it? And next, how do I get the extra money it would take to buy ahead? What about spoilage? What about storing perishables with only a tiny freezer to do it in?

One Step at a Time

As with all things in “The Granny Plan” we handle this one step at a time. If we try to swallow this elephant whole we’re bound to make some costly mistakes. So let’s break it down into simple steps we can start on one at a time and gradually build up to the point we have the pantry we’d like to have.

First, realize that the list of things you’d want to keep on hand in a real food kitchen is pretty finite. Granny didn’t go to huge grocery stores … the variety of things you’ll need for real food scratch cooking is really quite small. I give a sample list of raw ingredients in this post what you’ll need as raw ingredients. Of course you’ll want to adjust this list to match your kitchen eventually, but don’t worry about that right now.


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Begin a Real Food Project

[ The Granny Plan was originally inspired by a weekly series I wrote back in 2013. I thought I’d share some of the original for new readers … just click thru the links to get a little taste of the book from the linked post excerpts. ]

Moving on to the second half of The Granny Plan

With the basics under our belt we’re now ready to move on to the fundamental foods of a real food diet. Excited? I know I am. This is where we start working on the core of what traditional food is all about, that is wholesome ingredients! Sure, we’ve made a few adjustments here and there leading up to this point but now we’ll start planning a strategy to undertake some bigger projects. Things like locating and buying raw milk, beginning to make fermented foods and breads with soaked flour, and stocking a pantry with wholesome ingredients so we’re ready for anything!

Are you revved up? Let’s get underway with a question …

What is the real food you most want to have?

Which food is most important for you to have on hand regularly? You’ll need to consider the needs and preferences of your family … then you’ll know exactly what to start on first  .

Do you have someone with gut issues? Maybe fermented foods are a high priority in your home. Got bread lovers? Maybe learning to bake soaked or soured breads is important to winning them over to this new way of eating. Someone who can’t live without their processed food treats? Learning to make desserts well may be in order. Does someone in your home have asthma? Finding raw milk may need to be first. Or is your spouse particularly concerned about getting good beef? Getting a freezer and stocking it may help ease the transition and make your spouse happy with all the changes.

All our families are individual, with our own individual food preferences and health issues. No one can tell you which real food project should be first for you. You’ll need to decide that for yourself. But at this point you are ready to pick a project and begin thinking of how best to accomplish it.

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What Can I Improve in 15 Minutes?

[ The Granny Plan was originally inspired by a weekly series I wrote back in 2013. I thought I’d share some of the original for new readers … just click thru the links to get a little taste of the book from the linked post excerpts. ]

This step is all about thinking, just simply thinking.

No actual doing involved, unless of course you really want to. Everyday pose this question to yourself: “How can I improve our diet today in just 15 minutes?”

No commitment to do any of the things you think up is required, at least not right away. Just think up one of two that you believe you could realistically do in about 15 minutes. Things like finding a healthy version of a favorite recipe or researching sources for olive oil. Like clearing your counters or pre-preparing snacks. Jot down your ideas somewhere where you’ll see them often. You can do any of them whenever you are good and ready, or do none of them at all. All we’re committing to is thinking about them.

Do commit to thinking up one each day. Just thinking about it will get the wheels turning in the right direction. You’ll find you are scarcely able to restrain yourself from doing them all right away. If this week is a calm one pick one or two to do, but no more for this week … we want to ramp up slowly. After that you can take them at whatever pace you like. The idea is to make a habit of thinking of the things that need to be done in small chunks rather than large projects. Small chunks that can be done today and move you toward larger goals.

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Eliminate One Fake Food

[ The Granny Plan was originally inspired by a weekly series I wrote back in 2013. I thought I’d share some of the original for new readers … just click thru the links to get a little taste of the book from the linked post excerpts. ]

Okay, now things start to get a bit tougher!

You’ll need a bit of resolve to follow thru on this one so pick a good day. One where things are relatively calm and peaceful. One where you have time to think.

This is the one you’ve been waiting for … we’re going to start eliminating the bad stuff and replacing it with the good!

