I have been thinking about some food changes (again) for our diet. I know…I change things up like every other week, it seems. 🙂 But, this change I have been researching and thinking about for over a year. I brought it up once with my husband when I was uninformed and just curious, and he quickly shot it down. Not that he controls what we eat, but I like to make sure he is on board with my (sometimes out of the ordinary) ideas before I go changing everyone’s diet, including his.
So, I put it on the back burner and let it go for a while. Then, this Summer, I noticed I was buying a lot more processed foods that I desired – mostly because they were “easy” meals or snacks. I was grabbing whatever was cheap to stretch our budget.
I don’t think there is necessarily anything wrong with buying inexpensive items to stretch a food budget. And I don’t think we will ever be at the point of buying ONLY real food, but I would like to follow the 80/20 rule (80% real foods, 20% processed). We did our best (health-wise) when we were eating real, raw foods and not boxed or processed foods. I enjoy fresh foods and knowing the vitamin and mineral benefits from them. It bothers me a little to know there is pretty much no nutritional value in a box/bag of processed food, yet those items offer all the coupons and sales and end up being the cheapest. With two little boys, whose respiratory systems react to everything (weather, illness, food coloring, etc), it was important to me to offer them nutritional foods – even if it was more “work” and money for me.
Anyway, I’m babbling.
So here was what I have been researching and praying about:
I am not sure what kind of reaction you’ve given – disgust, shock, or you don’t even care. (Ha!) I know, for some, raw milk grosses them out. They think of it as a dirty, unsanitary food. Some think it is an awesome way to tons of vitamins. And some just don’t have any information to form an opinion about it.
If you are interested in information, I would suggest going HERE first. They offer some info on the history of milk, the benefits of drinking raw milk, the controversy over it, and much more.
Life had been busy the last few months, and I quit looking into it to focus on other things. A few weeks ago, a friend from church posted about her son drinking raw milk. It sparked my desire to keep researching and to get back on track with our eating habits. I asked her where she was able to find raw milk, and it turns out the closest place is 45 minutes away. Bummer! I don’t usually drive more than 15-20 minutes for groceries to save on gas. And we have no other things (doctors, dentist, etc) that far away. So, I didn’t look into the dairy farm any further, but I kept reading about the pros/cons of drinking raw milk.
Last week, I was making my menu plan and thinking about the milk issue. I decided to read up on the dairy farm and was amazed at the amount of information on their site about their cows and the family that owns the farm. So helpful! They had two locations for milk pickup, both were 45 minutes away. I decided that if I could find a different location for our “regular” stores in that area, then we’d make the trek and just do all of our shopping out there. Turns out there was a Costco and a Whole Foods within 10 minutes of the milk pickup!
The kids and I drove out there, and I am so glad we did! The location we picked up from is not their actual dairy farm (that was the other 45 minute away location out in farm area), but this location had sheep roaming around. The kids were so excited! We laughed because it was right at the end of a subdivision street on a few acres of land. Just kind of hidden in the middle of all the homes around there. (And I think it is awesome that town allows farm animals on residential property in the midst of other homes. Our homeowner’s association does not allow it, unfortunately.)
We picked up three gallons of raw milk on Friday, and I got busy with all the recipes I researched – butter, yogurt, buttermilk, and more. When we first got home, everyone wanted to try it, so we all had a glass. It was SO good! I love the smell of it!
The next step was to pour the milk into large containers, like my one gallon Rubbermaid pitchers, and let it set so the cream could rise to the top. Took some patience on my part, but a few hours later I was able to scoop the cream off the top and make butter!! It was so tasty and such a neat process. Of course, the liquid left after is buttermilk, so that was awesome! After two times of making butter I had tons of buttermilk to make pancakes Sunday morning. On Saturday, I started the yogurt in the crockpot. I was so worried I would screw it up and waste half a gallon of milk (we eat a lot of yogurt, usually two quarts every 1 1/2 weeks, so half-gallon of milk would get us half a gallon of yogurt). But it turned out delicious! Of course, we like vanilla yogurt, so I still need to work on adding flavors, but the plain flavor it smelled and tasted delicious! We have been using the yogurt in baking and to make immune-boosting smoothies in the morning.
