Want to feed your family healthy food but feel stumped as to where to shop for real food groceries? Hopefully this post will take away uncertainties and ease your mind!
The Best Places to Shop for Real Food Groceries
I have good news for you! Shopping for real food for your family is not as difficult as you might think. You don’t have to live in a big city. You don’t have to have access to fancy stores like Whole Foods. You can buy and eat real food no matter where you live! I live in a small town in the middle of Nebraska. If I can do it, you can do it. :)
1. Your Local Grocery Store
Yep. While it might seem that your regular local grocery store doesn’t have much to offer, I’m here to tell you that it is still full of real food. Vegetables, fruit, rice, beans, meat, eggs, nuts, oats, and the list goes on. Even the smallest of grocery stores have these basics! They might not be of the highest quality, they might not have a wide variety of options, but these are still real foods and can allow you to eat wholesome meals without falling back on highly processed foods.
Admittedly, smaller grocery stores tend to need to charge more for their food. Sometimes the produce selection is not as good as what you’ll find in a larger store. But you can still eat well enough. And sometimes, a local shop owner is willing and able to order groceries per your request. It never hurts to ask!
Become familiar with your local store(s) so you can learn your favorite sources, find the best prices, and become assured that no matter what your other options, you can still find good food right up the road.
This food co-op has been a main food source for our family for years! They are based in Oregon, but ship to hundreds of drop points every month. If you aren’t already a member of Azure Standard, I highly recommend giving it a try if a drop point is available in your area. (If there isn’t one currently, you can look into starting one. That’s what I did many years ago, and now they deliver right to our town!)
Azure Standard carries just about every food item you need, from meat to fresh produce to dairy to frozen food and everything in between. They also have paper goods, diapers – everything a large grocery store has. They allow you to buy individual items or a full case of that item for a discount. I consider Azure Standard to be like a Whole Foods grocery store that is less expensive and delivered directly to me! I love it!
I’ve been able to enjoy this fun real food groceries delivery option for the past two years and while I don’t order every time it is available, I sure do love it on the weeks they offer great cases of produce at great prices! This is what a typical basket can hold:
Check here to see if there is a Bountiful Basket location near you. If there is, you can order as often as every two weeks. They supply you with a wonderful basket full of fresh fruits and vegetables for just $18. They also offer “Add-Ons” if you’d like to purchase cases of fresh produce to your order at a discount. Some locations also offer bread, and sometimes there are special offers like coconut oil or apple cider vinegar.
Bountiful Baskets is a lot of fun and gives us some great options for having plenty of fresh fruits and veggies on hand!
Like I always say: When life gives you Bountiful Baskets, make Stir-Fry.
It’s amazing all the real food you can find at Amazon.
I rarely share food deals here anymore. (I usually save them to share with Savings Club Members!) But when I came across one as amazing as this for Organic Coconut Oil, I decided that I can’t not tell you about it. :)
I just got this big tub of organic coconut oil for just $12.43! How? So easy. I had to question if it was too good to be true. Nope, just true. And good. Now to decide how many to buy…
This Real Food Cheat Trick is going to sound fairly lame. I admit it. But this tip saves me oodles of time without costing much, if any, extra money! This is how I save time chopping onions!
How’s this for a tip? Want to save time chopping onions? Don’t chop them. Hold your applause. Please stay tuned for more brilliant tips like this one.
Now that I’ve fully prepared you to be unimpressed, I will admit that it’s likely that many of you will thoroughly dislike my trick. Why? Because most certainly the smell of freshly chopped onions and minced garlic sauteing in a pan with olive oil or butter is incredible!
You are right and I agree. But I still like my trick and I love the time this saves.
How I Save Time Chopping Onions
I always keep a huge supply of Dried Minced Onion on hand. I almost never go to the trouble of chopping an onion. I simply grab my jar of dried minced onion, dump in the desired amount, and stir it into the meat I’m cooking. It still smells amazing. It flavors the food marvelously. And I save myself the trouble of chopping an onion, crying a river, and cleaning up the mess afterward.
I suppose it goes without saying that this method also keeps me from having to work at getting the onion smell off my fingers. (Yes, I know. Rub your fingers on stainless steel. I do. It works. But still.)
Also, for people who don’t love chunks of onion in their food, but do love the flavor onions give, using Dried Minced Onion is a great solution!
