Letting “Good” Beat “Perfect,” Kitchen Edition

They say that “perfect is the enemy of good.” I am applying that wisdom when it comes to cooking healthy, budget-friendly meals for my family this week.

I’ve decided to add a couple more habits to my habit list. One of these habits is cooking a beans and rice dish 6 times by the end of the year (roughly once per week). (If you have a favorite beans and rice recipe, please drop me a link!)

This probably seems like a pretty random habit goal to work on. I chose this habit because it seems like it could help us reduce our grocery spending, which will help make our savings goals easier.

Personally, I feel better with more protein-heavy meals, which makes sense because I enjoy lifting heavy barbells in my free time. However…..I’m not the only person in my house.  My husband doesn’t share my love for lifting heavy stuff and he’ll basically eat anything. Plus, he often struggles with finding filling food to pack for lunch, so he appreciates things like big pots of beans and rice in the fridge.

As far as for myself – though it might not be main dish material for me at every meal, I can still enjoy it as a side dish.

I’ve already checked off one pot of rice and beans on my habit spreadsheet (and was able to include some veggies from our CSA share in the pot!). And it pretty much went as expected. My husband and kiddo are devouring it. I’m less enthusiastic, but hey….if 2 out of 3 eaters in our home are going to enjoy a cheap, healthy dish, then I can happily make it for them to take pressure off the grocery budget.

Anyway, I had been thinking about incorporating more bean dishes into our rotation for a while, but never seemed to be able to do it. I kept buying bags of dried beans, and not using them nearly as often as I wanted to. What got me inspired to try this again was a post on Frugalwoods: Our Epically Frugal Lunch Recipe.  According to the Frugalwoods, the recipe cost 39 cents per serving…..and that is with using canned beans.

Canned beans. CANNED beans. Not dry beans, soaked and cooked at home….which would undoubtedly make the recipe even cheaper. Canned beans.

It sounds pretty silly, but it hadn’t occurred to me to use canned beans. Dried beans are much cheaper. They taste better. I cooked extensively with dried beans during my co-op days in college.

But hey…..sometimes perfect is the enemy of good, right? So I stocked up on cans of beans on my last Trader Joe’s trip. And they will get used in meals, without thoughts of whether I could be spending less. Even with canned beans, beans and rice is a very cheap meal. And even if only 2 out of 3 of us love it….that’s still two thirds of the eaters in our house. Not perfect, but pretty good!!

Another culinary area where perfect is the enemy of good: I think we can all agree that roasted vegetables almost always taste like perfection. Roasting veggies, and then adding to soups and sauces….amazing. I have a friend who is always cooking AMAZING things with her CSA share and it often involves roasting the vegetables and fruits. Ever since I tasted her roasted applesauce, I’ve been wanting to make it myself.

Yes. Roasted applesauce. She roasts the apples in the oven with cinnamon. Then cooks them down in the crockpot and purees them with spices. The flavor is unbelievably out of this world amazing. I cannot say enough good things about this roasted applesauce.

I took home a bushel of apples last Wednesday and have been thinking about making roasted applesauce for days.

But, I’ve come down with a sinus infection. I feel like garbage. My husband works hard enough on keeping the kitchen clean, and the thought of adding more steps and pans to watch has had me putting off the making of this amazing roasted applesauce.

So, I realized that perfect was the enemy of good. I cut up the apples and put them straight into the crockpots. There won’t be any roasting today. And that’s okay. Applesauce is still pretty damn good. Even if roasted applesauce is perfection, that doesn’t make not-roasted applesauce any less good.

Then I got to thinking that I should cook the buttercup squashes that were sitting on my shelf. I had a couple recipes in mind that will use squash puree. Ordinarily, I would roast the squash. But again….the pots and pans. Couldn’t bring myself to do it. I know that parchment paper would make the pan washing easy, but I don’t currently have any in the house.

So instead of throwing in the towel, I put up a couple pots of water to steam. The squash steamed on the stovetop. The resulting puree won’t taste as perfect as if it were roasted, but it will still taste good. And moreover, it will have been used instead of spoiled and wasted.

In a time when many moms are feeling pressure to be excellent cooks for their families, it’s often helpful to remember that we don’t have to be excellent. Just “good” is good! Hell, even “we ate something and didn’t starve” is excellent! Sometimes this is hard for me, in particular, to remember, because I was known as an excellent cook for the last 14 years of my life. I took such pride in the dishes I cooked. I need to remember now that cooking for one’s family is not an all-or-nothing proposition. It doesn’t have to be amazing or nothing at all. My parents did not enjoy cooking at all, and yet somehow we survived. My family will survive if I used canned beans, and steamed vegetables instead of roasted ones. Good can certainly hold it’s own in the fight against Perfect, if we allow it to.





3 thoughts on “Letting “Good” Beat “Perfect,” Kitchen Edition

  1. Pingback: How to Set a Sustainable Habit Goal This Year: Part III | Power, Peace, and the Porch Gym

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