Als ich wisse das Morgen der Erde enden wuerde, immernoch wurd ich mein Apfelbaum pflanzen.

Even if I knew the world would perish tomorrow, I would still plant my apple tree. - Martin Luther

"Factory work's easier on the back, and I don't mind it, understand, but a man becomes what he does. Got to watch that. That's why I keep at farmin' although the crops haven't ever throve. It's the doin' that's important." Madison Wheeler in Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Eating "Out"

Some people use the excuse of "lack of time" to justify poor planning and the allure of convenience.  Want to save your family money, feed them healthy choices and maintain your commitment to protecting the planet by using local (or home grown) food, but still need to keep up with your family's crazy schedule?  Two words - Plan ahead! 

I work full time, and so does the Woodsman.  Both kids are in karate, one plays soccer and both have the usual amount of homework, chores and piano practice (I'm the piano teacher - so at least we don't have to drive anywhere for that lesson).  We also live 20 minutes outside of town.  Karate practice, which is 40 minutes from home,  runs two nights per week and starts at 6:00.  So, how do we manage to NOT eat out on those two nights?  Plan ahead!

Years ago, in the days before children, when The Woodsman and I were completing our Masters,we had the same kinds of frenetic days. I bought several plastic divided dinner containers, made two dinners on the nights we were home, and then packed up the extra ones for the nights we were gone.  In college we had access to a microwave in a friend's apartment.  We'd heat dinner up there before we headed to class.  Now I do the same routine only it's four dinner containers instead of two, and dinner is heated up in the teacher workroom and eaten in my classroom.

I know this sounds crazy, but actually - because I Plan Ahead - it works pretty well.  I prep and pack Tuesday night's dinner while I'm making Monday night's at home.  The Woodsman washes the containers when we finally make it home on Tuesday.   Then Wednesday night I do the same for Thursday night's dinner. 

This week has been an especially long one - when we get to the end of tomorrow we'll have eaten away from home for three consecutive nights - Plan Ahead indeed!

Sample Menu from this week:

Monday:  Beans and Greens and Biscuits (both made fresh on Monday night), tomato preserves and applesauce (canned)
Tuesday (packed on Monday):  Vegan Black Eyed Pea Shepherd's Pie (made on a weekend this winter - pulled from freezer Sunday night and baked on Monday night), biscuits (from Monday), Nectarines (canned)
Wednesday (packed on Tuesday when we got home):  Bean and Cheese Burritoes (from freezer), Sweet Potato Casserole (made on Sunday for dinner), applesauce (canned)
Thursday (packed tonight when we got home):  Greek Pilaf, chopped cuke and tomato salad (from our CSA - they have a hydroponic green house) with goat cheese feta (dressing, vegis and cheese are ready in seperate containers and will be tossed together tomorrow before dinner), and Watermelon chunks (from freezer - put there when we had way too much to eat at the end of September)

Total spent - not much - Maybe $15.00?  A whole lot less than the $90- $150 we would have spent eating out for three dinners.
Total time spent - not much - most of this food was prepped before this week.  I almost always cook double (or triple) of what I need and freezed it.  Not any more time than it takes to order your food and have it delivered to your table.
Total health benefit - Can't configure that one for sure either, but my homemade meals came without a lot of added junk and were local, and full of fruits and vegis.  Who can say that about the burger joint meal they had tonight.

It can be done.  You can feed your family healthy, low cost food and still manage to get them where they need to be.  Using this plan you don't even add extra waste through the trash stream - you're reusing every night.

Oh, one other side benefit of this routine - we still sit down to the table together every night.  Just some days it's a different table.


  1. Did I just read that YOU are your kids piano teacher? Do you follow a program of sorts? I want to start Chloe but can't seem to find a teacher or time. I know the basics, but I'm not sure how to instruct. If I had a set program, I could maybe muddle through the first few years.

  2. Yes - we use Bastien Piano Basics. The kids like it. You can find it on Amazon.