Well folks, this thing is winding down. I completed my fourth of five shopping trips Monday, a sure sign that February is nearly upon us. 
But I want to make sure that this little experiment has a lasting impact on how I live my day-to-day. It was a means to gain understanding, yes, but what else can I gain from it? How will it stick with me as I move forward in my life? Takeaway Week is designed to do just that. Reflecting on my experiences of the past month, I want to identify a few key things that will last beyond the confines of the calendar month.

Day 1: Cut The Fat (and Other Bad Stuff)
I am notorious for saying around the office, “I need peanut M&Ms.” On any given day, the candy or snack of choice could be replaced with chips and salsa, gummy bears, coffee, or anything with peanut butter in it. And while there’s nothing wrong with occasionally longing for those things, to classify them in the category of need is a little strong. It always has been, and I’ve always known that, but I know now that if I need to leave it off the shopping list for a trip (or four consecutive, as I have), I’ll survive. 

Shopping with a clear picture of what I truly do need (i.e. this chowder will not work without potatoes) makes it easy to see what the extra pieces are. I came into this issue yesterday at the store: nervous about my dollar total, I stood in the checkout line trying to rapidly prioritize what was in my basket and what could stay behind if needed. Were there sweets, junk, appropriately labeled luxury items in that basket? They could have gone without a second thought. And I want to try to rein in that second thought significantly moving forward.

I’ve spoken a few times about the difficulty in ensuring that enough fruits and vegetables fall into my basket each week, both here on this blog and with others who lived a life much like the one I’m simulating. As the saying goes, “if it’s important, you’ll find a way.” I like to think I’ve tried to do that. Even if it meant compromising freshness, reverting to canned or frozen forms, I have not constructed a menu over the course of this month that has not included those things. Sure, some breakfasts relied heavily on eggs but no vegetables, or on cereal without fruit. But for the most part, by the end of each day, I didn’t feel as though I would have to stave off the threat of scurvy.

But more and more research is showing that Americans don’t always understand the connection between what they eat and how they feel or look, and it takes an understanding of what “the right way” is, to live by it. One organization that is aiming to make changes in this regard is Shopping Matters. A division of Share Our Strength, they facilitate shopping and cooking classes in areas where people are in need of good food education, to arm them with the information to be well through food choices, even on limited means. I’ve signed up to facilitate these courses, and am hoping to be selected to take part in such an impactful program.

More takeaways will come as the week wears on- happy to be in the home stretch, but also eager to ensure that elements of this challenge never really end for me.

I’m doing this in hopes to raise awareness about food instability, and money for the Greater Boston Food Bank. Should you feel compelled to give to the latter, please click the link below! I thank you, as will those who benefit from the money that you give 🙂

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