I am not a cook. By this, I mean I rarely cook and, when I do cook, it rarely tastes good. This reality, combined with the ever-changing picky eating habits of my young children and the fact that my husband also hates to cook, has turned our family into a frozen-foods family. I may not be able to cook, but I can thaw. And thanks to my good friend Marie Callender, this is all I typically do.
In a week, my family will be taking off in our RV for an undetermined amount of time. Preparing our home for the renters has been, for the most part, a boring and exhausting project, complete with finding missing socks, naughty children's hidden candy wrappers, and the occasional $10 bill in the unlikeliest of places. Moving is a joyless process.
Moving out of our kitchen, however, has been, well, interesting.
It turns out that even those of us who live solely on frozen meals can fill a cupboard with food that I'm not even sure qualifies as food. Who uses this stuff? Chickpeas? Lentils? Sardines? What in the world is tomato paste? Was that purchased for a child's art project?
Our having a jampacked cupboard raises the question, Who bought this stuff? There are four cans of diced carrots, and I hate carrots. Did I suffer from acute hunger pangs one time and simply empty an entire aisle into my cart? Was I ill? Did I experience temporary memory loss and forget who I was during a shopping spree? Most certainly, the items filling my cupboard are known and used by most people. Surely, nearly everyone reading this would tell me that the proper use of tomato paste has more to do with cuisine than gluing Popsicle sticks together (though, in my defense, Popsicles are food), but I am not that person. Why did I purchase these items?
In an effort to get ready for our move and in an attempt to save money, we decided it was high time to eat through our long-sitting cupboard stash. (Recently, we've only gone to the market for milk and fresh fruit.) And, I'll have you know, it has led to some quasi-acceptable meals.
The kidney beans with vinegar, onion straws and pickled jalapenos were surprisingly edible, if not exactly enjoyable. The kids were not fans, but in all fairness, unless I can mash meat into a dinosaur shape, they don't tend to be impressed.
The pasta wheels with peanut butter and soy sauce and canned lima beans were consumed with minimal complaint.
The tuna casserole with chickpeas, tomato paste and breadcrumbs was a disastrous failure. Our 4-year-old cried. We gave in and ordered a pizza.
Shockingly, the meal consisting of coconut cream, rice, dates, peas and sliced carrots (two cans!) was a huge success. The children asked for seconds, but we were out of coconut cream, so I tried using coffee creamer. This may not surprise you, but it did not work.