Wednesday, January 14, 2009
Posted by Leila
I hope so! I hope you were at least a little surprised at what your family came up with. Why don't you share some of the things that made you think in the comments? I'd love to hear from you -- it would make my day!
The next step isn't maybe what you are thinking.
The next step is to get these menus sorted out into "Cheap" and "Not cheap". Worksheet II will explain it to you if you'd like more information -- and there are examples.
Simply think about what you would make if you had very little money to spend, and put those menus in one list. Think about what's more elegant, special, and expensive, and put those in another list. It helps to do it in a Word document and to be able to shuffle them around.
While we're thinking about how important these menus are to your life, let's just say a few words about eating out, and why your menus need to include things you would normally order in a restaurant.
Eating out (all the time, I mean) is...well, it's sort of a snare and a delusion. You think that you can afford it, but that's because you don't put it in your grocery budget. If you did, you'd be appalled.
If you charge your meals, you are probably paying for things you ate years ago! At normal credit card interest rates, if you carry a balance on your credit card, you might be paying many times what the meal originally cost you. Eating out has ruined many a family's finances. At least if you charge a chair, it isn't gone the next day!
Yet there's something so enticing about being enveloped in the warm, cozy, food-swathed environment of the restaurant. Something so appealing about letting the kids choose what they want. Something so comforting about not having to think about cooking. It makes you so happy...
But think of what you are missing. Let's leave aside the money issue. Let's even leave aside the health issue, which I think is huge. Let's only look at what we are missing when we don't interact on a daily basis at home.
Kids need to be served balanced, nutritious meals that they basically have to eat without complaining. They shouldn't have choices at a particular meal (you've already asked them their favorite menus, right? Enough!). The discipline of eating what's set before you turns your mind to other, more important issues.
Soon the whole family is discussing matters of consequence or laughing over common experiences. Soon the family is interacting and getting to know each other (including getting to know their mother and father!), which means putting up with each other. Soon the family is making decisions together and building a life together. These are priceless times, incredibly formative, and all too fleeting -- and a whole lot of them happen at the dinner table.
Someone -- and that someone is YOU -- has to make that all happen, and that means staying out of eateries unless the trip is planned, affordable, and all the more enjoyable.
You know what? I found out I could make cheese steaks (one of my favorite eat-out choices)! Guacamole! Bread sticks! Onion rings (using the deep fryer I got at a yard sale for 75 cents!) I found out my kids love my pizza! I even made a creditable stab at the eggplant salad we had at the divine La La Rokh in Boston.
We don't need no stinkin' restaurants to be happy. We will enjoy these things if we do go out, but as long as I plan well, we can also be happy right here at home!
Don't forget to tell me what you found out!