Mostly people jump to this step first, I think. And then they pick the thing they are most attached to eating as the first thing to eliminate. Soon after in the heady afterglow of getting rid of that food they quickly rifle thru the pantry throwing out so much that there is nothing left to eat. This is a really big mistake that is bound to upset the family, and exhaust and discourage you. Instead we are going to go thru this one week at a time, one item at a time. Doing the BIG cleanout makes things so much harder than they have to be, stressing yourself and family out in the process.

So, let’s get to finding that first item …

Try to focus on foods that have either hydrogenated fats or margarine first. Look for ingredients like cottonseed oil, soybean oil, shortening, margarine, corn oil, canola oil, sunflower oil or any use of the word hydrogenated. If it has these toxic fats in it it should be amongst the first things to disappear from your kitchen.

Now, don’t be surprised to find that when you check the ingredients labels on virtually any processed food you are going to find one of these fats listed. This is the major reason why processed foods are so very bad for you.

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Feed Yourself First

[ The Granny Plan was originally inspired by a weekly series I wrote back in 2013. I thought I’d share some of the original for new readers … just click thru the links to get a little taste of the book from the linked post excerpts. ]

So now things are humming along. Everyone has veggies for dinner, the kitchen in mostly clean most of the time, there are two good meals on the table for dinner each week and you have your apron and shoes! We are well on our way!

 

Our next step is about keeping ourselves well …

We all work too hard for the most part and far too often we run on empty. You know what I mean. Skipping a meal here and there, staying up too late, having a plan for every hour of the day trying to cram a few more things in. And it all looks absolutely necessary I know … I do most of the same stuff when I fail to stop and think thru the consequences. Maybe it’s just getting older, I don’t know, but the consequences seem to come up a lot sooner than they used too  .

For everything in our lives to work we have to maintain our health. It is the foundation upon all else rests. You know the old saying “If you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.” So this weeks step is about keeping that high on your priority list. We need to feed ourselves first in order to be able to take care of everyone else.

What exactly is feeding yourself first all about?

It’s about eating good nourishing food regularly. Granny served 3 square meals a day and she sat down and ate them too! It’s about including superfoods like cod liver oil in your diet. And about getting enough sleep and relaxation time. Wondering where you’ll find the time for this?

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Clean as You Go

[ The Granny Plan was originally inspired by a weekly series I wrote back in 2013. I thought I’d share some of the original for new readers … just click thru the links to get a little taste of the book from the linked post excerpts. ]

Our next step is all about cooking and feeling happy about it.

What, you say? Isn’t cooking fun? Lots of people cook as a hobby and really enjoy it! Cooking real food everyday is bound be be a real joy!

Well, I hate to be a downer but cooking isn’t always fun. And it’s best to talk about that right upfront. Sure, cooking a special meal on a lazy day for people that are eager to eat it is fun. But imagine instead that you are cooking daily for a picky toddler, a harried spouse who is used to restaurant meals or fast food. Imagine further that your day is booked, totally booked. So you arrive home toddler in tow right at the witching hour when toddlers are happy about exactly nothing … they just want to eat! Then imagine that the sink is stacked with dishes from last night and the kitchen in general is a mess. Your spouse arrives home starving and suggests you just order something quick. What will you do?

Most of us don’t have to work very hard to picture this situation because we are living this situation! In the beginning it will be tough to choose to cook and the cleanliness of the kitchen will be a big psychological factor in the choice you make. It’s very hard to walk into a dirty kitchen, clean up the mess and then cook. If inspiration hit you by the time the dishes are done it’ll be long past.

Suppose that instead of leaving the cleanup for later you decide to do it right after dinner? That sounds a lot better, and it is. But if you must return to a kitchen that looks like a bomb went off after you eat your dinner just how good will you feel while cooking that dinner? Or while eating that dinner? You’ll become very susceptible to believing it’s just not worth it.

 

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Our First Main Dish

[ The Granny Plan was originally inspired by a weekly series I wrote back in 2013. I thought I’d share some of the original for new readers … just click thru the links to get a little taste of the book from the linked post excerpts. ]

This week we crank up the kitchen machine!

