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Don’t you love taking a peek into the life of someone else? If you said yes, I’d say you are not alone. Just take a look at all of the ‘reality’ shows on TV (okay, I have to say I don’t really think those are ‘reality’ but hey, that is how they are marketed).
At Real Food for Less Money we’ve been trying to have our own peeks into other’s lives. My family has what we call experience week in which we live in Someone Else’s Shoes for a week or two. The first experience was Working Full Time and Real Foods. In March the experience was based on the monetary guidelines of USDA Thrifty Food Plan but with real food. The most recent experience was Money v. Time. Currently we are experiencing Real Food on the Road, attempting to stick with our 85% real food eating while living out of hotel/motel rooms.
As a partner piece to my families experience weeks with Someone Else’s Shoes, I’ll have periodic interviews with real people. We’ll learn about these people in their actual shoes! Real food enthusiasts on their own journey. These journey’s will look very different from each other but have many similarities (I suspect).
This week we are meeting Joy of The Liberated Kitchen.
Millie (Real Food for Less Money):Describe your ‘typical’ day.
Joy: Since I’m a homeschooling mom who works full time from home and by appointment, there is no such thing as a typical day at our house! Our days do have a sort of routine to them, though.
My partner, Kelsy, as been student teaching for a couple months, now. She used to take care of all the cooking, but now it’s my job again! She’s up at 5:30 AM and out of the house by 6:45 AM. She lets the chickens & dog out and peeks in on the rabbits before she goes.
I get up around 7:30 AM, and either head out to a landscape maintenance client’s house or clean the kitchen, check my email, and do some blogging. . Kodiak (almost 13 years old) and Jupiter (11) get up by 10 AM. Depending on what we’re having for breakfast, the kids may cook for themselves. On days that I have landscape work, they are expected to get up, make breakfast, and do the dishes before I get back around 10:30 or 11.
Then they get started on their piano practice, math, and other homeschool projects. I either get started cooking and pack us up for a day out of the house, or get to work on the computer or in the yard. The kids have classes at Village Home Education Resource Center all afternoon twice a week, and evening activities 3 days a week. Sometimes they have plans with friends in the afternoon. If we have time after the kids have fulfilled their responsibilities, I’ll play a game with them. They also get to go to the park on their own.
I don’t do major cooking every day. Some days I cook enough for several days, other days I reheat leftovers. Kelsy helps cook on the weekends and on the nights that I have the kids out late. We’ve finally gotten into a routine where she pulls meat from the freezer and writes a basic plan on the whiteboard, and I try to get it done. Most weeks I make sure to make stock and yogurt, soak & dehydrate nuts if needed, make snacks like beef jerky, and check our ferments, including kombucha, kefir, and lactofermented veggies. Truthfully, Kelsy usually checks the ferments. They’re like her pets.
If we have a lot of some sort of produce on hand (winter squash & apples are recent projects), I’ll preserve it for later by canning, drying, or freezing it. I try to make a sweet treat about once a week. Some of our favorites are lemon curd, meringues, and marion berry swirl cupcakes with buttercream frosting.
I spend a lot of time cleaning the kitchen! I like to clean as I go, but sometimes it gets away from me. Fortunately, we have a dishwasher. It normally runs 3-4 times a day, and lots of dishes get hand-washed, too. We have a sit-down dinner together nearly every night. The kids help set and clear the table, put away dishes, and load the dishwasher.
Depending on the day, Kelsy is home anywhere from 3 PM to 10 PM. She usually does most of the animal-related chores. We have a dog, three cats, a snake, 10 chickens, a bunch of rabbits, and a big veggie garden & naturescaped front yard, so there are lots of outside chores for us to take care of. We always have some half-done project going on out there to make time for. The garden is mostly my thing.
I squeeze phone coaching sessions, blogging, and landscape design & maintenance jobs around all the cooking, housework, gardening and kid stuff. Our daughter is with her dad 4 days out of every 2 weeks, and our son is with him for 3-4 days of every week, so Kelsy and I get a few days without kids every other week. I try to schedule most of my phone coaching, in-person work like landscape maintenance, face to face client meetings, and Homemade Health Parties, and larger gardening jobs on those days, or in the evenings, and on mornings before the kids get up.
Once a week the kids stay up until 10 PM with us to watch The Voice or another favorite, but usually they are in their rooms by 9 PM. They can read or draw in bed if they like. Kelsy is usually in bed between 8 and 10 and asleep before her head hits the pillow. I had a really hard time adjusting to our new schedule. I just couldn’t fall asleep that early, so I found myself staying up late getting work done when I really couldn’t sleep. I need to to reset my internal clock!The sun coming up earlier and a couple months of the new schedule finally got me on track. Kelsy’s adjusted better, too. Now we both are ready for bed before 10 PM.
