As a parent, I acknowledge that there are relatively few things I can actually control about my children. The limitation comes from my own desire for them to learn to chart their own course–to a certain extent–and my own sanity. One of the things I’ve chosen to focus on is food. I was a somewhat picky eater growing up and, as with many things with children, I didn’t want my kids to be that way. I also enjoy cooking, so figured I’d cook. Having three active boys and a triathlete for a husband, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Though the food thing seems to have worked out as dinner at my cousin’s house ended up with my big boys having three helpings of salad (helped along by ranch) and polishing off the broccoli.
For the last two weeks, we’ve been kept in meals through the generosity of our village here in San Antonio, and far beyond. Sandwiches, chili, soup, casserole, and gift cards have meant I haven’t done much beyond making sandwiches for lunch and pouring cereal. In triage mode, we can revert to processed carbohydrates, which I supplement heavily with fresh fruit.
After getting our feet under us in the in-between house, though, I knew it was time to start restocking. I also wanted to restock. Because I’m committed to this food thing, I’m a bit out of sorts when not cooking, even as I sometimes grumble at my four hour Sunday kitchen shift.
When things are running normally, I do a Costco run about every 3 weeks and spend about $230, mostly food and some household supplies. Carbs (cereal, pasta, oatmeal, crackers), soy milk and other dairy, fresh fruit, meats (organic sausages, sandwich meat, organic gr beef), beans and rice, and frozen food (veggies, and veggie foods like spring rolls and burritos). And, of course, the school snacks. We’re always well-stocked at home because of sales, space, and my knowledge that we may have to push off the run for a week or two, and the prices are just that much better. That means we put a fair bit of our capital into having food around the house.
That does include glasses, pillows, and Pyrex storage containers, but otherwise it is food. And I spent about $200 at HEB the next day, when $100 is our normal weekend run. Baking powder, flour, sugars, more bananas (seriously, they eat easily 10 lbs a week [I can’t stand bananas]). Now I feel like we’re settled in because I can make food, though we’ve got folks signed up to bring food through this week and more offering. Though, as I consider diving back into the cooking, I’m confronted again by what we don’t have– a vegetable peeler was the realization as I went to peel carrots for my lunch. (I’m having cucumbers instead.)
The ability to drop $800 on mostly food in a weekend is an immense privilege. Seeing the line items for food on our contents inventory (more on that next week), means I’ll actually get a fair bit of that back. The fact that we can float $800 for food is also a blessing brought to us by friends’ and families’ generosity, and our general spendthriftness. And a privilege based on our knowledge that our jobs are relatively secure, our incomes won’t fluctuate wildly in the near future, and our general creditworthiness.
This weekend’s restocking is also one of the many moments I’ve had in this whole affair where I feel, viscerally, the reality of my privilege. We have the insurance, cash, credit, and resources to buy a whole bunch of stuff–including rent for a new place to live–on short notice. So, so many families don’t have that privilege. We can even ride out the short term disaster this is wreaking on our finances, another privilege.