The September Challenge Summary!

I came home last week to Chris picking the remainder of our grapes. We froze some, ate a ton, and turned the rest into grape juice!

 

A lot of people have been asking me about how our September challenge ended up going. Yeah, because remember how I was going to do an awesome job documenting our month? Sorry about that. It’s just that when you are working part time, taking care of 3 kids, and cooking every thing you make from scratch, I wasn’t finding myself with an excess of energy or time at the end of each day :). I always mean to become one of those people who blogs really regularly, but it obviously hasn’t been on the top of my priority list. If you want to know more details of how the month went, let’s talk! There is so much to say! But here are some of my random thoughts on how the month went and our plans for the future:

  • I already mentioned that I plan to make homemade whole wheat bread each week in place of store bought. Baking is kind of tricky for me. I am not a recipe follower, and so I often learn the hard way time and time again that you usually do have to follow recipes precisely when baking. The first couple of times I tried to make Betsy’s homemade bread, it turned out mediocre. But as I practice more and try to actually really follow the recipe, it is getting a little better each time. Chris is obsessed with the homemade bread and treats me like I am some sort of famous chef on the days that I make it :).
  • I will continue to make these homemade tortillas once a week: http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2010/05/26/recipe-whole-wheat-tortillas/. My family was so happy to eat homemade tortillas and beans several days in a row even.
  • Which brings me to my next point. If you are going to go out of your way to cook from scratch, you might as well eat it for at least 2 days. Who has the energy to cook totally from scratch every day? It seems much wiser to get your family used to the idea of leftovers!
  • I think my family might have eaten almost too much fiber during the month of September. I will spare the details, but a ton of oatmeal, whole wheat flour, veggies, and a fruit was doing interesting things to the Becerra family’s digestive systems.
  • I plan to cook with meat about 2 times a week. I have a great local beef source, but I have been debating about what to do for chicken. Local/organic chicken is super expensive.. almost too expensive to make it feel worth buying. After thinking about my different options, I have ultimately decided that I will continue to buy organic chicken, but we will probably only cook two chickens a month.
  • As you can imagine, a month of local eating meant I didn’t get to shop at Trader Joes once. This was interesting for me as I am a big Trader Joes fan. The things I missed most from Trader Joes were coconut milk, frozen mangos, frozen pineapple, and toasted coconut. The first thing I did on October 1st was eat coconut. Maybe I should move to a tropical island and do a local challenge.
  • Eating completely local is not super cheap. Even in the month of September. Though I think we will continue to eat a large amount of local foods, it is nice to not have the pressure to do it in such a hard core way anymore. I will continue to cook local oatmeal and use local wheat flour. I will probably continue to buy local lentils, but I will not buy local beans in the future. They were so delicious, but on our budget, it makes more sense to buy organic beans at Winco for 1/3 of the price.
  • One of my favorite results of the challenge is that Chris has now taken ownership over making a warm breakfast every day. Chris does not like to cook, but he realized that he would have to take a part in helping more if we really wanted to make lasting changes. Breakfast time has become more special. We often all sit around the table and eat breakfast as a family now. I may buy a box of cereal each month, but 6 out of 7 days, we plan to continue with homemade breakfast.
  • I am not one to buy a ton of crackers and snack foods, but I have been doing even less. I may buy an occasional lara bar, granola bars, or lentil crackers for when I am out and about, but we have been popping a lot of popcorn, and the kids have been snacking more on fruit, cheese, and veggies.

I am pooped after a long day and this is all I can think of right now. Do you think that your family would ever consider taking the Oregon Challenge? I think that this may become a September tradition each year!

Lisa Corn - October 7, 2014 - 3:53 am

Hi Kara,
Did you use the tortilla press that tortilla recipe calls for, or did you roll them out? Also, would your friend be willing to share the bread recipe? I don’t buy buy often anymore but I haven’t found a recipe that works well for us.
Thanks!
Lisa

kara - October 7, 2014 - 7:16 am

Lisa,
We roll them out with a rolling pin and it works great! I will send the bread recipe to you!! Bye the way, I really like your blog!!

Betsy - October 7, 2014 - 7:35 am

Kara! Well done! I am sure you are exhausted after a whole month of cooking every single thing from scratch! Sounds like it went well. And just keep making the bread. It gets easier and better every time you make it. Yay for fabulous oregon and all her fabulous food!!

Carrie - October 7, 2014 - 9:52 am

I was wondering how the end of your challenge went! You are amazing for doing all that cooking all month long! I don’t live in Oregon, so I won’t be doing the Oregon Challenge, but I also won’t be doing a California Challenge either. Now that I have a baby and am back to working full time and teaching one night a week, I’m just trying to survive each day (I know that sounds horrible!). I do try to cook three nights/week, leave one night for pizza night, and leave two nights for take-out/dining out/leftovers. And one night my hubby is on his own since I teach that night. Anyway…we call our nights of leftovers “A Night to Remember,” which we adapted from my husband’s childhood. It sounds nicer than “leftovers” somehow:-)

Kudos to you on your Oregon Challenge – you are inspiring in many ways to many people!

Rachel - October 7, 2014 - 10:05 am

I loved reading this. And would love the bread recipe as well.

Currently I’m not up to a full challenge like this, but I am trying very hard to make (and eat) most of my food from scratch. Lately that means making a big pot of soup or chili one day a week, eating a lot through the week and freezing a lot for the future. I’ve also stocked up on many food items, so am now trying to use what I have, and make thoughtful choices when I’m shopping, so I can supplement with fresh produce and grow our food storage, slowly.

Lisa Corn - October 7, 2014 - 10:33 am

Thanks Kara!

sharon - October 7, 2014 - 9:49 pm

Kara, you’re amazing! Love the challenge and all the good things that came from it. So inspiring.

kara - October 8, 2014 - 11:17 pm

Betsy,
I want to hear what you are finding in Idaho so far and what your shopping routine has been there!
Carrie,
So nice to hear from you. Conrgrats on your babe!! Sounds like you are a busy gal right now!! I never would have been able to do this if I had been working a lot in September (I only have work meetings and prep this month before I start teaching at the end of September). I love “A night to remember”.
Rachel, will you message me your email and I can share the bread document with you??
Sharon,
You are pretty inspiring yourself right now lady with all of your healthy eating!