I strained the homemade yogurt to make it a little thicker and before I could think, I had dumped the whey down the drain! I was devastated. Whey can be used in smoothies or baking or in making Ricotta!
I love that nothing goes to waste with the raw milk! I am so extremely happy I went ahead and bought it. I made the plans to do it before I mentioned it to my husband last week. When I did tell him, he made a face, but I think because I was confident about the decision this time (not just wondering, but informed) he went along with it. 🙂 And I think he likes it. He doesn’t drink milk by the glass ever, but he is drinking the smoothies so I am calling it a win!
So, here is my new standard for grocery shopping:
- 80% real foods
- 20% processed
- Raw milk (it is NOT a processed food and has way more vitamins than typical pasteurized milk from the store. It has a high amount of beta-carotene, and it is considered a COMPLETE food. Raw milk commonly has all 8 essential amino acids that our bodies require. And raw milk was once considered a medicine – on its own! Imagine that….healing our bodies without side effects. 😉 HERE is more info on the benefits of raw milk.)
- Local eggs and meat, when we can. (We, thankfully, have a wonderful farm here in our town that offers both chicken and duck eggs, as well as all kinds of meat. Yes, it is pricier than buying from the store, BUT it tastes waaaay better and is FRESH and much healthier. They treat their animals humanely and do NOT use unnecessary medicines on them. We actually have a play-date over there today when I pick up my chicken! My kids love the goats that wander around the property.)
I have committed to that plan and will stay within our food budget. In order to stay to do so, I will make more from scratch and be diligent with my meal planning and prepping. I am sure I will fail a lot before I am consistent, but this isn’t just for me. It is for my kids and my husband. My kids have little growing bodies that need all those good foods. My husband is a runner…his body requires more calories and specific vitamins than the average person. Being careful about our food choices is a must for me. Will we die instantly if we eat processed foods? No. Will we notice a change in our energy levels when we eat processed foods? Yes. Will I see my three-year old’s behavior become out of control if we eat more processed foods? Yes. 🙂
Here is a breakdown of costs when making my own foods:
2 quarts of store-bought organic yogurt (that includes preservatives): $2.99 per quart (on a good day), so $6 total.
2 quarts of homemade yogurt (preservative and without added sugars): $5 (will be going up to $6, though, due to raw milk price increases) AND I get the whey after straining, so that’s a free item to use in foods
1 pound of organic store-bough butter (unknown amount of time on the shelf): around $5
1 pound of homemade raw milk sweet cream butter (fresh!): Free, for the most part….because we buy the milk to drink and just scrape off the cream from some of the milk to make the butter, then we drink the skim milk. So, we aren’t going out of our way to buy cream or more milk because we’d be buying it anyway to drink!
1 quart organic store-bought buttermilk (unknown time on the shelf): $3.99
1 quart homemade raw buttermilk: Free…it is a by-product of making butter!
1 dozen organic eggs from store (not fresh): $4-5, depending on the store
1 dozen eggs from local farm (Fresh! Just laid by chickens in the last day or two!): $6, but they are sometimes HUGE and they are so much yummier.
So, there is some savings by doing it ourselves! (Of course, if you don’t buy organic at the store, those prices probably look ridiculously high! I was making a lot from scratch to begin with, to be able to afford the organic dairy from the store.) Sure, it is a lot of work, but it is something we can do because I am home and we home school (recipes can be amazing math practice!!) and limit the kids’ participation in too many activities (but that’s a post for another day).
And just to be sure this is clear: I have no opinion on what you and your family should eat or drink. Really. This is a choice MY family has made. This is what works for US.
Have you tried raw milk? Love it? Hate it? Completely disgusted by the whole topic? 🙂 Please feel free to share!!