Whole Food Makeover: How to Set Up Your Real Food Kitchen

Whole Food Makeover

Okay, let me just say right off the go that this might not be easy for you if your house is full of processed food. Don’t worry, I’ll break it down into manageable steps. I’ll be your healthy eating guide and help to make this process as simple and painless as possible. There are 2 ways to set up a whole food kitchen (that’s fancy talk for having a kitchen stocked with real food).

Option 1 – Get It Over With

The first way is like ripping off a band aid. Do it fast in one quick motion, shake it off and move on to the the next step, just getting it all done at once. The pain will pass. This option involves going through your kitchen, taking all the processed food out of the cupboards, out of the fridge and freezer, donating what you can and throwing away everything else in one fell swoop. If this sounds wasteful to you, well so is putting that food into your body. Sound harsh? Well, maybe it is but it’s true. Many of our excuses for making food changes are masks for our addiction to high sugar, high sodium foods and highly processed foods.  If you choose Option 1, then tick off the 5 steps listed below all in one go.

Option 2 – Let Me Ease Into This

The second way to give your kitchen a whole foods makeover is to do it in incremental steps. A little more painful if you ask me, but it may seem more manageable if fear or doubt are controlling factors. These might take the form of: “I don’t know how to cook? I don’t know how to cook from scratch? I don’t even know where to shop for that kind of food? I don’t have the time to cook,” etc. Don’t worry, those fears are the same fears that prevent us from change in any area of our lives and they are just that, fears. Totally normal and you can just walk right through them since these are simple skills that anyone can learn. For this method, follow the Band Aid Technique but instead of dealing with the fridge, freezer and pantry all at once, split it into 3 steps. Or if that seems too much, make a plan to exchange 4 processed foods in your house with 4 non-processed foods every week.

Ready? Good. Let’s pull that band-aid.

The Band Aid Technique

Step 1 – Box That Junk

Get some boxes and/or bags. For the donate-able items (items that have not been opened and have not expired) you’ll need one box for frozen food, one for dry goods and one for refrigerated items. Then you’ll need one box for items that will need to go to the garbage (items that need to go to the garbage often come in a container that is recyclable).

Step 2 – Sort That Junk

Start by sorting through your cupboards and getting rid of any food item that has words on the ingredient list you cannot pronounce or you don’t understand what it is. Here are a few examples of things to throw out: canned soup, canned pasta, Uncle Ben’s dishes, Kraft Dinner, most crackers, chips, jello, pudding packages, cake mixes and candy bars. You’ll still be left with some  non-real foods but the majority of the cupboard should be cleaned out of all the nonsense we shouldn’t be feeding our bodies.

What will still be remaining is white sugar, white flour, brown sugar and dried pasta. These items will eventually need to be replaced with sprouted spelt or whole grain flours, real organic raw cane sugar (or preferably palm sugar, honey, date sugar and maple syrup), spelt or kamut dried pasta (don’t worry they’re not that much more than regular pasta and I think they taste better than whole wheat pasta). These you may change slowly over the course of a couple of months as you begin to feel more comfortable or go all out and do it all at once. You choose, but don’t dilly-daddle around. It’s either in or out. You’re not breaking up with it. You’re firing its ass.

Doesn’t that feel better now that it’s all boxed up?

Step 3 – Cold Junk Goes, Real Food Stays

Next the refrigerator. The biggest offenders here will be BBQ sauce, fake pancake syrup, salad dressings, low fat flavored yogurts, lunch meat and stir fry sauces. Some things you’ll want to hold onto however are soya or tamari sauce, mustard, mayo (it’s so much better homemade but this might be another one of those transition products), butter, pickles, capers and hot sauce. Again, rely on reading the labels. Eventually you’ll get really good at reading labels and some of the products you see now will also disappear, being replaced with better choices later. Some of the items you’ll want to stock your fridge with will be full fat yogurt, eggs, organic butter (if possible), cheese, bacon (read the labels to find a good one), fresh veggies and milk, to name a few.

Step 4 – Attacking The Frozen Junk

The freezer, scary things happen in the freezer. Foods that people really don’t want to get rid of live here, that’s why I saved it for last. I wanted to give you a little warm up. Yes the frozen pizza has to go. So do microwave dinners (shutter), frozen perogies, frozen egg rolls or taquitos, ice cream, pizza pockets and freezies. What should remain are frozen vegetables, frozen berries and meat. This will be a haven for all the yummy food you’ll make in the future. Remember, you can always freeze a portion of your delicious meals, for quick, easy real food dinners.

Step 5 – Bye Bye Junk Food

Take the boxes of unopened food out of the house and off the property immediately and don’t look back.

Resources to Help You Succeed

You might be thinking, “Now that I have no food left in my house, what do we eat?!”

Not to worry, here are some great sites that promote real food recipes and resources to help you on your way. Some of the websites below have there own cookbooks, resources, and videos. But what they all have in common with this site is tons and tons of absolutely free information and recipes. Who doesn’t love free? Some of these websites are more “hard core” when it comes to real food lifestyles than others, so pick one where you feel comfortable starting and go from there. It will evolve from there. The key is STARTING! The second step is COMMITTING!

