Saturday, May 21, 2011

Food for Thought

I think my blog needs a little break from pictures of Liam. I also think my brain needs a little room to express some thoughts other than "my child is awesome!", "birthday party!", and "look at how cute he is!" I mean, I know moms are supposed to spend a fair amount of time thinking about those things, but it's healthy to explore other ideas every once in a while.

   Speaking of healthy, I've been thinking about food a lot lately. I have a very undisciplined relationship with food. I like food. I like (most) healthy food. I like to cook. I am sort of lazy. This combination of traits leads to a rollercoaster approach to eating in our family. In a 2 month span there will generally be a couple of weeks where I do great with meal-planning and cooking, about a week where we sort of try to eat leftovers and come up with things to cook with whatever's around the kitchen but I don't really grocery shop, roughly 2 weeks where we just eat out a ton because I've fallen off the cooking bandwagon and I've lost all motivation to get back on, & then a week or so that just seems like a blur because I've completely lost touch with my kitchen. When I finally get up enough willpower to clean out the fridge, we tend to start the cycle all over again. I've never been really bothered by this cycle before, but now that Liam is eating the food we eat more and more, I feel compelled to become more consistent in our habits.

  Don't get me wrong, I don't feel like I need to have a perfectly fresh, home-cooked meal on the table every night. We keep up a pretty busy schedule and I know that wouldn't be a very feasible goal for our family. However, I do think things need to change for several reasons:
1. Waste - inconsistent eating habits waste both money and food. We spend more than we should when we eat out a lot, and we also end up wasting lots of food that we have purchased when I'm not consistently making our food. I tend to buy fairly healthy foods, but sadly they do not last forever.
2. Health - It is SO much easier to maintain a healthy diet when you eat at home.
3. Liam/future children - One facet of parenting is helping your kids build healthy habits, and there is a whole array of habits that can be gained by eating good food at home: an appreciation/willingness to eat healthy foods, good table manners, responsibility in setting the table/clearing the table/cleaning the kitchen ... all of these great teaching moments are lost when you have a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants approach to eating.

  I know that probably most 28 year-old moms out there are way ahead of me in this regard, but for some reason, discipline in this area has just been something I've struggled with since we've been married. Grad school, busy work schedules, and lack of caring/laziness have all conspired to keep me spinning my wheels when it comes to feeding my family. BUT, I'm ready to change. I've got a few ideas in the works to help me out with this goal.

1. I think that this spring/summer/fall our family is going to go in with another couple and buy into a farmshare with a community farm in our area. That means that every Saturday we will go to the farmer's market & pick up a lug of produce that we will divide between our two families. Therefore, every week I will be given an unknown amount of unknown types of produce that will either be used or wasted. This will at least motivate me to work more produce into our diet.

2. The waste chart. This week I started a waste chart that I posted on the side of our fridge. Every time I throw food away (like, bananas that have gone bad, not the rice someone didn't finish eating off of their plate) I am going to make myself write it down. Anyone who walks in my kitchen can see it, so I think it will be good accountability for me. I really want our family to be committed to good stewardship of the gifts God has given us, so perhaps I can shame myself out of wastefulness :) (note: not a tactic I plan on using in training my children - I'm a big girl, though, and I can handle it).

3. Building a meal base. While I do have several recipes that I make at least once a month, I feel like I don't have a good collection of simple, basic go-to meals. I need to get better at stocking my pantry/fridge with staples and then knowing what I can do with them in a pinch. I feel like I've read a lot about how other people do this, and my tendency is to research something to death in an attempt to figure out the PERFECT WAY to do it, when really the best plan for me is often to JUST DO IT.

So, there you have it. My food confession. If any of you have any awesome ideas for how you maintain consistency in how you feed your family, I'd love to hear your suggestions. I'm not looking for anything extreme - we will continue to eat from all the food groups, we will continue eating out sometimes, and we will continue to eat some things that really aren't healthy - I just want to be more disciplined and godly in how I balance our habits.


Carol said...

I feel like I struggle with this as well. It is always hard! And since I have done a Food Co-op - which is awesome, it leaves me only wanting to cook once a week really. I would love to hear what you figure out about what to do with just basic staples. I am also starting a freezer meal co-op with one of the girls I used to do regular food co-op with so I can have more stuff prepared in the rotation.

Mira's mom said...

I have struggled with this off and on as well. I have come up with a plan of action that has helped a lot! On Saturday or Sunday I glance through the grocery store ads. I make a list of three-four meals that I am going to make for dinner that week. I buy a bag of salad and then two other types of fresh vegetables and two-three types of fresh fruits. That leaves us room to go over to people's for dinner or out to eat. Sometimes I have to end up going to the store again that week if we have done a good job of making it through the food we bough, but it isn't an over-abundance.

Also, we take Juiceplus, Mira too. That really gives me peace of mind that even when we don't get in all we should, we are covered.