One of the most rewarding and yet frustrating aspects of wife-ing (the act of being a wife) to me, personally, is that I have taken on the role of Provider of Food. This means that, ultimately, I am the one responsible for Menu Planning, Groceries, and Cooking.
Yes, of course, Greg helps, and often cooks a meal or two in the week, and, he always cooks on Sundays, so don’t believe for a moment that I’m complaining about the distribution of responsibilities around here.
What I’m referring to in this blog today is the often overwhelming feeling I have when trying to plan a week’s food intake for the 7 individuals who live here. 7 very different individuals who have rather specific likes and a few too many dislikes, in my opinion, at least.
And, now that I’m working more and more at the store (which I also love, so don’t read too much into that statement, either), I find that how I used to do all that doesn’t work any more.
Years ago, when I was a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom), I had the blessing of what I called “Flex Time”. Yes, I had to do a million jobs, and had to be in multiple places at the same time, and coordinate multiple schedules and all that hard Mom stuff. But, in a pinch, I could shuffle stuff around in order to prioritize important stuff from the urgent stuff.
So, I always prioritized Mondays as being my Planning Day. I would avoid scheduling appointments or meetings or anything for Mondays. I’d take time in the morning to go over all the fliers, and planning a menu around the sales or features in them became routine. I could stock up on sales, letting the features determine what we would be having on our plates. Next part of the morning would involve shopping at multiple stores or price-matching if I could.
I’d come home after a morning of shopping and spend the afternoon organizing the groceries, pre-cooking some ingredients, creating some casseroles or meals I could freeze for later in the week and have everything set for the week to come. I had time to check out recipes online and try new ideas. Those were the days my kids would have play dough or colouring out to keep them self-occupied while I playing in my kitchen. Even if we had some crazy busy, out of the house all day days coming up in the week, I would be assured that I had a plan for dinner, and it would all fall into place.
So that doesn’t happen anymore.
Most weeks, groceries are an Out-of-Desperation kind of event. Usually after we’ve run out of milk. Amazingly, no one has figured out yet (after over a year of Mom working) that when you open the last bag of milk, it would be a good idea to mention it to Mom or Dad. That way we can prioritize groceries to the front of our daily lists of To-Do’s. It’s still a matter of running out of milk, and it’s up to Mom or Dad to notice it. You know, as we reach for the milk container that has like two drips in it and realize it won’t be enough for our cereal. Sigh.
And then, what we are planning on buying is a bit of a scramble as well.
Greg, “Hey, darling. I’m going to get milk on my lunch break. Do we need anything else?”
Andrea, “Ummm…. maybe? I don’t know. Haven’t thought that far yet.”
But, once again, I am realizing more and more how blessed we are to have Schinkels’.
Then & Now
Used to be that I had time to make casseroles and lasagnas ahead and just pull them out in the morning. Now, I don’t. But, I do have the fabulous staff at Schinkels’ always making casseroles, salads and more. There is always a selection of great tasting, affordable, healthy and wholesome meals or sides ready in the fresh serve for me to take home. It’s easy to just pop something in the oven or microwave on any day both Greg and I work to 6:00. If I want to add variety to my life, I just let the staff choose what I’m eating by default. Whatever they make that day at 2:00 is what we are eating that night. Odds are I can afford it, Greg and I will fully appreciate it, and at least two of my picky five won’t hate it.
Veggies & Sides
Used to be that I had time to garden and stock my freezer with all sorts of produce and my selves with all sorts of preserves. Now I don’t. But, I do have a huge selection of quality frozen veggies in Schinkel’s freezer. Even diced onions. Yes, onions. Think about that for a moment to absorb the genius of diced, frozen onions. They’ve also got Broccoli, Asparagus, Beans, Peas, Corn, Carrots and more. Really, you name a frozen veggie, they’ve probably got it.
Used to be that I had time to peel and boil, fry or bake potatoes as a side for just about every meal. Now I don’t. But, Schinkels’ has a great selection of fries, wedges, and other potato options right by the checkout, and they all bake up crispy and delicious in about the same time as grilling whatever meat we choose. There is like 10 or more varieties, so there’s always an option that fits the meal. And Perogies and Ravioli and Garlic Bread, if you are looking for some carb variety.
Used to be that I had time to plan a weekly grocery trip and a weekly menu that saved money. Now I don’t. But, thankfully, Schinkels’ always has a perfect balance of fresh meat, freezer item, deli product, micro meal and convenience product on sale every week. (Seriously, Greg plans that out every week). So, that means that if we are trying to save money, simply buying the weekly features gives us variety on our plates, and at a great price.
Butcher Wives jokes aside, we don’t actually eat steak every day. Or bacon, sadly.
I love the 1/2 price pork steak sale, or the 1/2 price schnitzel sale, or the hamburger sale. Ok, I love all the sales. They happen every week, and when I buy 4 meals worth of whatever is on sale, we end up stocking our freezer with a variety of great meat at great prices. And, when I’m working too much or too late, just grabbing whatever is on sale fresh from the counter means a quicker meal prep and it won’t hurt the budget.
I’m still blessed enough to have days where I do have time to do some planning and grocery shopping and meal prep. And I love those days, as it gives me a sense of control and productivity in my Wife-ing and Mother-ing. But it’s good to know that, thanks to this wonderful place that is becoming my Home-Away-from-Home, I can still fulfill my Food Providing duties on the days I don’t.