Monday, July 30, 2012

in the kitchen: a challenge

I don't know about you, but our summer has been busy. Every other week we've been packing up and hitting the road, heading out on another fun and special adventure. During the in-between weeks, my time has been spent doing laundry,repacking, making sure the house is clean, and taking care of and playing with Tommy and Annabel. Although I've been going to the grocery store, I only pick up a few things to get us through the week and everything else is taken on vacation. Cooking has been low on my priority list, and as a result, we've ended up eating things like egg sandwiches and cereal for dinner.
Now in our family, those are perfectly acceptable meals when time is tight, but I really don't like serving those things on a regular basis because I actually like to cook. The bad part about all of this is that not only have we been eating cold cereal more than once a week (when we're home - not on vacation), we've also been eating out more than I would like. (And you wouldn't believe the amount of donuts I've eaten this summer. It's a wonder I haven't gained at least 15lbs.)

I always think eating out is such a great idea before we actually sit down and eat the food. "It's easy!" "It's quick!" "There's hardly any cleanup!" This is what I told myself as I was heading through the drive-thru or picking up the phone to call in an order. But when we actually sit down and I look at the plate in front of me I think, "It's salty, it's fatty, it's adding a whole lot more waste to our landfills, not to mention our bodies, and it doesn't even taste that good!" And while I do enjoy eating out every once in awhile at a nice restaurant, these last two months have seen an increase in our consumption of fast (or nearly fast) food with all the time we've spent on the road and a few quick meals while we've been home.  While I have been eating my weight in tomatoes and eggplant from the garden each week as well, it's definitely not enough to offset the amount of empty calories I've been taking in these past six weeks. And although I know that we don't normally eat this way, that this has been very atypical for our family lifestyle and is a direct result of our vacation schedule this summer, it's still distressing. I should probably have made more of an effort, but it is what it is...or rather, it was what it was. No more. Time for a change.

August 1st is just around the corner, and with this last summer month comes a shift in our hectic schedule. Looking ahead at the calendar, the entire month of August is committment-free besides a weekend trip to my parent's house and an overnight at the lake with my in-laws. Whew. I'm definitely ready to slow down a bit before school starts in September.

So...the challenge. Now that we'll actually be home with time to think about more nutritious and involved meals, I'm challenging myself to make every meal during the month of August. Every. Single. One. Every breakfast, every lunch, every dinner, every snack. We will not spend a single cent on food from a restaurant. If Will and I want to go out for a night, instead of going to dinner, we'll pack a picnic to take to the park. When we travel those two times later in the month, I'll pack a cooler to take along in the car. If I feel like I badly need a hazelnut iced coffee from McDonald's, I'll drive home and make my own. If I get in a bind (which always seems to happen at some point during the week), we can always turn to the trusty egg sandwich. I'm excited.

The next two days will be spent doing some menu planning and list making. I'm a big believer in planning ahead and routinely fill pages of my moleskin notebook with weekly meal ideas, grocery lists, and new recipes to try. I'm also going to be searching for healthy meals for almost-toddlers as Annabel is now refusing all flavors of baby food. She wants to pick all her food up with her fingers, and gives bonus points (huge smiles) if I put the food on a spoon or fork and hand it to her so she can feed herself. Such a big girl. I have a cookbook for babies and toddlers that I'll be checking out and will also look for some books at our local library today. Over the next several weeks, I'll be reporting back on how things are going, sharing our weekly meals through pictures, and also including a few recipes along the way.

What about you?  Do you eat out more than you would like?  Will you join me this month and commit to eating every meal at home? Or maybe eating at home during the week? Or maybe packing your lunch each day instead of going through a drive-thru during your lunch hour? If you do decide to cook along with me, let me know in the comments and consider sharing a recipe. If you have kids, I'd also love to hear what you're feeding them.

I can't wait to get started and hope you'll attempt a few more meals at home with me!

P.s.  Some LOVE from our trip to Bristol, VA last week!

1 comment:

  1. This is a great idea! I don't think I can be as ambitious as you and commit to making every meal at home but I will commit to this: bringing my own lunch from home instead of eating out and making dinner at home on the nights my hubby is home (which is only 3 nights a week). Brian and I REALLY struggle with meal planning and cooking, so I'm eager to see what recipes you find that are good for the whole family. Annalise is like Annabel in that she only wants to feed herself too. They're growing up too fast! :) I enjoy finding new recipes but I'm not good with the follow through of grocery shopping for them or taking the time to cook them. I don't enjoy cooking, mostly because of the clean-up.