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The first step

Our freezer is tiny. And was packed full of horrible foods: Friday's spinach dip in bulk-- my husband went a little crazy at the wholesale club when I was out of town this summer, frozen microwave dinners, meat in Ziploc bags starting to get freezer burn, dinners I had frozen who knows how long ago. It was a disaster. On top of that, my family was surviving off packaged snacks and premade dinners, when we ate hot dinners at all. Since the twins started teething, I have had no time or energy to cook in the evenings during peak fussy times after a day of fussing and a sleepless night of fussing. Tired of a freezer full of bad food, money wasted on take out and mediocre dinners, and baby weight that won't disappear, I decided it was time for a change. I inventoried my freezer to see what was actually usable and googled casserole and frozen dinners with those ingredients. I made a grocery list and blocked out a weekend to cook. My husband and I were so excited at the prospect of dinner before 8 o'clock at night involving something other than cold cereal. And then I did it. I actually did it! I spent the weekend cooking three different casseroles (a huge feat when I hadn't cooked in a month). Harder than finding time to cook was finding time to clean out the freezer, but we did that too. It was a team effort. My husband took care of the kids and helped with dishes while I worked desperately to get it all done over the weekend. The following week was amazing. I had casseroles for the nights that were overly stressful and easy dinners for the nights we were home all evening.

Having an organized and labeled freezer motivated me. I took stock of the rest of our pantry. For the most part, I had avoided hydrogenated oils in most of our family products. Some things I regularly bought still had them, such as the red creamy JIF peanut butter or Stove Top stuffing. I did some online research, one article I read was:; however, there are a lot of articles out there and a lot of research on them. I have been asked why I cut hydrogenated oils out of our diet. The main reason is that hydrogenated oils are a preservative that your body cannot use. Every single research study out there definitively finds that hydrogenated oils do your body no good. I'm not ready to go fully organic. Not only is that an expensive step, but I think we can make other changes first that would also benefit our health. I am buying only hormone-free milk. Comparing milk prices and how much milk we go through, organic milk would be ridiculous! Almost $6 a gallon for organic milk? Right now we only have one 3-year old drinking milk and we go through a gallon in 3 or 4 days. I feel that cutting out hydrogenated oils is a practical step towards making better choices and will naturally lead to a healthier diet. It is an affordable and healthy step.

Family dinners are very important to me. Even when we had cereal for dinner, we ate at the table. I want my children to ask for dishes "Momma makes," not Hamburger Helper or Stoufer's enchiladas. Don't get me wrong, a warm dinner is definitely better than what we were eating since teething started. I'm very grateful for a girlfriend of mine, coincidentally also a twin mom, who emailed me easy recipes. In my mind, I think I am a fabulous chef. In practice, I'm a distracted one. I read (yes, I really do), I kiss owies and comfort babies, I pull children's toys out of the puppy's mouth and stop the cat from shredding our referral, I call my husband to find out where he is, I chop vegetables and change the course of the meal when I find a Hawaiian spice in my cabinet... Meanwhile, my chicken is now charred to the pan. I think women are born multi-taskers. Motherhood has made me incapable of only doing one task. My mind wanders when I am left doing one thing.

And since eating healthier is just one thing, I've also decided we are going to make greener choices as a family. I'm starting small: focusing on recycling. We have always recycled (save for a brief period in New Hampshire, but that's a different story). What do we recycle now? How can we recycle more? I'm buying products that are in less or recyclable packaging. I ordered biodegradable trash bags and diapers. The diapers are a big thing. For a multitude of reasons, I am not doing cloth diapers with the twins. I would like to switch to biodegradable, if possible, for the rest of the time they are in diapers. With Amazon Mom, I found Nature Babycare Diapers for $0.20 a diaper.

These are all small steps. I know that we can always do more. I feel that if everyone did something small, it would make a big difference. If I'm struggling making dinners with teething twins now, I won't be able to stick to an expensive or difficult diet that doesn't come naturally to me. If we make more of an effort to recycle now, maybe this will lead to more life changes, more sustainable products or even greener choices at home. Once these small things become second nature, we will be able to take on more. Change happens slowly. It just takes that first step, which is where we are trying to move as a family.


The Fromilles said…
I use to love to cook, now it is a chore and I only have 1 baby! We've made some big dietary changes in the past year as well but it all started out switching to organic milk a couple years ago (now we don't drink it at all- ha!). I enjoyed reading this- good for you making small changes for the better:)
Kimberly said…
I read your blog about your diet changes, which was part of the inspiration for me to actually DO the changes my husband and I had talked about. I really liked in your blog when you talked about how much better you feel since switching to (almost) vegan. My husband and I were just talking about how much better we feel since we have made and stuck to these changes.

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