foodstuffs and planning

I hate the end of the month, those last few days waiting for the paycheck to deposit. At the end of each month, I repent of all my spending sins.  Looking back over the month’s expenditures, I can tell there were a couple unusual expenses that bumped my spending up, but the biggest offender other than the unusual back to school, still paying off summer electric bills is food.

This is a big surprise to me as I am not much of a foodie or cook.

But I guess that’s the problem.

I want to be a foodie. Well, I want to feed my child well. So I go into grocery stores and buy tons of fresh produce that mostly goes bad before we get to eat it.  I also rarely have a plan so I just buy stuff as I see it, and then go home and try to google meals that I can make with the ingredients that I randomly have.  And then food goes bad. When I don’t have time to actually cook, we eat out, and also buy random crap at W*lgreens instead of going to the grocery store because nobody in their right mind wants to go to the grocery store after work/after-school pickup.

So, yeah, I suck. I’m like one of those stories in the so-called women’s magazines about the horribly disorganized housewife, and we all read about her in the dentists office and judge her.

I judge her.

I judge me.

And my suckage is really wasteful. And expensive. If I expect to put anything under the tree, let alone travel to California for Christmas, I have got to get it together.

So, two principles that I’m adopting:

a) quit pretending that you’re going to serve leftovers within a reasonable time. Just freeze leftovers straightaway and eat them next week.  I can’t tell you how many science projects are in my fridge because I was just sure I was going to take the leftovers to work.  I’m never in the mood for last night’s dinner again right away. I’ve already managed to do this with Tuesday night’s taco cupcakes. How cool am I?

b) quit pretending that you’re going to cook vegetables. you don’t cook vegetables. You just THINK you’re going to do it and then never do.  Buying them, other than frozen for inside recipes is a waste of time.  (Don’t worry–my child eats plenty of veggies–raw with a dip, while dinner is cooking, plus salad bar at lunch.)

c) make a menu plan before shopping.

Today, we went to a local farmer’s markety type place.  I really like this places. It’s the home of all the “pick your own” stuff in the area, but they also sell cheeses, fresh bread and an amazing assortment of  pre-made meals, all refrigerated or frozen. The stuff is made on the premises in relatively small quantities.  It’s really good quality stuff, and  always heats up really well. Before Selam came home, I used to shop there all the time, loading up my freezer with pot pies and homemade raviolis and what not. Since then, due to mother guilt, I’ve felt like I needed to cook the food myself.

Today, I kicked the mother guilt and bought 3 meals there: marinated cod, pumpkin ravioli, chicken sausage, and chicken cheese quesadillas. I also got their whole-wheat pancake mix.  So that’s the basics for 5 meals.  I have taco cupcakes in the freezer, which makes six, and red beans and rice –a staple in our house–would make 7.  So that gets me through to next Wednesday night. Thursday is Selam’s birthday and I promised her pizza. Friday and Saturday night we’ll be at camp, and then we’ll grocery shop on the way home.  I have plenty of fruit, yogurt and cereal for breakfast, cold veggies for dinner, and rice, bread  and quinoa for carbs.  I’m feeling pretty good about this.  yay, me! I know it’s not the most super nutritious run of meals, but it will do. She gets great food for lunch at her school (organic, whole grain, it’s quite impressive.)

I have an incredibly busy week coming up.  I agreed to grade ordination exams, and am expected to shoe-horn in 18 hours of service around my existing job and family duties–including a birthday and a trip to camp.  Having the dinner planned out will at least make sure we don’t starve–and hopefully will save some money, too.

Am I the only parent who does meals so half-baked?  Is there hope for me? Are you judging me for my frozen meals?

 

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8 thoughts on “foodstuffs and planning

  1. Yes, I want the taco cupcakes recipe, too!

    I never deal well with CSAs b/c I end up with a mismatch between the food I get and recipes that don’t include other ingredients onhand. So yeah, I’ve been through phases where I’ve pitched a lot of food.

    I got seriously into meal planning a few years ago when politica was on sabbatical and I was solo parenting for most of a semester. I realized that I really need to cook only 2 or 3 dishes a week; otherwise, I can eat leftovers, and can always make a few basic things like quesadillas or grilled cheese. I realized I need to buy way less food than I had. I’m less structured now than I was in those days, but thinking about how few meals can last us the week has certainly eliminated waste.

    And btw, when I judge you, I’m thinking things like “Susan is an awesome mother and great online friend.” You rock. Let the food guilt go.

  2. I am guilty of the same two things…because I love to eat leftovers day after day, but my spouse does not. I need to adopt your immediate freezing plan. And, hey: I grew up on canned vegetables, and I’m not dead yet. 🙂

  3. Here’s the “gist” of the taco cupcakes. I replace the beef with that fake meat soy stuff, so that selam can take it to after care or camp (but anything of that texture would do). I replace the refried beans with black beans. So, basically wonton, meat or substitute, salsa, beans, cheese (I use weightwatchers mexican mix), repeat. Selam loves them and so do I!

    http://www.tablespoon.com/recipes/taco-cupcakes/1/

  4. I used to be exactly the same way about shopping and wasting. When the Kid was in high school we ate out more than we ate at home, but I still shopped …and wasted. Since I’ve been on Weight Watchers and I only have to feed myself I am much better about buying exactly what I will eat and nothing else (and I need to be mindful because it’s expensive to eat fresh fruits and veggies as my primary foods.)

    I have also admitted that I have pretty much given up cooking. I will make a pot of soup here and there, or roast some veggies but whole meals? Can’t remember the last time I cooked a whole meal.

    I think you do what you can…and honestly, Selam will have so many excellent memories of her childhood I doubt she will care whether they feature home cooked meals.

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