I might as well make a garlic confession while I’m here.
I frequently cheat with that too. True story: I almost never buy fresh garlic, a fact of which has many of you throwing tomatoes.
Fresh garlic is tough to beat, no doubt. But time saved in the kitchen trumps all, in my book. So I either keep a jar of minced garlic in the fridge or I grab my jar of dried garlic powder from my spice cabinet. My food still tastes delicious, but I’ve saved myself some work by using these convenience items.
So there you have it. Now you know. I often cheat and use already-prepared onions and garlic. You can’t talk me out of it. (Though I suppose you can try.)
But doesn’t this cost more?
Minced Onion appears to be more expensive per pound compared to cost per pound of fresh onions. However, Dried Minced Onions have been dehydrated, shrinking them down and changing their weight. You’ll get a lot of dried minced onion per pound compared to fresh onions. One small fresh onion equals 1 Tablespoon Dried Minced Onion!
Where to purchase Dried Minced Onion
Most grocery stores carry these. They can be found in the aisle with the spices. However, I typically purchase it in bulk either from Azure Standard or Amazon.
Now it’s your turn to tell me if you feel it is worth taking the extra time to chop onions and garlic. If you’re often feeling tight on time in the kitchen, I recommend giving this a try, especially on busy days!
Apparently necessity is the mother of invention. Though I’d prefer to think that I’m the mother that came up with this great way to transport hot food for lunches.
You will certainly love this “transporting of hot food” idea, but first I must tell you why we needed to transport the hot food in the first place.
I don’t think I ever told you about my husband’s latest entrepreneurial endeavor. (Please never make me say the word “entrepreneurial” out loud. I can barely type it, much less pronounce it. There are too many “r’s” in weird places and it is just too much for my mouth to handle.)
So about Matt’s latest entrepre– business venture. Several months ago he studied and apprenticed and studied some more, then he took two extremely difficult tests in order to become a licensed radon mitigator. What does a licensed radon mitigator do, you ask? Well, they mitigate radon, of course.
And by that I mean that he does a lot of hard work for many hours per project in order to safely and legally remove radon gas from homes. It is extremely hard work. There are pipes, holes, and fans involved, and that, my friends, is about all I know. Matt though? Well, he can do all the chemical equations and precise measuring and hole drilling and pipe placing and um…other stuff with brilliant accuracy. I am very proud and impressed with all he knows and does.
All this husband-bragging to tell you about my genius idea for sending a hot lunch to a work site with him. Oh please. If Matt can be a genius who mitigates radon gas out of homes in order to prevent people from getting lung cancer, surely my “here’s your hot lunch, Babe” idea is also genius. Nod and smile. Nod and smile.
It all started on a cold day I was sending Matt off to another city for his latest radon mitigation job. Packed lunches are a must for these jobs so that he can grab a few bites and keep on working to get as many hours of work in as possible in a day. But sandwiches? Well, he is a bit tired of those at this point.
So I decided to try putting hot leftovers into the awesome “fake Yeti” Matt and the boys got me for Christmas. (By the way, actual Yetis are awesome but can be expensive! Matt found me this knock off for only $13, and it came with a stainless steel straw. I love it!)
I’ve been very impressed with how my insulated cup keeps hot drinks hot for HOURS! So I thought, surely it would keep hot food hot for hours too. I decided to give it a try, with a ready apology in advance to Matt if my brilliant idea provided him with barely tepid chicken and rice for lunch that day.
I’m happy to share that Matt’s lunch was piping hot that day, even after he let the cup sit in his cold truck all morning. (And by cold, I mean it was 15 degrees that day.)
Oh, and do you see the fork sticking up through the drinking slot in the lid? Brilliant idea, if I do say so myself. I inserted the fork and let the end stick up through the mouth piece so he didn’t risk losing track of it. Also? The smaller insulated cup is one Justus had received as a gift. I filled it with steamed veggies to send along with the bigger mug filled with chicken and rice. Matt ate like a king that day. I was so glad to provide him with a great meal to help sustain him in his hard work day.
Radon? You don’t stand a chance when my husband comes to take you on. Hot lunch for the hard working radon mitigator? No problem at all.
Quick Links for insulated cups to transport hot food (and drinks)
My friend Emily has been encouraging me to try this little “bake your rice in the oven” trick for quite some time. As it turns out, this really is the easiest way to make brown rice!
