Love this! How to practically cut-out the processed food from your fridge and stock healthy real food. Practical tips and strategies.

A few weeks ago we talked about the big job of making the switch from processed food in the pantry to “real food.” We started with the pantry because I believe the pantry is the greatest challenge to convert over to real food.

As we talked about in the pantry post, the best way to make the switch from processed food (think: highly addictive) to real food (think: totally delicious and makes your body feel great) is to create a strategic plan. My goal, through this Real Food Reboot Series, is to provide you with a few ideas for how to create a practical plan for swapping out processed “food” for nourishing real food. To do this, I’m going to break down the swap into three main categories: the pantry, fridge, and freezer.

Today, we’re going to start creating a practical plan for swapping out the processed food for real food in the fridge.

Love this! How to practically cut-out the processed food from your fridge and stock healthy real food. Practical tips and strategies.

Before we get started with this week’s Real Food Reboot, let’s recap what a real food lifestyle is all about…

What is Real Food?

Before we get started, let’s define real food so we can all be on the “same page” as we discuss the practical ways to live out a real food lifestyle. Remember, the overall goal of real food is less processed food and more real ingredients and ultimately nourishing meals.

“Real food doesn’t have a long ingredient list, isn’t advertised on TV, and it doesn’t contain stuff like maltodextrin or sodium tripolyphosphate. Real food is things that your great-grandmother (or someone’s great-grandmother) would recognize.”Michael Pollan

Real food is about food that has withstood traditions. Food that previous generations ate and enjoyed in its unprocessed state.

Real Food Defined

Grass-Fed, Pastured Meats: Meaning animals that have been raised and fed as they were intended when created, with grass underneath and the sun overhead. Using all parts of the animal including the bones for nourishing broth. Chicken, beef, lamb, pork, and wild game.

Eggs: From chickens that have been pastured, roaming free with lots of sunlight.

Fats: Such as: butter from grass-fed cows, unrefined coconut oil, ghee, extra virgin olive oil, tallow, and even lard (not Crisco). Learn more about Fats 101.

Grains and Legumes: Whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. If you can’t tolerate grains, grain-free flour substitutes (almond flour, coconut flour, etc.) may be used for baking.

Fruits and Veggies: Preferably in-season, organic and/or locally-grown, if possible. Including lots of fresh herbs.

Dairy: Raw, or pasteurized, and full-fat from grass-fed cows (or goats or sheep). When you see the words low-fat or fat-free you know a lot of junk has been added to make up for the nourishing fats. This would include: milk, cheese, sour cream, yogurt, kefir, cream cheese, cottage cheese. Avoid ultra-pasteurized dairy.

Salt: Real, unrefined salt that hasn’t been stripped of its nourishing minerals. I use Real Salt.

Seafood: Fish raised in the wild versus a fish farm.

Sweeteners: As close to the natural state as possible, such as raw honey (local honey is always preferable due to its health benefits), pure maple syrup, and natural sugars (sucanat and coconut sugar). Learn more about Sweeteners 101.

Love this! How to practically cut-out the processed food from your fridge and stock healthy real food. Practical tips and strategies.

How to Make the Real Food Swap in the Fridge

While there are many food swaps we could discuss (purchasing pasture-raised eggs, sourcing “cleaner” condiments, etc.), three of the biggest impact swaps, in my humble opinion, are:

1. Dairy

This group includes: milk, cheese, sour cream, yogurt, kefir, cream cheese, cottage cheese. Swap out dairy products that are ultra-pasteurized, with a long ingredient list, for products that are raw or low heat pasteurized, full-fat from grass fed cows (or goats or sheep), and minimally-processed (without a ton of ingredients). Two of the easiest processed dairy products to swap out for real food “alternatives” are butter and yogurt.

My favorite easy-to-find yogurt brands: Stonyfield, Seven Stars, Organic Valley. You can also make yogurt at home. My favorite easy-to-find butter brands: Kerrygold and Organic Valley.

2. Meat

Instead of purchasing conventional meat, look for meat labeled “pasture-raised” or “grass-fed,” meaning animals that have been raised and fed as they were intended when created, with grass underneath and the sun overhead. Many large grocery stores now carry grass-fed meat options.

