My husband and I were out hiking on Sunday and I casual mentioned the idea of doing a clean eating month. I am not sure if we were talking about diet before this statement, but this idea quickly turned into a reality. We started talking about clean eating for the month of April (just a week away) and before I knew it, we were looking up guidelines, recipes, and making a plan.
Our Interest in Different Diets
My husband an I are always talking about different diets. He is a hunter and I am a vegetarian with food allergies. At our core, we have the same ideals, we just have different ways of approaching it. So, we are always interested in the diet choices others make too. The Paleo and Keto diets are all the rage in the hunting community right now. So, he is always hearing about how life changing these diets have been for different people. I, on the other hand, am always watching documentaries on veganism, food allergies, and how farming effects our environment. Then we come together on these long drives to our hiking spots and talk about what we have heard. Just like the one last weekend.
After deciding to make April a clean eating month, we started talking about the other diets my husband was interested in: Paleo and Keto.
We have always been curious if people’s experiences on these diets are because of the specific diet or because they cut out processed and junk foods entirely. So, we decided it would be cool if he did a month of Paleo and a month of Keto to compare how the different ones make him feel. During these months I will be doing clean eating, as that is the closest I can get to either of those diets without eating meat.
For the next few months we will be doing one month of the specific diets and one month off. The month off is to allow us to do the things we enjoy (like eating popcorn at the movie theater) and to prep for the next month’s diet. I know quite a bit about clean eating as I tried cutting down on sugar and processed foods previously. But I know very little about Paleo and almost nothing about Keto (except steak and avocado for dinner). So, our months look like this:
- April: Clean Eating
- May: Off
- June: Keto/Clean Eating
- July: Off
- August: Paleo/Clean Eating
We are using Clean Eating’s diet guidelines for our clean eating month.
Cleaning The Pantry
The first step was to clean out the pantry and fridge to see what we could still eat. I am not a big fan of waste, so instead of throwing anything out, I just put a magenta “x” on the foods we could not eat in April. Anything that we have not eaten by March 31st, we will move to a bin in the garage or into a cloth bag on the bottom shelf in the fridge for safe keeping. After all, we will eat these foods again come May for our ‘off’ month.
I knew right off the bat some of the foods that we would not be able to eat: bagels, jam, our ‘natural’ peanut butter, etc. When I was cutting out sugar previously, I was shocked at how many foods had added sugar, this time not so much.
There were a few things that did surprise me though. My balsamic dressing had sugar. That healthy plain greek yogurt? Nope. It is made with lowfat milk instead of full fat milk. My organic vegetable broth: sugar. The biggest shock was my organic Yves tempeh. It is made with white rice instead of brown. So off to the store I went hoping I could find some replacements.
Trader Joe’s is My New Favorite
I don’t know how we would survive the next month without Trader Joe’s. I had been there before, but never really looked at the ingredients and prices like I did this time. I am really excited about how affordable the organic options were and how many options we had during this clean eating month. I picked up some items from the shopping list this week as well as some staple replacements for the start of our clean eating month. Here are some of the highlights:
- Ezekiel 4:9 Bread: I cannot have a lot of ‘healthy’ bread because it has sunflower seeds (which I am mildly allergic to). I always passed up Ezekiel bread because it was so expensive. However, at Trader Joe’s, it is just $0.50 more than our regular bread.
- Organic Spicy Avocado Hummus: I am just not a plain veggies kind of girl. I really try, but it is not my thing. So, I was so excited when I found this so I don’t have to make my own hummus.
- Green Goddess Salad Dressing: This was my biggest splurge. It was something like $4. But, as much as I don’t like plain veggies, my husband does not like dry salad. Again, I am more than willing to spend $4 on this dressing instead of making my own.
- Organic Tomato Basil Marinara: The thing I was second most pumped about. Organic. No Added Sugar. And only $0.50 more than our regular pasta sauce.
- Organic Tempeh: Praise the old gods and the new, their organic tempeh is made with brown rice!
The April Shopping Plan
One of the biggest things I realized would be a struggle is buying the dirty dozen produce in organic. It is super expensive and I was having trouble finding it. I could not find any organic strawberries or red potatoes at Sprouts. And the apples cost almost twice as much as the non-organic variety.
Another issue I had was in finding reasonably priced organic cheeses. I did find a organic, grass-fed, raw cheese at Sprouts, but it was $6 for the equivalent of 3 slices of cheese. I got a small brick of organic cheese from Safeway for $6, but overall, we are just going to eat as little cheese as possible.
My tentative plan is to buy our organic produce in bulk from Costco at the beginning of the month. I know I can get fresh apples, frozen broccoli, and frozen strawberries there at least. I would also been open to buying red potatoes and bell peppers in bulk, as we eat a lot of them. However, I am in general wary about buying produce in bulk as it is just my husband and I, and I don’t want it to go bad.
Weekly, I will buy our pantry staples and smaller available organics from Trader Joe’s. (I mean, the spinach alone cost half what it does at Sprouts!) And then I will finish up the shopping at Sprout’s for our non-organic foods, bulk bin items, and snack bars (if you think I can get through a wedding without snacks, you are crazy!). Hopefully anyways. I am still having a hard time finding organic and clean dairy products that do not cost an arm and a leg.
Ok, so, let’s talk about our pre-determined cheats. The biggest is that I have a wedding in April. My couple already has a meal for me with their caterer, so I am going to eat whatever they provide. We made this decision well after I talked to my couple about my dietary needs, so its just a pre-determined cheat meal for me.
Dutch Bros. This is pretty much a staple for us. So, instead of getting our Carmelizers, Kickers, or Cocomos, we are opting for Americanos with cream/milk. I will use stevia to sweeten mine and my husband is fine without sweetener. Why is this a cheat? Because the milk/cream is not organic.
Whew, that was a lot longer than I thought it would be. Especially because all of this developed over the past 4 days. If you would like to follow along with our journey, pop back into the blog weekly and check out my Instagram stories this month!