Last night as I was driving to physical therapy I saw a sign at the Big Boy restaurant in town, it read, “Turkey dinners On Thanksgiving Day, $8.99 per person.” I thought to myself in my 5 p.m. tired fog, I am doing this wrong. Taking my son and family to dinner would cost us about $36.00, plus drinks.
A fun Thanksgiving game of dominoes with our grand daughter.
Today as I processed the idea overnight I began to realize that my special order organic 9lb. chicken at $4.00 a lb. that the chicken alone equals the monetary cost of the meal advertised on that restaurant sign. Add to that expense the cost of organic; potatoes, carrots, stuffing, Seven Superfoods Salad ingredients, corn bread, Jell-O w/ fruit (for my 6 yr. old granddaughter), two vegetables and dessert, cider, lemonade, cider and tea. And I quickly realized that for many cheap food is a real and deceptive lure.
Add to that my 2015 Thanksgiving Schedule:
Monday: Make the shopping list and grocery shop.
Tuesday: Make the Jell-O and Seven Superfoods salads and bake the pies.
Wednesday: Clean house, change tablecloth, makes the table arrangement and set the table.
Thursday: Get up early to cook the food and entertain the family.
And yet the flip side to this coin is the reality of what a home cooked meal prepared with love truly means. As life gets busier and busier, welcoming family and guests into the warmth and security of our homes for the day is becoming a lost art. But I feel it’s an art worth pursuing and keeping.
Because we use locally raised foods, we are not footing the bill for transporting ingredients across the country or around the globe. So it takes less fossil fuels (or energy) to cook a locally sourced meal at home. Studies show that it takes double the amount of energy to process, package and transport food than it does to grow it
Because we have control over what we are cooking and eating our meal will be more nutritious with less salt, additives and empty calories. Food we cook a home is just plain healthier and the cooking process itself empowers us to make heathier choices.
Cooking at home is also better for the environment as there is less food waste and fewer tossed out items like food wrappings and paper napkins and tinfoil cooking pans to enter the waste stream.
It’s a terrific way to teach introduce children to new dishes as well as about the taste, texture and pleasure of well-prepared food. This process turns the time spent together in the kitchen or dining room a family bonding experience.
The real truth is, the food I cook at home just tastes better. Once I began eating “real foods” I quickly recognized the difference between what I was now eating and the “dead food” taste of the foods in my past.
Their is also the pride I feel when I plan and cook a great meal at home and my family devours it. This is something I cannot put a price on. I know I am giving something of value to them and this is a way for me show my love for my son and granddaughter.
Because we will be using the whole chicken we have less waste. We will eat that chicken for our Thanksgiving dinner and then have leftovers to work with for the rest of the week. For us that means making a homemade chicken pot pie later on that same week, one of my husband’s all-time favorite meals
After that I will take the bones and skin and vegetable trimmings and boilthem into a rich chicken stock. This will be the perfect starting point for a pot of delicious homemade soup later on this winter.
Anything left over will end up in the compost bin and in a year or so it will be turned into wonderful soil and free fertilizer and the leftover bones and skin will be given to the chickens to peck over as a treat.
While we build the basics of a healthy from scratch meal we also build community and lifelong bonding with our loved ones. We make and keep traditions and create memories that are priceless.
The only real ingredients I need for my happy Thanksgiving are real food and my family. And I believe that cooking still matters.
Small House homesteader, Donna