I recently watched the movie “Food, Inc.”. After hearing about it for years I figured it was time. I’m not normally impressed by these shockumentaries since they usually have hidden agendas. From my background, I can tell you that a lot of what they shared regarding the meat industry is true. But what really caught my attention is the thought that you can eat prepared foods more cheaply than wholesome, real food. That thought is a bit scary to me in fact.
I figure it’s because of two main reasons- the government subsidies that they discuss in the film and the fact that your average American really has no clue how to prepare food from scratch. And when I say scratch, I’m not talking about fixing a box of Mac n’ Cheese or cooking frozen ravioli and adding sauce from a can. When I talk about cooking from scratch I mean making the pasta from flour, eggs, salt and oil then making the sauce from real milk, real cheese, etc.
This is where the challenge comes in. My roommate and I have been really experimenting on the food front lately. Making cheese, beer, wine, bacon, paté and sausage all from scratch in the last week. We collectively decided that it would be fun, and a good challenge, to rid our kitchen of any prepared foods for month. I’m talking nothing more than items that contain one ingredient. No mustard, ketchup, salad dressings, pasta, bread, lunch meat, cereal or cheese unless we make it ourselves. Truly making everything from scratch, while still eating a diverse and balanced menu.
The first step will be to clean out the cupboards of any prepare foods, then restock with whole foods (not the store :), well…unless they sponsor us!). Then it’s all about making the basics that will ease the prep for each meal such as condiments, lunch meats, etc. We are cheating a bit though- since cheese takes a month or better to age it will be already be finished when we start our month, but still made from scratch.
I will be blogging, recording and writing about everything we do. I can’t promise that each and every recipe will be shared but the ones that are paramount to this type of diet will be. Homemade mustards, cereals, etc. aren’t something that most people ever even think about making so that’s the stuff I want to share and show how it can be done without a lot of fuss.
My roommate Chris is also committing to some blogging and sharing on a daily basis. It should be interesting to get two perspectives, mine as a professional chef and his as the average guy that likes to cook. Together it should make for a good view of what it takes to live completely on real food. Since there are two of us and it’s a dedicated project I will have it on it’s own blog.
Speaking of real food, we aren’t necessarily limiting ourselves to organic, all natural or local. That’s usually the preference anyway but it may make it too difficult to do everything we want for this project. The simple limitation is that we buy only items that have one ingredient. The only exceptions will be when it’s impossible or severely impractical to find. Things such as milk come to mind, since it has vitamin D added, although we did just stumble across a source for raw milk so we may just take the cream from that for cheese and go real old school on the dairy! Either way, we will share what we are using in the recipes so you can see if we “cheated”.
We will also keep track of all the food purchases and compare it to a regular month of groceries. No doubt we will be eating healthier and the challenge will be rewarding, but we also want to see if we can eat 100% real food for less money. We don’t buy any fully prepared foods now, and never do fast food, so I think we will be close to the regular budget. The real sacrifice, if you can call it that, will be in time. But, I think with some organization we can keep that to a minimum.
We plan to start and finish the challenge in March. Who knows where this will lead. It could be a fun challenge that simply has us eating better for a month. It could turn into a life long dietary change. Or, possibly a cookbook and partnerships to keep doing it. Whatever happens with it, I hope to learn a bunch and share that knowledge with the folks that want it.
Now, all I need is a name for the blog and website to put all of this together. Got any ideas?
Also let me know if you can think of anything you would like to see done 100% from scratch. I’m looking for ideas, as always, to keep myself out of a rut!