I’m getting nervous. My convenience foods are disappearing. The cupboard and the fridge are beginning to look especially bare. The freezer is getting there.
This is what I wanted to do. But convenience food is so . . . . convenient.
My mother grew up on a farm. She had a disdain for convenience food that she passed down to me . Things should be made from scratch. “Preservatives” was a bad word.
When my husband and I were first married, I clearly remember a conversation that we had while driving home from work together. I said something like “Just think, when we have kids and I stay home, we won’t eat Velveeta anymore!”
He was horrified.
I was thinking that once I had all that extra time because I wasn’t working (har–dee–har–har–har) I could make everything, and I mean everything, from scratch.
He was thinking that he loved Velveeta.
For years after having children, but before I learned how to really use coupons, I avoided convenience foods out of a sense of duty. But I also found that I didn’t have the time or energy to make everything from scratch. Consequently, we often didn’t have much food around.
Then, when I began couponing, I experienced what so many new couponers do. My once bare pantry was now full to the brim with pop-tarts and fruit snacks.
I quickly learned that I had to achieve some balance. New rules were made. Pop-tarts were designated for Sunday mornings, when Mama has to be at church early and Daddy has to get the kids ready by himself. (A good time for some convenience.)
I’ve definitely learned better balance over the 2 years I’ve been couponing, but this challenge has helped me get some perspective back that I had started to lose. I was relying too heavily on packaged convenience foods.
As I’ve been decluttering kitchen cabinets for the last two days, I’ve found things that I had completely forgotten. I found a pound of beans. Beans are rarely on our menu as an individual item, but I do have several recipes in which I use canned beans. The beans were being wasted because of their “inconvenience.” So I hauled the crockpot out of my newly organized cabinet and dumped them in with some water and spices and set them on low.
This morning, after they had cooled, I divided them into ziploc bags and put them in the freezer. Now I’ll use them instead of canned beans in recipes. Equally as convenient, AND from scratch.
I also found an almost full bag of brown rice that I had forgotten about. Hubby likes to take “real meals” for his lunches, so if we don’t have enough leftovers from the night before, we’re sometimes scrounging for a carb. I always have chicken breasts or beef patties cooked up in the freezer, but I’ve been eyeing those “NEW!” individual servings of Minute Rice that came out recently. So this morning when I found the brown rice, I pulled out the handy-dandy rice-cooker. Now I have enough to make my own individually frozen servings of brown rice, using something I already had, and basically with no work on my part. Totally convenient.
I’m very thankful for this pantry challenge because it has helped me get back to the roots of who I want to be as a mom. I’m all about making life easier, but sometimes a little bit of upfront work provides equal convenience to the packaged foods without the guilt, unknown ingredients, and that dirty word . . . preservatives.
I’m not saying that I won’t grab convenience foods when I can get them for ultra-cheap. But as a slob, I tend to imagine that tasks like cooking dried beans are much bigger than they really are. I needed this reminder.
Check out Frugal Friday at Lifeasmom.com for some great ideas.