I have to get better at food.
I really want to be one of those people who plans a menu for the week. And then I want to be one of those people who goes shopping and gets everything in one trip. AND I want to be one of those people who shops with coupons and gets great bargains and keeps the grocery bill nice and low.
Do those people exist? If they do, I envy them.
I am really trying to find a good shopping strategy. I started out meal planning for the week and then going out once and getting everything. But I was finding that when I went and did one big weekly shopping trip, I bought a lot of stuff that we didn’t eat or that we ended up throwing out or that we really didn’t need. And I was spending more money than I wanted to.
So then I decided this month I would try doing little trips on a day-to-day basis as we needed things. I thought maybe then there would be less “extra” bought and perhaps we’d spend less money. Also I am hoping we enjoy stuff more when it’s fresh. It’s how I shopped when I lived in Japan a lot of the time, because I was not home much and because my fridge was the size of a file drawer. But… it’s a hassle to go out each day. And I don’t know if I am spending less.
I am worried about the costs. One of the things we have to do for the adoption home study is show them our finances. And it stresses me out, because I don’t think they’re going to be good enough.
We’ve been just the two of us for a long time, and cooking and food and eating out are some of our pleasures. We don’t go out a lot or buy a lot of clothes or travel. A lot of our entertainment is in cooking and eating out. So I am afraid that we’ll do poorly on our home study because of that. I’m afraid our expenses will look bad.
I am so bad at cutting back. We don’t have champagne and steak-and-lobster tastes. But we do have some habits that are hard to change. We eat more expensive cuts of meat — boneless and skinless — because I once was a vegetarian and with very few exceptions, anything like bones or cartilage or anything like that in my meat will nauseate me, so that’s my fault. Our beverages — pop and milk and water for our cooler — are sometimes fully 1/3 of our expenses, and finding cheap alternatives are hard. BDH loves cheese, and cheese is expensive unless you want to buy the oily, no name stuff — so it’s a choice about quality and health benefits. So I struggle with those things in the grocery store.
We are trying — BDH is trying — to eat out less. We use coupons when we can. We choose cheaper, healthier options like Subway if we can. BDH is trying so hard to take breakfast and lunch to work and eat it each day, and resist the temptation to go out with the gang. But it is so hard for him sometimes, and I have a hard time griping about it when I look at the extraordinary progress he has made in the past few years, and how hard he has tried. And really, honestly, we don’t eat out that much — but it’s getting to be clear to me that even occasionally is too much.
On the plus side, with the spring and summer coming, fruit and vegetables will be cheaper, and we’re trying to eat more of them. We rarely buy snack food anymore, but what we do buy lasts weeks. I am exploring no name options and giving up little extravagances in my own diet. And I am trying to just eat less. We’re both just trying to eat less.
People give us well-meaning advice all the time, and sometimes not so well-meaning. They think because we are overweight it is a character fault. They think we don’t know that we’re overweight and that we aren’t trying to do better. They think we eat crap all the time, when in truth we eat healthy food. They think we eat lots of processed and pre-prepared and packaged food. They think that veiling it in warnings about our health makes it okay. They think that because we’re overweight, somehow warnings about our health don’t get through our fat heads, when in truth they terrify us and make us feel guilty and worse about ourselves. They think it’s as easy as “just eat less” or “just follow a diet”. They think it is easy to look at your husband whose diabetes means he cannot enjoy what he loves and then tell him he has to enjoy even less, that he must be denied even more.
Food is a minefield for us. I feel like whenever I have to talk about food with someone I am preparing to do battle. I feel embarassed about the choices I am making, even though I know they are often good ones. I feel ashamed of eating and enjoying it. I feel guilty for who I am. I feel like I am being set up to be a parent who is giving all the wrong signals about food. I feel like when it comes to food, no matter which choices I make, they will be the wrong ones to someone.
I hate the feeling of being judged. I hate worrying about this stuff. Food should not be an area of conflict and battle and stress. That’s how the problems start for a lot of people in the first place.
So. Yeah. My budget isn’t getting fixed today.