A healthy, eco-friendly alternative to depending on fast food restaurants in the age of travel soccer
I have four athletic kids. Three of them are on travel soccer teams. Three different teams. And one is a senior in high school who plays varsity volleyball and lacrosse. We have practices and/or games almost every day of the week in the fall. Plus school and work. Yes, we are a little crazy. But, we are also fun. We are game. Our kids are much happier when they get lots of physical activity. So we Do. It. All. When we signed up the third kid for the third travel soccer team, I had a moment of panic. I pictured us going through the dreaded tunnel under the big yellow M every night of the week due to lack of time and planning. I screamed inside. Noooooooooooo! I am organica mom. I am happy chicken, grass-fed beef, free-range eggs, and farm-fresh veggies from the lovely folks at Backbone Food Farm and Round Right Farm. I gag when forced to use styrofoam and single-use anything. I ride my bike to Farmers Market, people. I cannot drive my "Be a Localvore" bestickered soccer-mom van through the exhaust-ridden (oh how convenient!) bastions of high-calorie, low-value, too-little-love, consumeable ill health packages. (Have you seen how huge those cups of HFCS-colored acid water are getting to be???)
So, I needed to come up with a system. I woke up the next morning with a picture of a fridge full of home-cooked food that could be thrown down the gullets of the athletes as they run out the front door. Brilliant!
Container 3 (two-quart): Cooked veggies
Container 4 (four-quart): Salad greens
Breadbox: bread, muffins, and/or rolls
First, I put on the rice. Six cups of water and three cups of rice cook up to fill a four-quart bin very nicely. You might make your coffee first, but for some reason, I had the presence of mind to start the rice, then make the coffee. Someday, I'll follow my partner around the kitchen and tell you how to make the perfect cup of coffee. Today, I fended for myself.
Then I snapped the beans and put them in the steamer.
I wanted to put some protein in a bin, but I forgot about soaking the beans last night. Since I'm going away this weekend, I don't want to get into the beans or meat work. (Flexiblity is one key to happiness!) I found some split peas in the pantry. I can hide some of those little green lovelies in the rice. Well, not hide exactly, but mix in a way that prevents the children from avoiding them completely. Mwaa haaa haaaa... I was going to just throw them in with rice, but figured I should read the instructions first. I had to put my glasses on... okay... I'm fifty... whatever. Found out I needed eight cups of water for two cups of peas, so it's a good thing I didn't just throw them in with the rice. That is them on the back left burner... cooking up in all their evil greenness. This, my friends, is cooking by the seat of my pants.
Next, I sipped coffee and relished the quiet house. Then I chopped up lots of onions and about the same amount of squash. My Ethiopian kids LOVE onions. Threw in some salt, pepper, and chili pepper. Oh yeah, garlic, too. Lots of garlic. Helen is going to squeal with delight when she wakes up smelling these onions.
See how nicely they fit in the fridge?
This is a lesson in abundance. It helps heal my Ethiopian kids' food-power issues from living in a children's home for five years and not having any choices around food at all. And mine, too. My mom had a lot of rules around food, because her mom did. Cycle of food stress. I'm trying to break it. This four-bin food system is one of my tools. It works well for now.
My boys are cooking up some breakfast and they just made me a second cup of coffee. Life is Good.