When Eating Real Food Gets Old

Last weekend I decided that I’d had enough of eating real food.

Well, maybe that last sentence and my title are misleading.  I never get tired of eating real food. What I really felt was annoyed and maybe overwhelmed by the planning and preparation of a real food diet.

The week before last was spent preparing to begin my new job and writing research papers, essays and taking final (essay) exams.  Last week was spent starting my new job and carting my oldest son back and forth (30+ minutes each way, depending on traffic) from soccer camp.  In between I was doing a million little things from blog work to team manager work to everyday parenting duties.

So, yes, I’m busy just like the rest of you, right?  Well, on top of all of that, I don’t have a freezer full of frozen food in boxes and bags waiting to be nuked in the microwave or heated quickly on the stovetop.  No, if we’re going to eat, I’m going to have to cook it.  From scratch.

Cooking every meal and most snacks (Thank you, God, for fresh fruit and Lara Bars.  For realz.) takes a lot of planning and preparation.  Each week I make a weekly menu for every meal and snack.  I have to think ahead for days that we’ll be away from home and plan for times when I’ll be out of the house but my family will be home.  Most weeks, when I can shop on Sunday and only leave the house one or two other days during the week, I can hold it together well.  But on really busy weeks (and we’ve had three in a row) when I’m not here to remind certain little people of their chores and when all of my “free” time is spent in the kitchen prepping, cooking and washing dishes, I ask myself if it’s really worth it.  (The answer is yes, by the way.)

Sunday morning I woke up after my first full night of sleep all week and was excited to be making soaked pancakes.  The last batch I made was amazing.  I have joked in the past that soaked grains are the lazy man’s properly prepared grains because soaking is such an easy way to make grains digestible.  However, if sprouted grains were a good use of our resources right now, I’d never soak another grain. I don’t particularly enjoy the taste of soaked grains, though I have gotten used to them and am glad to have this inexpensive way of preparing grains.

But back to the pancakes . . . last week I had chosen to purchase regular whole wheat flour instead of my favorite whole white wheat, which reminds me of the lovely texture and taste of whole wheat pastry flour.  I had forgotten how much I hate whole wheat flour and was enchanted by the price, which is a over a dollar less than the lovely whole white wheat.  I had also forgotten how I’d discovered when creating my soaked pancake recipe that making them with whole wheat was a disaster.  I won’t forget again.  I actually stopped making the pancakes halfway through (I make a quadruple batch each time) because they were turning out so . . . well . . . not tasty.  They were tough and thick and . . . blech.

Now, if you are a traditional, real food cook you know that each batch of a traditional food recipe may turn out a bit differently than the one before.  There is a wide range of normal for some dishes, but these pancakes were truly horrible.  There I stood in my kitchen, on a quiet Sunday morning, watching my children trying to politely refuse their breakfast after one taste and knowing that there was no way I was going to eat these pancakes.

I wanted to cry.  I wanted to give up.  I wanted to suggest IHOP for breakfast.  I wanted to go to the store and stroll down the inner aisles, tossing into my cart anything that looked delicious and quick and easy.  I was tired of the hassle of real food.

Instead, I pulled out the soaked muffins, of which I had prepared a double batch just for occasions like this when I have to have food quickly and easily, slathered butter on top and headed out to pick up some raw milk. At least I didn’t have to milk the cow.

I must admit that stopping by the grocery store to pick up some Lara Bars helped to take the edge off.  Oh, and the fact that we’ll be eating out for my son’s birthday this week.  That’s at least one meal for which I won’t have to plan and prep.  Sweet relief!

So, what can you do when eating real food gets old?

Give yourself some slack.
Eat a meal out.
Don’t strive for perfection.
Don’t beat yourself up if you grab convenience food.
Remember that it’s an 80/20 deal.
When you cook, make double and triple batches so that you can easily pull from your stock when you are too tired or too busy to cook.

Can you commiserate?  Let’s talk about it!  Leave a comment and then check back later this week for my tips for easing the difficulty of a busy life combined with a real food diet on a budget!

When Eating Real Food Gets Old