ms. fresh fish

Housewife Chronicles: Meal Planning. Sh*t.
November 5, 2012, 2:42 pm
Filed under: babies, family, Housewife Chronicles

For context, I feel it’s important to explain to people my experience with meals growing up. I was raised by a very busy, business-owning single mother, who had two kids eight and 10 years before me so had neither the time, nor inclination to do meal time by the time I was, say, eight. You can judge if you want; I don’t (anymore). All this to say, I was given $5 for lunch at the cafeteria every day (which eventually ended up being used for cigarettes… ahhh, cigarettes) and dinner was almost always one of the following three: Poutine (delivery), Club Sandwich (delivery), or Kraft Dinner (which, incidentally, I still have at least twice a year). That said, I was also fortunate to have a lovely network of friends whose parents often set another plate at the table for me. These moms have had more of an impact on me than they will ever realize. (Of note, they never had anything but positive things to say to me about my mom, which was an effort I’ve also come to appreciate.)

Needless to say, these eating and meal habits did not magically transform when going to University, nor when I was living with my boyfriend-turned-fiance-turned-husband working busy jobs. There were forays into the world of cooking from time to time (a weekly Ingredient of the Week Cook-Off when Cousin Brad lived with us, for example), but none of them took. Truth be told, my greatest fear of becoming a parent was the food situation. Not only do I not know how to cook for me, let alone a family, but I’m pretty sure that I really, really hate it.

And so, a big part of my Project Housewife is meal planning. As a bare minimum, I want my kids to enjoy mealtimes with nutritious food (whatever that may be). But also, I want to have dinner on the table for Le Husband and I every night. Unfortunately, unlike wanting a clean house, I can’t really just contract that out for any reasonable cost.

OK, get to the point, Brooks.

It’s been a little over a month since I’ve been consciously thinking about food in advance and what we would be eating. If I do say so myself, I’ve done pretty well. Le Husband has almost always been coming home to a fairly nutritious meal. I’ve been actually using things that I put in the freezer. I’ve been planning more than a minute in advance. In fact, I’ve been able to follow weekly menus, even if I needed a gimmick to get me there. I take Les Twinkies on a walk to the grocery store at least once a week to pick up what I need ON THE MENU(!).  Fairly often, I actually make enough for dinner to provide leftovers for all four of us the next day. Whenever this happens, I almost cry with pride. It’s wrong to be proud, I know, but there it is.

On a related note, I’ve started training to become a Hatha Yoga Teacher (a post for another time). We were made to buddy-up on the first weekend with another student that we didn’t know. As it would happen, I found one of the only other women in the class with a young child. In a moment of over-sharing (classic moi), I told her about my Project Housewife and my fears about cooking. She happens to adore cooking. She’s already sent me some recipes and tonight I’m trying her black bean burritos. It requires, like, soooo many ingredients. (Sidebar, one of those ingredients is cilantro, which I actually had to ask the produce guy to show me. I think I’ve soiled the bunch because I can’t take my nose out of its delicious, delicious smell.)

I may not love the cooking part, but I am loving the classically maternal role of providing good food for my family (and me, actually). I am feeling fulfilled by it and I’m feeling useful; the idea of having something to show for your work besides a clean diaper and outfit, or, say… a briefing note.  So what does it take? Commitment, effort and time. Time to think about it, get the groceries, prepare the food. Commitment to continue to expend the effort to do it, even when it would be way easier to break open the frozen pizza. It’s no wonder that when working until 7 p.m. every night that neither Le Husband nor I decided to tackle this before now. I’m thankful, so thankful, to have the time now to do it. I only hope that I’ll be able to continue it enough to get the hang of it enough so that when I do go back to work in just over 10 months that I’ll be able to keep it up, enough.

Then again, I also know that being raised on poutine, KD and Club Sandwiches is hardly the end of the world. As those friends’ moms tell me now, I turned out alright.

And my mom? Well, she’ll tell anyone who will listen that I’m perfect and that clearly she did *something* right.


8 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Good for you! Figuring out what to make can feel overwhelming at times. Once you get the hang of it you will be a cooking machine. I try to have super on the table 5 nights week. My husband really appreciates it and I feel good that my kids will eat my food. There is no shame in feeling proud about it! I practically high five myself when my kids request certain meals that I make 😉

Comment by Crayon

I’d never even thought of the possibility of my children one day requesting something that I make!! Something to really look forward to – thanks!!!

Comment by freshfish

Love this. So inspiring! Since injuring my calf muscle a couple weeks ago I’ve fallen into a period of inactivity that my asshole brain decided would go really well with a period of eating lots of crap. I was already thinking today would be the day to turn things around and this is great motivation on the food end of the equation. Prompted me to reread my own post about eating with intention written at the end of the juice cleanse I did in July. We came to a similar conclusion: “Eating well requires effort, and awareness, but it’s so much more satisfying”

The commitment to healthful nourishment. I’m in!

ps: Soups are really easy. Roast a pan of veggies (e.g. onion, carrots, cauliflower, garlic) for around 45 minutes. Add to a pot of stalk (I just use 2 of the cubes and four cups of water). Bring to boil and simmer for around five minutes. Blend to desired consistency. Once you nail this you can get creative with ingredients / flavours (bit of coconut milk, some grated ginger, cilantro . . . gets fun once you get comfortable!)

Comment by v

MMMMM…. Cilantro… I will try, my dear!! I will try! One day I’ll do a cleanse. I hope. OK – so get back on your eating with intention horse, madame!

Comment by freshfish

One suggestion (since my upbringing was problematic in terms of being forced to eat the unhealthiest food as well, but that was the least of it): get a slow cooker. I throw veggies and some stalk and water in that puppy and by the time I get home from work, voila! A meal! A healthy, non-processed meal I cooked (while I was at work, ahem). It’s wonderful. Oh, and thanks for the honesty. I cannot tell you how many lunches with female colleagues I have had to sit through while they pontificate on the merits of quinoa (WTF is that, I think to myself?? And I just want a ciggie and a beer). I say, keep it simple. Good for you! Love reading your blog…

Comment by Carla (from BHS)

Excellent tip! I have a slow cooker that is used exclusively for my chili because I know nothing else to do with it. See commenter V below/above? I’ve actually aggressively sighed through a conversation she was having with a co-worker about multiple Food Network shows. I threatened to get up and leave and they finally stopped. Or they ran out of shows to talk about. Either way, know me as the girl in Yoga School eating leftover Kraft Dinner and completely unapologetic about having loved every minute of smoking and wishing it was good for you. Oh, and you’re the only “Carla” I know, so no need for the “BHS” identifier – and if you do, make it Carla Bison 😉

Comment by freshfish

I love that you are doing this. I believe I tackled a very similar situation (replace ‘poutine, club sandwiches and KD’ with ‘being forced to “start dinner” as my daily chore for over a decade of teen/YA life’).

When baby-one came along and I finally admitted to myself I could do something better than jar-food, I re-learned how to cook, meal-plan, budget ingredients and with the help of some great websites and online recipe-ratings, have managed to put pretty delicious meals on the table at least 5/7 days! Cooking is now one of my most loved hobbies (while continuing to fight the urge to say “ghaa, I hate cooking”)

I’ve amassed some great energy vs taste recipes (I rate all recipes on a scale of effort vs cost/quantity/post-usability of ingredients vs taste… some things are really good but just not worth the 4 hours….). Hopefully, one day we can swap!


Comment by dbatt99

Oh man – you got it down to a science?! Well done! We shall swap one day, I have faith.

Comment by freshfish

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