Now, I’ve been making rice on the stove-top for years without any problem. Then I got an Instant Pot and tried making rice in that.
Confession: While it is actually very easy to make rice in the Instant Pot, I kept having to look up how to do it because I could never remember from one time to the next. So ultimately, this didn’t make my life easier. Ha! Old habits die hard. I didn’t want to have to actually think about how to make rice. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
So I went back to my “cook rice on the stove-top” method.
Then Emily said something again about making rice in the oven, about how easy it was, and about how the rice turns out perfectly every single time. Fine. I decided to try it. After all, the method did sound very simple.
Boom. I’m going to use the oven method every time from now on. It’s a no brainer! And it actually is easier than making rice on the stove-top because I don’t have to boil water first, then add rice, then turn down the heat, yada, yada.
Here are the basics you need to know to make brown rice in the oven:
Always use 2 parts water to 1 part rice.
Cover the dish.
Bake for 1 hour at 350.
Here’s a basic picture tutorial. Watch and be amazed.
1. Put rice in a dish.
2. Add water. Cover, and bake for 1 hour at 350.
3. The rice is done. It is perfect. Your life just got easier.
4. Be amazed and look at the rice from a different angle. Stare joyfully at the rice.
It’s great fun to make buttermilk! Wait until you see how easy it is!
See, this is one of those things you can tell people that will thoroughly impress them, “Oh yes. I make buttermilk. No big deal.” The people will be shocked and amazed, but then you’ll have to admit, “Ok, fine. My two year old actually made the buttermilk. It really is that easy. Still please be impressed.”
Why would you want to make buttermilk?
Well, many recipes call for buttermilk, but as for me, I mostly keep it on hand so I can make this Simple Ranch Dressing. We go through gallons of this dressing as it is our family’s favorite. Seeing as we try to eat salad every day, we must have the ranch dressing in the fridge at all times. Buttermilk is a key, delicious ingredient in this dressing. And since buttermilk is a cultured dairy product, this makes our salad dressing even more nutritious!
The main reason I make buttermilk instead of buying it is because I want to use my farm fresh, raw milk. Raw milk contains nutrients and digestive enzymes that help us break down and absorb those nutrients. So this in and of itself is a win! Then when you add culture to this raw milk, it creates probiotic bacteria that is even more fabulous for our gut health!
So homemade raw cultured buttermilk? This is absolutely filled with great nourishment and digestive benefits!
I guess it goes without saying, then, that when I use this Homemade Buttermilk in our Homemade Ranch Dressing, then we pour this wonderful dressing all over our mixed greens, we’ve got ourselves an incredibly nourishing side dish (or main dish, if we add more substance to our salad!).
I used to buy packaged culture to start a batch of buttermilk. (Here’s an idea of what that looks like.) That’s a more pure way to start a batch, so yay for that! But it’s quite a bit more expensive. Plus it takes a couple extra steps.
So at this point in my blessed, full-scheduled life, I have chosen the easier route. (Simple specifics below.)
The Best News about Making Buttermilk
Once you have made one batch, you can save the last cup to start a new batch. Then you can continue making batches of buttermilk from your previous batch, over and over again. Isn’t that cool?
Allow milk/buttermilk mixture to sit on the kitchen countertop for 12-36 hours or until the milk has become cultured.
You will be able to see that the new batch has turned into buttermilk by tilting the jar. If the contents of the jar have thickened and "plop" over when you tilt the jar, your buttermilk has formed! If the mixture is still runny like milk, continue to let the jar sit on the countertop.
Once the buttermilk has formed, transfer the jar to the fridge, using as needed.
Save one cup of buttermilk to use in subsequent batches, following the directions above for additional jars of buttermilk.
Do not be afraid to leave this at room temperature for several hours! This is how the milk naturally ferments and cultures. Not only is this practice safe, I am quite confident that the probiotic bacteria formed during this process makes for an even safer-to-consume dairy product!
Can you make buttermilk with store-bought, pasteurized milk?
Yes. While I’ve not tried this, research tells me that this method works with pasteurized milk also. Though apparently, using ultra-pasteurized milk will produce inconsistent results. If you’ve had experience with making buttermilk with store-bought milk, I’d love to hear how it has worked for you!
Recipes that use Buttermilk
Here are the recipes I’ve shared here that call for buttermilk:
Today I want to hear the ways each of you has found to organize your recipes!
