I was reading a blog today about someone's commitment to eating healthier in the new year. (She is a fellow couponer actually she is a much better couponer that I.) In her blog, she commented on something I noticed. Quite a few of the coupons that are out there are for processed, with not much in the way of nutritional value type of foods. I can think of quite a few and while I do see coupons for eggs, milk and other healthier products they are not the majority by any means.
Now, I have always read labels and added vegetables whenever possible but I did rely on hamburger helper and other such products for the base of my cooking. I would start dinner with one of these products then add some pasta to stretch it and about a pound to two pounds of vegetables. It was easy and I felt like I was making sure I got my kids veggies in for the meal. I still felt they were getting too much sodium and was not content with the quality of the meals but they were easy so I kept on and tried to get a real home cooked meal in from time to time when I had some days off.
About six months ago, I decided to start trying to cook from scratch. I have found that cooking from scratch suits my personality (the whole control issue) and does not take much more time than the way I previously cooked. It has only taken a few minor tweaks here and there. I have always prepared 2 or more meals at a time so I can have leftovers for lunch the next day or freeze it for a meal later on in the month. (This is how I stay sane at the dinner hour.) In my down time, while cooking up the meals for the week, I make up whatever mixes I am getting low on. I started by making our seasoning mixes. I have made up Taco Seasoning (without salt) and use this for both Taco Seasoning and Sloppy Joe seasoning. I have found recipes for biscuit mix, pancake mix, muffin mixes etc. and now I rely on these instead of the mixes you buy at the store. I also started making our bread (unless it is free or really, really cheap!) We have a bread machine which I use to make the dough and then I put it in the oven after the kids go to bed and I have fresh bread for the morning.
I still do not make everything from scratch. It is a process and one I will not stress about since my life is already hectic enough and I still keep easy to fix food around my house. Tonight for instance, we had pizza: Free French Bread, Spaghetti Sauce (I admit from a can. Still working on that one too.) Cheddar and Jack Cheese and Pepperoni. Normally I would make pizza dough but the bread was free and from a local bakery. I figure that is still better than popping in a frozen pizza or three since that is how much it takes to feed our family and quite a bit cheaper too.
It costs me less than 25 cents to make a loaf of bread. I still buy some mixes (pie crust, pizza crust) but I am gradually buying less of those and just keep the ingredients on hand. I feel like I am making our nutrition more of a priority without becoming too obsessive. It also helps that my plate is already flowing over with all the other things on it but small subtle changes make an impact in the long run and that is my goal over time we will become a more health contentious family without ruining our food budget. :)