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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Road Food and Other Food Thoughts: Musings

It's hard to believe that it's been so long since I've posted something on Meredith's Food for Life. But those who know me well, know that I've been under the weather for the past few weeks...I'm now almost back to normal (is there such a thing?). Regardless, I have been cooking - certainly not every night (last night we had pizza) and certainly not anything exotic (two nights before we ate frozen ravioli with red-sauce), but I have been in the kitchen.

During the past few weeks, I have decided to reengaged my more parsimonious side (really, I swear!). Call it an experiment, but it feels great to set a dollar amount ahead of time and then actually stick to it - or better yet...come out under budget! My girlfriend laughed at me when I told her this (secretly I know she appreciated the tip) but I walked through the grocery store with my calculator and every item - each one - was tallied up to ensure I was going to walk out of there under budget. I was so excited that I did it again today at Costco - and it works! I had items I didn't really need and when I was reaching the limit I set without the things I actually needed, I started to put things back. I felt victorious!

Tomorrow my husband and I leave for a short but much needed vacation. We're driving to our destination so naturally we will be hungry at some point. Since it's just the two of us and I'm in the new "habit" of watching what we spend, I thought I would mention to you that packing a picnic lunch for a long car ride is a great idea. It's simple to pack a small cooler with an ice pack and a few odds and ends. And you know how tempting it is to dump everything out of the fridge before you go away so that you don't come home to a nasty science project in the bottom of the fruit drawer! So why not make good use of the things you're going to throw away - and save yourselves some money and some calories along the trip?

Eating fast food on the road can be a "treat" but once you finish the big burger with cheese and bacon along with the fries and coke, don't you feel really unhappy? I know I do...This summer we went on a long trip and in one day ate McDonald's AND Wendy's! Oh I was sick to my stomach. So our next trip we packed food and it was really fun to spread out a blanket at a nice rest stop and eat real food made at home. It saved us probably $50 by the time we were through (incidentally, we had stayed in a hotel with a small fridge and freezer so we were able to keep our stuff from spoiling for the ride home).

So here's what we're packing for our very adult car trip...

Last weekend I made a roast chicken with lemon and dill. I know I've said this before, but really it's hard to imagine Sundays without it. We ate a good portion and then carved up the rest. Tonight I made chicken salad from the left-overs and finished up the chicken and a large jar of mayo (the holidays are upon us and I need all the room in the fridge I can get!). I just chopped up the chicken with some dill before I threw it away - it was ready - and added some celery. I put it into a Ziploc bag and it's ready for the cooler.

Additionally, I had intended to make some chopped liver this past week but never got around to it. So I didn't want it to go to waste, of course (even if it was only $3 for the container), so I made it today and packed it into a disposable container for our trip. In the morning, we'll toast up the remaining slices of bread from the drawer and eat the two like pate! In addition, I'll pack the pears that would surely rot by the time we got home and a few snacks and we're all set for the road! By the way, my recipe for chopped liver is here:

I know that we are all paying close attention to what we're spending, so why not take that ideal onto the road when leaving for a trip? I'll bet you all do this already...I'm just late to the game!

...and when we return? EASTER COOKING frenzy begins! Watch for it!

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