Food and Growth for #SoCS June 9, 2018


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.”


  1. I hate cooking. Well, that’s probably a bit extreme, but it’s not my favorite thing. But, I know if I don’t, the kids would eat mac & cheese(the girl) and peanut butter & jelly sandwiches(the boy) for every meal. So, I do it anyway. Things have been tight here, with husband being laid off then getting the new job and having to wait for they paychecks to start, so there’ve been a lot of simple things made that we didn’t have to buy many ingredients for. Also our oven is still broke, so everything has to be made either on the stove or in the toaster oven or crock pot.

    • I’m lucky in that both kids can make several of their favorite dishes. Lise also loves baking cookies from fridge dough, and plans to learn from-scratch eventually, in steps.

      And the Instant Pot (which cost only about $100), lets me do so much more than I would have dared. This week, the first spaghetti sauce I’ve made in decades!

      I’m sorry about your oven. Our stove is a hand-me-down, the two right burners have never worked in the ten years or so we’ve had it. Some of the insurance money will probably go to getting a new one before this one gives up the ghost (that was in the plan while Jim was alive, too).

      I use the Instant Pot more than the stove, these days – even pasta is easier with it, and comes out just right!

      I’m finding that I enjoy the challenge of feeding us economically and mindfully- it’s exercising my creativity in whole new ways, and I feel so accomplished when the kids and I like what I make.

      It’s empowering, and I don’t expect to go back to the way we shopped and ate even when the resources are freer. Why waste money when we don’t need to? I’ve also dropped a few pounds. While some of that is the walking with Noli, some has to be the difference in the way I’m eating, and the effort I’m putting into preparing meals.

      I hope you know that you sharing what you’re making has been an inspiration to me as I navigate this new challenge. =D

  2. Mmmm, that looks yummy. I’m with you on it being tough to be both parents and make meals on a tight budget. Stuff I can buy lots of, throw together and freeze in meal-sized portions is the best thing ever.

    • I’ll change a couple things in that recipe, and add some vegetables, the next time. At that point, I was following recipes pretty much to the letter, and there weren’t any veggies in that recipe.

      Now, I use them more for flavor palettes and cook times (because the Instant Pot can be very particular about those), and I make substitutions and adaptations as I’m inclined, to suit my/our tastes.

      When the kids like something, it usually doesn’t last long enough to freeze! =D But it does feed them for a day or two, and I remember so I can make it again.

      It might have been an easier adjustment if Jim had lived the 6-12 months they predicted when he was diagnosed. But when he had a heart attack at his first chemo session, that changed dramatically, and we ended with jsut under 2…which means, of course, that many things we’d hoped to square away together didn’t get tended to fully (or sometimes at all).

      I’m still working my way through those tangles, while moving forward with my teens and my own re-invented life, and I suspect it’s going to be at least several more months before I really start to feel as though life is more than a touch-and-go, day-to-day affair.

      But at least I’m getting the hang of feeding us! =D

Comments are closed.