If you’re type A and proud, checklists are a little bit of heaven. So is a real food meal plan. Which means that combined, a real food meal plan checklist is about as geeky and blissful as you can get. Especially for meal planning newbies.
If you’re wondering what the real food movement is all about, it’s like this: Real food gives you glow. It’s seasonal, locally-sourced, and minimally processed. It’s also a bit off the beaten path; like bone broth, sauerkraut, and lard.
If you’re concerned, that’s okay. We’ll walk you through real food meal planning, step by step.
From the outset, it might help to know that real food isn’t paleo, keto, or plant-based. Instead, it embraces the ethos of how food is harvested. And how it’s prepared.
Below are five steps to building a solid real food kitchen.
These steps are for everyone, beginners and veterans alike. If you’re a seasoned planner, our short list might inspire a little more fermented foods sprinkled throughout the week.
Or more liver, perhaps?
How to make a real food meal plan
1. Purge your pantry. Read labels and get rid of the junk.
If you look at a label and do not understand what’s in it, toss it. It’s not real food. Make the choice to stop eating and buying processed foods TODAY.
2. Begin with what inspires you. Maybe you have a deep love for real butter. Or you really enjoy fried eggs, bacon, and coffee in the wee hours of the morning.
There’s no rule that you must adopt a real food meal plan all at once.
Choose to focus on foods that excite you and begin with the foods in your home. As you start giving your body the nutrients it craves, you’ll feel better and want to keep going.
3. Eat with the season. Just like your wake/sleep cycles are linked up to sunlight, there’s some kind of magic wrapped up in the seasons of the year. Eating with those seasons – bright, fresh herbs during springtime and rich, meaty bone broth during the winter months – just makes sense.
Visit your local farmer’s markets or sign up for a CSA farm box to ensure that you are eating local, seasonal foods.
Why? Because seasonal foods give you the right nutrients at the right time of year. For example, citrus is in season during winter when our immune systems can certainly use a vitamin C boost.
4. Get to know your local farmers. This may be through your farmer’s market or the butcher shops in your area.
Talk to your farmers about what they do. Ask them what their animals eat and how they are raised. Ask them how they deal with pests on fruit and what are the best veggies this season.
Most will be happy to answer your questions and you will know the source of your food.
5. Eat what your great-great-grandmother ate. Not literally. If you prefer a variety of cuisines from around the world, eat those foods too.
But make it vintage.
Include traditionally prepared foods like soaked beans and fermented grains. Full-fat dairy, eggs with all their yolks, and animal-based fats like lard, bacon grease, chicken schmaltz, and tallow are welcome additions to the kitchen.
What’s in a real food meal plan?
Like all meal plans, a real food meal plan involves ingredient prep and a little forethought. For example, you may need to soak nuts the night before or pull the meat out of the freezer.
For folks following a real food meal plan, see if you can keep these nine foods in regular rotation:
- Dairy from animals raised on pasture.
- Eggs from happy hens that live outdoors.
- Meat and organ meats from pasture-raised animals or wild animals that have been sustainably harvested.
- Bone broth made with leftover bones, knuckle bones, or even chicken feet.
- Pickles, sauerkraut, and fermented foods.
- Grains, seeds, and nuts that have been soaked, sprouted, or soured – giving your digestion a little extra support.
- Saturated fat from butter, cream, ghee, coconut oil, tallow, and rendered lard…instead of canola, corn, or vegetable oil.
- Real salt with trace minerals intact, like grey Celtic salt or pink salt.
- Unprocessed sweeteners like raw honey, grade B maple syrup, or unrefined cane sugar.