I have curried goat simmering on my stove and (organic, brown) basmati rice sitting in my fridge. No big deal, right?
Well, for me it’s a milestone. A landmark moment.
You see, I am an recovering anti-domestic.
In my college years and most of the four years after, I did not do much in the way of housekeeping or cooking. Or budgeting, for that matter! In college, budgeting meant making sure I didn’t spend more than I had – I didn’t have much, but I worked hard and always had enough. After, I was blessed enough to have a job for a time that meant I could get away with my slack budgeting. Cooking meant microwaving an Amy’s meal or – when I was really getting good – some Trader Joe’s rice to eat with steamed veggies. Sure, I attempted one curry and roasted one batch of veggies, but that was it until this August.
Thus, most of the lessons I’m working to learn right now are embarrassingly basic. So basic, in fact, that I’ve found it challenging to make my self fulfill my goal of blogging about them! I’m coming out of my embarrassment closet, though, because I’m starting to hit my stride. I’m proud that this:
is cooking on my stove.
I’m proud I have basmati rice cooked, ready to put it on, and vegetables, fruits, and trail mix that will sustain me throughout the week. I’m thrilled to KNOW – really know, from past experience! – that the food I have will sustain me through breakfast, lunch, and snack/snack/snack/snacking throughout the work week.
In order to have that food appear on my stove, the following lessons had to be learned:
- How to make a budget that worked for my easily-overwhelmed self
- How to look up a recipe and (sort of) follow it
- How to plan my meals for the week
I also had to learn to become comfortable with raw meat, but that happened automatically in August 2011 when I started eating paleo (more information on the paleo lifestyle can be found here. I’m not really paleo anymore, but doing it for about nine months fundamentally changed my relationship with food.)
For me, the combination of teaching myself a budgeting method that worked for me and starting a new job was what enabled me to change my behaviors and learn to shop and prepare food to eat all week.
The budgeting method was inspired, oddly enough, by the entertaining but (for a dieter) largely unhelpful and unhealthy graphic novel about calorie counting, The Big Skinny: How I Changed My Fattitude by Carol Lay. In it, she gives herself a calorie budget, which she then chooses how to spend each day. She could blow it all on a sundae, full of empty calories, or she could eat more small, healthy meals and snacks throughout the day.
Lay’s calorie counting is not my idea of how people should approach healthy, happy eating lives, but it did give me the idea of giving myself a daily allowance, which I then could choose to spend as I wished.
Just as I hoped, the process of giving myself a daily budget increased my control of and comfort with my spending choices. After I mastered the basic daily budget, I then added on amortizing weekend purchases: I could spend money on the weekend out of the budget of the upcoming week.
Through this budgeting method, I started to see how much I really needed to eat on a daily basis and realized the benefits, in terms of energy/time as well as money, to purchasing and preparing my food over the weekend.
This weekend, I went to the farmer’s market, armed with firm knowledge of what was in my fridge and how much I could spend. For my week’s protein, I bought a shoulder of goat from a kind farmer who has excellent, organic goat products (cheeses, milk, yogurt, plus the meat).
Then, I looked up ways I could cook it. I’d warmed up on this front: reading a blog on cooking frittata in the fall (it was delicious, and I made several fabulous versions), learning how to cook the organic, brown basmati rice I’d picked up at Costco, etc.
Because of my past learning, I looked these recipes up early Sunday after buying the goat on Saturday. This left me time to:
- Buy the ingredients for the recipe I found (which I still had room in my budget for!)
- Do something fun
- Cook it
- Blog about it and do some copy editing while it simmered
Now, I’ll be able to eat this dish for most of my lunches and quick-protein breakfasts this week! Hoorah!
Learning has never smelled so good…
(I’d say tasted, but it isn’t ready yet.)