When people used to ask me what I "did" (as in, "What kind of job do you do?"), I used to tell them I was a purchasing agent. It's actually not too far off the mark. If you wanted to give me an official job title, it probably would've been something like "Executive Assistant and Chief Purchasing Agent", which is just a fancy way of saying "Chief Cook and Bottle Washer". I grocery shopped and usually cooked for 10 - 12 people on a regular basis (nothing compared to a friend of mine who regularly makes dinners for 20+!) and I'd been doing it for a long time. Eleven years, I think.
When Ben and I got married, people had a lot to say about how it was going to be tough for me to adjust to cooking for just two or three people. I said I didn't think it was going to be, mostly because my method of feeding people was to figure out what constituted one serving and work from there. As it turns out, that method is still holding true and I'm doing pretty good with feeding three people. There are a few amusing things about it to me - if I want to make lasagna for two nights and have spaghetti sauce left over for a third, it takes only one 28-ounce can of tomato sauce to make that amount. My normal amount would've been three cans for just one meal. I might be weird, but I actually start laughing about that. And meatloaf - meatloaf is hilarious. I made meatloaf this week calculating by how much I would make for ten how much I needed for three and it was the tiniest little baby meatloaf I ever saw...and we ate about two-thirds of it. I guess half a pound of hamburger makes plenty of meatloaf when you've got baked potatoes and salad to go with it!
Our menus have been about the same as what I would make at home - I always chose meals that included a protein (usually meat), a starch, a green vegetable (other colors are okay too, but there usually needs to be one green one), and a salad. There were some variables at home, however, that don't come into play around here. For instance, Dad long ago declared "Soup is not a meal. It's a side dish." Therefore, any soup had to have some kind of meat, starch, and salad along with it. For example, we might have grilled chicken, broccoli soup, garlic potatoes, and salad for a meal.
Ben doesn't feel the same way about soup - in fact, he likes soup for dinner. I still haven't quite gotten out of the habit of wanting to add all the other stuff to it, but I'm restraining myself because then we eat too much. Grandma pretty much only wants to eat salad, so salads have developed from lettuce and some salad vegetables to every vegetable I can find plus some cheese and a little meat. So our meals have been a lot more about salad and bread with a smaller main dish than usual. Last night, we had egg rolls, salad, and ice cream with fried apples for dessert. Granted, that was a throw-together meal because Ben and I were out until close to dinnertime; but still, that's not a meal we could've ever had for dinner with my family!
Menu for this week and part of next:
Monday: Chicken Soup, Bread, Salad - Done
Tuesday: Meatloaf, Baked Potatoes, Green Beans, Salad - Done
Wednesday: Enchiladas, Rice, Salad, Turkey Bacon for Grandma (spicy and Grandma don't get along) - Done
Thursday: Egg Rolls, Salad (this was supposed to be Grilled Chicken and something else, but I don't remember what!) - Done
Friday: Lasagna, Rolls, Salad (I put a lot of vegetables in my sauce and the filling for lasagna, so it's a one-dish meal) - Tonight
Sataurday: Leftover Lasagna, Rolls, Salad
Sunday: Yogurt Chicken, Rice, Broccoli, Salad
Monday: Pot Roast, Vegetables, Salad (this is hilarious because a little top loin steak is enough for pot roast...)
Tuesday: General Tso's Chicken, Rice, Pea Pods, Salad (I'm trying this out!)
Wednesday: Beef Soup, Bread, Salad (Beef Soup has a whole lot of vegetables too, so this is another cheater!)
Grandma always wants desserts after dinners and sometimes Ben and I have some too because she doesn't like when she gets something and we're not eating it too. She eats a lot less than us, we usually point out, so it's not like she needs to be saving up her calories for dessert. She really likes just plain vanilla ice cream, but chocolate pie is her favorite and pretty much anything sweet is good by her. Except for fried apples. She didn't like the skins still being on them. She didn't say anything about it, but first she kept eating the apple slices and putting the skins on her plate, and then she quit eating them altogether. Oops. As a silent apology, tonight I made apple crisp. With the apples properly peeled. She likes that because it's like apple pie without the crust and she often leaves the crust off apple pie.
