Healthy, hearty winter meal preparation is simple with these “real food” staples on hand.
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What is "real food"?
Real food is organic, seasonal, fresh, non-processed ingredients. Local is best, of course, but getting things fresh from closer-to-home is more of a challenge in winter, so when our neighboring farms are in low supply we do okay at small organic markets.
Here’s a shopping list* of things we try to keep in stock for a week of deeply nourishing soups, stews and suppers that keep us going through the cold months.
Real Food Shopping List
- Whole pastured chicken
- Beef Stew cubes (grass-fed)
- Soup Bones (grass-fed beef, foraged pork, pastured chicken feet)
- Pastured Eggs
- Fresh root vegetables--carrots (purple or red for more nutrient density), parsnips, turnips, beets, rutabagas
- Other seasonal vegetables-sweet potatoes, orange and purple varieties, white potatoes, cabbage (red and green)
- Greens (kale, chard, dandelion, spinach, lettuce)
*Some Real Food Shopping Tips
- Look for “pastured” eggs and chicken, if possible, as opposed to organic, free range, or cage free, all of which are misleading labels.
- Choose the loose vegetables over the ones in plastic bags, boxes or containers.
- Choose the carrots with the tops still attached. This usually indicates they are more fresh.
- Resist the urge to place all of your produce into separate plastic bags. Just put it all directly into your shopping bag and you’ll love not having to deal with the annoyance of all that plastic when you get home.
- Check out this blog for a lot more information on real food shopping, and optimizing nutrition when buying from the supermarket!
Below are meal suggestions for the week using these ingredients. You may of course want to supplement with bread, rice, pasta, cheeses, etc. as desired.
Real Food Daily Menu Suggestions
Roast the chicken (basic recipe here) with carrots, potatoes, garlic and onion. Add beets, turnips or other root vegetables tossed in olive oil if desired. Serve a fresh green salad with your meal. Remove all meat from the bone and whatever is left over from your meal refrigerate for later use. Place the chicken carcass (and the chicken feet, if you have them) in a slow cooker, cover with water, add with a quartered onion and two celery sticks cut in half, salt and pepper. Cook on low for 12-18 hours.
When cooled, strain the broth removing the bones and vegetable matter for the compost. Cut up onion, celery, garlic, carrots and chopped cabbage, cook in the bottom of a soup pot in plenty of grass-fed butter until tender. Add the broth and let it cook on low for 2-4 hours. Enjoy your soup dinner and store leftovers in the refrigerator to eat later.
Start your beef broth by placing the bones in the slow cooker just covered with water and adding onion, salt, celery and any other vegetable scraps. (Here’s the authoritative book on broth!) Set on low and let it cook for 24 -- 36 hours.
Chop up mixed greens and add the leftover chicken for a light supper.
Strain your beef broth early in the day and let it chill. Save the bones in the refrigerator. 2-3 hours before your meal, brown the beef stew cubes in butter with onion, garlic and a little flour. Stir in chopped celery, cabbage and any root vegetables such as parsnips, rutabagas or potatoes and allow to cook for a few minutes. Remove the beef broth from the refrigerator and take off the fat that has formed on top .When vegetables are softened add the skimmed broth to the pot. Cook it all together slowly on a low temperature a couple of hours or until meat is tender.
Serve leftover beef stew or chicken soup with a chopped slaw using the red cabbage, what’s left of the green cabbage, chopped celery, onion and a grated carrot. Mix together and dress with olive oil, apple cider vinegar and salt to taste.
Early in the day, start another batch of beef broth with the bones you used earlier in the week. For your evening meal, saute several cups of fresh spinach, kale or chard with some chopped onion in a skillet on the stovetop and whisk 4 eggs in a separate bowl. When the spinach is nearly cooked down, add the eggs to the skillet and stir until they are cooked and blended with the spinach. Season as desired, sprinkle fresh cheese on top and serve.
Cool and strain your beef broth. You’ve already removed the fat so you don’t need to chill it this time. Start your dinner by using any leftover vegetables you desire and slow cook them in the broth. When the vegetables are tender, take an immersion blender and partially puree the soup so that it’s thick and chunky. Serve with green salad if you still have greens left from the week or any leftover slaw.
So there you have it, a full week (or more!) of fresh, nourishing meals made from simple ingredients straight from the earth! Whenever you’ve eaten through all of this you can go shopping and repeat the menus, mixing them up or varying them in any way you want, or of course adapting your own favorite recipes to real food ingredients.
You get the idea. No plastic, cardboard, cellophane, preservatives, additives required--no factories involved and ideally, minimal distances traveled from ground to table. In our way of looking at it, eating locally and simply is an important aspect of slow living because it’s supporting better health, less waste and a more sustainable food supply.
Interested in learning more about slow living and the sustainable lifestyle?
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