We are 17 days into 2012, and I am proud to say Eddie and I have spent less than $90 going out to eat so far this month.
This may not be much of an accomplishment to people who are responsible and/or broke.
But for comparison’s sake, we spent about $350 eating out in January of 2011. And that was after a record-setting December 2010. I am too ashamed to say how much we spent that month.
I also want to point out that this month’s number includes Eddie’s birthday dinner and cupcakes. And New Year’s Day breakfast, which was barely even this year.
We have been cooking regularly for more than a month now. Like, cooking cooking. Like, it doesn’t come in a box that says “just add water.” Like, we actually have to buy items in the produce aisle.
One of my (many) character flaws is my extreme sense of accomplishment for doing things that normal people do without even thinking about it. This is an example of that. (Among my other favorite accomplishments: getting completely caught up on laundry once a year, waking up early enough to toast an English muffin before work once a year, finishing a scarf once a year…there’s a theme here, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.)
I only got half of the adult gene. I can wake up and commute to work every day and bring home money and pay my bills on time.
I have been actively trying to brainstorm other adult things I do for about five minutes now, and no luck.
So I guess I only got about 25 percent of the adult gene.
I did not get the adult gene that makes you do things like pick up your socks from the living room floor every day, for which Eddie chastises me daily. That verb may be a bit too strong. I’m not going to change it.
I did not get the gene that makes you wake up when your alarm goes off without hitting snooze. For an hour.
Nor did I get the gene that makes you take your clothes out of the dryer and fold them immediately when they’re done.
Or the gene that makes you vacuum on a regular basis.
Or clean the bathroom.
Or do the dishes.
Or go to bed without the tv on.
Or finish taking down Christmas decorations by mid-January. (The tree is down. Isn’t that enough?)
All-in-all, I am pretty bad at being a responsible adult, aside from working and paying bills.
That was a really depressing list to make, and I am sad I did it.
But that was not the point of today’s post. I came here to bask in my few, modest accomplishments, and the biggest one at the moment is that I now consider myself to cook food more appetizing than what I can get at McDonald’s. If you’d tasted some of my early concoctions, you’d know this is a big deal. You’d also know that you can’t just put unseasoned chicken, peperoncinis and salsa in a frying pan and expect anything good to come of it.
One of my favorite things to do is scour foodgawker for recipes and pin them. I look for recipes that are relatively simple and to our tastes. I pin them to my Recipes to Try board. Upon successful completion, the pin gets moved to my Recipes Worth Making Again board. (I know. The names suck.)
I’ve been planning our meals a week or two in advance. I scroll through my boards, look for recipes that I want to try or reuse, and base my grocery list on that.
If you want to know how much of a nerd I am, here are all the cogs that make up the intricate process that is my dinner plan, from inspiration to the grocery store trip:
I use SousChef as a more permanent place for storing recipes, since most of my recipes come from blogs, and they could be taken down or moved. It doesn’t allow for the same kind of visual stimulation Pinterest provides, but it’s good for sorting.
I have a dinner calendar in iCal where I plan our meals.
I make our grocery list in Excel. I have a few grocery shopping apps that I like, but I keep going back to Excel. I can type faster than I can search for foods on a phone.
My grocery list saves to my Dropbox.
I access Dropbox from my iPhone.
And voila! I’m groocery shopping in only seven easy steps…or…some amount of steps.
I know keeping this up for too long is irrational. The fact that I’ve done this for a month is kind of astounding to me. Someday when I find better things to do with my life, I won’t have time for all of this.
But for now, I am building the foundation, and for me, that takes extra work. If I walk into a grocery store without a list, I walk out with $50 worth of hot fries and orange juice. Maybe a few other things. Nothing that goes together to form a real meal.
In order to have a list, I have to know what I’m making.
My hope is that, with time, I will have a nice collection of go-to recipes that I’m familiar enough with that I can be a normal person and make a list straight from my big ol’ sexy brain. In the meantime, I’m enjoying my ridiculously time-consuming process of feeding myself.
I feel like I should mention that, while I suck at being an adult, Eddie, in his new college student life, does the dishes and laundry, makes the bed, and even goes to the gym four times a week now. He’s kind of putting me to shame. And looking handsome while doing it. At least I can undo his workouts by feeding him lots of cheese.