Food has been playing on my mind today. I’m packing up after a week long holiday in Wales, and this is the food that we’ve still got:
The picture would be the same if I was at home, except add to that the cupboard I’ve got full of baking stuff, herbs, spices, teas, and condiments. Why do I have that much food in the house at any one time? Fear, fear that there won’t be enough choice, fear that someone will go hungry, fear that I won’t be able to put a meal on the table, fear that there is not enough healthy food, and fear I will not be able to feed the 5,000 should they drop by unannounced.
This fear has been fed by the media and supermarkets convincing me I need to shop once a week, filling my trolley with food that comes with a healthy portion of guilt – are you feeding your kids the right things, is everything fresh, organic, sustainable, locally produced, is it healthy, are you eating the right amount of vitamins, minerals, proteins, the right fats, the wrong fats, the right sugars, the wrong sugars, why are you eating sugar at all? I’ve been totally suckered in, ensuring that my cupboards are fit to bursting at the beginning of a shopping week and pretty much full at the end.
I know it doesn’t have to be this way. All of this is just an ideal that I have bought into over the years, and if I want a more complementary approach to food I can have one, although it will mean that I have to make some changes, some of which might not be popular in our house.
Changing my shopping habits
- Rather than buy for the week, I’m going to try only buying 2-3 meals ahead, getting what I need rather than what I’m being sold.
- Use the local shop: while it might be a few pence more expensive, I figure I am less likely to be drawn in by the bright lights, advertising, the vast array of choice, or the special offers, so may well end up spending less.
- Buy non-perishables in bulk: On-line retailers like Suma are not just for businesses, and persuade a couple of friends to buy in bulk with you and you will easily reach their minimum order requirements. You can even buy eco cleaning products in bulk containers which has the added benefit of reducing plastic consumption.
Redefine ‘a meal’
What is wrong with beans on toast for tea one night? What is wrong with serving up the same meal two nights in a row, or turning that left over spag bol into a chilli? The hard work is going to come convincing the husband and the kids, but I’m prepared to try.
Chill out about time
Freak out less about having the ‘right’ food at the ‘right’ time – this is something we have already begun doing. My kids will often have left-overs for breakfast, yesterday it was noodles today it’s salmon and salad, and sometimes they cook themselves rice and soy-sauce. Who said you have to have cereal?
Stop thinking balanced, start thinking holistic
Balanced meals are a great habit to get into, but it can be exhausting, expensive and boring trying to ensure that every meal contains everything the government recommends on its ‘eat well’ plate. So I’m going to ease up on myself and start thinking about food more holistically, ensuring that we have a balanced diet over the course of a week, or even a month, rather than just focus on each day.
Accept no-one is going to go hungry
No-one is going to go hungry, even if there is only bread and jam left in the cupboard.
So, here goes. I’m going to try not to have enough food in the house to feed the 5,000, try alternatives to the weekly supermarket shop, insist we use up left-overs, get the family to accept that beans on toast is okay to serve as a meal, and learn, (and teach the rest of the family), that an empty cupboard at the end of the week is a good thing and doesn’t mean we are going to starve.
I’ve got to pack now and haul my food back from whence it came – 323 miles away. Based on what’s left next weeks meals are left-over Butternut squash soup, cashew nut stir fry, roast vegetable frittata, and pasta and pesto. If I follow my own advice I shouldn’t need to shop until Wednesday!