Sunday, October 7, 2018

My Shameful Chicken Tender Dinner Changed Most Everything...

Early last month, I served a chicken tender dinner that I was not proud of. I bowed my head in shame for several reasons. The biggest shame was paying for premade chicken tenders. I've been making my own for years. They're delicious. I make more than enough for lunches and leftovers. In addition, the sides I make to accompany my homemade chicken tenders are fresh and healthy.

On that particular evening, I relied on premade chicken tenders that are fried up fresh at the grocery store and frozen french fries.

That moment was a real eye-opener for me.

A few years ago, we got into a bad habit of ordering takeout several nights a week. When I say "takeout" that did not include fast food like McDonalds or Wendy's. We always ordered from a couple of local restaurants that have really good food.

It wasn't cheap.

In addition to the cost of ordering takeout several times a week, we also had the cost of buying food at the grocery store for additional dinners, lunches, breakfast, and snacks.

Our food bill for the month was ridiculous. 

After realizing how much we were spending on food per month, we made a lot of changes. Within a few months, we stopped ordering takeout. I made homecooked meals. We allowed ourselves takeout once a month.

We cut our food bill in half. 

I altered between making authentic homemade meals and snacks to relying on the store-bought versions.

For example, one month I'd make homemade pizza crust and bread. The next month, we'd be buying store-bought bread and pizza crust. Or, one month I'd make homemade pizza sauce and spaghetti sauce and the next month we'd buy store-bought.

When we were buying the store-bought stuff, I'd justify that by convincing myself that "it's not takeout so it's okay" or "it was much cheaper than takeout because it was on sale."

But, when you spend $7.99 a pound on freshly made chicken tenders solely for convenience instead of making your own when your freezer is stocked with boneless chicken breasts that were on sale for $1.69 a pound...

That's the moment when I bowed my head in shame.

I swore from that moment on I would no longer rely on convenience food regardless of how fresh they were.

I realized this was going to require additional time in the kitchen. I already spend a lot of time in the kitchen because our kids don't eat store-bought food or snacks. It's all homemade right here in our kitchen. On top of that, I make homecooked meals and snacks for us and Lisa's lunches.

Giving up the convenience of store-bought bread, sauces, pizza crust, etc. was going to add more hours per day.

But, I was okay with that.

Since then, I've crossed a lot of convenience foods off our list. We no longer buy store-bought bread, pizza crust, spaghetti or pizza sauce, marinades, pie crust, etc.

I still have a few things to cross off the list like flour tortillas, pasta, blue cheese dressing, ranch dressing, and taco seasoning, but I'm getting there.

One day at a time...

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