Along with adjusting to the schedule and commute of my new job, I’ve been living the single life. Neil’s been gone for a week, and isn’t heading home for another few days. This has made it really easy to slip into some old, inefficient habits, especially in the kitchen. When I’m home alone, it’s almost all I can do to get up early enough to walk the dog and get myself put together to get on the bus and head to work, then get home, walk the dog again, get a few chores done, get things ready for the next day, and crash into bed. Then get up the next day and do it all over again.
Feeding myself well doesn’t end up very high on the priority list, and when I do need to eat I find I’m reaching for the old, easy, expensive standbys: Pizza. Take out. Fast Food. Toast. Okay, toast isn’t that expensive. But toast alone isn’t all that healthy either.
Before the great budget challenge of 2009, I wouldn’t have blinked about spending what I have this past week on food. But now, seeing the money I’ve spent on convenience and knowing the bounty I could’ve bought with the same amount of cash (or just the amount of cash I could’ve spent on other things) and not much more effort, it’s kindof disheartening.
It’s another reminder that this whole budget exercise is as much about state of mind as state of wallet.
I’m reminded of a quote from Alice Waters on a recent episode of the Splendid Table Podcast (on not wanting to waste the local produce she’s worked so hard to source & obtain): “We used to base most of our food decisions on ‘what do I want,’ now we start thinking about meals with ‘what do I have?'”
I’ve been operating in “what do I want” mode for the past week, basing my food decisions on fast and easy, rather than affordable and healthy.
Which is dumb. Because if I take three minutes to look through the fridge, freezer and pantry, I have: bread, wraps, eggs, rice, pasta, chili, soup, beans, frozen fruit, frozen veggies, etc. etc. etc.
I have a bounty of food available, if I’d take the time to look for a couple minutes and do a minimal amount of thinking and prep. And I’d probably feel a world better by feeding my body real food as opposed to fast food. Not to mention having some extra funds for things I really want, instead of blowing it on short-term instant but fleeting gratification.
If you made your next meal with what you have already instead of what you want, what would it be? And what are you waiting for?