Friday, December 21, 2007

Foodie’s Block

Foodie’s block; similar to writer’s block, except with food.

My mom was, and still is, the expert on menu planning. She was a stay at home mom and had to work on a budget. So she put together menus once a week; planned her grocery shopping and purchased all the food in one day. Then we ate the meals she planned that week. I don’t recall deviating from it much at all. And dinner was at 6:00 p.m. at the table every night. Family dinners all the way.

What I am about to write bothers me in a way that I cannot describe. I cannot put into words how much it pisses me off that her system does not work for our family. To me, it’s an organizational thing. I have a knack for organization that is so superior it should be considered a super power. So the fact that I cannot get it together to plan weekly meals for my family drives me insane.

There are times when I am in the zone and I plan meals, get together my shopping list, get my groceries, make the meals, mostly sticking to the schedule, and it feels great. But most of the time, when I sit down to write out my menus, I am stuck. I think this happens for the following reasons:

1. Knowledge. I don’t know how to make a variety of food. I have three basics: macaroni and cheese (from scratch), crock pot meals, and chicken enchiladas.
2. Limitations. The Boy is a picky eater. If I only want to make one dinner AND I want him to eat, then I am limited in what I can make.
3. Rebellion. My mom did it so I’m not going to do it.
4. Craziness. We are a spur of the moment family, so I can’t always count on being home every night. Sometimes we decide to go to a baseball game, or go out to eat, or go to a friends’ house for dinner. Then the meal that I plan that night would be wasted if the meat doesn’t get cooked or the produce spoils.
5. Finances. We have the luxury of making enough money that we can afford to eat out more often. If we were limited and restricted by a budget, we would not be tempted to eat out as often.
6. Convenience. I don't want to take the time to cook if I can pick something up that's already prepared for me to eat when I get home.

Negative results from the lack of planning are:

1. Finances. We do end up eating out more often than we should. If I don’t have something planned, I’m not committed to eating at home. The other night I had a crock pot meal cooking and I wanted Chinese food but I knew we had dinner waiting for us when we got home so we didn’t spend money on Chinese.
2. Health. Eating out is not as healthy, neither is snacking, and frozen meals are not as healthy as fresh and they are high in sodium.
3. Education. By continuing to eat at places where The Boy orders cheeseburgers or chicken strips, and french fries, I am not encouraging him to experience new foods or to try new things. He is not being challenged to expand his realm of taste. Also, I am not challenging myself to learn new ways to cook.

The solution? I’m not sure. I have looked all over the web for something that could work for our family. The closest thing I found was this One Bag, Five Dinners idea on the Kraft Foods web site. And it’s a really great starting point. Sometimes I go on the site, though, and I’m just blah – totally uninspired.

I don’t know why my interest in being organized with food does not exist. If only the attraction TO the food was lacking as well!