The Indian grocery that just opened up in town is giving me a renewed determination to rein in my finances by making time to prepare food on a regular basis instead of my current trend of "oh crap I hit the snooze, now I'll have to buy something on the way to work and get take-out for lunch again."
I'm a complete neophyte to Intuitive Eating as yet, but I'm just starting to get past the place where I crave everything I denied myself while dieting. My body is finally catching on that I can eat anything I want (budget willing) whenever I want, and that there's really no value judgement on food. I can feel it starting to trust me that this isn't just another breather between diets, so I don't have to hurry up and eat everything "while I still can." It will be there when I actually want it, whether that's the next day, or sometime next month. For those of you who've been doing this for a while, bear with me and try not to smirk, it's still quite a groundbreaking experiment for my personal perspective :-)
Anyway, I found these great little meals at the Indian grocery. They're foil pouches full of preservative-free vegetarian curry dishes (mostly paneer or lentil-based). I can keep a bunch in my desk drawer, bring in a bowl of rice, and have whatever I feel like for lunch as determined at lunchtime instead of the day or weekend before. Since Indian food runs the gamut of sweet, spicy, hot, mild, etc., there's a good chance that I won't be driven screaming from the office by the thought of yet another slightly soppy sandwich packed two days beforehand when I happened to have actual free time at home. I'm not somebody who can stick to a steady routine without going a little insane, so the whole "make up a bunch of meals on the weekend and split into servings" thing has never worked for me. I'll cook up something I'm craving on Sunday (provided I actually have free hours to cook on a weekend) only to be nauseatingly sick of it by Wednesday. At which point I'll throw it away and go get Chinese, blowing my restaurant budget for the week instead of saving it for when I get together with friends on the weekend.
I want to do some landscaping this summer, but the cost can only come from what I can save out of my grocery budget and whatever I can e-bay. I went cautiously crazy in this new store today and bought a week's worth of meals for about $30. They keep their prices surprisingly reasonable, which means they're actually catering to the (quite large) Hindu population in the area, rather than the yuppies. Sure, you can get pre-packaged curry lunches at Sawall's super-elitist eco store for eight bucks. I'd rather pay $1.99 and not have to cover the cost of their entire aisle of trendy exotic bottled waters. I mean, what's up with an eco-store selling plastic bottled water anyway? Even at $5 a pint? Freakin hypocrites.
(Their bulk spices are pretty good, I'll grudgingly admit. It's not like I can find mugwort at Wal-mart.)
It's strange how much easier it is to tackle my budget woes without having a diet on my plate (so to speak) at the same time. It also helps that I quit smoking before I concentrated all my energy on my spending habits. It's interesting to see how the different forms of consumption interact. I used to find that out of the three (diet, spending, smoking) I had about enough mental focus to really tackle one at a time. Which meant I could always use running out of money as a handy excuse for why my diets ultimately failed. Once I take dieting and smoking out of the picture, I might actually get my spending under control and start chipping at the credit cards.
And I didn't even think to look at calories on anything. Not by force of will, but it never even occurred to me. I went by "that looks good" and a brief scan of ingredients to eliminate anything with too much anise (yech.) How much simpler it is to not have to work to get the most bulk for a set amount of calories, but instead just think "garlic and green chilis...yep, that's perfect for the office; I won't have to talk to anyone for hours after lunch." There's the perk also of no one giving me grief for not eating in the breakroom (i.e. bumping elbows with a crowd of people going into gory details of their childrens' pooping habits and whatever sports team currently sucks.) After one sniff of green curry fresh from the microwave they might just beg me to be anti-social :-)