Wow, so it’s been a few weeks. Honestly, the time has flown by so quickly that I can’t believe it’s been so long. What have we done you ask? Well, there’s been surgery (which went great), and the subsequent recovery, visits to North Carolina and Virginia to look at colleges, Junior Advisement meetings, Nursery Rhyme Parades (complete with the homemade costume), and the usual school, swimming and soccer.
And Football, every weekend.
The food has been great, and I am finally starting to get a handle on the cost. As with anything when you first begin, there is a certain learning curve as I discover what is a good product to buy, and what is just an extravagance. I’m always, ALWAYS, thinking Good, Better, Best and how that actually applies. I’ve realized it applies to more than just the food itself. Sometimes it applies to me and my time, or the cost of things. For example, my kids, now that we no longer have various kinds of junk food in the house, have been eating huge amounts of fruit. I try, very hard, to buy organic fruit whenever possible. Especially if it is a fruit that they eat the skin of, like apples, grapes, peaches, strawberries, that sort of thing. Things that we peel, like bananas, oranges, or mangoes, however, I am more lenient on. Then again, to quote my friend, it does no good to buy a pint of organic raspberries and let the whole thing rot; that is a waste of time and money. So I try to only buy things that I know they will eat, or that I have a specific purpose for. Driving across town to Whole Foods just because the grapes are on sale is also a waste of time and money. Not to mention that I know if I get in to Whole Foods without an organized list, I will succumb to the “Idea Trap.”
You know the Idea Trap, it’s almost worse than out and out impulse buying. The Idea Trap is when you are browsing through Whole Foods (or some other fabulous grocery store) and you see all the wonderful things they have to offer. The vegetables, the fruit, the Asian food, the Indian food, the kind of rice that you’ve only seen Giada make on Food Network that costs three times what regular rice costs. An idea takes shape about a great meal or recipe that you’ve always wanted to try (or worse, you read the literature at the store and find a fabulous recipe). This recipe will be healthful, hopeful, and full of lovely things that will undoubtedly change the world. Your family will come together around the table and everyone will be happy and full of love for one another ―all because you made this one recipe . . . that unfortunately, you have only one of the ingredients for . . . you think. Did Lucy eat that last tortilla?
But, it’s world peace, right?
Totally worth it, you tell yourself.
So, you buy everything, from the free-range chicken or the grass-fed beef to the aged balsamic vinegar and California olive oil (because its what Ina uses, after all). Faster than you can say college education, you’ve spent twice your weekly food budget on about seven extraneous items (because of course this includes the wine pairing that was mentioned at the end of the recipe, or you had a discussion with the sommelier).
Where was I? Oh, right. Good, better, best.
Knowing my propensity to be a foodie, I would do this in a heartbeat. So, I have decided to allow myself to buy the replacement grapes (or apples, or peaches) at my local store. If the organic ones are decently priced, I’ll buy them. If not? I buy the regular grapes that ARE on sale? A bag of regular grapes is still a million times better than a bag of Doritos or potato chips or any other type of snack the kids used to come up with. I don’t even look back, because I know I’m still providing them with a better choice.
Saving money can come in all facets of the food experience. Now, any of my friends know that I love a good recipe. Trying new foods is one of my favorite things to do, and I would say going out to eat is one of my hobbies. To save on money though (because going out to eat is expensive), I’ve recently pared that love of going out down into just beer. Husband and I will go and try different beers at the different bars. It’s cheaper than a whole meal, and I’m still learning something about the process. Plus, it is a fun two-hour date with the husband on a weekend afternoon when we can steal away.
At home, I do this with wine. I try every kind of wine possible (and by possible, I mean affordable) by going to the wine section, and buy the most expensive wine I can at the absolute cheapest price. Wine is one of those things that you get what you pay for. I don’t spend more than $14 on any bottle (typically, I spend under $10), but sometimes for my $14, I can get a $22 bottle of wine. Food can be done just as simply buy eating what’s in season, splurging on meat only a few times a week, eating your leftovers, using dried beans instead of canned, and looking for the simplest recipes. Tonight we are having a free-range roast chicken, prepared simply with only salt, pepper and olive oil. I balance the cost with simple sides of a mashed potato bar (mashed potatoes with any and every topping they want – do it themselves) and steamed organic broccoli (that I found at Costco in the freezer). Simple and lovely.
World peace? Maybe not.
Robertson peace? Definitely.