Below are some helpful resources and meal ideas that don’t break the rules. Also, it is important to know when serving yourself “real food” you don’t need to eat as much as you would of the processed stuff! Get ready to fill up fast.
Click on the category you would like to view:
- “Real Food” Meal Plans
- Snacks and Appetizers
- Salads and Soups
- Basic Recipes (including tortillas and stock)
- Stocking a Real Food Kitchen
- Restaurant Options
- General Resources and Information
- Our Personal Changes in Health
All plans include breakfast, lunch, and dinner suggestions for a family of four plus corresponding grocery lists with pricing:
- “Real Food” Meal Plans 1 & 2
- “Real Food” Meal Plan 3
- Summer “Real Food” Meal Plan 4
- Fall “Real Food” Meal Plan 5
- Homemade granola cereal (pictured) with milk and berries
- Scrambled or fried eggs with whole-wheat toast1, butter, jelly2, and fresh fruit
- Whole-wheat banana (or berry) pancakestopped with 100% pure maple syrup
- Plain oatmeal (follow directions on package) topped with a dash of honey, cinnamon and raisins or other dried fruit
- Pecan maple breakfast cookies with a hard boiled egg and a banana
- Whole-wheat crepes with a side of fresh fruit and a maple mocha
- Store-bought plain Shredded Wheat cereal with milk and fruit
- Whole-wheat muffins (pictured above) with a side of plain yogurt mixed with berry sauce and topped with homemade granola cereal
- Egg omelet, bacon from the farmer’s market, whole-wheat popovers with butter and jelly2, and fresh fruit
- Whole-wheat banana bread orwhole-wheat cinnamon raisin bread topped with cream cheese and a fruit smoothie or on the side
- PB&J Smoothie (pictured in smoothie pop holders) and whole-wheat biscuit
- Whole-wheat waffles with applesauce
- Fried Matzo Breakfast with a seasonal fruit kabob
- Whole-wheat french toast with a fruit smoothie
- Breakfast Casserole Bites with fresh fruit on the side
- Peanut butter and jelly2 on whole-wheat bread1, sliced fresh fruit, and crackers3
- Whole-wheat tortilla filled withhummus, cheese and optional veggie (spinach, cucumber, carrot, lettuce or tomato), side of fresh fruit and store-bought whole-wheat pretzels4
- Grilled cheese on whole-wheat bread1, applesauce, and popcorn
- Caprese salad with basil pesto orgrilled caprese salad sandwich(pictured)
- Whole-wheat macaroni and cheesewith frozen peas mixed in and a side of fresh fruit
- Fruit smoothie or PB&J Smoothie(pictured above)
- Whole-wheat tortilla filled with chopped cucumber, tomato, feta cheese and sprinkled with dried dill or leftover grilled veggies and goat cheese
- Whole-wheat cinnamon raisin bread and cream cheese sandwich, strawberries, and a hard boiled egg
- Crackers3 with hummus, grapes, cheese, and celery or carrots
- A big salad topped with nuts, cheese and olive oil/balsamic vinegar for dressing
- Grilled pimento cheese sandwichwith whole-wheat pasta salad and fresh fruit on the side
- Diced avocado and brown rice with a little bit of low-sodium soy sauce
- Whole-wheat waffle sandwich with cream cheese, cinnamon and raisins in the middle (pictured) with a side of seasonal fruit
- Whole-wheat tortilla filled witheasy slow cooker refried beans, melted Monterrey Jack cheese, and sour cream with a side of avocado
- Leftovers from any of the dinners below!
For portable school, picnic or work lunch ideas check out the posts in the “school lunches” category.
Snacks and Appetizers:
- Whole-wheat banana bread
- Dried fruit (make sure there is no added sugar) and nuts
- Fresh fruit (make them into kabobs for kids)
- Pumpkin or sunflower seeds
- Homemade granola bars or store-bought “Lara Bars” with 5 or less ingredients
- Olives, crackers3, and cheese
- Whole-wheat muffins
- Celery topped with peanut butter or cream cheese and raisins (ants on a log)
- Hard boiled egg
- Whole-wheat cinnamon raisin bread
- Plain yogurt mixed with berry sauce
- Pecan maple breakfast cookies
- Crackers3 topped with hummus
- Whole-wheat zucchini bread or muffins (pictured)
- Whole-wheat pumpkin bread or muffins
- Easy cheesy crackers
- Whole-wheat popovers
- Virgin pina colada smoothie
- Sliced raw veggies with a tzatziki dipping sauce
- Peanut butter banana smoothie
- Zucchini chips
Read more on snacks by clicking on the “snack for kids (and adults!)” category.