And Ben likes everything. Oh. Except for beets and steak that's pink in the middle. Since I'll even eat raw steak (hey, when it's marinating for shish-kabobs, it's soft and spicy and really tasty!), this is sort of foreign to me; but I tried making steak tips for him and he liked the little bite-sized pieces much better. And if that's the only food-foible he's going to come up with...could you ask for anyone easier to cook for?
I've been pretty pleased to note the shopping bill is about what we expected when we budgeted, even a little lower. I would always like to get it lower, of course, but it's good to at least be hitting somewhere about at the same mark. And our eating-out expense has dropped to zero. We were spending a fair amount on fast food before we were married simply because we were always between our families' meals and didn't have much of a way to make our own. Ben keeps asking me to estimate how much the meals are costing because he likes to know how much food he can get at home for about half what he'd spend getting half the food even with his bargain-shopping tricks at Wendy's and McDonald's. We have to do a fairly big shopping trip once a week, but when it's all added up...it's a lot cheaper eating at home!
Of course, these days when asked, I no longer have to come up with some odd name for what I do. I can legitimately say, "Housewife" and people know what I do. Though of course, to be honest...my old title of Executive Assistant and Chief Purchasing Agent really still applies.
1/15/2012 12:36:53 pm
Your meals are a LOT bigger than mine. We usually don't do a vegetable AND salad. If we have salad, then that counts as our vegetable.. and we almost never do rolls. If we do, its because we are having soup as our main course...;)
1/16/2012 02:27:11 am
That's funny, because the meals feel kind of tiny - it may look like a lot, but we're talking a tiny salad, three rolls, and something like half a cup of green beans.
1/16/2012 09:07:30 am
Good reasoning. I may have to do something like that. How do you make 3 rolls? Do you just make them and freeze them?
1/18/2012 08:21:29 am
Yep, I make a whole batch and then freeze them. I've got cheese biscuits in the freezer that I made a month ago and I keep getting a few out at a time when we have soup or something that goes with them. I've been doing a lot with the freezer because rather than load the refrigerator with leftovers, if I make a batch of cornbread it goes for two meals so the next time I don't have to make any, etc.
1/18/2012 06:35:46 am
I'm having the opposite problem. I'm used to cooking for one and now with Stephen home, I've started cooking real meals again. I love having him home, but it is an adjustment. Your dishes sound delicious. Ben's a lucky man!
1/18/2012 08:23:21 am
I bet it is! I've never done cooking for ONE - now that might end up taking some adjustment. I'd probably do a lot of weird things like eat scrambled eggs and toast for dinner all the time. Having someone to cook for definitely ups the creativity ante.
1/24/2012 09:34:41 am
Aaron said the other day (after many meals of not eating much, which I had only sort of noticed....) that he doesn't like the meals as much any more. He says that you always included at least ONE Thing he liked....I'm hoping that sooner as opposed to later we'll collectively figure out HOW to make the menu to everyone satisfaction. :D I feel kinda bad because I thought it was working out well. However I've noticed Anna not eating as much too....and she can't afford to eat too much less....ah the process of figuring things out. :O
1/25/2012 10:45:16 am
Well, one thing that I always tried to do when making a menu was make meals that were definitely leaning toward certain people. For instance, I'd include pot roast at least once a month. I also always planned meals to be a meat, a starch, and a vegetable; and if I was planning something like sweet potato fries that only half of us liked, I tried to make sure the vegetable was something those who don't like sweet potatoes like - so a meal could be steak, sweet potato fries, broccoli soup, and maybe bread or rolls so there was an alternative starch.
1/31/2012 09:42:22 am
YES! But I thought I KNEW it was complicated. :D Michael's been making the menu for me, and I'm thinking about having everyone write down a list of their favorite meals/foods so Michael doesn't have to have EVERYTHING come from his own head, and people get to eat things they'd like. We'll see if this works.
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Wife of Benjamin and mother to two wonderful little girls who are getting bigger every day. Enjoys writing down thoughts and discussions we are having within the family and sharing them with whoever is interested in reading.
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