Cooking experiment

I have decided to do a cooking experiment. I plan to only cook with fresh ingredients and avoid, as much as possible, anything that is processed. I am already doing this to some degree, but I want to see how long I can go without buying processed foods and rely on fresh foods and make everything myself. If my grandmother managed to cook without processed foods, why shouldn't I.

However I do recognised that there are some foods that I will still need to buy processed, but I will try to buy only those produces that have the minimal processing and free from chemicals (and not in tins):
  • organic butter and not margarine
  • organic milk that has not been homogenised (unfortunately I can't buy raw milk so it will still be pasteurised)
  • fresh eggs 
  • fresh bread from the bakery if I can't make my own
  • organic honey that has not been heated which kills all the goodness (I don't own bees) 
  • cheese - we eat lots of cheese, but generally good quality cheese 
  • flour - I don't have any way of grounding my own grains - but I will try and buy organic
  • sugar - firstly I will try and reduce our consumption of sugar and substitute sugar with honey or maple syrup - but where I can't I will use organic sugar.
  • legumes, rice and pasta - I can buy all these organic and sadly I don't own a rice paddy
However even my grandmother had to buy things like dried herbs and spices and I can't possibly make my own soya sauce, vinegar, oils etc..  

As for frozen vegetables - namely peas, these aren't too bad as they have been snapped frozen and still contain their goodness, plus my little row of peas are some way to go before they start producing. 

So no more cans of processed food, such as soups. Removing these from our diet not only removes foods that have been highly processed, containing high levels sodium and fat and very low levels of fibre, it also removes the possible issue of BPA (Bisphenol), a chemical that is used to line cans to protect the food from contamination and extend its shelf life.  Questions are being raised about the chemical and its effect on humans. Whilst government authorities (in Australia, USA, UK and Germany) argue that the levels are acceptable (tolerable), why expose ourselves to any toxins if we can avoid them. 

And we will forget about soft drinks, lollies, chips etc..


When the children where younger I did a version of this as many highly processed foods affect children with ADHD and removing them does have an effect on behaviour.  Interestedly, whilst white sugars is bad for you, it is the chemicals in foods that have the most reaction for ADHD children (and adults). 


  1. Good for you! That's wonderful!! :) Let me know how you go!!

    We've pretty much done this already, although we don't buy everything organic because firstly we can't find some things organic, and secondly, it is very expensive to buy organics for a growing family when you're on a tight budget. So we don't get the organic butter, pasta and rice, and we buy pasturised homogenised milk, but the best variety we can (ie. Country Valley - which hasn't had animal fats replaced). What is amazing is that when you cut out buying all the processed (often non-foods), even when you buy some organic or higher-quality foods, your grocery bill is still often less than it was when you filled your trolley with processed rubbish. A lot of processed foods are so empty or nutrition that you tend to eat and therefore need to buy MORE of them!

    Most food and meals we make now contain only meat and veg and a very minimal quantity of carbs (like pasta - we use it only once every couple weeks or something; potatoes - we probably eat them once a week; or rice - we eat this far more often than anything apart from bread. When we eat bread, I try to handmake it if I can, otherwise if I can't bake my own, we try not to eat too much of it and what we do buy is a bread that isn't the lowest quality).

    1. I realised after I wrote this that I will need to learn to make stock - bought stock is usually high in salt and probably lacking in much goodness, so this weekend I might make up a batch of chicken stock. You are quite right about the cost - processed foods can be expensive and getting rid of them makes a differences.

      Not everything can be organic as I haven't found a full range yet, but as long as the basics are, that is good . We eat pasta, potatoes, rice and now Quinoa throughout the week as DH always thinks something is missing if they aren't on his plate.

  2. P.S. I saw something recently about our portions of varying foods on our plates, and I've been trying to keep to it - HALF the plate should be comprised of vegies, QUARTER of carbs - potato/rice/pasta (or less) - sometimes I add dairy and cut more of the carbs, and QUARTER of meat. It makes sense to try to make half the meal comprised of vegies, because they contain SO much nutrition. :)

  3. Let us know how it goes. Like Clara, we try to eat fresh and healthy but organic is often out of the budget. I need to use less in the way of tinned soups etc which are often added to casseroles. The 1/2 veg, 1/4carb, 1/4 meat is the recommendation from the dieticians I've been under.

    1. I use soups in casseroles so will need to rethink that, perhaps look at some old recipes and see what our grandmothers did!!