If you want a more handheld approach with grocery list and meal plans, you may want to check out my hybrid cookbook/real food makeover The Whole Food Revelation. It’s designed to turn you into a Whole Food Cooking Ninja in less than a month.

There are plenty of resources for grocery lists and meal plans out there, so take a look around. Just make sure they are real food resources and not ones that recommend bottled sauces and breaded food. If they tell you to buy low fat anything, you’re in the wrong place.

What If I Get Off Track?

The hardest part will probably be ridding your cupboards of white sugar and white flour. Don’t worry or beat yourself up. Once the other foods are in place and you’re feeling confident with homemade salad dressing and cooking beans, quinoa and brown rice, you can move onto these bigger things. Eventually you’ll want to learn how to bake without using white sugar, and you’ll actually find the challenge fun. The same will hold true with white flour.

If you have a bad day and show up at the house with a frozen pizza after a long days work, it’s ok. Start over tomorrow. Examine what went wrong, regroup and you’ll be better prepared to handle the situation next time. After all, we learn through our mistakes, not our successes, and no one is perfect 100% of the time.

We’re all in this adventure together. So, let us know how you’re doing on your journey and how far you’ve come in the comment section below. Or maybe you’re just starting. What are your motivating factors for change? Don’t be shy, maybe your story will motivate someone else!

Ready for Part 2? Whole Food Makeover Part 2 – Stocking Your Real Food Kitchen

I’m sharing this with Full Plate Thursdays, Simple Lives Thursday , Fight Back Friday, Lunch Box Love, Food Fridays and Pennywise Thursdays.


19 Responses to Whole Food Makeover: How to Set Up Your Real Food Kitchen

  1. Joanne November 16, 2011 at 12:12 pm #

    Aside from a few bags of chocolate chips, I have absolutely ZERO processed foods around here, which always makes me feel so giddy when I see posts like this! Thanks so much for including me in that list of healthy food blogs! You’re the best!

  2. The Café Sucré Farine November 16, 2011 at 12:20 pm #

    Great post, thanks for all the education and inspiration!

  3. Adrienne @ Whole New Mom November 16, 2011 at 3:29 pm #

    Hi France!

    What a nice post with great tips!

    Thanks for the kind recommendation! :-)

  4. Koko November 16, 2011 at 5:00 pm #

    Awesome post! Love that you’re helping people with this…it’s the most important thing we can do for ourselves.

  5. Linda November 16, 2011 at 7:04 pm #

    France, this is a terrific post! I can proudly say I do not have one illegal thing to pitch!! I keep simple, pure ingredients and I love being able to make my food, sauces, vinaigrettes from scratch! This is a very helpful, important post!

  6. France November 16, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

    Joanne, you’re a rockstar! Keep up the good work, girl!

  7. France November 16, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

    Thanks, Koko. I agree. It’s a super important thing to do to get on the right track to healthy eating.

  8. France November 16, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

    Linda, you are awesome! Keep it up!

  9. Miz Helen November 19, 2011 at 2:30 pm #

    This is a great post, with very good information! My very best wishes to you and your family for a blessed Thanksgiving. Thanks for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and hope to see you again real soon!
    Miz Helen

  10. Jeanette November 20, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

    Love how you break the Whole Food Makeover into steps that anyone can follow. You’ve made it easy and approachable. I think the biggest worry I hear is “what do I eat now?” and “I don’t know how to cook with whole grains and some of the other whole foods.” There are lots of easy healthy recipes on your site (plus in your wonderful Whole Food Revolution book), and all the websites you suggested (thanks for including mine ;)), that I hope will help anyone who is transitioning to a whole food life.

    • France Morissette November 20, 2011 at 5:47 pm #

      What a timely comment. Tomorrow’s post is on “What to buy now that your cupboards are bare?” I hope that the series will prove to be useful. The next post I’ll need people like you to help. Stay tuned.

  11. maiylah November 21, 2011 at 7:53 pm #

    great post and advice! it’s just too bad that processed foods are heavily advertised most of the time, instead of what’s really good for us…i guess that’s because it’s big business! lol.

    thanks so much for sharing over at Food Friday, France :)

    • France Morissette November 23, 2011 at 4:33 am #

      Hi Maiylah, It’s so true that the big ad dollars are spend on processed packaged food. I wish the government would subsidize ads for healthy food. People would be healthier and in turn it would cost the government less money due to less illnesses created by poor food choices. It’s all in the education.

  12. Kelly November 21, 2011 at 8:26 pm #

    Nice job France – you provide practical tips to help with organization which is a huge part of healthy eating. I particularly like that you offer different approaches – cold turkey or step by step. We are all unique, and there is no one approach that suits all; acknowledging this reduces the intimidation factor.

  13. meghan March 1, 2013 at 4:12 pm #

    Thank you! My husband and I started transitioning about 3 months ago and are 95% whole foods. Preparation has been the hardest part for me. I can’t go out and buy a box of pop tarts, i have to make pop tarts and on
    and on. I just need to get more organized and it looks like your blog and book might just help me with that!

    • beyondthepeel March 1, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

      Making each meal or food item as you need it will drive you crazy. Its too time consuming.


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