Oh, how I wanted to order out today!
Mr. Grasshopper – much more fun to type than typing “my husband” ad nauseam – is out for work this evening, and I am left to my own devices. Without my favorite health nut to impress, I am usually free to order some Chinese, or even a pizza. Plus, as I pointed out to him before he left the house today, it’s World Taco Day tomorrow. So, it may even be my civic duty to order Mexican food for dinner.
But no. I decided to scrounge around the refrigerator for left overs and ate in. In addition to making you really hungry, I also wanted to talk to you about one of our bigger pre-journey expenditures – food! I actually happen to be a pretty good cook (if I do say so myself), but even the best cook doesn’t always want to cook. And the Grasshoppers love eating out. We often joke that we travel with our stomachs. So, it’s not too surprising that food (in all its delicious avatars from groceries to eating out and ordering in) occupied a generous portion of our monthly budget.
My biggest realizations has been that we would have to cut down on, or ideally, cut out our excessive food-related expenses. As the primary cook in this family (Mr. Grasshopper makes a chicken artichoke dish, which he used to impress the ladies in his single days, but that’s all he can cook. We are working on changing that.), this meant that I would have to make peace with cooking a lot more, and taking fewer days off. This has actually been a relatively slow evolution that predated my enlightenment regarding Financial Independence. It was inspired by the arrival of Baby Grasshopper. Now a toddler, she has definitely put something of a crimp in our dining styles.
But while we did away with eating out, one of the first things I did after Baby Grasshopper was born was to declare a STRIKE. Mommy could not work full-time, and be Mommy, and make a healthy dinner that consisted of anything more nutritious than frozen french fries if she was required to actually “think” about the meal. So we ordered Blue Apron every week for two years. I loved the service because it took all the thinking out of cooking. Put baby to sleep, go on auto-pilot, follow Blue Apron directions, and voilà I am the happy consumer of a well-balanced meal forty minutes later. But at $60 per week, it was definitely a luxury that had to go. I am in fact excited to reprise my role as the family’s head chef, and have been happily exploring new recipes. Check out the Stuffed Onion Bombs I tried last weekend. Yummy! http://www.shared.com/stuffed-onion-bombs-will-rock-your-world-1960370956.html
Baby Grasshopper is much easier to handle now, and I am far less of a zombie by dinner time. I am enjoying the time in the kitchen, and often find that my take on a recipe can be whipped together in less than forty minutes. So, I’m also free to spend the rest of the night puttering away. Like so…with this Blog 🙂
In addition to making a commitment to eating at home, I have also been trying to shop from my own pantry. When I am out of a particular ingredient, or unable to throw together a familiar recipe, I experiment with what I have on hand. The Internet is a boon to the cook with seemingly unrelated odds and ends. Someone, somewhere has figured out a way to make that combination of foods delicious. Today, I looked up ways to salvage day old mushy pasta and Ta dah! – http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/packages/comfort-foods/easy-comfort-food-recipes/7-things-to-make-with-leftover-cooked-pasta.html)
The trick is to struggle past the urge to speed dial your favorite take-out joint, or run out of the house to buy that one “necessary” ingredient half way through the week – only to find that you have purchased $50 of unexpected groceries. I find that if I quickly begin the process of cooking, I am committed, and far less likely to back out of the project underway to order out. Haste in this instance avoids waste. (Ha! You know I’ve been dying to use that.)
Not to say that any of this has been easy. As I am sure Mr. Grasshopper would tell you, I sulked and fought hard before realizing that Blue Apron had to go. We weaned me off it by ordering it only every alternate week, and then canceling one week at a time. Finally, I was ready to let it go and soar free.