Friday, March 7, 2014

Food Waste Friday and True Food Confessions--Mar. 7, 2014

It's time for Food Waste Friday, when the Frugalgirl encourages us to post pictures from the previous week of wasted food from our household. This accountability hopefully will help us to be more careful with our food and maybe save some money. Also, I am using this public forum to encourage us to eat out less which includes better meal planning. You can follow how we are doing in this endeavor by reading True Food Confessions. (Thanks to Jo from Simply Being Mum for sponsoring FWF this week.)

This Week's Food Waste 

None. Yea!!

I saved mushrooms and carrots by adding them to some fried rice. I've never made fried rice before, but I'm happy to report that it turned out well. I'll be using this in the future as another way to use up expiring food besides soups and casseroles.

This Week's True Food Confessions

Lili asked a couple of weeks ago how our food preparations have changed now that we have an empty nest. (An empty nest post is coming soon.)

We had leftovers from Shepard's Pie we had this week.

Short Answer:
We cook about the same, but now we have leftovers so we don't have to cook as often.

Long Answer:
When I was thinking about how things have changed, I'd say the biggest change is that we now have leftovers. For the last 20-some years, leftovers have been nonexistent. Or I should say, leftovers never lasted more than 8 hours. I may have gone to bed with leftovers in the fridge, but they would be gone the next morning with nothing left but an empty dish in the sink. Then I thought even further back about how our food habits changed throughout the years.

When we were first married, Ward and I lived in New Orleans. You may have heard that New Orleans is a city with great food and that is very true. It's just not its world famous restaurants. It is a place where a sandwich from a grocery store counter to cheesy fries from corner bar maybe the best you've ever had. At that point in our life, we had no kids and lots of money. That meant a lot of eating out with friends and learning to love turtle soup, shrimp Poboys, and crawfish. When we weren't going out, we worked a lot of overtime. Eating at home was catch as catch can.

The next chapter was when we had Wally and moved to Houston. Three years later, we had Theo. At this point, we both had full-time jobs with overtime. Usually by the time we got home, we were all tired and cranky. The question was did we want to go out to a restaurant where we had to wait for our food with fussy toddlers or did we want to eat at home where we rarely had anything prepared. The restaurants often won out. In Houston we learned to love Tex-Mex food from our frequent trips to the local restaurants. I am not exaggerating when I say there was a Mexican restaurant on every corner in our neighborhood.

As the boys got older, I quit my job and only picked up some occasional part-time work. I did more cooking at home and became a very good grocery shopper as far as getting the most for our money. Sometimes, I would have meals planned for the week or month and sometimes, I didn't. We still enjoyed eating out, but the frequency was less than before. Much of our eating out involved visiting Ward for lunch at his work cafeteria. Afterwards, we would take a walk and feed the ducks at a pond outside his building.

As the boys got still older, they became more and more involved in the food preparations. That might mean making applesauce with all of the neighborhood kids or leaning how to make chili. They were still young enough (preschool and early elementary ages) that they thought this was all fun.

When they both were in elementary school we moved to Maryland where we live now. I continued to involve the boys in more and more of the food preparations.  We would plan menus together as a family and sometimes each family member would plan them for the week or month. We discussed balanced nutrition and cooking times and methods that would fit into the schedules. The whole family read cookbooks to look for easy recipes and food prep was very much a family activity. We started adding a Maryland favorite of Old Bay Seasoning to many of our dishes.

Move ahead a few more years to when the Wally and Theo were in their teens. By this point, they were often in charge of the evening meals. During summer breaks, if they didn't have a job, they would be entirely in charge of suppers. Ward and I had our jobs outside of the house and they had their job inside the house is how we looked at things. I helped with shopping for the food if they were not yet driving. However, they needed to make up the grocery list. I was trying to teach them good life skills as well making sure that they understood the responsibilities of being a part of a family (or any group.) I learned a few things from them as they ran the kitchen. (i.e. Wally loaded the dishwasher more efficiently than I ever had.)

Now we're up to the last few years. This is when I started to worry about eating out too much for both financial and health reasons. I had not magically learned to like cooking, so this was a struggle for me. We ate at home a lot more with simple but nutritious meals. Theo got very interested in cooking at this point because he was getting tired of the same old things we were having. He improved the quality of our meals a lot during this time. However, the novelty eventually wore off for him when he realized how much work was involved with much of what he was interested in eating.

Where do we stand today? How do Wally and Theo cook now that their cooking involves only themselves? Wally is very happy to eat a peanut butter sandwich everyday. He has always loved peanut butter so this is actually a pleasure for him. However, he does cook occasionally when he thinks he should be fitting some vegetables in.  Theo still likes to experiment with flavors and cooks mainly at home. His main motivation for this is to save money. However, sometimes he is so busy with school that he enjoys a takeout pizza. How about here? Ward does not like to cook and does not feel at home in the kitchen. However, he is willing to help with food preparation and clean up. And even more he is willing to eat out. I still struggle with cooking at home most of the time and when I'm tired or stressed, cooking is the last thing I want to do. Planning is key for me to forge ahead during these times.

Has you cooking style changed over the years?