real food for busy women

posts for Pat: real food for busy women
by Jackie Patti

I am starting a new series on here, inspired my friend Pat who I recently reconnected with on Facebook; thus this series is tagged "posts for Pat". Pat and I hadn't spoken in decades and in catching up, of course, I spent much time ranting about real food, because I am me. I sent links to find local farmer's markets and CSAs, to find local grass-fed meat, to find local raw milk. And when we next spoke and she told me she couldn't do this, I misheard her and answered the wrong question.

Coming from where I've been lately, due to disability and the resultant lack of income, I must stretch the heck out of my food budget in order for us to eat real food. I explained to Pat why it didn't cost more, which really wasn't her issue. Pat is in a different place in life than I am. She lives in the city and works a corporate salaried job, then spends weekends on her farm with her beloved horse Coco. While she's not rich by any means, where she is poor is not finances, but time.

When I realized how I misaddressed her concerns, I also realized I had been there. I've had the deadline that keeps you working 50-60 hours weeks, where all the grocery shopping I could do was hitting a drive-through going to and from work. Where the emergency that happened at 4 PM kept you at work hours past when the salad you brought for lunch was long gone and you could barely WAIT for a pizza or sub to be assembled on your way home. There were way too many days where even THINKING about cooking when I got home was just entirely out of the question.

The thing is women living lives like that are guilty because they feed their families out of boxes too often. Worse than living with that guilt is that the high-stress busy life REQUIRES a nutrient-dense diet to fuel it, to maintain your own health. Eating all that crap destroys health, leaving you susceptible to winding up ill.

This new series is about what one can do with EXTREMELY limited time to improve your own nutrition and better provide for your family even when life has little time for the kitchen.

fast, cheap and good: pick two

The old project management truism expresses the problem well.

The problem with hitting the drive-through or stocking your freezer with nukable meals is the two you are picking are fast and cheap, thus you are eating crap and destroying your health. That's the problem I want to address in this series, because everyone deserves to eat well, no matter their circumstances.

So my thesis is that GOOD is non-negotiable; we need to nourish our bodies with real food, not food-like products.

cheap and good

Most real foodie web sites have the same focus I personally have in my life, aiming for cheap and good; this is why I cook from scratch, garden extensively, raise chickens, squirrel away squash, nuts and apples in autumn when they're cheap, make my own mayo, yogurt and sauerkraut. The Real Foodie movement is full of women like me and has much good advice if that is where you are in life:

fast and good

This series is going to focus on fast & good, to address folks like Pat. So we are not aiming at cheap, but Pat is not wealthy either. She can't hire a chef to provide real meals in her home; she can't eat out at real restaurants that source fresh, local ingredients daily. So while cheap is not a primary consideration, we're not going to spend a small fortune either.

Pat CAN do a lot I don't do, like purchasing pre-cut melons to save time, or bagged salads and packages of frozen vegetables. If time is more valuable to you than money at this point in your life, this series is for you.

first step: you need a crockpot

If you don't have one, you need a large capacity crockpot immediately. A crockpot means you can spend 5-10 minutes in the morning while your coffee is brewing and come home to a hot, yummy meal.

I searched Amazon for crockpots and found the following two; my criteria were at least 6 quart capacity, the crock is removable for easy cleaning, free shipping, high reviews and low price. I located the two advertised to the right, the first which is manual and comes in either red or silver; the second of which is programmable and comes in silver only. If you don't have a crockpot and are pressed for time, click on either ad to buy immediatly.

If your criteria differ from mine, or you hate the color choices, you can look at all slow cookers at Amazon.

In either case, if you buy through clicking here, I will receive a small commission. Thanks!

Once you have a crockpot, let's start using it!

This is the flat-out simplest possible recipe you can make. It will feed a couple of adults dinner for two nights with leftovers for lunch or a large family.

easiest possible crockpot beef roast

Next time you're at the grocery, pick up a 4-5 lb chuck roast (preferable) or round roast. It's best if you can get grass-fed meat, but depends on your grocery - we'll work on sourcing later.

In the frozen vegetable section, look for 1 pound bags of "stew vegetables", basically a mixture of potatoes, onions, carrots and celery; grab 2 of them. Alternatively, if your grocery sells prepared produce, you can buy fresh, you want a total of about 2 pounds of veggies.

The "recipe" is put the veggies in the crockpot, put the roast on top, and turn it to low for 8-10 hours. No, you don't need water! Just the veggies and the roast is all.

When you get home, the meat will be amazingly tender and will come apart with just a fork. It will have produced broth (moreso with the chuck roast than the round roast) and will smell amazing. You can season with some salt and pepper, perhaps some garlic powder if you like, and chow down.

future of this series

You don't have to change everything at once. If you make this simple recipe a couple times a month, you will be adding significant nutrition to your diet with an extremely minimal time investment. Eating pizza some other day will NOT undo the nutrition in this meal!

As we go on, we'll have lots more easy crockpot recipes, as well as lots of other tips to add real nutrient-dense food to your life with minimal time inputs. And I promise this series will never mention grain grinders or home canning!

For now, get a crockpot if you don't have one, and pick up a roast and some veggies for some near-instant crockpot pot roast!

Disclosure: Affiliate
What's your biggest challenge in eating real food?