Thursday, February 28, 2008

Cutting Yourself Some Slack

Most people who know me know that I am pretty much a Type-A. Oh, I try and relax & force myself to be calm, but it's not my actual nature. My husband and I joke that it's not enough, for example, for me to eat heathy (I recently lost 20 lbs). No, I have to follow weight watchers, lose 20 lbs, eat healthy - but make sure that I cook from scratch, buy local, and spend the least amount of money as possible on food.

So it came to quite a surprise to my husband that I decided to try "Simple Meals" again. It's a local business that lets you prepare food for the freezer to eat at a later date. Like Once a Month Cooking, but someone else does all the chopping and cleanup.

I did this once before, last year, with a friend as sort of a "fun" thing. The meals, honestly, weren't that good. Half of them were terrible and took a long time to prep. The other half were okay, but at an average price of $15-20 per entree, it wasn't cheap. And I know, for example, using my price book & method of shopping that I could make these meals for about 1/3 the price. But I'd also be spending probably 6-8 hours on prep and cleanup. Which is about $10/hour, $15/hour before taxes ($60 savings for 6 hours of work, but that's after taxes).

So, I let myself get talked into it again. I had a coupon that decreased the price to $14 per entree. I learned from the past and chose all meat options, no vegetarian (which weren't good the last time). Besides, I cook mostly vegetarian, and I'm really good at it. Lo and behold, my friend who wanted to do this didn't show. Oh well, I did manage to get 6 meals prepped in an hour.

So far, one meal into it (meatloaf), I like it. One meal at $14 is actually two meals for us, but of course, doesn't include sides. And it's really nice to have one or two days a week that I don't have to plan a meal - a far cry from the "plan everything a month in advance" or "cook two big meals on Saturday and spend all day doing dishes".

That's where "cutting myself some slack" comes in. I think it's enough that I work almost full-time, have a two-year old, cook a lot of fresh veggies from our weekly CSA, am training to run a 10k, and am managing to keep almost 20 lbs off, all while dealing with deafness in one ear from an ear infection. If I do this type of thing once every two months, that's $45 extra dollars on food for basically one or two meals a week. If I do it every month, well that doubles. And hey, I'm saving $40 a month by giving up soda. Which I am successful at about 60% of the time.

I have a lot of friends having babies right now, and I think this will be just the ticket to providing a hot, healthy meal to them also. And that's the kicker...the meals, for the most part, are healthy. It is pretty easy for me to identify 6-8 healthy options each month.

So I will probably go back again in March. And continue to cut myself some slack. Because I deserve it. And you know? The meat loaf was pretty good. (And who wants to spend all day Saturday doing dishes?)

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