After nearly 17 years of schooling, 3 years of on-the-job training, I was ill prepared for the vast knowledge I would gain in the last 3 months: I have finally moved out of my parents' house and am living on my own. My biggest worry: How on earth am I going to feed myself?
At home, I relied on my dad's AMAZING culinary creations (he and mom would watch America's Test Kitchen like Grandmother Willow would watch her soaps). When he was not around, it was Mac&Cheese and whatever fast food we were feeling at that time. Granted, when armed with a recipe, I can make a mean cheesecake. Yet I conned mom and dad to front the money for supplies. Now that I am expected to solely provide for everything I want/need, it scares the crap out of me.
My first week in my new place, I ate leftover potstickers every night. After paying my first rent, I had very little money to my name. Luckily I only had to last 10 days before my next paycheck. Once that check came through, I went....GROCERY SHOPPING! Thanks to a friend, I was able to buy everything at the commissary on a military base for a pretty low price. After spending 180 bucks, I had a fully stocked fridge and pantry. Potatoes up in the cupboard, veggies in the drawer, bread on the shelf. That night, I cooked an amazing spaghetti dinner.
Score: Caitland-1 ; Life-0
Throughout the next week or so, I cooked steaks, mashed my own potatoes, even started making salads (a true feat for one whose dietary habit has been likened to a 6-year old's). I got this independence thing down! Or, so I thought..... I was able to keep up my healthy adult routine for about a month and a half. Then I resorted to the typical American way of life: 1-step cooking. Between P. F. Chang's beef and broccoli and Ling Ling's potstickers (I admit, I'm addicted to the dipping sauce), the party size bags of M&M's and gummi jet fighters, I was emptying my wallet and veritably killing my ultimate plan to eat like a good grown-up.
I woke up one day with that realization and decided to fix it. I began cooking again. I went into the cupboard above the refrigerator, in order to get an onion to caramelize. I had to take out the bag of potatoes to reach the onion bag (I plan on purchasing a step-stool in the near future). As I pulled it out, a bit of fluid poured from the bag. Talk about gross. The potatoes had gone beyond the point of "bad."
Caitland-1 ; Life-1
After thoroughly cleaning up and disinfecting the rather smelly mess, I learned a valuable lesson: At home, I took expiration dates for granted. Mom and dad either used the food before it perished or tossed it as soon as a blemish appeared. If I'm to keep up my independence (and out-score Life), I can no longer abide my the adage "Out of sight, out of mind." Simply because something is out of my reach (way up high in that cupboard) and is saved from the scolding oil bath, does not extend it's shelf-life. Thanks Life, for teaching me that the hard way.
Then again, the hardest lessons stay with you the longest.