Not Chickening Out


tomorrow for sure, unless...

I need to make chicken and asparagus for dinner.

I have a delicious recipe from Jamie Oliver. (Did you watch his Food Revolution show this spring? Wonderfully reassuring that even the most entrenched minds can be changed.) This recipe calls for pancetta, but I have bacon which will do in a pinch. Olives and cherry tomatoes? Check and check. The only thing I’m missing is the desire to make it.

What I really want is gazpacho.

But then I would have to go buy lots more tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, even basil since my neighbor Mark’s basil isn’t quite ready to be picked yet.

Thanks for the millionth time for keeping me in fresh basil all summer long, Mark. Your banana bread with Nutella is on the way.

The point is how often do I have the ingredients for a delicious meal right in my refrigerator but get a hankering for something else and run to the store chasing that culinary whim?

Too often is the only honest answer.

I am an expert at making a shopping list:

  • at coordinating the family calendar and the store sale flyers;
  • at pulling out recipes and confirming ingredients;
  • at making a list of what we need and of noting other shortages.

I have a system and it works. Mostly.

Until around day 6 of my weekly plan. And that’s today: Day 6. I went shopping 6 days ago, and 6 days ago, chicken sounded great for today, Sunday. I knew Sam had a morning soccer match and an afternoon teaching gig;  Paul would be cutting the grass; and I would be writing– and hoping for a bike ride. This is all working out according to plan. So why am I all of the sudden craving gazpacho and unenthusiastic about the chicken plan?

Focus. I’m going with focus. Specifically wanting instant gratification, which is the lack of focus.

There is a bigger problem with as seemingly compartmentalized an impulse as meal-plan deviation. Every time I deviate, it costs me money. As good as I am at weekly meal planning and creating shopping lists, I am also quite good at picking up just a couple of extra things any time I run to the store.

And that’s why I need to do so much planning. Avoiding “opportunities” to spend money.

My hypothetical grocery run today for gazpacho fixings would have certainly ended up including– among other things– a box of granola bars, since Sam polished off the last one this morning; Ritz crackers, because I saw Paul finished the last sleeve at lunch yesterday; and pears, because that pear and cheddar nosh I had was sooo yummy.


A more clear-headed analysis:

  • Sam can have dried apricots and cashews instead of a granola bar;
  • Paul will choose one of the nine other boxes of crackers;
  • I like cheddar and apple just as much—

All of which we already have in the house!

Look, I’m not perfect. Not anywhere close to the realm of considering the possibility that perfect is even an option vis a vis me. But this time, and as often as I can control myself, culinary-delayed gratification will be observed.

And just think how great that gazpacho will taste tomorrow…

unless I’m craving…


2 Responses to “Not Chickening Out”

  1. Donna Says:

    What you did is what we call “eating out of the house.” I must admit, however, that your version of EOOTH has the slight refinement that what you have in your house arrived there with thought and planning behind it. The things in my fridg and pantry are often there because they appealed to me the last time I was at the store, or because I planned to use them but didn’t, or because some kind person gave me a gift (which is how we learned to keep zucchini and summer squash around as staples; can’t believe we didn’t use to eat them at all!). But…we try to “eat out of the house” for the very reason you mentioned: it’s frugal. Not only do we save time and gas by not going to the store, but we don’t buy all of those extra things that modern marketing is so good at making us think we can’t live without. And EOOTH has the extra benefit of causing us to try combinations of things we hadn’t considered before.

  2. Elizabeth Says:

    I have been shopping at Wegmans this summer because I don’t have to take the kids, they have better fish, and I found a lady bug in my (triple washed and inspected!) head of lettuce from Giant. But I spend more. Every time. Even though I also love the grocery list and have a carefully developed system of maintaining the list.

    Something about aisle after aisle of fancy looking food does it to me every time.


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