Six o’clock train out of Grump-ville
Rage. I have it. I have it over rain when it is coming at me sideways, over the fact that in the first three hours of 2012 CEO’s made the annual wage of the average worker, over commercials that come on WAY LOUDER than the rest of the show, and over Reddit for making my husband chortle out in laughter for hours while I’m trying to write a post.
Also on this list is making dinner (yeah it doesn’t take much). Or rather, figuring out what to make for dinner because we can’t seem to be able to plan ahead. And because I always get home from work before John I am faced with the consequences of our laziness.
The ‘meal planning’ starts once I head out with Cassie for her walk. Step one: mentally tally up the contents of the fridge. Usually it is some combination of the following: wilting chard, a few peppers, olives, a questionable bag of mushrooms, a few sweet potatoes and onions, plain yogurt, pasta sauce, and a block of cheddar. Oh and a pile of tofu blocks. No easy meal idea jumps out at me, at least not one that we didn’t already make yesterday and the day before.
Step two: phone John to ask for ideas, not because I think he’ll actually have any (he doesn’t possess the ability to keep a mental tally of the contents of the fridge*) but rather to make clear how burdened I am by having to think about this to the only person who might give a crap. And I should point out that by this time I am usually headachy and one dumb suggestion away from complete grumpiness. Invariably John suggests a stir-fry. And that my friends, is the one-way ticket to Grump-ville, decorated today with shit-coloured balloons! (i.e. Cassie eating goose-poop at the park while I run and scream at her to stop.)
We have tried to meal plan. We’ve tried doing it very casually by scribbling a few ideas down just when we’re about to head out shopping, but sooner or later it falls apart. We’ve tried the hyper-organized spreadsheet approach. That truly was an honest effort, including compiling a list of our favourite dinners so we could just pick a bunch for the week and have a plan ready to go. It really seemed like it was going to work.
We managed it ONCE.
It’s a very simple idea really: a service that tells you what to eat for dinner. Seems TOO simple really but somehow we can’t manage this ourselves.
For a small subscription fee, they send you five recipes each week (usually 30 minutes or less to prepare), including a shopping list categorized by grocery store section. If the chosen recipes don’t suit you – for example, we want only vegetarian and fish options – you just swap them out for something else from their searchable recipe database and update the shopping list. Luckily the recipes are pretty healthy and vegetarian-friendly already, though I wish you could also add your own (maybe you can, haven’t played with it too much yet).
After some recent, extra potent rage on my part, we decided to splurge the $21 to give this service a try for a few months (cheaper than marriage counselling!). To complete the food-planning make-over, we also cancelled our subscription to the organic produce delivery service we were using** and vowed to grocery shop like normal people.
Tonight we made our first shopping run – to nearby Granville Island Market for fish and produce and the grocery store for the rest – with great success. Having a list in our hands that we knew was complete was wonderful for my clouded-by-the-day brain. The meal we made – fish with butternut squash and couscous – was a bit more involved than our usual weekday fare but still pretty quick (about 40 mins total – but 15 of that was waiting for the oven to pre-heat) and leaps more creative. And from this single recipe we already got some good cooking ideas for future meals.
I’m hopeful this meal-planning trial might actually work. And at the very least, it’s nice to be excited about food again.
*The gene that enables a person to do this is believed to reside on the X-chromosome, next to the skill that enables one to keep their farts in until they are somewhere private. Due to the presence of two X-chromosomes, women are far more likely to possess these skills. [Disclaimer: the author is not responsible for the scientific accuracy of statements presented.]
**This is a service for getting local and organic produce delivered to your door year-round. We have been getting a portion of our produce from them for the past 3 years. Some of the items understandably cost more than at the grocery store, but every time I started doubting if this was a good use of money I reminded myself of the importance of voting with my dollar. And paying fair prices for quality food is something I STRONGLY believe in. But we’ve started to realize that other local produce options are available to us and we don’t need this particular service to make our money count in the right places. Instead, we are going to buy produce from the nearby market in winter and at farmer’s markets in the summer, and hopefully waste less food (and money) in the process.
Images from we heart it.