March 26, 2014

grocery shopping and the working mom

I made a list, and apparently it was too short.

You see, there was a time when I could go through the store on my own and build a menu out of things I found appealing combined with my mental inventory of what's currently in the freezer. I am no longer able to accomplish this feat of brainy multitasking. I had no idea what a talent this was.

I walked in, got some of the things on my list, and got confused. No, not confused. Dazed and confused. I had no idea what to buy. Do we need bread? Do I want English muffins? Shouldn't I just eat toast and forget the many ways to eat bread-like items? Why don't they have smooth whole wheat bagels? (Seriously, I really want smooth whole wheat bagels.)

I walked down the aisles, turning my nose up at the meat-helper stuff and refusing to buy what I thought I already had. No potential dinner menus were manifesting in my mind. Half an hour later, I still had only 6 items in my cart and no clue what to feed my family for the next week. So, I did what any confused working mother would do, given the opportunity: I called my mom. I figured, if she could help me shop for clothes (which she can), surely she can help me shop for groceries and kick my brain back onto the track. She reminded me that I am an "excellent" cook, and that all I need is to think about things I would enjoy. Never mind the kiddo - he'll eat if he's hungry.

Why do I forget this stuff? Why do I think the only food I can reliably feed him is fish sticks, mac & cheese, and a veggie? I know this is wrong. In fact, I've seen him purposely try spicy food and then continue to eat it (makes me proud). It is also a fact that working just part time has splintered my attention span enough that thinking about what to make for dinner feels like too much effort, and I scare myself just a little. If only they didn't need to eat dinner every. single. day.

I need to let go of trying to make my two-year-old son the center of the meal, and focus more on gathering family at the table for something that tastes good. Period.

After reviewing the many cuts of beef that are adequate for a slow cooker meal (not the stew meat they sell), I ended the call and wrapped up my shopping trip. Oh, I still had a paltry number of items. But I also left with a right perspective on food and feeding my family as well as my love of cooking.