A kitchen is kinda like a machine. One that isn’t being used regularly is stiff and creaky, one in constant use becomes like a well oiled machine. Things come into the kitchen like ingredients, water, energy and things flow out … finished meals, snacks and dirty dishes. A kitchen without a good system is like a machine that isn’t carried for. It clogs up with dirty dishes, unused and unwanted gadgets, food that goes bad, ingredients for recipes no one ever has time to make, and of course just general mess. Or in the case of a kitchen that’s never used at all … you know, like the beautiful magnificently equipped kitchens you see on tv right before the owners of said kitchen go out for dinner  . That kitchen is like a machine that has seized up through sheer lack of use.

If your kitchen sounds anything like these don’t despair! We’ll start out with the very basics of turning the crank on your kitchen machine to get things going. This week is part about attitude and part about cooking.

Take Charge of your Kitchen!

First we need a daily reminder that we are in charge of our kitchens and that what we are doing is urgently important! That reminder is wearing an apron and shoes in the kitchen. I’m channeling Flylady here I know, but this step matters a lot though it sounds kinda petty at first. At least that’s what I thought when I read Flylady’s admonition to get dressed to your shoes. Sure, it’s about comfort in the kitchen and protecting your clothes. But more importantly it’s about attitude. The shoes will help keep you from getting tired. The apron will be the uniform that will remind you of your new professional title “She Who Cares About What This Family Eats”.

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It All Starts With Buttered Carrots

Today is the day …

Today we start practicing step #1 of “The Granny Plan”! We’re all ready to dive in but before we do let’s take a moment to consider what we’re working to achieve with this plan. I think there is a little confusion about what we’re working for … some think we’ll be learning the fundamental dishes of real food cookery, or that the plan will be so very detailed that it won’t be a good fit your specific situation. Nope, not the case. Let’s consider what “The Granny Plan” is and isn’t about.

What “The Granny Plan” isn’t

Just to be really clear about what we’re working on here, we are working on habits. Routines. Making the whole thing as mindless as driving is to you today. Remember when you were learning to drive? How complicated the whole thing was! How could anyone do this everyday? Without wrecks? It took sooooo much concentration. But before you knew it you were whipping in and out of traffic, talking with friends, listening to music, all without a hitch. “The Granny Plan” isn’t about specific recipes, or must-make-dishes and exactly how to do them. Sure we’ll cover a few basics here, but for the most part I’ll be directing you to try some of the recipes you have stashed away that your family will like, or to make something you already make more often. We’ll be working on the routines that keep you ready to cook mostly. And routines that make the family happier with that cooking.

“The Granny Plan” is about getting the basics down

I’m a amateur hobbyist guitar player. And I love to read  . Something that James Taylor’s brother Livingston Taylor wrote in his book Stage Performance comes to mind here. He urged all performers to stick with the level of playing they were VERY comfortable with on stage. Most beginning performers do the opposite, trot out the hardest thing they know in an effort to impress the audience. Then they’re nervous, mess up, act embarrassed and alienate the audience. When a performer sticks with the basics things are easy and the performance is smooth, the audience loves you for your easy confidence and familiarity. Same thing when learning to cook regularly. Sticking with the basics first, then slowly venturing out into new territory brings your audience on board with this whole real food cooking eat at home thing. Often we think we need to replicate restaurant meals or make something so good they’ll just have to rave about it to get them with the program. But we have no practice at it, it gets messed up, they pick at the meal or worse complain, dinner is exhausting and stressful, then we don’t feel like cooking and they don’t feel like eating  . Next dinner everyone wants to order pizza and we give in exhausted from the struggle of it all.

Truth is Granny didn’t make elaborate meals everyday. She made basic fare everyday with a few special dishes thrown in from time to time to spice things up. We need to learn to mindlessly make the basics. When we can do that, we’re ready to add the spice.

On that note lets get started with this week’s lesson!

It All Starts With Buttered Carrots …

We’re going to start out slowly with just one small task. I know you have the energy and enthusiasm right now to take on so much more but I’m going to ask you not to. Trust me that one small task is the best way to start. I don’t want you to flame out by overdoing it or scare the family with too many changes at once.

Learn more about the complete Granny Plan available on Kindle or as a PDF ebook

[ The Granny Plan was originally inspired by a weekly series I wrote back in 2013. I thought I’d share some of the original for new readers … just click thru the links to get a little taste of the book from the linked post excerpts. ]

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