A Friday night in my house

Sometimes Fridays can be exciting, but on my most recent Friday (after my first full week on the new job!) I made the following:

  • Snack bars, this recipe.
  • Gelatin with fruit juice.
  • Beans that I had soaked while I was at work (I also chopped veggies for the chili that would cook the next day in the crock pot while we celebrated my grandmother’s 80th birthday!)

None of it was too complicated (beans simmered for 2 hours while I did other stuff), which is why I was able to get it all done.

And luckily there was some really lively, beautiful music on the radio to keep me going.

But I was ready to collapse afterward. And I did.

I write this not to brag (or #humblebrag) about being a whiz in the kitchen or having the energy of a four-year-old, but because I’ve previously promised to be open about the work it takes to eat & provide real, nutritious food. Especially, how to do it while working full-time outside the home.

Sometimes it means spending your Friday night in the kitchen rather than on the couch watching another episode of Battlestar Galactica. Ok, ok… Something more glamorous? … Substitute couch for going out to the movies or hitting the latest & greatest pub….

But I realize cooking on a Friday night is actually just my cup of tea. My new job is mentally & socially exhausting (how many meetings & conference calls today?!). Being an introvert, I have barely any words or thoughts left to share once I get home. So, an evening spent mostly alone in the kitchen (after T has gone to bed) is a good way to decompress, quietly & meditatively. It was a good way to close out the week & I’m already thinking if there are any kitchen projects I can tackle tonight…

But are snack bars & jello really “real & nutritious food”? Are they worth sacrificing a perfectly good Friday evening? As I also said previously (in the same post linked above), I am trying really hard to not be dogmatic about food.

So while these snacks are certainly homemade, yes, I can’t say that they’re as good as an apple or avocado. As far as snack foods, I think they’re pretty darn alright. And it’s all part of my plan to be prepared … for when T gets hungry on the road this weekend, for my late-night sugar cravings, for my mid-afternoon energy dip at work, for whatever. I’d rather fetch one of my homemade snack bars or gelatin cups than buy something less nutritious on the fly.

One Friday night = snacks for 2 weeks!

And it’s all way cheaper than a Lara bar from Whole Foods.

Speaking of, if you’ve ever been to Whole Foods, read Kelly MacLean’s hilarious take on “surviving” a trip there.

I shop at Whole Foods way too often & realize it’s just not a sustainable choice for my family. (Thankfully, my neighborhood will soon host a member-owned coop, which will be awesome & something I can totally get behind!) If I didn’t have T’s school tuition & law school loans & big city rent… well, then, maybe I could shop at Whole Foods with consumerist abandon.

But MacLean’s piece, while funny, makes this important point:

I skip [the gluten-free] aisle because I’m not rich enough to have dietary restrictions. Ever notice that you don’t meet poor people with special diet needs? A gluten intolerant house cleaner? A cab driver with Candida? Candida is what I call a rich, white person problem. You know you’ve really made it in this world when you get Candida.

Of course, it’s not entirely true. I know some decidedly-not-rich folks with celiac. But the point is well-taken. Some self-imposed restrictions are mere luxury.

And consider this thoughtful piece from chicken tender, which raises the issue of socioeconomics & real food in a touching & real way.

For example, she points out that while many of us uphold an ideal of food production & procurement, we simply can’t always attain that ideal for economic & logistical reasons. Of course, even Chandelle at chicken tender is luckier than most by virtue of the fact that she has ready access to local food producers. For those of us in urban areas, access is not so easy & it’s even more costly.

I’m still working out this balance of ideals & realities for my own family. As we work through this budget thing, I’m sure I’ll have plenty of thoughts, frustrations & ideas to bounce off of you all.

In the mean time, what’s your favorite Friday night activity (or chore) & how to you think about your food budget?

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Filed under Food, Living, Mothering, Parenting

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