Food is something I didn’t think about a lot in the days when Jim was alive. You see, I’m not especially food-motivated myself, and, if left to my own devices, I often forget to eat for hours on end, as I do and tend and dream and write and hang with the kids and and and…
It’s worth noting that Jim was a chef. He often brought home my dinner, and I usually ate what he brought. The kids, in those days, preferred non-cooked foods or convenience items, having long since rejected my obligatory and rather phoned-in efforts at feeding them “right” when they were smaller.
But then, Jim was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer, and, in the day less than two months between that date and the night he died at home, I realized that food was going to have to become something I think about, plan for, and prepare.
More than that, as it turns out. The life insurance claim has yet to be settled, and, at the moment, finances are extremely finite. Where we used to spend about half (or, when Jim shopped, sometimes more like three-quarters) of our grocery budget on convenience items and snacks. A lot of it was motivated by Jim and the kids, but I had my favorites, too – many of them single-serving freezer meals I justified the expense of because they were “healthy” versions.
But that doesn’t fly, anymore. I am the mom of two teens. My son, who will be 17 early in September, is about 6’3” and burly. He can go through a half gallon of milk in about a day. My daughter, 14 next month, is nearly as tall as me now – and I’m 5’9”.
Food needs to be an important factor in our budgeting, because it takes fuel to grow these people into adults. And, if I don’t eat as much as I need of the things I need, it’s hard for me to do the work of two parents.
It could also adversely affect my health – and, just because they’re older kids doesn’t mean they’re ready to be without parents altogether.
I’ve been growing (in my approach to food and feeding us; my body is actually shrinking). I haven’t stopped buying snacks, but we buy considerably fewer of them these days. I can’t promise I’ll never buy another freezer meal, but I don’t think I’ll be doing it mindlessly, or fooling myself about why I’m buying them, when I do….
And I don’t feel the same need for them…because I’ve started to cook.
It began with buying an Instant Pot, so I could prepare things without babysitting them – the part of cooking that tends to literally drive me to distraction. I can also often cook in the one pot, and save considerably on the cleanup (wonderful, because I generally want to accomplish about four times as much as I can physically manage).
These days, I look up recipes online (365 days is my current favorite site for these), and our grocery budget is weighted toward ingredients. Food has become sustenance, art form, and agent of growth – both literal and symbolic.
This post is part of Stream of Consciousness Saturday, hosted by Linda G. Hill at Life in Progress. This week’s prompt is “begin your post with a noun.”