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Kickin Processed foods

Ok, I am sure there is a thread on here somewhere about this so sorry. But I just wanted to start a new one. Anyone out there attempting to cut out processed foods? I have been vegan for awhile, but I realized that I live mostly on store bought packaged foods. Alot of boca chicken patties, veggie burgers,ribblets, tofutti pizza, amy's frozen stuff, tofutti cream cheese and sour cream, soyrizo, veggie dogs, fake cheese,veganaise, ect.....I am kind of tired of the crap, plus it is really expensive. I just never ate alot of veggies, grains or beans, and I feel like my taste buds are corrupted..."real" food just doesn't taste as good. I wish becoming vegan would have changed my habits, but it seems not. I was thinking of trying to do a no processed food fast for like a month to see if I can change that. Anybody have any advice or wanna join me?  :help!:

just stick to your guns.  Eventually the processed stuff won't even TASTE good anymore.  You  may wanna go slow to start with so you aren't at a total loss, or make a list of recipes to try out and stick to them.  If you just give up processed food without having anything in mind to replace it, you'll get really frustrated. 

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Make sure you plan out your meals ahead of time, so you will know what you need at the store and won't be tempted to buy the processed food. I used to eat more of that stuff, but it is a cost issue, as well as one of convenience. So, if you know what you're making, maybe you'll be into that and not want the fake stuff?

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I've never used a lot of the processed foods because most are not GF, which I need, but I wish I could get my kids off Soy chickn and tofu pups.  They are just sooooo picky eaters.  I try and not even have that stuff in the house, but I will go and got soy cream cheese and sour creme for around the holidays.  Some holiday comfort foods just need that to be right to me.

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Most lasting change is gradual... maybe don't try to kick it all at once, but with a gradual decline of processed stuff in the freezer/ fridge/ pantry. Less is more, as they say! Each time you go out for groceries, maybe just buy a couple fewer pre-processed things... and set aside a few extra minutes each week for searching or trying out new recipes to replace them. It doesn't have to be 'all-or-nothing,' and (like with weight loss or quitting tobacco or starting anything new) I think the key is just to not give up on trying. You aren't alone-- convenience foods are, well, convenient, darnit! A lot of folks are working towards a better plan, I think... for me, it's helped to go slow, and to make time to 'play' in the kitchen with new cooking ideas, to replace the processed stuff... if we don't give up, we'll get there! (I think... I mean, I'm pretty sure... I mean, you know, eventually...)    ;)

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My advice would be the same I'd give to someone trying to go vegan. To them I'd say look for foods that are normally veggie based or vegan to begin with. Don't start with replacing cheeseburger with a boca and some veggie slices.. it won't taste the same and it will discourage you.

To you I say pick some recipes that are different from what you normally buy (like don't try to start making your own veggie burgers or sour cream or whatever else you're used to) and begin trying new things, maybe you just never tried 'real' foods in ways you liked them!

I know the convenience of these processed foods is really great as well but you can create your OWN convenience. For example I made lasagna last week that made about 8 servings. I only cook for 2 of us so I froze 4 servings in individual containers, we ate two and two went into the fridge to be eaten that week. It's perfect because if either of us doesn't have time to make something we just pull one out and pop it in the microwave.
Same thing can be done with all sorts of things, I made a peanut sauce the other night and made twice as much as we need to eat and froze half of it. The time it takes to make pasta, microwave frozen broccoli and reheat the sauce is minimal!

Good luck 8)

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My advice would be the same I'd give to someone trying to go vegan. To them I'd say look for foods that are normally veggie based or vegan to begin with. Don't start with replacing cheeseburger with a boca and some veggie slices.. it won't taste the same and it will discourage you.

To you I say pick some recipes that are different from what you normally buy (like don't try to start making your own veggie burgers or sour cream or whatever else you're used to) and begin trying new things, maybe you just never tried 'real' foods in ways you liked them!

I know the convenience of these processed foods is really great as well but you can create your OWN convenience. For example I made lasagna last week that made about 8 servings. I only cook for 2 of us so I froze 4 servings in individual containers, we ate two and two went into the fridge to be eaten that week. It's perfect because if either of us doesn't have time to make something we just pull one out and pop it in the microwave.
Same thing can be done with all sorts of things, I made a peanut sauce the other night and made twice as much as we need to eat and froze half of it. The time it takes to make pasta, microwave frozen broccoli and reheat the sauce is minimal!

Good luck 8)

The freezing thing is a great idea, I am just really afraid of it. I know that sounds weird, but I have never frozen food, and I don't even usually keep leftovers. I don't know how to freeze stuff...do you just put it in tupperware? how long does it last? So many questions....

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Why wouldn't you save leftovers?  They taste great, and throwing them out is really wasteful considering how much processed food costs in the first place.  They make great lunches for the next day, and most can be tossed with extra veggies in a pita to be very travel friendly.

