Friday, September 24, 2010

Please pass the menu

Sometimes I wonder if/how crazy I'm driving my family. Day in and day out, we eat at home. Cereal, oatmeal, pancakes, special breakfast muffins, you name it, we've done it. Sandwiches and salads for lunch, chips and fruit. Iced tea, water, or milk. Dinner: crock pot, vegetarian, breakfast for dinner, stir fry, stove top, oven, all in some random order. The kids ask for seconds, tells me they're happy I made dinner (on their own no less, R's not home yet half the time when I'm plating their food during the week) R tells me what he likes, what came out great, what we should try next. Out comes the menu planner, grocery list, chef hat-a la me. I'm the head cook, the one who flips through an endless supply of cookbooks, pores over frugal sites for the next meal I want to whip up for my family. I take great pride in my cooking skills; considering when I moved out on my own I was limited to what I learned in home economics in the seventh grade-cheese omelets, pigs in blankets, muffins. Yet I'm tired; especially more than I'm used to.

My mom was the cook in our home, she made dinner throughout the week, but as we got older the meals became the same thing, meat, rice/potatoes, and vegetables. She knew how to make lasagna and a mean spaghetti sauce, both which I never quite caught onto. She made a special dump cake for dessert and boxed brownies and cakes. We never went hungry, or went without. I could sense though, she got tired of it-as time went on, the meals never changed, and we went out once we were older-a lot. The breakfast places, the chinese dinners, oh, to live in the Bay Area, and have an endless supply of tasty places to go. That was perfection-or was it?

I had a talk with my dad recently about how him and my mom could have done things differently when they had the money they did-eating out was one of them. I had been expressing my inner struggle to him-the joy I had in having skills to cook such a variety of foods, I had just made eggplant parmigiana and it came out perfect-non breaded, using the organic eggplant I had picked up at the farmer's stand in town. The kids liked it, R devoured it. At the same time, I was tired-tired partly because I'm almost 30 weeks into this last pregnancy, because of kids being kids, and while R tends to take over in the kitchen on the weekends, and helps get everything going during the weekday morning routine, I wondered that night if I should have caved in and had us eat cereal, or hit the drive thru for dinner. Living in a small town, there's not a lot of options-either fast food or sit down, pizza is carry out or dine in. Instead, I made dinner that night; and the night after; and then tonight. My status on FB tonight:

does not know how long its been since we ate out or ordered out. is this what happens when you have kids?

Everyone said yes, except for one who says they order out more, but in their defense, I truly believe that if I lived where they did, we'd have a ton more options than we do here, within a much shorter driving distance, so I don't blame them for taking advantage of it. For us, its just not worth the expense plus driving 20-30 min for something other than Mexican or pizza (the local places here are good, but can quickly become cost prohibitive). I didn't quite want to say its been over four weeks since we went out, last we ate out was in Monterey 30+ days ago. There's no end planned for when we'll go out again. I'm sure we will, but as of yet, we're still eating at home. Weekdays, weekends, all planned out, or we use what's in the pantry. Some may think we're wacky, but unless someone wants to take us out to eat, honestly, we're doing the best we can to make the right choices for us, and that means bypassing eating out right now.

On a related note, this week I read on FB about one of my fellow frugal bloggers paying their house in full and was amazed by their financial plan to work with their mortgage-free income, we're still following Dave Ramsey/listening to Suze Orman, and by choice no longer using our credit cards, and I pop open the freezer, and see what's ready to be taken out for tomorrow's dinner. I am working hard not to whine, to appreciate the fact we have food in the fridge, I've gained new skills in the kitchen, and our kids see both of us cook (seeing E pop open the "microwave" in the pretend kitchen at preschool with "oatmeal" inside was a cute moment) I know we'll survive (and hopefully thrive) during this extended downturn in our finances. I think I just need a night off from cooking, perhaps it's time I freeze double batches of our meals, I need to make it easier for us when I'm not up to cooking and R comes home late. Guess what that means for this weekend?

1 comment:

Kelly said...

So since you know I am a complete opposite of this, what do you want for a baby shower gift? How can I make it easier for you? Besides me myself actually cooking...would you like a stock of frozen lasanas or a trip to dream dinners or something?