Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Accountability -- Thoughts & Purpose

What shapes my "food philosophy" The WHY that goes into the planning, preparation, and consumption of our family's meals?

There were quite a few "lean years" when Mom and Dad were trying to feed 2 adults and 6 children (and most of us had good appetites) on an income of less than $20,000 a year. That's $20,000 for groceries -- AND housing -- AND transportation -- AND medical bills -- AND student loans ... AND ... AND ...

God is good. We always had enough. But i think that even as a child i picked up on the stress associated with acquiring just the basic needs of life. Whenever Dennis or i get stressed (even if the stress has nothing to do with money) i immediately start worrying about finances. I start plotting how i could work without putting Geneva in childcare.

I buy groceries.

Even if we don't really need them. Even if i'm stressed BECAUSE i've spent too much money (on groceries, since i rarely spend money on anything else).

Buying food calms me down.
We may not have money to pay rent, but at least we can eat this week.

This is not only irrational, it is sinful -- a disconnect between what i think i "know" and what i actually feel and believe. I need to bring this response to stress to God. I need to REMIND MYSELF that i can trust His care of us -- that imminent doom is NOT over the horizon -- and that i CANNOT stave it off by spending extra money on extra groceries. I CAN be grateful for what we have, TRUST God to provide what we need, and choose to act accordingly.

I will address this by:
Memorizing "fighter verses" that remind me to trust God's provision
Resolving to shop only once a week -- if i think i need an extra trip -- resolve to wait until TOMORROW!

I am SO grateful to be restored to what is (i believe and hope) a healthy attitude about my body, food, and eating. But my past definitely affects the choices i make about food today.
I eat -- and choose for my family -- healthy foods. We don't eat prepared, packaged, or processed foods. But i am VERY hesitant to give myself or others limits about food -- especially limits of quantity -- portion size, numbers, frequency.

This is a bit tricky. I do think we (especially me and Geneva) eat a lot MORE than many people do, especially considering our size. I do think i sometimes eat when i am not hungry, but i am very reluctant to address that yet. After years of denying myself what my body needed, i still feel that eating is ALWAYS good -- right?

Do i really need two servings of the casserole at dinner? Do i really need a big bowl of popcorn right before bed? Isn't almond milk kind of a luxury purchase? 

This is something that still feels too new to really challenge myself with. I don't want to use my past as an excuse for laziness or self-indulgence, but i think i need more time to mature/get more solid (hah!) before i really look at this. I want to be a good steward of our groceries, but i DO NOT want, at this point in time, to impose any kind of portion control, or to outlaw any food items.

I will address this by:
Praying that God will establish me in healthy ways of thinking
Trying to be MINDFUL before, during, and after eating
Trusting that any maturing that needs to happen here will be in God's timing -- i don't have to make it happen.

Sensuality as an aspect of my character -- a neutral term, not necessarily good or bad in itself, but lending itself to specific virtues and sins.
I am a person who loves physical pleasure -- including the pleasure that comes from generous amounts of delicious food and drink, for myself, for my family, and for anyone else i can bring into the family circle.

I like eating well, and I am OK with that. I would rather spend money eating well each week than subsist on mac-n-cheese and have a vacation every year.

Under the governance of the Holy Spirit, i think this is a VERY GOOD quality. Food IS good. Hospitality IS good. Having PLENTY is good. Rejoicing in and enjoying those things is good. I am glad that i am a person who enjoys food. I am glad that i live in a culture that allows me to enjoy those things, and i don't thing it is wrong to do so.

Where this quality, corrupted, opens me to temptation -- self-indulgence and ingratitude!
How many items on my grocery receipt are there only because they will increase Emily's pleasure -- personal or vicarious?
This week --
Frozen blueberries $2.91
Almond milk $2.89
Extra pkg sandwich cheese (Dennis) $1.69
Popcorn $1.88
Kale $1.99
Coconut shreds $0.70
Can of soda $0.40
Pineapple $1.99
Ben & Jerry's Bonnaroo Buzz (for Dennis) $3.00

This is a tricky one -- especially considering my past. I DO tend to make choices that show that i value immediate, physical pleasure more than i value long-term goals. All of the items on that list, except for the soda (and maybe the popcorn) seem like GOOD items ... but maybe they aren't the BEST items for our situation right now.

I will address this by:
Praying a prayer of gratitude RIGHT BEFORE I GO SHOPPING, asking God to help me make wise choices
Marking any "want" items on my list. As an exercise in self-control, for the next month choose JUST ONE of these items from each list and DO NOT purchase it. I think this will be enough to exercise my flaccid self-control without dooming myself to failure, or making it into a monster.

What We Ate 04-15

B - boiled eggs, yogurt, biscuits (E, D; G did not eat most of hers)
L - sandwich with ham, cheese, spinach on leftover hamburger roll; trail mix; banana (D)
  Leftover chickpea casserole (E, G) with peas and carrots (G)
D - chicken thigh/leg quarters baked with yogurt mustard sauce, green beans, roasted sweet and russet potatoes, fruit salad with pears, orange, and canned peaches; 1 glass wine each E and D
     apple slices, PB and cheese (G); rest of apple with PB (E)
     smoothie with spinach, carrot, applejuice, yogurt, pineapple, and banana (G)
     smoothie with blueberry, banana, kale, cinnamon, and whole milk yogurt (E)
     package Ritz PB crackers (E, G)
     homemade crackers -- LOTS (E, G, D)
     1/2 slice cheese with peas, carrots, and banana slices (G)
     handful trail mix (E)
Prepared meals as planned; except added fruit salad to dinner (trying to up D's fruit intake :D)
Not super happy about the purchased package of crackers. In general, want to do better about having G-friendly snack foods pre-prepped and available (she tends to eat too much cheese and fruit since it is the easiest to serve her).
Prepared extra chicken -- saved meat for pot pie and soup later this week

Baked bread (double batch sourdough bread in 3 loaves)
Baked homemade "Ritz" crackers (whole wheat) -- 1/2 batch . Make a full batch next time!

