I confess……I did it.
I threw out over 3 pounds of ground beef today.
After agonizing for at least a half hour, re-reading information about food safety (which I pretty much had already committed to memory) in hopes of finding one decent shred of information to convince me that it was safe, and realizing how ridiculous it was to feel so emotional about a simple kitchen decision…..I just threw over 3 pounds of ground beef in the trash.
It was one of those times where the busyness of life kept pushing me to put off cooking the beef until the next day, then another day, and then another one…..until finally today when I got my courage up to look at the “sell by” date. It was already past the standard information about cooking ground beef after only 1-2 days in the fridge.
In the end, I just couldn’t take the risk. It wasn’t as obvious as the time I burnt the hot-dogs to a crisp. Even though I still think if I had cooked it well enough we probably would have been fine, the risk of four of us throwing up with food poisoning was just too great a consequence to chance.
I’m being a bit transparent here, but when push comes to shove, and for whatever reason I find myself in that place of having once again to decide whether or not cooking and consuming some food or meat is safe for my family, I hate it. I find this to be one of the most difficult life decisions that comes around now and again.
It feels like some kind of a failure.
You see, I pride myself in not wasting, whether it be food, money or other stuff. It’s important to me to be a good steward of all I own or am given charge of, so yes, it really bothers me to throw out food. I have at least one grandparent who taught me to not waste a thing. Actually, I learned from all of my grandparents who went through times when money was tight.
These stories, along with how simply finding an orange in their Christmas stockings was a rare treat, how they made do with, re-used, and foraged, the ways that they toiled over gardens, canning and cooking, and cleaning really impacted me. When I hear of how they scrimped and saved so that not only was their family provided for, but we even benefited years later as children and grandchildren, it’s made me really dislike wasting food.
When I was a teacher’s aide, one teacher friend of mine used to compliment my skills in being able to save, make do with, or “fudge it” with whatever materials we had on hand, and it made me feel good.
One of the very purposes of writing this blog is to help others by sharing how I make do with what I have, thus saving time and/or money and minimizing waste. I like to use produce (like bananas), stale bread, and leftovers and make something good to eat out of them, as well as help us to preserve the food we buy, so throwing food out is always painful to me.
Now you may be thinking by now that I should get a life, that obviously I have things too good or that I should hang around some people going through something really difficult, and on one hand you’re right. I have gone through my share of life’s difficulties, although I’m thankful they haven’t been “worse” (on the imaginary scale we all have in our hearts and minds of situations that we deem “awful”).
But in reality, sometimes it’s the day to day “little” things that can be really hard for us.
In my fifty-one plus years of living, I have often felt more successful in making some really hard decisions or in my mature response to a really difficult situation than how I’ve sometimes handled the seemingly petty ones that surreptitiously plague me on a regular day.
It’s just that I spend time scrimping and saving in little ways (that I believe add up in the end), and so a “big” waste like this seems to devalue some of the time and energy I’ve spent on smaller things.
The final straw today was when I figured out how much time and emotional energy I was spending on what should have been a day off. I decided then and there that I was worth more than three pounds or so of meat.
One of the lessons I’ve never forgotten was lovingly presented by my sister when she was here with her family for a visit some years ago. I’m not sure if she even realizes that I still remember and think about what she said. I must have been stressing over rinsing out a salad dressing bottle for recycling; the one little thing that at that busy moment was emotionally pushing me over the edge, when she said something to me.
She told me that I was worth more than a dirty salad dressing bottle.
Sounds simple enough, but how often have we let guilt, pressure or what others think about us dictate our doing that one more thing that ultimately in the end was really less important than our health and well-being? I know I’m guilty of this. I naturally tend to be a people pleaser, and on top of that, I can be my own worst critic and put undue pressure on myself.
While I certainly believe in and normally practice recycling, reusing and generally not wasting, there are times where I need to make the simple choice to prioritize myself over an inanimate object.
It may sound stupid, but I see myself and many women striving or tormenting ourselves over things that may be important, but are much less important than us.
There are times when throwing something out or letting it go to waste is actually the right thing to do.
I may or may not have actually shed a few tears about my decision today, but if I did, it’s because I had come to the end of my emotional rope with just a few too many responsibilities weighing me down lately. Thankfully, life is actually going well right now, but there has just been a lot going on with many changes and the usual challenges. And I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and behind lately, especially since I lost several months of use of one hand when I cut my finger tendon.
So today was a day I needed to let myself off of the hook.
My dear husband came to my rescue by offering to take me out to dinner. We decided instead to stay at home and order some food to enjoy here, since I may have had puffy eyes and not enough energy to get myself looking decent enough for enjoying time in public. It’s rainy and very humid, so a bad hair day, too.
So I accepted his gracious offer and enjoyed sitting comfortably beside him thankfully enjoying our dinner made by someone else. We watched a couple of television shows and just chilled.
After dinner, I did a couple of things to get ready for another busy week. I took a frozen turkey out of my freezer (which needs desperately to be defrosted later this week), in hopes that I will be more successful in getting to cook that meat.
I now feel I may just have the strength to do this week better because I took some time to care for myself.
And I am worth it.
Here are some simple ways you can prioritize care for yourself:
- Stop and breathe or stretch.
- Take a walk or get some exercise.
- Enjoy a warm (or cold) drink.
- Let it go!
- Do something fun.
- Listen to music.
- Take a nap or go to bed early.
- Leave it to someone else.
- Do it later.
- Settle for “good enough”.
- Spend some time with someone you love.
- Have some “alone” time.
- Take a warm bath or a cool shower.
- Simplify your responsibility.
- Ask for help.
Although these are just some quick ideas I came up with, I’ve written in more detail about ways we can care for ourselves when we’re feeling run-down or our emotions are frazzled.
We all need to realize when enough is enough. Sometimes we may need more help or even the counsel or advice of a professional.
Most of the time we just need to cut ourselves some slack, and prioritize our own care.
Then we can have the renewed strength to be our best for God and others.