Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Burnt Water

One very large, very important aspect of this challenge is that I don't cook. Many of these posts will not be me simply whining about my home-bound meals, but the preparation of them too. Let me assure you then you are in for some good times, because I... I am an awful cook, or more like an awful food prepare-er. My son likes to tell people that I can burn water. On top of all of this, I will be honest. I don't like to cook, I do not enjoy it. When I taste the food of my foodie friends, it hints of effort, patience, and a little bit of love in each bite. My food tastes like resentment.

Also, some people have a basic understanding of "food stuff." I spent 30 minutes in the grocery produce section (which I just wrote vegetable section before I could look up "produce") trying to find green onions. Initially, I thought that I just had to get "white onions" that were greenish, like bananas are sometimes. Then I had to stop and ask a woman, after countlessly pacing back and forth in the onion section and talking/swearing to myself, if white and green onions were the same thing. In case you are hanging on the outcome, they are not and she directed me to the correct section to pick up these long scallion looking things. Then upon seeing them, realized I had no idea how to cut them, where to start and stop cutting, and what was I suppose to do that the outer rings/skins kept coming off in my fingers before each slice of my knife. I had to YouTube clip how to cut them and what parts to use (which I have an aversion to green food, so I did not cut very high up the stalk). I have spent over an hour of my life on green onions, and it all has taken place over one day.

I just know that now is the time for me to start making meals for my family. Besides for saving money, I hope that we will be eating healthier. I hope that we (well, my son & I) are not too old to learn some table manners, as we dust off our table (which in our 10 year family, we have only had for 2 years) and eat at home. I hope, that while I do not expect to develop a love of cooking, that I will grow to at least have a respect for it. We don't like doing chores, but we know they have to get done. I want to create a habit of cooking. Don't let this turn you off as I hope to make cooking my friend, just the kind of friend that teases and torments you as much as you mock and taunt them. My sarcastic, drama-filled friend, Cooking.

On a slow blog day, I will bring tears to your eyes over my meatloaf story of 2003.

I can't wait to regale you with tales of my pallid attempts because if they even make one person laugh, it's worth the risk of potential food poisoning to my family friends!

Ground Rules

This will probably be my most disorderly post, but I think it's important to get some ground rules down. What works and what does not. I think it will logically help me most if I start with what is a "No."

What is not allowed:

  • fast food joints/restaurants

  • bars

  • coffee joints

  • convenience stores/gas stations

  • vending machines

  • movie snack counters

  • fairs/festivals/outside vendors

  • Grocery lunches (such as the places where you can get a straight lunch, like chicken basket or sushi)

  • fundraising snack tables

I want to take a brief time out to explain that I took this on myself, so while my family supports me and will feel the differences, they are not limited to these rules. If my boys are out and they want to eat out or grab snacks at the movies, they are free to do so. What will not happen is that my hubs can't go and buy fast food dinner (and I convince myself that means he "bought it" and not me), that I can eat it, I can not. He will be the one person that can not buy food for me, nor will I accept that my son dishes out his allowance for movie treats. But, while they are not "participating," I will not be buying them snacks or food when we are out either. I will have to plan for these outing, possibly keeping drinks in the car, or snacks in my bag. Just wanted to throw this out. I will not allow my boys to let me cheat, they will not allow it either.

What does work:

  • company lunches

  • conference meals

  • gift card spending (and I am open to some feedback on this one. If I get a coffee card, should I only spend it one grounds to make at home? What do you think? I have an Amex giftcard I got for holiday and wonder if I can use it while my out-of-country friends are in town. Did I just add the out of country stuff to try to convince you that it was okay? I think so.)

  • Friends treating to a meal ( I will NOT be begging or asking/suggesting for this and have worked out with my most generous friends already about my plan to inform them that I will be watering it up)

  • Package stores- This is like a grocery store visit so I will still be able to buy my drinks and this is part of the preparation aspect of these events.

Things I have been considering:

  • Tips - when I dine with people, even if I don't eat, I will still bring along a buck or two for tip. That seems right, unless I'm in a self-service situation. There s still someone filling up my glass and also waiting on me to order.

  • Birthday dinners - which I talked out with someone last night luckily. Usually we all throw in for a birthday person to eat. Since that is an unspoken rule, I have decided to start being the kind of person that actually does gifts. Novel idea birthday presents, right? I will inform Bday coordinator of said plans however.

  • Cooking - I will have a post very soon about why this is so much a crucial aspect of this, boy is that part going to be really fun for you!

  • Waffle House dinner - Why 12/25/10 will end the year versus 12/31/10

Here is a question for you. What am I not think about? What am I forgetting?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Years Resolution

I eat out… a lot. I’m sure most people think that they eat out too much, but I am here to confide that I reside in the upper echelons of those who eat out. Chick-Fil-A, my favorite restaurant, is open approximately 310 days a year, of those I get a chicken biscuit 300 days out of the year. So, you enjoy a tasty breakfast treat to wake you up in the morning, you are thinking to yourself. The thing is, that’s just breakfast. I eat out for lunch probably 3-4 days a week, certainly on weekends. But the piece de rĂ©sistance, is dinner. My doting husband, precocious child and I eat out, usually at fast food places, 5 nights out of the week, the other nights either my husband cooks or we “fend for ourselves.” That brings us to an overwhelmingly honest confession of roughly $600 dollars in eating out each month (1/3 of my monthly income after taxes)!
This has made me consider the following most insane New Years resolution, to not pay to eat out for one year, or until 12/25/10 for my Waffle House dinner (more about that later). There are several things happening here of note and clarification. I am not going to not accept being treated to a meal, my in-laws take us regularly for dinner or birthday dinners as gift from friends (who know just how much I love to dine out). If my company has a staff lunch or if I attend a conference where meals are included I will eat them. Wait a minute, I know you think this sounds like cheating and have just rolled your eyes, but these are seldom occurrences, and as will be discussed later, there is a socializing of going out to eat. Let me bring your intrigue back for one moment by presenting more of what I will be giving up with this venture. I am a doctoral student at a large (nationally party ranked) university, that resides in the typical college town atmosphere. Here it comes… I will not be buying coffee or alcoholic drinks (outside of my house) for this entire time. I want to make sure that sinks in… college student, no coffee shops or college bars. Told you, I’d get you back! On top of that, it means no gas station stops for drinks and snacks and no vending machine visitations during work breaks.
My reasoning for this was purely economic at first, I need to find a way to save money and I have run out of ideas/options/blood for the bank. The more I considered what this would entail the more I saw a bigger picture. Ideas of breaking the habits of poor efforts, poor eating and poor parenting began to feel obtainable. Socializing in new ways that do not revolve around a serviced table, or do and me changing how that could be accepted. I don’t want to not go out, I am far too extroverted for that, but now imagine, I could be your designated driver. I could finally be the person who brings more to pot lucks than the sodas. I could help you save money just by being around me… now not only have I just about won you over, but now you want to throw me a thanks for this silly idea.
I will be posting my journey of learning to cook, changing old habits, shifting social activities, and maybe saving a buck or two hundred. I hope you’d like to follow me for the next year as I say to eating out, “Just water, thanks”!