To Make a Meal, or: ‘I Used To Buy Groceries’

posted in: Food 13
I used to buy such things. Photo: Wikipedia.


There was a time. A time when I bought groceries. A time when I made tasty dishes. A time when, at some point during the day, I thought, “Hm … What would be good for dinner tonight?”

There was a time. A time when I bought groceries. A time when I made tasty dishes. A time when I would be seeing someone special and the rhythm of the day was such that we would often have food together, and there was some point in the day when I made a meal (sometimes with the gentleman’s help, sometimes not), and maybe it was breakfast, or it was lunch, or it was dinner, but we ate it together and we said, “Hm! What a delicious homemade meal.”

There was a time. A time when I bought groceries. A time when I had time to buy groceries and make tasty dishes. I remember this time! And I wasn’t just doing beans n’ rice, either (though at this point, home-cooked beans and rice sounds as good as flaming rack of lamb.*) No, there was a time when I thought through ingredients, purchased them in person, took them home, and used them to make ambitious food. I made lobster bisque for crying out loud! I creped! I made a tagine. I made a fine kettle of fish. Grilled cheese!: Lord, I even made bread at one point. The bread was not my best work, but at least I loved him. Ha, ha. I mean, I at least I tried it.

These days? Groceries and homemade food? L-O-L, as the kids say.

No, I don’t make food anymore because I don’t go to the grocery store anymore. There’s no time to do that and I’m always in the Loop for work and appointments and school. Instead of eating home-cooked food, I just go to Pret-a-Manger.

Do you have Pret where you are? Pret’s like Panera, only French-ish. Also, the people who work at Pret-a-Manger are way surlier than they are at Panera. At least that’s true in my neighborhood. But what can I do? Pret has grab-n-go salads and soups and coffee and I’m a busy woman. I grab. And I go. Grab, go. Grabgo.

I’m happy to be a grabgo, I really am. It’s a wonderful thing to have a new job and it’s a marvelous thing to be very close to a master’s degree. My new job is sweet and my master’s is so close I can taste it, but a woman cannot live on fulfilling work and paper alone. A woman must have a meal.

The other night, Sophie and Luke came over for dinner. Nick joined us, and this was a gift; I did not expect him when I was making plans and making the menu, but it worked out, to my delight. Anyway, for the first time in months — months! — I made a real meal. The occasion called for it: My friends closed on their home. They bought a house! A real, live house. Of course, I had to make food for them, so I made food for them and I also made a gingerbread house for them. I decorated it and everything. They bought a house! What else can a friend do in such a situation?!

Sophie is a vegan, by the way, so the whole meal, including the gingerbread house, was vegan. It almost killed me.

But it was delicious. And I realized that a) I miss real food; and b) I could maybe be vegan, that’s how good everything was. Oh, and c) Did you know Skittles are vegan??

*Hang on: Did lamb meat literally on fire at your table ever sound good?

13 Responses

  1. Jeanann
    | Reply

    I made a vegan, gluten free, lactose free potaot rosemary soup to share with friends yesterday. Everyone enjoyed it even those of us who weren’t intolerant to milk products and gluten, Who knew?

  2. Jeanann
    | Reply

    ***Oops! **potato***

  3. Ginger
    | Reply

    I made cinnamon rolls from scratch this padt weekend. Pillsbury is just as nice.

  4. Ginger
    | Reply

    I made cinnamon rolls from scratch this past weekend. Pillsbury is just as nice.

  5. Cara
    | Reply

    So, in that typical way of Moms with young children who will insist on eating three full meals and endless snacks every day, I’ve recently begun to resent the amount of time I spend in the kitchen. Tomorrow I’m going to go grocery shopping and prepare our meals reminded that this is as much a gift (of both time and money) as a chore.

  6. Kerry
    | Reply

    I like cooking – I hate prepping and the washing up! But we cook, we eat really healthy food. The children were brought up on organic food and I have a veggie patch in the garden. I am luckier than a lot of people. My daughter is a vegetarian as are a few relatives so we regularly have vegetarian meals – even though there are just the two of us now. Some recipes are just too darned good. My father was a coeliac so had to adjust to making things gluten free for him. There is superb gluten free stuff on the market now though – sadly a little late for him – bread was like cardboard and the cakes were gritty in those days.
    But with all the good food what did my children choose to eat when they were older? MacDonalds, KFC and Pot Noodles. Bleh! But there is a lot to be said about eating out and that’s a treat – apart from the buckets of salt they seem to add to the food. . . which makes me think I could make this at home!

    • Mary Spriet
      | Reply

      I rarely enjoy dining out. You are right Kerry, it can be treat. But so many times the food is just mediocre and loaded with salt. Then before you know boom, $50 gone. I grocery shop twice a week, make a dinner every night (trying to keep in on the light & healthy side) But, I do wish someone could take over this chore. Because it can become a chore for me. You see I’m a Quilter…….. I have a long arm business. So, I do not want to spend anymore time that necessary grocery shopping & cooking. But, at the same time I don’t really want to spend the mega bucks it seems to take to go out. I would love someone to come & prepare all my meals for the week. That’s my answer to my problem. …… maybe someday.

  7. Ivy
    | Reply

    I’m vegan, too! Yes, go vegan! : )

  8. Anna Lapid
    | Reply

    I want to know what was on your vegan menu or what dishes you prepared.

  9. Maggie VanBrunt
    | Reply

    I remember Pret-a-Manger in London while on vacation. We’re starting to eat more of a plant based diet. Hard, but feeling better when we do. Love your writing style and reading your blog.

  10. Claire Sherman
    | Reply

    I’d love to see a photo of your gingerbread house! my kids and i love to make them.

  11. Sarah
    | Reply

    Mary, dear child; sometimes certain things have to be put on hold for a while until other things (like a Master’s degree) get done. Just keeping yourself fed under the circumstances you are currently coping with is something of a triumph. One of my quick “go tos” is a thin cut pork chop fried in a covered, easy clean pan and sweet potatoes from a can. I mash the spuds and put them in the microwave, then add butter and maybe a dash of brown sugar. The chop takes a total of 6 minutes. Add a bagged salad and you are good to go PLUS it’s tasty! And if you use a paper plate, it’s even easier.

  12. Colleen
    | Reply

    Preparing food at home is difficult with a changing schedule, you plan and buy then oops your plan changes you will not be going straight home food spoils you throw out what once was good food. It ends up being less expensive to grab and go for something’s.
    We are 2 old people with always more month than money. Our choice is to cut the food budget to be able to pay for taxes, electricity, gas, phone, medicines, etc.
    this week we had soup and salad and corn muffins. Next week will be beans with onions and tomatoes even though February is a short month we had borrowed Christmas money and money to get through January and paid to get our taxes done so it’s a every hard month for us. It’s looking like will will need to borrow to make it to the end of the month. I really thought we would be better off than we are in retirement

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