Confessions of a control freak.
I’m a good cook. I’m pretty good at improvising, planning, using the resources I have, copying something I have eaten before, cooking healthy meals. Mostly they turn out yummy, sometimes they burn. I have this thing though….
I hate waste… This isn’t the usual, healthy type of disliking waste that benefits most people and prevents them from wasting money on uneaten food. No, this is borderline (maybe full-blown, IDK) obsessive. Whenever I go shopping, even if I buy exactly what I planned, I have this anxious conversation with myself on repeat for days after. “What if we don’t eat the sandwich meat in time? I did just make a roast… it will take two days to finish that, then I have leftover stir-fry… so three days… oh, and Gary was going to eat out with a friend on Thursday… My God Woman, the meat will go bad!! What were you thinking buying half a pound?!?!”
Last night was a common occurrence. I laid in bed, finally ready to go to sleep, but then one particularly nosey and ruthless little woman who lives in my head decided to get up and float to my kitchen, like she does on so many nights. She opened my fridge, like she owns the place, and in a dramatic voice laments, “OH THE TABBOULEH!!! You made too much. There is no way you can eat that much tabbouleh… why did you think you needed a gallon of tabbouleh? You don’t even know if Gary likes tabbouleh!!!” Anguished by the excess of tabbouleh in my fridge, she told me, “You’ll just have to eat nothing but tabbouleh for the next three days” I nod my head in agreement and resign myself to my fate…. Plan out how I will make tabbouleh into meals. “Tabbouleh and eggs, tabbouleh and chicken, tabbouleh and lentils”
“Oh and those lentils!!!” my visitor loudly interrupted. “Burned the garlic a bit, didn’t you? They taste a bit charred… you gotta learn how to turn the fire down!”
“Well, I learn from my mistak…” I try to defend myself, but she cuts me off.
“Yeah, well, this mistake happens too often… I don’t think Gary will like those lentils.” She goes on to rummage through the rest of my fridge, freezer and cabinets. My mind’s eye can see each and every item in my kitchen… the bucket of tabbouleh, the turkey in the freezer that might be getting freezer burned, the nuts in the cabinet… do nuts go stale? I plan out how I might use them. “Cook this, eat that, make this…. I’m getting stuffed just thinking about it… too much food!!”
Pause: to give some context… I have a normal to low amount of food in my kitchen. It is actually way less stuffed than most American kitchens… I can see the back walls of my fridge, freezer and cabinets very easily…. But like I said, this inner woman is ruthless.
I finally manage to lose focus on all her remorseful chatter and fade into sleep.
I wake up… it’s still dark out… my judgy little visitor did not fall asleep, she picks up right where she left off. “Tabbouleh for breakfast, tabbouleh for lunch, tabbouleh for dinner.” It’s 5:30 AM and all I can think about is tabbouleh. Gary kisses me as I lay in bed and gets ready to leave for work. I remind him to take the lunch I packed, like I have, half-asleep, every morning for the past two years. I wonder if he likes tabbouleh.
Tell me, is this normal? Does anyone else obsess over the thought of wasting food like this?
With the tabbouleh incident, I was able to laugh it off a bit and see how ridiculous I was being, but in all honestly, if I ever have to throw out food, it hurts me to my core and I beat myself up about it for weeks after. I mourn every piece of chicken that ever went bad in my fridge. Lol!
As I thought through this obsession, I started to realize I think the reason it bothers me so much is because I find some of my self-worth in my ability to cook, organize, be resourceful, and not waste. I think this is an area I need to learn to let go. My worth is not tied to my kitchen. I can make mistakes, learn from them, and move on… now if only I can convince that judgy woman living in my head!