Sunday, January 3, 2010

On Dinnertime and the Budget

Here's something that changed for me in 2009 - I started to like getting groceries. I used to dread doing it. I would put it off and gripe to myself about it. I'm not sure why I hated doing it - I just did.

I have enjoyed cooking for quite some time now, but for some reason, this year the two finally grasped hands, with me in the middle.

I began to really embrace the process of deciding the week's menu, making the list, gathering the food, cooking the meal. I finally saw it as part of the fun. One of my favorite ways to love my family is to put a home-cooked, colorful meal in front of them most nights. And face it, that's not going to happen if I refuse to shop.

Every now and then, I shop alone. Mostly, I shop with two pint-sized helpers. We go over the rules in the car: No asking, no picking things up. And then we get our kicks in the produce section as a pretty happy threesome.

That's where all the fun is - the produce section.

That's why I will be danged if I cannot keep my weekly trip to $50. I really need to just accept it, and move on.

I shopped earlier tonight and walked away $69.92 poorer. Man oh man, I thought I had it this time. No meat on the list! No laundry detergent!

Here's what kills me every time: $26.04 from the produce section. And I'm not counting my pita bread or my feta, which technically came from the same place.

I simply cannot walk away from the fruit. I have tried, and I just can't. We're not really a bag-of-apples kind of family. This week, we're a bing cherry family. A berry family.

And fresh basil in January is a total clown. It grabs hold of me and won't let go. It mocks my months-away garden. It knows that I want to ignore it, but I can't.

I know the day is coming when I may very well have to tame the beast within me. But until then, I will dream about what sounds good, put it all on the list, and pretend that this week just might be the week.

What we're eating this week:

Monday: Mini Honey Mustard Meatloaves with Roasted Potatoes
Tuesday: Reuben Crescent Bake
Wednesday: Tortellini Soup
Thursday: Chicken Artichoke Pizza
Friday: These Enchiladas

My lunch: This sandwich