Saturday, May 10, 2014

On Convenience Foods

Every couple of months or so, I say, "I gotta stop eating out so much!" The fact that I have to say it every couple of months or so should indicate just how seriously committed I am to it. 

As you know, I enjoy making stuff in the kitchen, and often times I'm even good at it, so it's not that I don't know how to cook. It's not even that I don't have time. It's more that I'm not so good at planning. I'm Suzy Homemaker when I make a list of meals for the week and get to the grocery store, but since I don't have a solid routine that includes grocery shopping, I often miss my opportunity to go and find that we have nothing in the house to make a complete meal right at the time that we're busy and need to eat. 

Occasionally, I buy instant soup from Trader Joe's. I bought their carrot-ginger soup recently in fact, and I found that in addition to being tasty, it helped elevate an otherwise unremarkable and unfulfilling lunch I had put together. Of course, it would have been great to make my own carrot-ginger soup, but I didn't make my own carrot-ginger soup, and I had to eat. 

Just last night, knowing we'd get home later than our regular dinner time, I decided that I'd just make spaghetti with our usual, store-bought sauce, but I made a big salad with lots of stuff in it (shame on you if you didn't get that reference) to go with it. It was a nutritious, filling meal, and I feel no guilt about that. 

I don't really get down on myself about such things, but I do have a false sense of what I'm really going to accomplish. I'll see instant soups or canned beans, and I think, "I can do that myself! Why would I pay for someone else to do it for me?" Then instead of buying it, I go home without it and wonder why I keep going to restaurants. Believing in "always DIY" causes me to spend more. 

I know other people do beat themselves up over convenience foods. Pinterest, anyone? There's a pressure to make everything from scratch--no preservatives, all-organic, gluten-free, kale, and the whole nine yards. I'm all for people making things on their own, but at some point, we have to look at our realities and prioritize. You probably have enough time to buy groceries and cook simple, nutritious meals most days, but you might not have enough time or energy to cook lavish, eye-pleasing, taste-bud-tantalizing masterpieces every day. 

With the exception of Kraft macaroni and cheese and any meat that doesn't need to be refrigerated (because gross), give yourself a break. For what it's worth, I give you all my blessing to buy convenience foods sometimes. 

In other words, sometimes you eat the beans and sometimes the beans eat you. And that's okay. 

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