Saturday, September 6, 2014

Use What Ya Got!

Use what ya got...those four little words have been my latest inspiration. Recently I found myself in the midst of an undeniable cooking rut. All I could think of when it came to dinner was, " What can I make that will be easy and quick."

As a result, it felt like I ended up cooking the same four recipes every week. I wasn't sure how to get out of my funk especially because I'm pregnant and a bit averse to cooking in general right now.

I came across a great post that I found over at The Nourishing Home. In it the author describes the over-abundance of food in her kitchen and her slightly compulsive desire to go out and buy more.

Her words struck a nerve with me. My refrigerator, freezer and cabinets are never truly bare. I go to the store out of habit and often forget to check what we already have when I'm making my list and planning my meals.

I've also found myself throwing out a substantial amount of leftovers by the end of the week, which is unbelievably wasteful (my mother would be so ashamed). So, I've instituted a leftovers night each week in our home. Even if all the foods don't go together, I just heat it all up and let the family feast. If it looks particularly unappetizing, I just make a dessert and no one complains.

The last few weeks I've been going to the grocery store once a week and doing my best to use what we have in the house. Believe it or not, it's forced me to get creative with our meals. In the long run it will also save us money because it cuts down on my trips to the store.

One of my big pitfalls when it comes to shopping and meal planning is just plain forgetfulness. I'll buy everything on my list but one or two ingredients. So I'm becoming more and more unafraid to wing recipes. I either substitute what I don't have or make something up.

The nights when I've stepped away from my meal plan and figured out something with the raw materials around our house have been not been too shabby. My boys loved it when I made waffles and bacon for dinner, and my husband loved the spicy cheesy potato and sausage bake I invented another night.

The Henson boys are easy to please and I often forget that. I, on the other hand, only feel like I've cooked a successful dinner if it's an elaborate production that touches on every food group.

After looking at my relationship with the food in our home I realized that my discontent with what we have doesn't end with food.  I horde clothing, craft supplies, and all sorts of other things because it gives me a weird sense of security to have more of them than I will actually use.

This led me to take a good hard look at my closet... I have way too many clothes, and the funny thing is that I always want more. But the more clothes I have the more likely I am to be careless with them.

I wait entirely too long between trips to the dry cleaner.  Instead of being attentive while sorting my laundry and washing delicate items on the gentle cycle, I haphazardly throw things in the washer because I just want to get them washed and away.

The point of all this I guess is just that having too many good things actually keeps me from being a good steward of my possessions. This is evidenced by my food waste, poor care of my clothing, and all of the barely used bottles of nail polish I store in my bathroom.  Instead of dreaming about my next big purchase, I'm coming to see that I need to focus my attention on using what I already have creatively.

"Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can."- Arthur Ashe
Do you see this desire for more when you already have more than enough in your own life? How has using what you have led to more creativity in your daily life?