Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Rethinking Fast Food

Confession time for this nerd. While I was raised on real food, and even truly enjoy cooking... I can get lazy quick. I know all the arguments for resisting the siren call of fast food; heart clogging saturated fats, over the roof salt levels, mystery meats and only vaguely understood sauces, jacked-up prices WAY out of range of the actual price of ingredients, and the vague nauseous feeling you get soon after you suck the last drop out of your biggie gulp to name just a few reasons to avoid the drive-thru window. Far too often meal times arrive with ninja-swiftness, blindsiding this nerd (I mean really... we just ate five hours ago... it can't be time to do it again, can it?) and causing complete shutdown of the meal programming systems.

I start out earnestly enough, the weekly meals get roughly sketched out on the weekends. I industriously scout the freezer/pantry/fridge for what we have, what we need, and what I can substitute for. But one day the Prime Geek will be late getting home – so that meal gets put on the back burner. Another day will find us staying home all day, so the defrosted chicken for Thursday gets eaten on Tuesday for lunch... and now Thursday finds us without a plan. Leftovers put aside for a quick soup on the weekend get snacked on and Saturday is spent staring forlornly into an empty fridge. We could thaw the roast... but that's going to take a few hours. Cook the chicken... but it's tomorrows dinner.

So a call to the pizza joint, a quick pass through the burger joints arches, or a run into the Chinese place down the street. One quick meal won't hurt us.... right?

Except its becoming a far more common occurrence lately. Between the battle of the plagues that rocked the PG and I'd world for a few months, a promotion that has the PG working a far more erratic schedule, and my tendency to get so wrapped upped in projects that I completely forget I actually DO require food at some point during the day, we've strayed a wee bit (okay, a couple of times a week may constitute more then a wee bit) when it comes to eating “real” food.

Having the largest garden possible, sourcing all our meat locally, or refusing to buy boxed foods and switching to home cooked will not help us one jot if we're still shoveling down the cardboard crap the fast food restaurants serve.*

Its time to snip this bad habit in the bud. Well, alright, its more like we're pulling out the shrub by the roots... but still. Today is the first day of attack. One of the reasons 7o'clock rolls around and finds me scrabbling for dinner plans (and all too often giving it up as a bad job and ordering a pizza) is that I seem incapable of remembering to eat lunch. ** I can be relied upon to cook a balanced meal for others, but the thought of dirtying all those pans just for myself has me choosing to graze on handfuls of chips and a few slurps of a fizzy water over the course of the day. Hunger (along with dizziness and a rather lethargic feeling) makes planning a “real” meal at the end of the day a mountain to climb. Time to at least pretend to be an adult and start eating meals during the day.

Oh joy. I do SO love being mature.

* The really embarrassing part of this is, the Prime Geek's father is an executive chef and I grew up a food snob. We really do know better.

** Sadly, I really do seem incapable of remembering this basic human fact. I have a slight heart "issue" that can cause me to get dizzy at the best if times, going without food just guarentees at some point I'm going down, usually at the most embarrassing moment. Chalk in the fact that at 6' something, I run the risk of crushing fleeing villagers in my tumble and it can get embarrassing.


Packrat said...

My advice...not that you asked for it :-) ...is to cook a large enough evening meal that you can eat leftovers midday or cook a large pot of soup on the weekend and just have a cup of it.

I get lazy and want to eat out, too. Just because I am tired...lol. We're really working on doing better because of the health issues and the cost. Boy does it add up to eat out. (on the scales and the bank statement)

oonagh said...

i'm really bad at lunch myself....i've discovered that having healthy munchies around the house makes it easier.....keeping things like good bread, snackable veggies, cheese stix, decent leftovers, and other things like that make it easier for food to actually get into my body......cause otherwise, it's 5pm (we eat at 6!) and i'm starving.....and then the choice is to either snack and ruin dinner, or not and starve.....
good luck with it!! i'm off to deal with b-day brownies.....

Chile said...

Oh my gosh, I could have written this! Well, without the meaty parts. Heh.

I think my summer/fall huge food preservation binge burned me out in the kitchen. Lots of trouble getting back into actual planning. And lunch? Half the time, I eat it around 2:30 pm. Hubby gets home, wanting dinner around 5:30ish because he ate his lunch at 11 am! 'Course I'm not hungry and can't even think about food, much less what to make for dinner.

Solution? He snacks and we eat around 7 pm. This has been the winter of soups. They are very easy to make and, as packrat said, can be made in large quantities. Even with meat, it would still be fast. Just brown the meat with the onions at the beginning.

Shortcuts include grilling veggies while the meat/onion is browning and adding boiling stock instead of cold.

Good luck!