(Photo of kitchen courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Week one is pretty much in the books. I was "within my Lenten food budget" but I also didn't run out of anything important.
I did, however, have a really big realization. In short, I have "more kitchen" than most people.
I have a 4 burner full size gas cookstove with a broiler.
I have a microwave that does more than "poke and nuke."
I have a full-size deep freeze which enabled me to buy meat in bulk and the amount I'm counting off for a daily meat ration is cheaper than if I had to buy meat at the store.
I have gizmos--crock pots, blenders, etc.
I have a dishwasher that enables me to not have to wash a single dish after I've made a culinary mess, so I don't think about the extra time and energy to wash dishes or leave things sitting long enough to attract bugs.
I have a fridge big enough to store leftovers.
I'm certain the average person who has to live on this food budget wishes their family could have any of these things. I'm betting the average person who has to live on this food budget puts in more hours at difficult, manual, or mentally tedious labor, and coming home to cook and clean dishes does not find this "fun."
I'm remembering cooking wasn't "fun" for me when I had very little income. Back when my days consisted of being in class (or on the hospital floors) for hours on end, nights on call, etc., cooking was something that kept me from more important things, like studying, vegging out in front of the TV, or sleeping. Cooking was only fun when I had a little free time, and friends to share it with, play cards, yard games, etc. Cooking only became "fun" for me when I got a little income and could experiment.
When I was in Lui, South Sudan, cooking was more communal. The kitchen crew who fed us worked plenty, but they worked together, shared stories and time. In the US, we all go home to our insular little worlds, and it's pretty easy to see cooking as thankless, boring, and hindering us from spending our time on more meaningful things. The temptation is to do as little as one can to do what one has to do and be done with it. Cooking is messy, and if one doesn't want bugs, mice, rats, roaches, etc., cleaning is a must.
Wow. It's not just about the food. It's about quality of life, of which food is just a tiny part.