I often get asked questions about my family’s food consumption: how much we spend in a week, how much food do I cook for dinner, how do I get dinner on the table when I get home from work, what do we eat? All are very legitimate questions.
I function better when I write things down, whether it’s stuff I have to do for work, or running a household. Ever since I was a newlywed working shifts at the hospital, I’ve made a weekly menu so I’m not constantly trying to figure out what to make for dinner. Over the years, I have come to rely more heavily on menu planning.
Along with the menu, I’ve kept a weekly list of groceries to buy. Since I work for myself, I can schedule in my weekly Costco grocery spree during the day. Costco has the best overall prices, selection and convenience for our needs. The total monthly damage to our wallet is roughly $1200 – $1500, including food, household supplies, toiletries.
I’ve collected recipes that are easy to prepare when I get home and I often rely on my slow cookers. Sometimes all 3 are in use at the same time. I also use big batch recipes where a dish is prepared to the point where it can be frozen and then cooked in the slow cooker when needed. Frozen vegetables are much more convenient than fresh vegetables that have to be peeled and cut – and they’re just as healthy.
Earlier this year, all 8 kids lived at home. Then #1, a journalist, moved out-of-province to write for a newspaper. #2, who’s in nursing school is working part-time at a hospital. #3 graduated with a degree in social work and works a lot of shifts at his new job. #4 and #5 are also juggling part-time jobs with school and social activities. Some days, I don’t know who’s coming home for dinner and it has become really hard to keep track of everyone’s whereabouts.
Unfortunately, in my head, I’m still cooking for 10 people. Big pots. Big servings. It’s very hard to get out of that mind-set. So now we often have enough leftovers to feed a small family. That’s great if someone wants to take extras for lunch the next day, but that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes, a container of last night’s dinner will get pushed further back into the fridge and forgotten until it’s no longer fit for consumption. Into the garbage it goes, I’m ashamed to say.
The dilemma of uneaten leftovers is an indication of something larger happening within my family. My kids are growing up, moving on, making their way in the world. In no time, I’ll be making dinner for six, then four, then two. In a way, it’s sad that my Costco shopping cart is becoming less full, but family life is supposed to be that way. We nurture our kids and then we let them go. Feed them – body, mind and soul – so that they are well equipped to make their mark in the world. God willing, one day, they’ll be back for a visit with their own families and I’ll be cooking for an even bigger crowd.