Saturday, December 04, 2010

Using up Food

We are in the countdown period to our Christmas travel. One of the actions I take to prepare for travel, as a frugal householder, is to eat down our supply of perishable foods.

It creates an interesting challenge. How do we continue to eat well with this extra constraint? How can I use the possibly mismatched items in the fridge to create attractive and balanced meals? How can I ensure we'll finish out the period before travel at the same time as we finish off the perishables?

All in all, it adds a little more fun to cooking to be playing the game of resource management at the same time. At least, for an economically-minded strategic gamer like me.

Adding to the challenge is our ever-growing preference for fresh local foods. These are exactly the kinds of foods most likely to spoil if we leave them behind. So relying on storage foods for our last day or two would be a suboptimal solution. Eating out is also suboptimal this year, although in past years, it has been a pleasant addition to the strategy.

So, here's the game: Empty the fridge in such a way to finish off the veg and fruit the day before we fly. Extra points for especially tasty meals. Buying more before we go incurs no penalty. Leaving produce to spoil or throwing it away does cost points. Extra points also for using items from the pantry in creative ways.

Wonder how high I can score?


Monday, November 29, 2010

Thinking about Change

Yesterday I read something in the Fifth Discipline Fieldbook that, once I decoded it, helped a lot of other pieces fit together.

Here's the idea in a nutshell: Deep change only lasts when it has three supports. Those three supports are changed ideas, changed actions, and changed systems.

Let's apply this to something concrete. Lots of people go on diets hoping to change their weight. They change the way they eat (their actions) for a period, then stop, and regain the weight. In other words, they continued to think about food the same way. They probably continued to have the same food systems -- ways of shopping, time and planning of meals, who they ate with, etc. So, when the change in actions stopped, the thoughts and the systems took them back to where they used to be.

If this theory holds, then lasting change would come from not only changing what they ate, but also changing what they thought and the systems they have for obtaining food. Here's what a three-pronged change on food might look like:

Before: Food is my comfort and my enemy. After: Food is fuel that I take in enjoyable moderation.

Before: Eating high fat comfort foods when stressed. After: Eating quality fresh foods lightly when hungry.

Before: Ignoring food until hungry and then grabbing whatever's easiest. After: Planning meals in advance to sustain health.

I'm a thinker. I have used the coach tools a lot to help people change their thinking. I've been wondering if I can do more to help change actions and systems. That will probably take more support over time.

To change actions and systems sounds complicated. Yet, it happens just one step at a time. And, in the end, the new actions and systems are as easy or easier than the old ones. It is the transition that has a cost.

I like this model of change. I'll be looking for ways to put it into action and help other people put it into action, too.

May you easily move to the thoughts, actions, and systems that support you. May you ask for help when you need it.

Best wishes,