As you all know, I am a recipe nut. A full fledged recipe guru. Recipes are my thing. I love them. I collect them. I invent them. I dream about them. And often these recipes include butter. This cannot be helped.
But recently I was asked, “Laura, what’s the easiest way you’ve found to organize your recipes?” My response, “Oh, I don’t organize them. I just create them.”
You guys do not want to see my recipe cabinet.
Yes, it’s true. I have an entire, very unorganized cabinet full of recipes. (And also a cabinet full of Pyrex. These are needed so I can bake the recipes piled up in my cabinet. And also so that I can enjoy the butter.)
So my recipe cabinet. It is about as messy as can be. When I need to use one of the recipes in this cabinet, I have to dig and scrounge and muddle. But never fear. While looking through my mess to find the one recipe I need, I end up finding three more I forgot were there. And you guessed it. Many of them require the use of chocolate. (Bet you thought I was going to say “Pyrex” or “butter.” Ha. Just keeping you on your toes.)
So today, my friends, we’re going to talk about the easiest way to organize recipes. It’s high time I found a system. My messy cabinet pile is no longer working. It never worked. So let’s talk about how to organize your recipes!
I’m sure you’re eager to learn about this subject from someone who clearly has no clue. Come closer, my friends. I’ll teach you everything I don’t know.
Tips for the easiest way to organize your recipes
As I’ve searched for a system, these are the new tricks that are working best for me at this point.
Keep all your recipes in one place. (At least having all my recipes in one cabinet was better than tucking them randomly inside school books, the silverware drawer, and behind the toaster oven.)
If the recipes are cut from magazines, torn from a book, or printed off the computer, slide them all safely inside a large manila folder or envelope.
Invest in a binder. This is my best idea so far.
I came across this DIY Recipe Binder idea online and I don’t know why I never thought of it before! It’s way too simple, and turns my messy cabinet into a nicely organized recipe haven.
DIY Recipe Binder – FREE Printables!!
I spent a little time creating these lovely binder pages to help me become more organized. I like them so much I decided to share them with you! Not only can all of our recipes be in one place, we can put them all into one organized (and fun!) binder.
How to make and use your Recipe Binder
Enter your email address here and the free printables will be sent to your inbox. (This will connect you to our Heavenly Homemakers email list so I can continue to send you freebies, recipes, and deals!)
Print each of the Recipe Binder pages you will use.
Use a 3-hole punch to prepare them for a 3-ring binder.
As you print recipes from the computer, add them to your binder within the fitting category.
If you have small recipe cards, recipes cut from magazines, etc, re-write them on 8.5×11 inch paper so that they fit your binder. Or slide them into a plastic sleeve that fits in a 3-ring binder.
And that, my friends, is how we’re going to get our recipes organized once and for all!
Or at least that’s the hope. The fact that my new Recipe Binder is cute and fun offers me lots of incentive. :)
If you’ve struggled to know how to doctor up plain yogurt and keep it healthy, you will love this tip from Bethany as much as I do!
The Best Way to Add Flavor to Plain Yogurt
We’ve really been enjoying our Javita here, and it really helped a lot over our recent vacation! I wanted to share with you a little fun thing. We have struggled with yogurt since cutting sugar. The flavored ones are loaded with so much sugar (and often other junk), but the pain is so…. plain, and my kids have disliked every flavoring I’ve tried to add. Until today! I had the idea to mix a packet of Defend into a tiny bit of milk and then mix that into a container of plain yogurt. Everyone loved it, even my pickiest kids! Hooray! Now we can eat yogurt again!
I LOVE this! We’ve always added fresh or frozen fruit to flavor our plain yogurt. Then we add some kind of sweetener, usually real maple syrup. This is great, but what I love about Bethany’s idea to stir in a Defend is that not only does it flavor and sweeten the yogurt (with stevia), it provides our bodies with all the immune system benefits of drinking a Defend.
Why I Trust Defend:
My family has been drinking Defend all winter to help us fight sicknesses that have been going around. I personally find that Defend mixed with Flex is a perfect combo as the Flex adds anti-inflammatory help with keeps my asthma in check along with Defend’s immunity boost.
So consider all the benefits of yogurt to keep our guts healthy, then add Defend and we’ve got a winning, delicious combination!
Thank you, Bethany, for sharing this fun information you discovered!
