Setting Stupid Goals

So, I set a goal for this month to cook everything from scratch for one week.  This has turned out to be really stupid goal.

It sounded OK when I wrote it down.  Yeah, just don’t eat chicken fingers or canned soups! Easy!

Then I start planning and I realized that we use a lot of convenience food, as well as the fact that I didn’t define the boundaries of “cooking from scratch” very well.

Do crackers count?  Who makes crackers from scratch?  What about cereal? Can we buy pre-sliced steak strips for our burritos, or do we have to buy actual steaks and cut them down (this is not hard, by the way)?  And what about chicken stock, or pasta, or hot chocolate with marshmallows? Can we not go out to eat at all?

Every time I had to question whether or not I could use pre-chopped nuts in homemade granola or if I could drink a beer with dinner, I wanted the answer to be, “this is OK.” My having an opinion, however, meant that the answer was suspect.  Of course it’s OK, because otherwise I have to try again tomorrow!

This is actually why I do very well with money and with engineering.  Numbers don’t lie, and they’re rarely vague.  If I spend $100 on a trip, that’s $100 that doesn’t go to savings.  Steel is stronger than bubblegum.


Of course, as Stacking Pennies noted earlier this year, you really should set goals you care about.  Maybe that was my problem all along.

8 Responses

  1. My idea of ‘from scratch’ is more of buying ingredients and putting together a meal, but not necessarily having to make every ingredient like chicken stock from scratch.

    Pre-chopped steak sounds good only if it’s the same price as the un-chopped steaks, and if chopped nuts are more expensive, then I just buy the whole nuts and chop them.

    If not, it starts to get to the point where you think: should I grow these tomatoes or buy them? and so on

    • I think your last sentence nails it – I kept tracing these things further back towards the base ingredients, and finding that, yes, this is a convenience. And then I felt inadequate, even though we already cook mostly from scratch.

  2. Cooking from scratch is a noble goal, but when I’m busy, I don’t know what I’d do without cereal, frozen TJ’s waffles, or at the very least, tortillas to make some wraps. And I’m not making my own tortillas. Or beer. And yeah, where do you draw the line. It probably would have been easier to say “no X”, where x is the type of convenience foods you were trying to avoid.

    • Yeah, I think I didn’t really define it well. I was thinking it would be different from what we usually do, but – excluding our penchant for frozen chicken nuggets – I think we mostly cook from scratch anyway!

  3. The goal of cooking from scratch is to eat better food, with less preservatives, hopefully cheaper (at least for us). That means if sliced mushrooms are on sale I use those instead of whole mushrooms, just make taste and health decisions part of the process, getting away from processed foods takes a bit of time to change the mindset and get used to eating your own food that doesn’t come on its own plate:) As for beer – I have looked into it. I cannot make most of the beers on the market for what they sell them at. Brewing is something you do because you want to put your stamp on it. Enjoy certain prepared foods because I promise you do not have time to grow all of your own food, butcher your own animals, make your own cheese ect. For those products enjoy what others make and maybe focus on buying more fresh, local food.

    • What you’ve described is pretty much what we already do. No, we’re not making our own pasta sauce or cutting down our own chicken, but for the most part, we cook meals from things that my great-grandmother would have recognized as food. I think that, in my mind, I thought we’d be doing stuff like making our own bread, when that’s not even practical for us at this point.

      Thanks for piping up, though, a lot of the comments are making me feel much better about what I was going to call a failure!

  4. I always cook from scratch but I don’t go all extreme about it. If I use a ready made sauce but the rest of the meal is from scratch then I am happy enough 🙂

    • Yeah, I think I did a bad job with drawing the line. I didn’t want to be extreme, but I’m realizing that a lot of what we’re doing is cooking from scratch. It’s not like I’m going to make my own tortilla chips, but in my mind, that didn’t count as “from scratch.”

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