Our cupboards are full…but there’s nothing to eat!

Welcome to the January Carnival of Natural Parenting: Experiments in Natural Family Living
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have reported on weeklong trials to make their lives a little greener. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

Our cupboards are full… but there’s nothing to eat!

How often have you experienced this feeling? Your house might be full of food, but you just can’t think what to make for dinner. It’s as though everything we have put in our storecupboards and freezers suddenly becomes invisible.

I am a notorious stock piler – I have previously on this blog shared that I have a shop in my cupboard. I hate to run out of anything. I like to be able to cook anything from sushi and ramen to an Italian bean feast to a key lime pie at the drop of a hat. When I see it written there it seems a little ridiculous. I also have minor anxieties about “what ifs”: what if we have friends over and there’s nothing to rustle up a quick lunch? What if we’re all sick and can’t face going out to get food? What if we are flooded in or there is an oil crisis and suddenly we can’t get to the shops for a week, or two? I believe strongly in family resilience… but has it gone too far? Am I officially a hoarder?

You see, what I have noticed this year is that we are throwing away food: because I’ve bought too much, because the kids don’t like it, because the bulk-bought stuff had too short a shelf life. And if I’m being really honest, because I cook a whole lot less than I used to and aspire to – partly due to major child fussiness and partly my exhaustion.

So when this challenge came up, the “do no food shopping for a week and live off what you already have” idea was just what the doctor ordered. It was a good final hurrah to the Year of Enough of 2011, and a welcoming of 2012 Year of Abundance. And the biggest part of abundance is recognising the wealth you already have, and using and being grateful for it, rather than harking after more and more.

It was Christmas week, the time of plenty, I had done a large shop a week before, so this was hardly going to be a challenge… I thought! Just a simplification of my life. And so it has been a time of conscious consumption, of using what we already have. And I wanted to report that I haven’t bought anything since… but that would not be true.

You see, I’ve bought milk, and bread, lots of bread…

I fully intended to make the bread myself. Because I always intend to. I can make a mean brown soda loaf. And we have a bread maker – how unchallenging is that. And yet, even this week, when I have committed to not buying anything, even though I love homemade bread so much more, even though it is so much healthier and cheaper for us, even though it has a timer setting so it can bake overnight and we can wake up to freshly baked bread –  I HAVE NOT BAKED A SINGLE LOAF. (OK, since submitting this piece I saw the error of my ways and baked 3 delicious brown soda loaves!)

And you know why – because to me, baking bread is one of my aspirations – which also feels like the straw that would break this camel’s back.

Bread is what my children eat most of during the day. I am SO tired of most of what I make for them being rejected that if I don’t have the reliable staple of crap white bought bread that I KNOW they will eat, and I have hungry, cranky children roaming the plains… the results don’t bear thinking about!

And also I realise it breaks my sacred (and rather slovenly rule) of not entering the kitchen, where I spend a lot of each day, after dinner, to set up the blasted machine, it feels like an extra tie to housewifeliness.

So there we have it. We have eaten lots of tins of beans and tomatoes, we have made a dent in the frozen meat. Have turned festering veggies into delicious soup. Spent almost no money… But not a green leafy vegetable has passed our lips, nor a loaf been baked – and the tragic thing is our store cupboard and freezer look almost untouched.

I think we shall carry on for another couple of weeks – I might even get over the whole bread thang and just BAKE!  We can manage it fine, after a few kid staples are bought. And some brocolli. I miss my brocolli.
Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!
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