Every now and then we’ll go to sing some Karaoke and shut the place down.
Millie: Do you attach a label to the way you eat? Real, whole, traditional, paleo, gluten-free, etc.
Joy: Our family is 100% gluten-free. This is our top priority, because of our son’s celiac, arthritis, and dyslexia, and my gluten sensitivity. We also follow the GAPS diet and are now out of intro and on the full diet, though we still don’t eat all of the allowed foods.
Millie: What is your biggest obstacle to your food journey?
Joy: The hardest part is sourcing our food. We have established relationships with several local farmers and buying clubs. There is a lot of driving around involved. We go out to the farmers for some foods, pick up others at people’s houses, and coordinate & host some bulk buys ourselves. Sometimes bulk orders fall through, people don’t pay for things they ordered, or products we thought were coming turn out to be out of stock. That can really derail a meal plan!
Since we are totally grain free and eat legumes in extreme moderation, it’s also quite expensive to feed our family.
Millie: How do you overcome this obstacle?
Joy: We have a few different sources for the same kinds of food and are involved in multiple buying clubs. That way if something falls through, there are other options. We also have a lot of food on hand. We could eat from our pantry and freezer for months! Even if we ended up without our favorites, we wouldn’t starve or have to resort to packaged foods. We minimize our expenses by buying in bulk.
Millie: My family strives for a ratio of 85% real/whole/traditional foods. Do you have a ratio or other way of tracking that you strive for in your family?
Joy: We don’t track it, but we also don’t buy anything that isn’t real food in our estimation. We try to get everything organic, but aren’t hung up on the label if we know the farmer and the farm’s practices first-hand. We used to accept foods that were offered by friends and family even if they weren’t what we would cook at home, but with our multiple food sensitivities, we have had to stop doing that.
The only “convenience” food we use is occasional canned fish. Jupiter loves sardines! But they’re too expensive to use as a regular part of our diet. We don’t drink much alcohol, but we do keep wine and whisky around.
We prefer to eat local and in season, but we do use some foods that come from far away like avocados, coconut oil, and bananas. We also preserve some foods by pressure canning, which is officially a no-no on GAPS. Sometimes it’s the only way we can preserve a food that we don’t have room for otherwise or for travel. We figure home-canned is better than canned from the store!
Every now and then I slip and end up in the sugar. This is no good for me, but I don’t beat myself up for it. Nobody’s perfect.
Millie: In your own food journey, do you consider yourself a novice, intermediate or advanced?
Joy: I am advanced enough to help a lot of people learn the basics of traditional food. However, I do believe we’ve got a ways to go before we’ve unlocked all of our family’s food related issues and totally healed our guts! It seems that the more I learn, the more there is to learn. Kelsy’s been schooling me in the art of fermenting and soaking /drying. Having taken a break from cooking for a couple years, I’m also still getting my intuition for cooking back. I barely bake at all, so on that front I am a novice. But when it comes to the things our family eats regularly, I’m advanced!
Millie: What is your one Standard food? The “must have” that you always keep on hand?
Joy: Meat & bones! We make stock from bones and eat meat at nearly every meal. We carefully source our meat by buying it directly from a farmer we trust. We invested in a second, bigger chest freezer and it more than pays for itself.
Millie: Do you have any final tips or tricks that you would like to share with Real Food for Less Money readers?
Joy: Know what is important to you. Sometimes our food bills have to go up, but if you are clear on the reasons behind your choices and the overall benefits to your family, it will be easier to deal with and find other places in the budget to cut. If you just can’t afford to do everything you want to do right away, weigh the different options against your priorities. Think about the reasons you are choosing real food, and which aspects of your real food journey are the highest priorities. Avoiding allergens, other health issues, preventing environmental degradation, and supporting the local economy, are just a few of the potential reasons. Once you know where you stand, tough decisions will become easier to make.
If you need help figuring out how to balance your family’s health, lifestyle, and financial priorities, feel free to get in touch with me!
Millie: Would you share a 1 day food journal with us?
Kids: Smoothies made with homemade yogurt banana, and frozen fruit from last summer
Kelsy: Fried eggs
The Kids & Me:Taco salad
Kelsy: hardboiled eggs, carrots, beef jerky, smoothie
Treat: Chocolate Cake
Thank you Joy! It is wonderful to get to know you better and to see how your family is able to work around your food allergies and sensitivities.
Would you like to be featured in this series of interviews for Someone Else’s Shoes? You do not need a blog or website. You can be brand spanking new to this journey or an ‘old hat’ (I’m not calling you old…), I’d love to interview you! Email me at realfoodforlessmoney at gmail dot com.