Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Organic Family on a Budget Commandments

It all started innocently enough. I had a craving. A big bad, mother of a craving. For queso. On my way home from a work function, at 10 p.m., I hatched a plan. Driving on the highway is great for planning, don't you think? I decided I would be good and forego the trip through the Taco Bueno drive thru.

Not gonna do it. Wouldn't be prudent.

No, no. I'd make my own queso. From scratch. (I use this term loosely.) I opened up the refrigerator and pulled out the massive block of Velveeta. Then, crossing my fingers, I looked in the pantry for some Rotel.

Out of luck, I started the hunt through the refrigerator door for some salsa. No dice. I started moving jars, tupperware containers with God knows what in them, baggies and cartons, searching.

A-ha! I found it. Way in the back on the bottom shelf. A half-full container of Pace picante sauce. I paused to consider how long it had actually been in there, but I brushed any hesitation aside and went to work. In 2 microwave minutes, I had a bowl of queso.

I sat down at my computer, continued my research on organic eating and inhaled the processed junk inhabiting my bowl. The irony was not lost on me.

I was fine. For about 30 minutes. And that's when I knew.

The salsa.

I spent the next three hours throwing up. And vowing that as soon as I felt better, and oh, by the way, please dear God let it be soon, I would go through the refrigerator, the pantry and the freezer and look at expiration dates. I wouldn't think about throwing twenty dollar bills in the garbage. If it was expired, I would toss it.

In. The. Trash.

My head resting on the toilet, with plenty of agonizing, albeit interrupted, time to think, I decided I would live by the following Commandments:

1. Thou Shalt Not Buy Any More Junk. I won't bring anymore into the house, but of the unexpired foods, we will use up what we have. Or maybe donate it to a Food Bank. (I'm sort of conflicted on this point, but I digress.)

2. Thou Shalt Purchase Organic and Local Foods Where Possible. Based on my limited research so far, there is no down side to purchasing local and organic produce from a health perspective. We are also a family that eats meat, so we will need to investigate how to find better options to get on our table. However, see Commandment Number Three.

3. Thou Shalt Not Adjust the Monthly Grocery Budget. Right now we are spending about $440 per month on food and $60 on toiletry/household cleaning items. I don't know if this is a lot, a little or average.

4. Thou Must Figure Out How To Do This Without It Being a Time Suck. My husband and I now both work more than full-time jobs and the weekends are for family time. I can’t be shopping and cooking all day long. Dinners during the week have to be quick and easy because we only have so much time in the evenings for soccer practice, homework, dinner and family time before bed.

5. Thou Shalt Reduce the School Lunches. The kids can continue to eat hot lunch at school, but I will work on reducing this to twice per week. The hot lunch bill each month right now is about $160, so this should go down. My son, the picky eater, doesn't like the choices some days for hot lunch, so this won't be a problem for him. My daughter, however, is super excited about eating school provided lunches because Kindergarten is the first year she has been able to eat in the cafeteria. She wants to eat it every day. She will be a challenge.

I have a lot of work to do.

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