Recently, a Facebook friend bared her soul about something. She has two kids, see, and a busy job, and between the job and taking one kid to band practice and another to cheerleading practice it just got hectic, and so, she hit up a McDonald’s Drive-Thru window rather than making dinner. “Vegetables and salad tomorrow, I promise,” she wailed. I indulged in a little of the kind of talking-trash that only the single and childless can get away with and say that I’ve never had to do that, and wouldn’t dream of such a thing, tsk tsk…
But then I was wondering – how true is that, really? I mean, I do tend to avoid fast food, but could I really say I make all my own meals? No matter what?
So I’m gonna try to earn that smugness, with something I’m calling the “Make My Menu Month” challenge. Which means: for the entire month of June, I will be making all of my own meals myself. All three meals, every day, for the whole month. No TV dinners, no takeout, no nibbles at a restaurant – basically, if I have to pay someone else to prepare the meal for me, it’s off limits.
Okay, I am allowing myself a couple of very specific exceptions:
- If I’m spending the day at a museum or public garden that won’t let you smuggle food in. If I’m at the Botanic Garden for the afternoon, I’m not going to go all the way home just to make myself a sandwich and then go back. But by the same token, if I am going somewhere that will let you bring food, I gotta pack it.
- If I’m out on with friends and that involves food. A bunch of friends saying “hey, let’s go get Thai food” is always going to win.
- If I’m on a date. Yeah, I could cook for the guy myself, but that’s a particular talent I like saving for later.
- I’m also allowing myself no more than two lazy brunches at the place on the corner. I’m also going to be getting a scoop if I’m anywhere near Ample Hills ice cream but that’s not a meal anyway and it totally doesn’t count so shut up.
Other than that, it’s all on me – breakfast at home before work, brown-bagging it to lunch, and actually preparing a complete meal for dinner, every night, for the whole month.
To be fair, this actually isn’t too far off from how I eat anyway. In summer I have a habit of stocking the fridge with big bowls of different salads, precisely so that dinner becomes a matter of just grabbing a little each of a couple options and dishing them up – they’re cold, they’re tasty, they require no thought, perfect. If I want something with more heft, I’ll roast a chicken leg or something. And the same bowls feed the lunchbox I take to work. Plus in mid-June, my roommate will be taking off for a concert gig in California and will be gone for a month and a half, leaving the whole fridge at my disposal – all the more room to stock up. And my CSA will also be starting up the first weekend of June – and it’s probably going to be way easier to always make myself good food when I’ve got several pounds of fresh produce dropping through the window every week. And yeah, I’m also aware that cooking only for me, as opposed cooking for me-plus-husband-plus-a-couple-tweens-maybe puts me at a definite advantage.
But….I do sometimes fall off the meal wagon. Sometimes it’s just plain easier to get a sandwich from the Pret a Manger in my office’s lobby or get a street cart hot dog or something; making all my own meals, even the snacks, is going to be a commitment.
But that’s it – I’m still going to. If for no other reason than bragging rights.
So starting June 1st, it’s on. I’ll check back in with progress every so often.