Over the years we have been been through periods of being more or less connected with where our food comes from. I have always had a garden and have always canned (especially tomatoes). A chest freezer was one of our first major purchases when we moved back to the midwest from the east coast. But for a few years we became more and more disconnected- relying more on convenience foods.
We went through a period of very frugal living right after we were married- the poverty years of grad school- that taught us very valuable lessons. (Ah- the days of finding out that we had $5 left at the end of the month and could go out to have a few drinks!) I really perfected my cooking skills during that time and we had almost nothing that was pre-packaged- we simply couldn't afford it. We learned the lessons of buying in bulk and storing food. We learned to Make-do.
That carried on for a while, neither one of us are in jobs that are incredibly lucrative and while the children were small, V was a stay at home dad because it made more economic sense. I make more money than he does and his salary at the time would have ALMOST covered child care expenses. But once the children were all in school he went back to work. That's where the trouble began. With both of us working full time, time became more valuable and money became more plentiful (not ever over-abundant), and we began the slow slide into convenience....
We didn't plan or worry about where the next meal was coming from and a year and a half ago I realized that one or the other of us was going to the grocery store at least 4 times a week. That was when I realized that things had to change. Thank goodness we have never been fast food addicts (about the only time we eat fast food is when we are traveling for over 8 hours). I have always cooked and we have always had family meals together but I was feeling disjointed and disconnected. So we have been making the change, trying to grow and store more of our own food, trying to rely less on convenience foods. (I will confess to Zatarain's jambalaya mix to use bits of leftover meat). I have been trying to eat more locally as well, buying a portion of our meat from the farmer's market this year.
I got onto this ramble talking about Pioneer week. One of the things that I have done in the past year, to help me organize my head, reduce the grocery store trips and help with time management is that every week on Saturday I make out the menu for the week. It is posted on a dry-erase board on the refrigerator. This way I can make one shopping trip to get everything I may need for the week, it allows me to make better use of our stores of food and I can prep things in advance if I need to (soak beans the day before you want them, for example, instead of relying on canned ones). It was kind of funny, this morning I was working on the menu, remembering that I need to cook everything from scratch for Pioneer week. I finished and showed it to V who commented: "Hm, it doesn't look any different from usual". That felt like a victory of a sort.
Here's to a productive weekend and a fun week ahead. I've gotta go bake bread.