Saturday, November 15, 2008

Food Challenge: The most fun you can have with your clothes on

This will "out" our family for being perhaps the nerdiest family on Earth. Or perhaps everyone already knew. But Steve and I are having the time of our lives with our new game. Not buying any food until we've basically used up everything in our huge pantry, freezer, fridge, and Other Freezer. We've had a few close calls. Out of eggs, but we wanted to make the pumpkin muffin mix. Then..voila!...I found a 3 year old "egg replacer" powder in the pantry. Why I bought it, I have no idea. We have no egg allergies. Maybe on sale?

I love my parents and can say thousands of great things about them. But one weird souvenir of my childhood is this sense that we will starve if every cupboard isn't bursting at the seams. [I love ya Dad, but you ARE a loon about food!]. I adopted the every-other-day grocery trip tendency, and always stock up like we're about to have a snowstorm and have only a mule to ride into town. Puh-leaze. A couple of weeks ago, I was making a list of food to buy...and then had a realization that maybe I should create a meal plan out of only the things we had on hand. Our food supply bordered on ridiculous. Then my nerd-brain went one step further and decided to not buy any food items at all until we were licking the tin can of our canned pumpkin and scraping the last frozen carrot out of the freezer bottom.

Steve was immediately on board and calls it "getting back to our roots." When we were childless and saving for a house, we became ridiculous misers and wouldn't spend money on anything. I look back and wish we'd been a bit looser with money for things like dates, but overall I'm glad we had that "poor newlywed" experience so we can appreciate fluid cash flow now.

I had to remind myself of some of my Depression-mindset tricks. Like making a crockpot of soup with all the leftovers from the week. Tossing in leftover chicken, rice, and all those frozen veggies we had in deep freeze. I have NO idea why I bought lima beans. Or the peas-and-carrots mixture that no one in our family will touch. But when I put it all in the soup, it looks festive and colorful...and I actually like the lima beans! Or at least...I can't taste them, which is just as good.

Also: Burrito madness. Setting up an assembly line of all the leftover beans, meat, rice, tator tots, etc. Mix it all up, add salsa and shredded cheese...and now Steve has 10 burritos wrapped in the freezer for quick lunches.

I love this stuff!

We are evidently VERY task-oriented people, as we're having so much fun. I'm serious. The YMCA had their parents-night-out tonight, so we had a 3 hour date at home. I asked Steve if we should pick up some picnic food at the store and just count it as "recreation" instead of groceries. But then we decided to use the year-old frozen mixed fruit and make sorbet with that and maple syrup. Yes! We defeated the temptation of the Food Challenge! And we drank the champagne in the fridge we'd been saving for something special (thanks, Patricia!). A lovely date night dessert and wine, and the Challenge went unbroken.

Thanksgiving doesn't count. Steve did realize he didn't really want turkey, so we're having steaks instead. We all love steak, so that will be our new tradition. And cherry pie instead of pumpkin. So we'll just move into buying on the bare minimum of food, since we're trying to extend the Challenge as long as possible. At some point, we're going to have to buy eggs. Our family can't deal with not having eggs around. But our next phase of the challenge is going to be spending the least amount of money possible on food. We'll track it and try to beat our weekly amounts. =)

I think sometimes the only way to fix an issue is to overcorrect at first and then find the middle ground. We were buying WAY too much food. And now we'll buy way too little food. But I'm being reminded of some really great cooking habits that had fallen by the wayside in the fatigue of pregnancy...when a frozen pizza was Steve's dinner many nights, while his wife sprawled on the couch watching election coverage and whining about her back pain. Being "myself" is feeling good, and re-configuring our food around here is a really, really great feeling. Not just about the food, but about seeing my cooking side floating to the top again...

And seriously...that mixed fruit sorbet was sooooooo good. We wouldn't have tried it had it not been for the new goal, so good things are coming out of it already.

No comments: