In their spacious abode for their big brood, the Duggars have two kitchens — one for looks, a "pretty" place to make smaller meals and another for the more industrial cooking required when you have so many mouths to feed. Jim Bob and Michelle's book, The Duggars: 20 and Counting! ($11) is filled with recipes for their clan's favorite meals and thirst quenchers — from tater tot casserole to poor man's pizza and snow ice cream to lemonappleade.
There are even some thrifty ones for how to make household products like laundry detergent and inventive baby wipes from paper towels and an old ice cream bin. While chatting with the mama of 18, Michelle told us her thoughts on eating organic, how she stays trim between babies and even let us in on her very basic beauty regimen.
lilsugar: There's a big movement in parts of the United States to eat local and organic, but many of your recipes include canned or processed ingredients — do you not believe in that type of diet or is it an economical decision?
Michelle Duggar: We probably don't eat as healthy as we should. If we were trying to feed our large family, it would be a lot more expensive to do so. Our health and our children's health have been very good. We don't eat organic, but we do make wise choices with our food, we do eat candy and cookies occasionally, but it's not day in and day out. I will admit, I like ice cream so I consider a freezer without it not properly stocked. Overall, we eat a lot of vegetables and fruits and our meals have a lot of whole grains, we use brown rice and make our own bread after grinding our wheat. We have salad just about every meal and on any given occasion, we're going and buying five more bags of apples, but they're not organic (laughs). We also cook with ground turkey and season it so it tastes really rich. But, we also love dill pickles and pretzels as snacks.
To see Michele's way for losing her postpartum pounds and what surprised her most about motherhood,
lilsugar: I read that you stay trim between babies by being a lifetime member of Weight Watchers. Despite the stress that comes with having 18 children, you look incredibly youthful. What's your secret?
Michelle Duggar: I guess that the children keep you young running and keeping up with them. Losing 40 pounds years ago made me so much more energetic and eating high fiber and low fat. I still have a sweet tooth, but I satisfy it with Fiber1 and fudge bars.
lilsugar: Do you have any favorite products? I know you make your own detergent, do you make your own soap or beauty products as well?
Michelle Duggar: We don't make our own soap, but I've used Ivory soap forever. And then Lubriderm lotion. I have dry skin and I've used it from way back when the dermatologist said to use the one without scent. So every night, I put another coat on my face whether I get a shower or not! (laughs) And, I'm really bad, I don't take my makeup off every day. I put the lotion right on top and go on!
lilsugar: You know you're a mother when ______?
Michelle Duggar: You can't go to the bathroom without somebody knocking on the door saying, "Are you in there?"
lilsugar: Why didn't anybody tell me _______ about motherhood?
Michelle Duggar: How little sleep you learn to live on. Actually, the baby slept until six in the morning last night. I put her down at 11 o'clock and I woke up at 4:30 thinking why did she not wake up.
lilsugar: How much sleep do you get?
Michelle Duggar: I'm getting about three hour stretches or four. But sometimes she'll go six hours and I'm amazed, especially with breastfeeding.
lilsugar: What's the best trick your mama taught you?
Michelle Duggar: To be organized. My mom was such an organizer and I'm not. Things are never where they are supposed to be around here. We have a place for them, but everybody is always using them and they don't get back to where they belong.
lilsugar: Helicopter mom or free-range kids?
Michelle Duggar: I feel like I train them and I want them to be responsible and stand on their own, but it takes some time before you can cut them loose!