Saturday, January 26, 2013


For months now I've been posting about my crappy diet (coffee and Sour Patch Kids and egg sandwiches) and I think it sounds like I'm being dramatic and exaggerating the crappiness but it's the truth. I've tried to make food and failed. The only times I've really been successful have been when I am cooking for other people - dates, friends, or Cookie Monday. I can't serve up a bowl of candy for dinner, so I'm held to a different standard and end up producing real food.

Because I rarely cook, I rarely go to the grocery store anymore either. I used to go every Saturday like clockwork with a thorough meal plan and specific grocery list. I never do that anymore. This isn't depression or financial or being too busy - it's just laziness and lack of motivation.

I discussed this with friends on Twitter a few days ago. It seems that a large portion of my friends who live alone, or whose spouses are frequently out of town/deployed, also fall into this rut. Maybe not as bad as me (for sure), but suddenly popcorn bowls filled with Lucky Charms seem more appealing than a nice wintry pasta dish. It's just easier, and it's hard to cook for one person, and leftovers end up piling up, and why spend all this effort on just myself? These are all reasons my friends eat cereal and takeout.

I'm beyond that. My Lucky Charms went stale because I ran out of milk and never bought more. I have every ridiculous condiment and fancy-cooking staple: capers, Sriracha, creme fraiche, Himalayan sea salt, kalamata olives, four different kinds of peppercorns. I have containers of grains like quinoa and amaranth and couscous. I also do have some cans of beans in the basement. But I have 19 boxes of Girl Scout cookies, spread between my pantry and my stand freezer. NINETEEN. I have everything and nothing. I have all the stuff to make a good meal except for the main things, like - you know - vegetables and the stuff that makes a meal substantial.

While I've made an effort to change these behaviors, I never seem to make any progress. I realized the sadness of my situation but still kept falling into the old routine. This has been going on for several months now - beginning really around the time I decided to sell my house last summer.

BUT THEN, on Thursday, my 24 year old gentleman staged an intervention. He is a gentleman who likes beer, bacon, Cap'n Crunch, and food from gas stations. A daily food connoisseur, he is not. He had come over directly after work and was hungry, and could find literally nothing to eat. Nothing.

"Did you even eat dinner? Is this rice for show or do you ever cook it? Are your condiments for decoration? WHY DO YOU HAVE NO MILK OR BREAD? Lauren I'm poor but I feel like I need to buy you groceries because this is so sad." And thus the intervention began. And when I mentioned it on my twitter, my friends joined in. Especially Erica, who lived with me in the spring and knows my usual planning/cooking routine. She said, "You have done this for years and years so it's disorienting to see you not do it anymore."

So here we are. I was knocked out yesterday from a GI bug, but today things will be different. I will not make a meal plan this week. I also will not have Cookie Monday because I don't want to spread the plague via cookies to my coworkers. But I am going to clean out my refrigerator of expired things, and then I am going to go to the store and buy staples. And snack foods. And drinks. AND VEGETABLES. Even if it's just one of those party platters with vegetables, at least then I'll be more likely to snack. As the gentleman points out, I don't even have to cook nice meals - I just need to be able to make FOOD to EAT for MEALS. This is going to require baby steps.

My short-term goals are these:
1) Eat dinner every night. Including cereal. As long as it doesn't involve chocolate or coffee or sour patch kids.

2) Have fresh vegetables, milk, and bread in my house at all times. NOT EXPIRED, EITHER.

3) Grocery shop every weekend. Not just for the cookie-Monday ingredients.

Seems easy but this will be a struggle, but I can do this! I will monitor it here, so I apologize that my fancy ethnic concoctions will be replaced by "I had a burrito!" for a little while, but it's necessary. Thank you all for your patience :)

1 comment:

Keith Bolek said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I can definitely relate, because I too have fallen into the rut of not cooking, whether because of stress or lack of motivation. I did not eat sour patch kids or egg sandwiches. Instead, it was "chicken & rice," a really simple 10 minute recipe of baking breaded chicken and eating instant rice that is not very healthy, especially when eaten every day. Getting out of the rut is hard, but you have to look for motivation in even the smallest things ... such as an ingredient that you have never used before or a recipe that you have always wanted to do, but have not done to date. You are such a great cook. I can't wait to see you reach your short term goals and read about the meals on your blog! (BTW, a burrito is just fine, no need to apologize!)