Once again, I managed to keep us out of restaurants and stores on Sunday, but it took some mental gymnastics.
I had planned roast beef for Sunday's meal, but I didn't think to check my stockpile of ingredients I typically pour over a roast when it goes in the slower cooker.
Early yesterday morning, I pulled the beef from the refrigerator and set up the crockpot. All the while, I was mentally congratulating myself for having planned ahead.
I then reached in the pantry for a can of cream of mushroom soup and pulled out...nothing.
In my head, I heard my own big lecture about making foods from scratch, as my hands groped vainly for a can of soup in the empty spot where it wasn't. To be honest, it had been a while (a long while) since I made a roast without relying on the tried-and-true canned mushroom soup and powdered onion soup mix blend to smother it and keep it moist while cooking.
In my near-panic, I remembered I had ordered some roast beef seasoning from Penzys. And my mind began a quick inventory. Onions, check. Celery, check. Carrots, check. Garlic, check. Mushrooms, check. But I was still at a loss for a liquid. Until I reached in the refrigerator for the vegetables, and remembered I had a large tub of beef base just sitting in there, waiting to be mixed with some water and used.
I seared the roast, sprinkled it with seasoning, piled the vegetables in the bottom of the crockpot, placed the roast on top, then covered it with mushrooms and some minced garlic, then poured a cup of beef stock over the top. Mission accomplished, and a lesson learned about keeping fresh ingredients on hand. Maybe I can even "can the can" and stop relying on condensed soup, one recipe at a time. (Canned cream soups are a handy "binder" in a lot of recipes, but as yesterday's exercise proved, they aren't necessary - especially if I keep stock and vegetables on hand.)
I didn't have any green vegetables (gasp), so we carbed our way through lunch with sides of Dijon-crusted roast potatoes and macaroni and cheese (made with a different shape because...you guessed it, we were out of elbow mac.)
Just three weeks into this experiment, it is already becoming easier and more natural to plan ahead for Sunday, so we're not left at loose ends when we leave church. It takes effort to be creative and flexible when something isn't on hand, and it will take some convincing for our children to completely warm up to this idea. Years of routinely eating out for lunch (and often dinner) on Sundays is deeply etched into our family's instincts.
But I think we'll succeed. And on another positive note, I managed to get us through a full 7 days with only one trip to the store. This week's shopping trip will be a doozy, but it was nice to make it an entire week without an emergency raid on the grocery store.