    2. Jo - for casseroles, there's various things you can add. For some I add milk or cream or sour cream (and a thickner if need be). If using something that can do with corn flavour, can steam some corn and blend them with a little sour cream and black pepper. Adding stock and some flour to thicken can help. Making cheese or white sauce can be good in some. Handmaking gravy can help with some casseroles also - it's all trial and error. With some things, I've saved the pkt from the last one we bought or cut the ingredients off the pkt and I use that to help me get ideas for what to add. If you have any soup cans left, take note of what is in them and add the healthy bits. I homemade taco powder recently by looking at the ingredients list and trying it until it smelled and tasted as close as possible - all without the added salt and sugar etc that they always put in these things. If you need help, ask - I've been cooking without those processed cans and packets for about 6 months, and learned a lot!! :)
      One other thing, don't forget that for thickening, you don't have to only use cornstarch or flour... you can use semolina or dry rice to thicken things without adding any flavour to whatever you're making... And thickening by evapouration works well too - simmering for a long time if you have the time for it. :)

    3. Dad used quinoa flakes as a thickener as it has no taste but very healthy option. I think we have become so reliant on canned food that we have forgotten how it was done in times gone by. I have quite a few old recipe books from the 1940s so I might have a look at what they use to do. Certainly using a white sauce is a good idea even with some cheese, I will have a look at some of my cans (which I still have a few) and see what they add.

      Of course it takes a little more thought, but in the end it will be worth it. You probably throw away less rubbish too with less cans?!

  4. It will be interesting to see how you do this. We are just starting on a journey to healthier eating, so I still have much to learn.

    We've been cutting back on sugar, salt, and fat intake as well as animal fat and red meat. We've also been eating more fruits and veggies and less dairy products, with the exceptions of eggs and white cheese. I can't go all organic, as it's not possible with our budget, so I do the best with the money we have.

    We are enjoying this new style of healthy eating even though it's really not helping me to loose any extra weight.

    1. Mara - I walked through the supermarket tonight and realised that almost all the food for sale (and there is a lot of it) was outside my experiment and 100 years ago it didn't exist and we all coped without it. My son has just made a delicious vegetable bake with only fresh vegetables and it smells so good. It just needs a different way of thinking.

      One of the reasons for reducing those tins is the amount of salt and sugar they contain - far more than we should be eating.

      I will report back in a few weeks.

  5. it seems hard but not impossible..its just a matter of perseverance...hope it work for you...thanks for sharing..

  6. Hi Jolouise,
    Your new eating plan sounds very challenging...Healthy ..but challenging.
    I hope it works for you
    Have a good week
    God Bless
    Barb from Australia

  7. we changed our eating habits like this a few years ago, and it has made a huge difference in our lives. the biggest thing to remember, when you get tired of making everything from scratch, is that food is not supposed to be fast. i can spend all day in the kitchen making meals, and canning produce to put up. i include my kids, and we all just make it fun. it is our lifestyle, so we dont think much about it. when we first started, i resented all the time in the kitchen. i wanted to pop a forzen pizza in the oven, and get on with life. now we find we actually like our food more, and at the same time eat less, when we all work together to make a meal. good luck with your challenge. i hope that you can make it a permanent one!

    1. I have been cooking for scratch for ages, the changes is with the use of can foods, the move to more fresh vegies and the move to organic. So far so good with the change, but it is early days yet. I have a series of quick meals such as pastas and stir fries that are great for weekday and on weekends I use my slow cooker to make up meals for the coming week .I work full time so I don't have lots of time each night to spend in the kitchen but that doesn't stop a person from cooking from scratch and avoid processed foods. For things like pizza I make up a batch of dough and freeze it ready to use during the week. It just requires some lateral thinking.

      Thanks for dropping by:)

  8. One site that has helped me alot in eating less canned food is hope you find it helpful too.

  9. Hi Melissa - thankyou for the website link, I will check it out. Thanks for dropping by:)

  10. Good for you! Your comment above about noticing how much food is outside your buying/cooking plan now in the supermarket is so true. We've been working away from questionable and bad foods for some time, but earlier this year - or last year - I was in the market one day and looking around I just sort of came to the realization of how little there was there that I would/could actually buy! It's quite a strange feeling! We don't avoid canned and processed foods entirely, but we do strive toward healthier foods and less processed stuff. It really limits one's shopping choices. Of course, that can be a very good thing. :-) And, frankly, veggies and meats cooked from fresh taste so much better than canned and even frozen. :-)


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