In making home cooking a priority in my life and making a budget work well, I have found it more and more necessary to simplify my kitchen and my relationship with food.
By simplifying my kitchen I mean that I try to keep it a kitchen. As opposed to having anything else there like paperwork, bills, and my computer. I want my kitchen to work for me and be ready to be used. It’s not very big. It’s the typical, slightly outdated kitchen of a small house. I keep it organized and as clean as possible. It is pretty basic and probably very similar to yours. My kitchen is what I like to call an atmosphere of success. It works for me – things I need are accessible and I’ve learned to spend time to prep certain items ahead of time. My kitchen nourishes me with more than food. It is a room that is pleasing but requires participation. My participation is part of the soul nourishing process of cooking.
What may be different about mine is that I don’t own a microwave. This is only recent, as the last house I rented came with one. I’ve just chosen not to buy one so I use steam when I reheat at home. At work I use their microwave.
There have been many times I have budgeted my groceries, and made it work. During this year I have learned a lot about my own eating habits like never before. When I’m hungry how I eat and connect with my food is different than when I feel stressed and just feel a need for something to get me to the end of the day. Stress is a huge factor in my eating habits. I carry extra weight in my stomach. I have known for years sugar is my go-to stress food. So when I feel stress I know now to steer myself to a handful of nuts or a larger portion of food without sugar. From a different angle, I would much rather buy vegetables and cheese or nuts to quell my hunger and really satisfy me than feed my stressed out self with a sugary concoction and buying more pounds of sugar. So, I try to focus on no frills good food. As whole and distinguishable as possible. By this, I mean, try not to drown food or hide it when I cook.
I try to look at food as it is in its purest form. Few brands. As little packaged food as possible. I say it this way because there are items like cheese, grains, chocolate, etc where it is impossible to get away from a brand name. But never, ever fast food or processed foods. Or any food with long a ingredient list. Also, I try as much as possible to eat in a calm non-distracting atmosphere, focusing on the food so I do make a connection with it and enjoy it to nourish my soul. Soul nourishing sounds kind of different, because there already is an emotional connection with food. There is a different more satisfying connection when food is eaten as a meal at a certain place, like at a table, without hurry, like having specific meal times to look forward to. Food and meals should not be just willy nilly – whenever and wherever.
I really don’t like to use terms like old-fashioned or back to basics. I would much rather say that I have learned a lot about reconnecting with my food and meals and it’s important. I thoroughly believe making a reconnection with our kitchens and food and meals can make a huge impact on our lives. Home cooking has to be a priority. As general and old-fashioned as it seems. If you see calico when you hear the words home cooking – change your point of view. Go into your kitchen and start to see what you can create there. It is empowering.