Monday, September 29, 2008

Cooking & Compromise

Compromise.... some see it as a dirty word and it can be, but sometimes when it comes to cooking for a large brood and maintaining mom's sanity, it's an excellent word to contemplate.

For several years now I've been very zealous about eating healthfully and trying to eat organic whenever possible. If you've ever tried this, you KNOW how expensive it can be in comparison to eating the "conventional" counterpart. At the beginning of this year my husband & decided that THIS would be the year we get out of debt and we didn't want to dawdle while doing it, we were going to do it AS FAST AS WE COULD. This meant several huge changes, one of them being the grocery budget (insert scary music here). On average we would spend $700 - 800 a month on groceries for our little family of 6 (note I was still exclusively breastfeeding baby #4 while spending all this money). We cut that amount in HALF, $400 a month or $100 a week for everything - food, diapers, toiletries, vitamins, etc. I made a very valiant effort the first three months of the year to keep feeding the family super healthy foods by cooking everything from scratch, cloth diapering so we could have more room for food in the budget and learning a special word...... PORTION CONTROL, lol. BUT I must admit I was going crazy.

Then in April, we discovered baby #5 (now known as Lily, due in January) was on her way! Something had to give. I couldn't home school, cook from scratch, cloth diaper, deal with DH starting a second job, & deal with the exhaustion that usually comes with the first trimester, all at once. So it all began with a small compromise... I bought sliced American cheese instead of a block of cheddar cheese which I would slice myself (gasp!). The simple fact that I did not have to slice my cheese and clean the cheese slicer one to two times a day was wonderful! Then I started buying my bread instead of baking it (saved myself the time & cleaning involved with making my own bread - even if the store bought bread wasn't as "healthy".) And so the compromises continued until I found peace about feeding my family. I now set a time limit as to how much time I am willing to commit to preparing food for any given meal. Breakfast (except on special occasions) must only take me 15 minutes or less to prepare and it has to be CHEAP so most mornings I cook old fashioned oatmeal mixed up with a little bit of brown sugar (and I'll often thrown in a banana or some cinnamon or a scoop of peanut butter), served up with a cup of milk. Lunch has been limited to 10 minutes (except when it involves mac & cheese, water takes longer to boil, lol) so often lunch is a sandwich with some veggies and or fruit on the side (again CHEAP is the name of the game as well, so carrots, apples, celery with cream cheese, in season fruit are all on the menu for side dishes). I give dinner a little more time 30 minutes unless it's something I can throw together quickly and pop in the oven to cook.

So I guess my point in all of this is even though we may all want our families to eat a certain way (insert your personal preference here) your sanity and good attitude is worth more than any particular way of eating. Your children, your husband, YOU need you to be sane more than we need our families to eat (again, insert your personal preference here), unless of course there is a food allergy involved, etc. Meals don't have to look perfect or be fancy - just nutritious enough and served with a smile on your face.

Proverbs 15:16-17 says:

"Better a little with the fear of the Lord than great wealth with turmoil. Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred."

I've served mac & cheese way more than I would like to admit in the last several months, but you know what? My children have a much happy mommy because of it and THAT in my opinion that is more important.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Welcome!

If you ask most large families what their biggest challenge is, most will say laundry. However, a fair number will say cooking. In fact, next to laundry, feeding their crew comes in second with most families. Cooking for a large family, which can be from anywhere from 6-15 people (or more) is something that can take time, as well as a bit of ingenuity. Particularly in this time when many families are struggling financially, keeping a grocery budget in check is crucial. That goes double for a large family. This blog is a place where parents with 4 or more kids will share their tricks-of-the-trade for cooking for a large family. We will be featuring recipes, budgeting tips, and more. This blog is a companion to our Full House blog, where you can get general household tips for large families. We hope you enjoy your stay and come back often to see what's new.