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Simple Steps to Begin Cooking Homemade: Pantry Staples
Posted By Brandy Ferguson On January 21, 2013 @ 3:00 am In Baby Steps,Do it yourself,Frugality,Healthy Living,In the kitchen,Living healthy,Menu Planning,Nutrition,Raising healthy eaters,Real, whole food,Realfoodmadesimple,Recipes | Comments Disabled
By Brandy , Contributing Writer
Are you working to ditch processed foods and put more real food on the table? This month we're running a series called Real Food Made Simple: A Beginner's Guide to Eating Better . Our goal is to answer the questions  you might have and make the transition a whole lot easier!
Across the globe exists two extremes of eating: the fast food, junk and convenience food diet, and the all home-grown, whole foods diet. Somewhere in the middle is probably where most Americans fall. However, that doesn't always mean healthy.
Small steps to homemade cooking can make a big difference. Many unnecessary chemicals can be avoided simply by making a few foods at home instead of buying packaged convenience foods. And while most of us know this, we reason that we do not cook homemade because we don't know how or because it's too hard or we just don't have the time.
I was one who had the time. And I wasn't afraid. I just didn't know how.
The story goes that the thin-sliced pork chop that I served my newlywed husband could be used as a hockey puck, and really, it probably could have been used for such purposes.
And why? Well, because my cooking philosophy was pretty much this:
Throw something in a pan, sprinkle it with seasoned salt, and torch the thing at a high temperature until browned.
Okay, so that was 17 years, and 8 kids ago, and I have come a long way. Now the food I serve my family looks and tastes much different, and is
almost never useful for sports OR ammunition.
Definitely trial and error, reading about food, spending time in the kitchen with my Mama and Grandma, and simply time and experience in the kitchen on my own have brought me a long way.
When my husband and I first started our family together, I had a short list of foods that I routinely prepared, including spaghetti (made from a box), tacos, "baked" pork chops, frozen breaded fish, vegetable beef stew , Hamburger Helper, lemon chicken , and chicken and rice.
I was happy that I served hot meals to my husband and myself and felt content with our menu, even if it was small and not always homemade.
I didn't even think about it not really being homemade, actually. Even though it came from a box, sometimes, I still felt like I "made" it since I assembled the ingredients and heated everything.
Shortly after the birth of our second son, we moved to California, which quickly introduced us to fresher, cleaner eating. California (at least then) had a special way of helping me want to eat fresh, organic, whole food, and I began learning as much as I could very quickly.
Although I probably would have found the path eventually, having been raised by a mom who was health-food conscious, I know that the move to California catapulted me in the right direction much faster. And by the time we moved back to Texas, I had quite a few new recipes in my repertoire.
From that point on, I've continued to learn and have gradually built up quite a large recipe box. Not everything in it is organic, or natural food, for that matter, but most of it requires cooking from scratch.
Each month during this series at Keeper of the Home, I will be posting Simple Steps to Begin Cooking Homemade. We're going to talk about how to get started cooking from-scratch-meals in your own kitchen. During the series, we will cover the following topics:
Plus, in each post, I'll give you some menu ideas,  complete with recipes for nutritious and delicious food that you can make for your family, even if you're completely new to cooking homemade.
Let's jump right in today and take a look at a very simple, yet helpful first step at beginning to cook homemade. You'll see a new pantry staples list in each of the posts in this series, but for this month, it is our primary focus, so this list is considerably longer than what you may see in future posts.
Stocking your pantry and refrigerator with some basic healthy food staples will definitely help set you up for success. Having key ingredients on hand when it's time to cook minimizes stress, eliminates dependency on packaged convenience foods, and maximizes our possibilities.
1. Start by slowly eliminating processed, convenience foods and replacing them with healthier options when grocery shopping. Consider replacing the following foods with their healthier alternatives:
2. Gather, over time, if necessary, the following items to keep in your fridge and pantry that will help you get started cooking homemade:
Here is a sample menu of simple, easy dinners for you to experiment with over the next few weeks. Don't be afraid to embrace the slow cooker, as it is a wonderful way to accomplish serving delicious, hot, homemade meals to your busy family.
Baked Tilapia , served with brown rice, and salad
Garlic Spaghetti , served with salad
Beef Tacos 
Article printed from Keeper of the Home: http://www.keeperofthehome.org
URL to article: http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2013/01/simple-steps-to-begin-cooking-homemade-pantry-staples-2.html
URLs in this post:
 Image: http://www.keeperofthehome.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/simplesteps.jpg
 Brandy: http://www.themarathonmom.com
 Real Food Made Simple: A Beginner's Guide to Eating Better: http://www.keeperofthehome.org/tag/real-food-made-simple
 to answer the questions: http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2013/01/real-food-made-simple-a-beginners-guide-to-eating-better.html
 vegetable beef stew: http://themarathonmom.com/vegetable-beef-stew.htm
 lemon chicken: http://themarathonmom.com/lemon-chicken.htm
 Image: http://themarathonmom.com/guacamole.htm
 menu ideas,: http://themarathonmom.com/category/food-and-recipes/menu-planning
 Image: http://www.keeperofthehome.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/simple-steps-collage-final.jpg
 margarine for real butter: http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2013/01/first-steps-to-real-food.html
 coconut oil: http://secure.ttpurchase.com/7AD895E1-1E0B-90B3-0E6BEBF8A4D37D94
 hummus: http://themarathonmom.com/hummus.htm
 perfect pasta sauce: http://themarathonmom.com/pasta-sauce.htm
 homemade chocolate granola bars: http://themarathonmom.com/chocolate-granola-bars.htm
 chicken soup: http://themarathonmom.com/chicken-soup.htm
 garlic lemon chicken pasta: http://themarathonmom.com/garlic-lemon-chicken-and-pasta.htm
 garlic and herb cheeseballs: http://themarathonmom.com/garlic-and-herb-cheeseball.htm
 Image: http://www.keeperofthehome.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/016-800x533.jpg
 chicken spaghetti: http://themarathonmom.com/chicken-spaghetti.htm
 pico de gallo: http://themarathonmom.com/pico-de-gallo.htm
 creamy potato soup: http://themarathonmom.com/creamy-potato-soup.htm
 salsa: http://themarathonmom.com/salsa.htm
 chili: http://themarathonmom.com/easy-beef-chili.htm
 taco seasoning: http://themarathonmom.com/spicy-taco-seasoning.htm
 make your own: http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2008/01/homemade-soup-broth-an-essential-element-in-any-healthy-frugal-kitchen.html
 quinoa: http://themarathonmom.com/simple-quinoa.htm
 Image: http://themarathonmom.com/7158.htm
 Baked Tilapia: http://themarathonmom.com/tilapia-baked.htm
 Crock Pot Chicken and Vegetables: http://themarathonmom.com/crock-pot-chicken-and-vegetables.htm
 Crock Pot Roast with Potatoes and Carrots: http://themarathonmom.com/crock-pot-roast.htm
 Garlic Spaghetti: http://themarathonmom.com/easiest-spaghetti-ever-garlic-spaghetti.htm
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