Monday, April 14, 2014

What We Ate 04-14

BF: Cinnamon biscuit rolls, scrambled eggs (D, G)
   Smoothie with greens, almond milk, pineapple, banana (E)

L: Pasta salad, yogurt (D)
   Pasta salad, canned peas, fruit (E, G)
*whole wheat pasta, Parmesan, broccoli florets, carrots, onion, garlic, vinaigrette (homemade, not low-fat)

D: Chickpea casserole with brown rice, ricotta, lemon, parsley  *added broccoli florets
     -> everyone had 2 helpings
   Squash & onion sautee (from last week)
   Green peas (from freezer)
   2 glasses wine each (D, E)

Snacks & Misc
   Ice Cream (D)
   1/2 Go-Gurt (G)
   1/2 slice cheese, 1/2 apple sliced (G)
   1/4 cup canned peas, 1 squeeze packet with apple, sweet potato, wheat (G)
   2 tablespoons peanut butter (split E, G)
   3 tablespoons trail mix (sunflower seed, peanut, almond, raisin) (E)
   1/2 apple (E)
   1/2 banana 1/2 slice cheese (G)
    Latte with coffee, almond milk, cinnamon (E)

NOTES: Added peas to dinner (not enough squash). Too much sugar in Go-Gurts -- buy 2oz popsicle molds and make own after gone! Trail mix -- was nervous when i saw calorie count for 1/4 cup -- reminder my body NEEDS the fat and sugar in it!
Made extra casserole to freeze. Geneva likes rice when baked with cheese :D

Menu Plan 04-14 - 04-20

Special Occasion : EASTER (dinner, eggs, dessert)

MONDAY 04/14
BF - eggs, cinnamon roll biscuits
L - pasta salad
D - chickpea casserole, squash

B - waffles w/ strawberries, cream
D - baked chicken, roasted sweet and russet potatoes, green beans

B - waffles w/ syrup
D - green Alfredo noodles, salad (Focaccia bread)

B - waffles w/ syrup
D - chicken pot pie w/ biscuit crust, green salad OR vegetable

B - waffles or toast, boiled eggs, yogurt
D - spaghetti w/ mushrooms, beef, lentils; salad

B - scrambled eggs or omelet, toast
D - Leftover Soup
*Dye eggs!

B - bunny biscuits or rolls, eggs
D - ham slice, white bean salad, cooked apples, greens OR peas OR green veg; sponge cake w/ jam, cream

Homemade yoghurt
Sourdough bread
"Ritz" crackers (use whole-wheat flour)
Additional dessert -- cookies
    red cabbage (blue)
    canned beets (pink)
    turmeric (yellow)

Accountability blog -- DAY ONE

Assuming that no-one is reading this anymore, TIME TO TURN THIS THING INTO A USEFUL TOOL. For me, that is.

I have a very small sphere of responsibility, monetarily-wise. Specifically, the grocery budget. I am not paid for the work i do, so this is the part of our income that i have direct control over.

$100/week is MORE than generous for two adults and one toddler.

I don't like budgets. I don't like planning. I don't like making sacrifices, or not indulging desires that i feel are reasonable -- "Sure, it's over budget! But it's healthy!" or "I don't need it this week, but it's on sale!," or (full disclosure here) "I can reward myself with an overpriced diet soda that has a worse-than-zero nutritional value, because i'm not flushing money down the toilet -- literally -- in the service of bulimia."

I don't really try to stick to our budget. I plan meals based on inexpensive staples, seasonal produce, and weekly specials as a basis. We very rarely eat processed, packaged, or luxury foods, and eat moderate amounts of inexpensive cuts of meat. Often this results in extra expenditure, but iam fairly satisfied with our shopping/eating profile We eat satisfying amounts of healthy, delicious foods -- lots of fruit and vegetables, whole grains, moderate amounts of meat, plenty of healthy fats, very little packaged/processed food. We spend a lot of money on food, but i feel like we get excellent value for that money.

Last week, however, was a disaster. Poor planning, poor judgment ... poor pocketbook.

I went to the grocery store 5 times in 7 days.

I'm not even going to TELL you how much money i spent.

I ended the week determined to do a better job going forward. My husband works patiently and cheerfully to provide for us. He budgets a more-than-generous amount for groceries -- and doesn't complain or censure when i go over. I don't want to make myself a slave to a number, but i DO want to invest the time and effort to respect the hard work that goes into the money that pays for our groceries. I realize how VERY blessed we are to be able to spend what we do on groceries. I want to be a more deliberate, grateful, and responsible steward of the resources i have been given to work with.

So -- i'm repurposing this old blog to help me do just that.

What i plan, grocery-wise.
What we spend.
What we actually eat.
 Any tips, links, or resources that help me in that process.

Dear Lord, THANK YOU for the physical blessings You give my family. We are able, not only to eat enough to live and work -- but to choose foods that will help us feel better and stay healthier -- to create flavors that not only satisfy, but delight us.

Thank you for the hard work, the forbearance, and the study that goes into paying for our food. Please give me an attitude of respect and gratitude. Help me to rejoice in the many, many wonderful options i have, rather than envying the options that i do not have. Help me to exercise discernment and self-control. Please give me perseverance, determination, and encouragement.

Thank you.

Should this cake happen?