Operation “Eat What We Have” is slowly but surely coming to a close, as our fridge is looking a little bare. If I wanted to make myself look awesome, I could say Matt and I embarked on a life of simplicity and deeper meaning by attempting to use up the resources we had, despite the disgrace to our palate. That would make me a liar.
To be honest, we used to spend way too much money on groceries. I would buy only the best ingredients for interesting and new meals. Come 3 o’clock, you might hear me say, “Hey, I feel like making Indian food…sound good?” Then off to New Seasons I went, picking up whatever I fancied.
But you know, our lives have changed and we’ve been on a budget. I tend to blow the grocery part of it. In all seriousness, it’s been a learning experience for me. One full of frustration and guilt. I’ve been forced to do some soul searching. Why is this so important? I truly know we are blessed with so much in our lives, so why is food so damn important to me?! I realized that being a “good cook” had become a part of my identity. I’m a weird mix between type B and type A personalities. I don’t really plan things I just go for them, but the final product better be darn near perfect or it will never see the light of day. Matt would even go around telling people about some great meal I had made, and it felt really good to hear. But I set the bar pretty high for myself. So when I had to change my food buying habits, I was frustrated to say the least.
It took a while for the frustration to wear off and the appreciation to sink in. At first, when I was shopping for cheaper items, I was mad at the world for putting high fructose corn syrup in every stupid freakin food product (I still am). I remember coming home in tears and telling Matt, “Well, here goes nothing…*sob*…I feel like I’m poisoning myself with this crap!” (Hey! I was emotional at the time…it’s funny now.) Slowly I learned to be satisfied with the few ingredients that are affordable which don’t have corn syrup and preservatives. If you read enough labels you’ll find what you need. The foods we used to eat regularly seem so rich and heavy now. A splurge so unnecessary. We would make that last at least a few days now whereas before we would have eaten until our bellies hurt. Now it seems like it’s hard to beat the deliciousness of fresh produce.
I always wanted to be someone who was genuinely carefree, simplicity being my second nature. Someone who couldn’t care less about how good their food is. Someone who is just happy to have a meal to eat, enjoying every bite. I never was that person. Creating good food and giving good food was really important to me. I never thought I would get to a space of genuine contentment through experiencing anger and embarrassment. But I feel like I’ve changed. Funny how it happens slowly. It’s like you wake up from a dream and realize you don’t really care…that the feelings you had before are all foggy and fading away. Suddenly God shows you the path you just traveled and you think, “How did I ever feel that way?”
It’s really hard to tell someone you can’t bring a snack to their party because you don’t have any money. It’s also hard to ever really change when you’re not honest with people or yourself. I see now that I was broken in my thoughts before. God is gently and graciously putting my thoughts in order. And now all the other stuff is simply that, other stuff, unimportant. Now I am happier than I ever was. No longer consumed by the thought of it, of making it perfect.
So when I hear Matt say from the kitchen, “Uh, Haley? The cupboards are looking kind of bare bones here…” My response is, “No way! I see some rice and a can of coconut milk…ever had coconut rice? It’s so yummy…we can make that and eat salad with sliced apples…I can crush these walnuts that were in that nut medley jar up there and sprinkle it on the salad…Oh look, there’s still a sweet potato, we could make fries…yeah, we’re set for at least another few days for sure.”
And what’s more, I’m married to an amazingly supportive and patient man. He made it very clear that it wasn’t my cooking he was really proud of, he was simply proud of the fact that I made it. Anything I do, he genuinely thinks is worth its weight in gold. Honestly? Who is this guy? He also reminds me that someday, when circumstances change, we can boost that grocery budget a little. I think he does miss my Palak Paneer.
Here’s to happy eating and happy living!