As you begin to make the real food switch in your fridge, you may find that you need to look outside the conventional grocery stores. I invite you to visit this post about sourcing local food that will help you get started with sourcing local dairy, grass-fed meat, and even seasonal produce in your area. Also, if you’re curious about the availability of these products in conventional grocery stores, I invite you to skim my real food shopping series.

3. Produce

Be intentional about the produce you purchase and use. Make a plan for what you purchase and/or how you plan to use your produce. This simple step will ensure that your produce is consumed throughout the week versus left to rot in the back of the fridge. I use the weekly calendar from the Real Food Planning Challenge to create a weekly plan.

Also, shop seasonally. While my family still enjoys “off season” produce like bananas (especially in Florida since our growing seasons are very different than the rest of the country), seasonal and local produce is always cheaper and so fresh. Plus, purchasing local food helps our local economy and farmers. While I would love to purchase only organic produce, this isn’t always a budget-friendly approach for my family, so I use the “Buy Organic” cheat sheet to help prioritize produce purchases.

Love this! How to practically cut-out the processed food from your fridge and stock healthy real food. Practical tips and strategies.


  1. I would love to see a post about how to eat real when you go out or go to friends/family’s (husbands side) home.

    I think that is my biggest area of struggle.

    My family is fine under our roof but once we leave everyone acts as if we are crazy.

    We do only buy organic which we have made cut backs in other areas to be able to afford it.

    I love your blog and get so excited when you make a new post!

    Would love to meet you one day! All my family lives in FL and also follows your blog!

    1. Hey Alicia, I’m so glad you’re enjoying the blog! If you’re ever on the West Coast of Florida let me know! I would love to meet you in person :).

      Eating out or eating at family and friends is definitely a challenge. I’ve learned to relax a bit, and just do our best when we’re out. I’ve added this idea to our calendar, as I think it would be a great detailed post here on the blog. For now, here’s a bit about how I approach eating out:

  2. Fifteen years ago, most of our food was organic, pastured, etc., but we’ve had to give up a lot of it up due to the jump in prices. I thought more people buying meant lower prices?! Lol! My husband was at the store buying eggs because our chickens have slowed down laying and “organic” eggs were $8/doz.! Ouch. I sometimes feel like there is some price gouging going on.

    1. Hey Katie, I know what you mean! The prices for pastured meats can get really high. They also seem to vary depending on where you live. For example: Our meat prices are super high in Florida compared to the Midwest…I’m super jealous of some of the prices my Midwest friends pay. I’m hoping, like you mentioned, that prices start to come down a bit as demand increases and more farms move to a sustainable, pastured model. We usually try to stretch meat over a few days, supplementing with other grains and beans. A whole chicken costs me about $20, so I try to use the meat for chicken salad (the extra veggie add nice bulk without a lot of meat), the bones for broth, and any extra meat tossed with beans, onions, and pepper for tacos/fajitas. I don’t purchase all of our produce “organic,” so that way we can spend a bit more on good meat.

      Having your own chickens helps so much with overall cost…I miss our hens and their eggs. But I remember when they were laying very much and we would purchase eggs from the store or market…ugh, not cheap. Currently, I’m paying about $8/doz. for eggs :(. Target just selling Vital Farms eggs in our area for $5/doz, but they sell out FAST!

      1. $20 for a whole chicken, that’s insane! I live in Washington state and recently bought an organic whole chicken (5lb) from Whole Foods for right around $10.50. I’m also paying $8 for pastured eggs but will definitely check Target next time I go. I also got to check out the new Whole Foods 365 store in Oregon when I was their last weekend. It’s supposed to be a kind of fast, less expensive, healthy lifestyle supporting store. It was so cool and we’re getting one here in Bellevue in September!

      2. That’s so awesome, Michelle! I hope the 365 store makes it over to the East Coast, and Florida! We could use something like that. Food in our area is so expensive…good food that is.

    2. We used cornmeal and cayenne pepper (5 lb bag cornmeal and two large size cayenne pepper mixed together) and put it in a chicken feeder. I think it was the next day they started laying again!

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