No matter what plans you have, kids or no kids, they almost always revolve around food. Food sustains us, but it also holds so much more. Comfort food is called that for a reason. Comfort food contains the five senses within it plus a sixth: memory.
When I’m eating sweet potatoes slathered in butter – real butter, stick butter, not spreadable canola, but real, all I can think of is sitting up in my parents’ bed, sick, and this was my medicine. The sweet flesh sweeter than any candy, the soft mash letting me eat and swallow without any work or pain whatsoever. Were they sweet potatoes or yams? How was I supposed to know?! I was 11 or something. It was better than chicken soup, and less messy in bed besides. Then, drifting off to sleep with the empty plate still on my lap. Empty because the potato skin is just as yummy as the rest of it. It was the one little kid yuck that I didn’t mind; eating the potato skins long before potato skins became its own food group.
I mentioned last week that my mini-retreat week revolved around writing as well as my spirit and a little bit of history. I have always loved history. Family vacations included Colonial Williamsburg, the Gettysburg Battlefields, St. Augustine and the Fountain of Youth, Niagara Falls, the Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian, and the Statue of Liberty. among so many others. Actually, now that I’m remembering it, the natural history museum was a school field trip when I was in a NYC elementary school, and the Smithsonian was with my husband and then again with my son. So the history from those childhood vacations and trips stayed with me. I studied history for a short time in college, but that quickly faded into politics, which also faded.
In fact, one of the things I continue to collect on trips are the recreated chapbooks of historical books like children’s games, cookbooks, maps, and the like. I also have an attachment for finding replica money from revolutionary and civil war times. And of course, adding to my pin collection.
But I digress.
On family vacations south, I remember being piled in the back seat with two siblings and pounds and pounds of oranges from Florida. For awhile the three of us hated the smell of oranges. And who can’t remember those immortal words whining from the back, “Are we there yet?”
“I’m hungry” which was code for I’m bored.
“I have to go to the bathroom” which was code for I’m bored.
“Are we there yet? I have to go to the bathroom and I’m hungry.” We didn’t have hangry back then so we had to be content with expressing our hunger several times over.
There must always be a food plan.
Will we eat before we go? On the way?
Will we bring food along – a picnic perhaps or just a few snacks and a couple bottles of water?
Will we eat at our destination or as part of our day?
These are not only questions from children, but I have them as well. I need to know just as much as my childhood self needed to know. I had wanted to plan this week well into the minutia, but things kept getting in the way. I mentioned my son’s car, which seems to be working just fine now. That is good for everyone.
If I leave my house to write and I plan on buying food, I feel as though I must stay in the place writing for a longish time. It must be worth the money I pay for the food in the output of my words. Not necessarily a word count, but I can usually tell if I’ve accomplished something.
For example, last Wednesday, I managed to add to my list of photos that must be taken for a soon-to-be project.
I talked to two strangers that day – one to tell them about the toilet paper situation and the other to ask for his table since he was packing up. This new Starbucks (and the other new ones I’ve seen) have elevated tables. I hate elevated tables. I’m short enough; I don’t need the reminder that I can barely climb up and usually trip as I try to climb down. Social anxiety at its worst. However, when I’m in writer mode, I am a different person. I’m still a wife and mother, but I am a writer and that makes me invincible.
It also makes me tangential.
I thought we were talking about food.
Breakfast or lunch, but not both, and a snack. Starbucks has a special brown bag lunch for $8 that I’m thinking of buying for myself for a meal for later in the week. Thursday is the day that will be non-stop (hear those words in the voice of Leslie Odom, Jr. It sounds better.) It includes a lunch item, snack item, sweet item, and a bottled water, no substitutions. I don’t know the actual cost savings but it is obviously a good deal and it comes in a brown paper bag. $8 is also cheaper than my breakfast which I pictured on my Instagram.
Things to think about:
Small coolers or a lunch box is a good idea to keep in the car during these hot days. Even on a cool spring day like last week the car will be too hot for perishable food.
Good traveling snacks are pretzels, cheerios or other dry cereal, hard candy for a dry throat.
Water instead of sugared drinks is always a better choice. Not only is it healthier, the sugared drinks will continue to make you thirsty, and while it’s not the greatest warm, water can still be had if it’s not refrigerated.
If you’re going to buy lunch, whether it’s a drive-thru fast food place, Starbucks, or convenience store, save some of the overpriced cost by bringing your own drink. When my son was a preschooler, we used to go to the mall to get cool. I’d bring drinks for the two of us, and we’d share a slice of pizza for $1. It was a great deal and he never asked for anything to eat since he knew we’d be having pizza for lunch.
As with everything, planning ahead saves time and money and hopefully will curb the voices in your head asking what time lunch is?
What’s your favorite brown bag lunch? Tell me in the comments.