Beans, rice and other grains, soups, lasagna, enchiladas and other things freeze great.  I cook big batches of grains and beans, cool to room temp, and then freeze them in either freezer bags or tupperware containers in whatever portion is right for you and/or you family.

I also keep things like frozen fruit and veggies from the store on hand, for easy stir fries and smoothies or deserts.

Like was mentioned, if you only cook for one or two, a large casserole can be frozen in portions for later.  I cook for 5, so when I make time to make a lasagna, I make 2 or 3, it really doesn't take that much more time, and they go strait into the freezer uncooked for sometime later.  Falafel freeze good, they are time consuming to make, but I have a huge bag of them, pre cooked in the freezer, and I just grab a few and toss them on salads and pitas for on the go lunches.

Before my daughter was born, you should have seen my freezer in the basement, it was packed, but the dinners practically made themselves for the next month or so.

I make a huge (7 qts) crock pot of bean or veggie soup every week and freeze it for my husb or I to take to work, I vary the batch every week, so there are always a few different options available.

Breads and muffins freeze good to.  If you make a big batch of muffins, put them in the freezer and just pull one out in the am for instant breakfast.  they heat in like 20 seconds in the micro.

like others have said, freezing can save you time, because making a double batch almost never takes much more time than making a single.  If you have stuff in the freezer, you have your own instant meals, so you are less likely to grab something processed.  As a mom of 5 it is a lifesaver, I don't have to make every meal from fresh every day, because some or all of the prep was done by me earlier and is in the freezer.  The husb can help out too, he doesn't cook, but can handle: defrost this, preheat, cover and cook for 50 min at 375.

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Wow GFvegmom, that is amazing. I am a sad and very sorry waster. I really have no excuse. I can cook, but I have never been a person who plans ahead or saves leftovers. Anytime I have ever put leftovers in the fridge, I would find them two weeks later all moldy and gross. If you can believe it, I literally go to the store everyday, and spend about 50-60 dollars. then I shop once a week and spend about 150.00, I end up throwing away half of the produce I buy because it doesn't get used because I have grabbed some packaged thing I saw. I went over my bank statement last week and realized that I spent....wait for it....about $1500.00 on food last month.  :-[ And that is for like 3 people. Ugh, I am tired of it. I am going to try and take your advice, and find some recipes I can make in bulk to freeze. So freezing in tupperware is ok? Like I could cook a lasagna and then put individual pieces in tupperware to freeze for like the week? They don't taste wierd after reheating? Any advice would help! Thanks! By the way, you sound like super mom! ;)b

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Lasagna is a great freezer staple.  Yep I freeze individual cooked portions, in my opinion all lasagna tastes best after being re heated, I think the flavors meld better.  But I often use disposable/recyclable aluminum pans from the store and make a 2nd or 3rd whole pan and freeze that uncooked, for a later family meal.  If you have lots of cooking pans you can just use those, I just only have 2 so they can't be in the freezer, I need them weekly.

I think you can start by planning 2 or 3 meals a week, and something that could be eaten over 2 meals, like a caserole, that works for 2 nights.

I usually do a major shop once a week on Sun, spend about 125$ for a family of 5 to get the basics: bread, crackers, milk, yogurt, beans, rice, chips, and some produce, maybe enough to get me thru Wed or Thurs.  Then on Thurs I hit the farmers market for a few more veggies and fruit and any other pantry stuff I have run out of.

To help with the shopping, I have a list of the basics that I buy every week, and I print it out and put it on the fridge and highlite the items as I run out, adding other items on the bottom.  I also list on there the meals I think I will be making that week.

Before I shop, I always clean out and organize the fridge, get rid of anything spoiled, and add anything missing to my list.  I also straighten the pantry, otherwise I buy stuff I already have,and we have a tiny pantry so it gets pretty packed.  Then when I get home its easy to put things away. 

And i think you could easily spend a lot less, I do about 500$ a month for the 5 of us, now I am really, REALLY cheap and on a very tight budget, but you could easily spend less, and still eat great plus extra treats.  Let us know how it goes, and if you have any questions.

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Wow, you are so organized! I am such a mess. But I love your strategy and I am going to start implementing it this week! Wish me luck. And thank you for the great advice. :)

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BY the way, how long can you leave this stuff in the freezer? Can it last for 2 weeks?

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Yes, most things will last up to a year, if stored properly. A couple weeks would be fine!

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I don't usually leave stuff go longer than 3 months, but beans last way longer than that.  I usually have a few weeks every few months where we "purge the pantry" and eat mostly meals that use up our staples in the pantry and freezer.  This works good for me so stuff dosen't get too old.

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Hey! I'm joining you! I just read "Eat to Live" I'm not sure if you've read it but now i'm doing this 6 week (maybe longer) of only fruits, veggies, and beans.  I'm  only on day three but it hasn't been too hard.  Probably being a vegan in the first place helps out with that.  Have you been able to cut out processed food? 

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yah, somewhat. I have been just making big batches of meals and freezing portions like suggested. It has been pretty good so far.