Salads and Soups:
- Caprese salad with basil pesto
- Salad with a twist (including glazed nuts)
- Tomato, corn and black bean salad
- Cobb salad with blue cheese dressing
- Lime-cilantro quinoa salad
- White gazpacho (cold soup)
- Tomato bisque (good with grilled cheese on whole wheat bread1)
- Taco salad (pictured)
- Peanut squash soup
- Tortilla soup (good with cheese quesadillas)
- Butternut squash soup with buttered whole-wheat toast on the side
- Easy split pea soup topped with chopped bacon and a side of whole-wheat biscuits
- Homemade chicken noodle soup (pictured)
- Whole-wheat pasta salad
- Farmer’s market stir fry (with veggies and/or seafood or local meat)
- Quiche with a whole-wheat crust(if using meat make sure it is local) and a side of veggies
- Premade store-bought dinner option: sushi with brown rice (no deep fried ingredients or sugar/HFCS)
- Whole-wheat pizza (pictured) with a salad or veggies on the side
- Whole-wheat macaroni and cheese with a side of veggies
- Grilled or sauteed fish withvegetable pancakes, and potato skins
- Breakfast for dinner…pick from one of the egg choices above
- Homemade chicken nuggets with a side of sweet potatoes and apples
- Vegetable and/or local meat (such as chicken, sausage or beef) kabobs over brown rice
- Fajitas with homemade whole-wheat tortillas
- Homemade spaghetti sauce over store-bought whole-wheat pasta
- Collard greens, potatoes, and whole-wheat buttermilk cheese biscuits
- Veggie burgers and kale chips
- BLT with (or without) crabmeat and corn on the cob
- Homemade butternut squash ravioli with roasted asparagus
- Chicken enchiladas made with homemade whole-grain corn tortillas and steamed veggies on the side
- Jambalaya with brown rice
- The best whole chicken in a crock pot with zucchini chips (pictured) and wild rice
- Homemade sushi with brown rice
- Almond encrusted fish with an easy beurre blanc sauce and a side of asparagus and baked potatoes
- Whole-wheat spaghetti and meatballs with a side of roasted broccoli (sprinkled with whole-wheat bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning)
- Vegetable quesadillas on whole-wheat tortillas with a side of easy slow cooker refried beans
- Pork carnitas tacos with tomatillo salsa (pictured) and a side of watermelon
- Whole-wheat pizza pockets with sauteed seasonal vegetables on the side
- Whole-wheat fettucini alfredotopped with sauteed onions, mushrooms and bell peppers
- Simple spaghetti with a salad on the side
For a cookout, backyard BBQ, outdoor party, picnic, or camping trip check out this post:A “Real Food” Cookout.
- Whole-wheat tortillas
- Whole-grain corn tortillas
- Chicken stock in the crock pot
- Chicken stock on the stove top
- Honey whole-wheat sandwich bread (for bread machine)
- Whole-wheat breadcrumbs
- Whole-wheat pasta (use the pasta portion of this ravioli recipe)
- Homemade berry sauce
- Easy cheesy whole-grain crackers
- Basic fruit smoothie
- Whole-wheat biscuits
- Homemade popsicles, ice pops, snow cones and push ups(pictured)
- Maple pecan ice cream
- Chocolate torte with whipped cream and chocolate sauce
- Banana ice cream
- Homemade peach sorbet
- Whole-wheat crepes filled with fruit and topped with chocolate sauce
- Chocolate mousse (fromDeliciously Organic)
Stocking a Real Food Kitchen
- My favorite kitchen essentials (including appliances and gadgets we own)
- 21 “Real food” essentials for freezer, pantry, & fridge
- Supermarket “real food” cheat sheet
- Where to buy real food
- Our pantry
- Our refrigerator
- Our freezer
Eating out tip: Most restaurants do not offer 100% whole-wheat (a lot of “wheat breads” are made with both whole-wheat and white flours) so it is best to just avoid things like bread, breading/breadcrumbs, crusts, flour tortillas, etc. It is also recommended to ask questions when it comes to sauces because a surprising amount contain sugar. It can be difficult to avoid refined grains and sweeteners when eating out so we usually try to focus on finding restaurants that serve locally grown/raised products. For more tips including specific meals you could order at some chain restaurants check out this post.
- Fish or shellfish
- Potatoes, beans, or brown rice
- Vegetable side dishes or combination plates
- Egg dishes
- Sushi with brown rice
Read more on the specific restaurants where we like to eat in Charlotte.
General Resources and Information
- Understanding Grains (corn, wheat, multi-grain, etc.)
- What (should be) in your sandwich bread?
- How far does your produce travel?
- Buying organic or not
- Sweeteners 101
- “You are what you eat eats too”
- Milk – good or bad?
- High-fructose corn syrup 101
- The deal with corn
- Are you being fooled by the imitation?
- Becoming a “flexitarian” (meat consumption)
- (Not) Cleaning your plate
- Real Food and Children
For more resources check out our list of “real food” mini-pledges.
$3.25 per serving, 735 calories with meat, 595 without
Olive or canola oil
1 lb ground turkey or chicken (optional)
1 10-oz package chopped, frozen spinach (thawed)
1 15.5-oz can cannellini beans
2 cups tomato sauce
1 13.5-oz box whole grain spaghetti
standing ab practice
Eating Healthy on a Budget
10 Reason You Eat When You’re Not Actually Hungry
- To cope. But if you turn to food for emotional reasons, you won’t resolve the underlying issues.
- Out of boredom. But eating can only last for so long—and then you have an afternoon to fill!
- Because other people are eating. Check in with your hunger level to see if you really need it.
- Because food is there. If you’re unable to nix the trigger food altogether, move the treats out of sight—you’ll be less likely to grab a handful.
- Because it’s a special occasion. Celebrations are about the people, not the food.
- Because you’re tired. A change of scenery might be just the ticket to battle the afternoon lull.
- Because the clock says so. Don’t just eat when the clock tells you to! When mealtime hits, use it as a cue to check in with your current hunger level.
- Because it’s free (or cheap). Always check in with your body’s hunger level before you automatically fill your plate with a freebie.
- Because you can’t say no to food pushers. You can always set the fork down or share the cake with neighbors or co-workers, or simply eat just a small portion.
- Because you suffer from clean plate syndrome. To prevent overeating, take stock throughout your meal to gauge how hungry you are; you might find that you don’t need those last few bites after all.