Ever wondered the easiest way to make Fruit Leather? Or did you even know that making Fruit Leather is actually ridiculously easy?!
Indeed, Fruit Leather is one of the easiest snacks you can make. Many recipes call for added sugar, but in our experience, none is necessary!
Also, making Fruit Leather at home costs only pennies. And it is a great way to use up fruit that is almost ready for the compost pile! Store-bought fruit leather is super convenient, so I definitely take advantage of this option from time to time and buy them for ease when we’re on the road for ball games. But if I can make it at home instead, I do.
Tips for Making Fruit Leather
The easiest way to make fruit leather is to spread leftover applesauce on your pan and dehydrate per the instructions below.
Peaches, nectarines, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and watermelon are also great choices for Homemade Fruit Leather.
I avoid pineapple for fruit leather as it tends to be too stringy.
We’ve found that bananas by themselves don’t make a great fruit leather. But blending pureed bananas with other pureed fruit is a winner!
Speaking of mixing fruit together, we like mixing a variety of fruit to make more exciting fruit leather options.
Use a high power blender to turn your fruit into a super smooth and spreadable puree. Otherwise you might end up with chunky fruit leather. :)
The Easiest Way to Make Fruit Leather
We’ve got more detailed info below. But here are the basic instructions so you can see how simple this is!
Spread mixture onto a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.
Do you have stinky shoes at your house? If so, today I shall become your new best friend as I reveal my fabulous (but weird) secret to getting the stink out of shoes.
You can be very sure that my methods work as I am, most definitely, an expert on shoe stink. Is my profound wisdom on the matter a result of time spent doing extensive research on the subject? No. In fact, my expertise comes from living with five male, adult-sized athletes. We have four pairs of basketball shoes plus ten pairs of soccer shoes (because, of course, they all need both indoor and outdoor varieties).
The stink here is real, folks. Anyone who opens our front closet does so at their own risk, as the stench of 28 athletic shoes rises up inside in a thick, green cloud that makes a person wonder if a dead animal lies therein.
We tried airing the shoes outside, stuffing newspaper inside them to draw out the smell, and used multiple commercial products that promise great results.
And yet, the stink remained. The tears rolled down our faces. We thought we might have to move out of our house, but of course, the shoes would move with us, so then what would we do?
Not to worry. There’s a simple remedy for shoe stink and you are about to be amazed!
I should warn you that as excited as I am that my shoe stink removal methods work so fabulously, my grandma would likely shake her head in dismay were she alive to read this article. “Surely there is another way, Laura,” she might say. But I would say no. I’ve tried all the other ways and nothing else works as well as this.
So ladies and gentlemen, I’m afraid it’s time to buy some vodka. Yes, this is what it’s come down to.
Vodka just so happens to be a magic ingredient in Grandma’s baking vanilla extract, a fact of which I’m sure she was blissfully unaware. And, as my husband and I have recently discovered, it also works fabulously, mixed with tea tree oil, at immediately killing the stink in shoes.
This fabulous discovery became known to us on a day we had finally had enough. The shoe stink has somehow risen to a new level. There were no words.
My husband did a quick online search to find that simply spraying a mixture of vodka and tea tree oil into the offending shoes would immediately remove the stink. Could it be?
Well, I always have a bottle of vodka on hand so that I can make batches of Homemade Vanilla. So we quickly got out our vanilla-making vodka and poured it into a spray bottle. We added some tea tree oil from our collection of essential oils. We sprayed the mixture into a pair of shoes.
Miracle of miracles. The shoes immediately smelled fresh. I’m talking, you can put your face right down into the shoe, live to tell about it, and even come up smiling.
I double dog dare you to try this amazing concoction. Spray it into your most offensive shoes. Put your face into the shoe. Be filled with joy.
Now this spray is not a one-and-done stink removal remedy. We’ve found that we must spray our shoes down after every athletic event because while the DIY spray is powerful, so is fresh sweat. Good talk.
Drop tea tree oil into the bottle and shake to mix.
Spray mixture into stinky shoes and be amazed!
Why this works
Vodka kills bacteria and Tea Tree Oil is both antibacterial and antifungal. The combination works magic. So now the only reason I make sure our closet door stays closed is because well, have you ever seen 28 shoes thrown haphazardly into one space? Someone give me a DIY remedy for that mess. :)