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Hello, I'm a little late to jump in here, but whatevers. I've been trying to cut the processed crap out of my diet for the last two months. I very rarely buy anything processed anymore (my live-in BF is another story), but I'm still trying to reduce the amount of money spent on groceries every week. I figure we spend between $75-$100 for the 2 of us per week. I would like to get that to between $50-$75/week since money is becoming increasingly tight. I find it very hard to find everything we need at one store, and we end up going to several for our weekly groceries, which I think makes us spend more than we would otherwise. Plus my BF is a very picky eater and that makes things all the more annoying some days.

But anyway, enough of my whining. Corinnas, I've been freezing portions of food for the last couple of months and it is working out quite well. I've also been making my own bagels and granola bars as well and they freeze good. If I could just make a decent loaf of bread I'd be set.   

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    Extra late to this party, but hopefully that just means you have 2 months of insights about what worked for you.  ;)b I'm trying to cut out processed and high sodium food as well, but I'm having trouble finding a good variety of replacements for the lost carbohydrates.  Cooking up a bunch of quinoa, wild rice, whole wheat pasta etc. and eating it throughout the week is great for a couple meals a day, but I'm also really trying to find healthy snacks.

Anyone have recommendations? Thanks in advance!

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    Extra late to this party, but hopefully that just means you have 2 months of insights about what worked for you.  ;)b I'm trying to cut out processed and high sodium food as well, but I'm having trouble finding a good variety of replacements for the lost carbohydrates.  Cooking up a bunch of quinoa, wild rice, whole wheat pasta etc. and eating it throughout the week is great for a couple meals a day, but I'm also really trying to find healthy snacks.

Anyone have recommendations? Thanks in advance!

There's the obvious veggie sticks and dip, hummus and crackers, fresh fruit, etc. I like to snack on almonds, homemade granola bars (Granola Bars fit for a Wench on vegweb), almond butter and sprouted bread sammich, acorn squash or sweet potato fries (baked), smooshed up beans in a whole wheat pita fried like a quesodilla, steamed veggies, and soyogurt. Hope that helps. I'll try to think of some more if I can.

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so good snack options for me are;
-rice cake with hummus/pb/other spread
-sprouted grain bread with hummus/pb/other
-baked potato (or half) with salsa, leftover chili/curry/stew of any sort or steamed brocoli, nut. yeast and a tiny bit of margarine
-veggies (cucumbers, carrots, celery, red/yellow peppers and snap/sugar peas are all things on my weekly grocery list)
-fruit (apples, pears and melons fill me up more than other fruits but all are great! clementines are super cheap right now, here anyways)
-a small portion of a leftover meal (just enough to stave off hunger not necessarily a full serving size)
-popcorn (you can pop your own and control exactly what, if anything, goes on it)
-homemade muffin (make an entire batch and freeze half of them- either freeze the batter in the cups without baking and bake for an additional 5 mins or so when desired  or freeze already baked and ready to thaw) use whole wheat flour, seeds, nuts and dried fruit for most of the sweetness and they're already healthy!
-homemade granola bars (like mentioned on this thread)
-handful of trail mix (make your own by buying in bulk a few ingredients you like and tossing them into one bag!)
-salad with beans added, make a homemade vinaigrette and it will keep in the fridge for weeks!

hope that helps, I know a lot of them are pretty basic but maybe they're things you've forgotten about :)

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Wow all these processed vegan foods! I live in Switzerland and finding anything vegan is amazing! At the grocery store we MIGHT (changes week to week) have vegan falafel, broccoli burgers, tofu medillians and plain tofu. All of the other "vegetarian" products usually have eggs in them. And these vegan products are so expensive I barely buy them (10chf... about 10 dollars for 8 falafel).  Luckily we do have some basics, soy milk, yogurt and cream. And the bio (organic) stores sell different nut milks and other things...nutritional yeast flakes, TVP.

My advice...someone who doesn't have much in the way of processed vegan foods is to explore new food options that easy. I'm a nanny for a vegan family as well and usually don't have much time to cook. Quick and easy things I've found are: Beans and Rice (Kidney beans & tomato sauce and some spices), red lentils or green lentils (red cooks faster) with spices (cumin, curry, tomato paste, paprika...whatever you like), soups (super easy, take whatever veg you have and add which spices you like and some water... et voila...soup!.. you could even add lentils and beans), homemade hummus (chickpeas, lemon, tahini, garlic), veg stir fry, grilled avocado sandwhiches, vegetable and bean burritos.

At work I use canned beans because I don't have the time nor am I there at night to soak the beans overnight and then cook them in the morning. But at home I used dry beans that I soak overnight then cook 2-3 hours, its a 2 day process...but canned beans kind of disgust me.  I try not to eat too much pasta or rice dishes as well.  Also at work I freeze a lot of things, lentils and soups especially. Its very simple just take the leftovers place it in tupperware or a freezer bag and put it in the freezer.

Good luck! But believe me it's doable.  I live in a country where none of these processed things are available. You'll feel healthier once you kick them to the curb

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