Occasionally Husband will jokingly remind me of the days (ah, that glorious bygone era...or whatever) back when we first met. We were both professionals, gainfully employed, supporting ourselves. While he shared a townhouse with a buddy from college--and therefore also split the grocery shopping and cooking duties--I rented my own apartment in the pricey little enclave of Bethesda. Therefore we used to trade stories about how he and his roommate would buy bagloads of food, including various kinds of meat products, and crisper-drawers-full of salad fixings, and more starchy side dishes that you could...I don't know....shake a stick at? (Although why you would choose to do that, I have no earthly idea...) Meanwhile, the single woman--who even at that time hated to cook--would often opt to dine on the ever-so-classy "bowl of cereal" for dinner.
So when we got married and I suddenly had to learn to stock a refrigerator for two people, the bill came as a bit of an...unpleasant surprise...for a while. I would come home lamenting about how much I'd spent, and he would attempt to soothe me by pointing out all the delicious, nutritious meals we were getting for our hard-earned money. If this failed to take my mind off the uncomfortably large number staring at me from the bottom of the looooong receipt, he'd default to indisputable-but-somewhat infuriating Guy Logic, nonchalantly shrugging and tossing out, "Hey, we've gotta eat, right?" Then along came the children...and the sticker shock seemed to increase exponentially. Not only did I have to buy more edibles, but I also found myself running to the store more often, to replace perishables like fruits and vegetables every few days. (Darn that healthy produce, with its delicate nature and short shelf life!)
And...the kids kept growing, of course, as they do. (Aaargh! Boys and their rapid metabolisms and endless appetites!) Now it became (what felt like) a constant shuttle between the supermarket and Costco, to try and maintain a full fridge, freezer, and pantry. Add in the extra calorie-burning from the sports they participate in, as well as the "puberty factor", and, well, you have a recipe for a couple of bottomless pits--um, "always-hungry-sons"--munching their way through mountains of food on a daily basis (that's how it appears to ME, at least, as I can practically watch the supplies disappearing before my very eyes...I swear it's like some sort of...Animal Planet documentary on the feeding habits of young, male homo sapiens in the wild....or something. Sigh...)
Then there are times like last night, when Derek texted Husband (who fortunately for me has mostly taken over the evening meal chore...bless his little pea pickin' heart) to ask if he could bring several friends home with him to hang out...and eat dinner. Suddenly we went from our usual two adolescent boys at the table, to Riley...plus four 15-year olds. Gulp. Naturally we immediately gave him the thumbs up on his plan--they're a delightful...bunch of goofballs...and always welcome here, after all. Shortly thereafter, however, realizing that I hadn't been on a true "replenishment-run" this week, I asked Husband with trepidation if there was actually enough sustenance in the house to satisfy such a crowd. He shrugged with good humor, "Eh, I'll cobble something together."
In fact, he did somehow manage to place full plates in front of each of them. I didn't examine them too closely to see what was actually included in the menu, but I also didn't hear any complaints, so it must have been acceptable. I'll say this for them: they're not overly picky, as long as they're satiated. I do know that they were given both veggies and dip AND roasted broccoli; thus I'm content (as the Quality Control Inspector...sure, it's totally one of my jobs...) that we provided a balanced entree. ('Cuz that's very important at Cafe WestEnders...however, it should also be noted that several of the guests only pretended to consume the array of vegetable offerings....rather than actually ingesting them. I'll be reporting this transgression to their parents...just kidding!)
I must say it gave a whole new dimension to "family mealtime", with much (more) silliness and a definite increase in the decibel level. Next time they'll probably hit up someone else's parents to provide their dining experience, as they tend to rotate from one house to the next. I'll miss out on the teenage-boy-talk...and the chance to observe the fascinating behavior of packs of young males in kitchen captivity up-close-and-personally. BUT I'll also get to take advantage of the much-needed grace period...to make those expensive forays to Costco and the grocery store and pack the shelves to overflowing again! I'd better go start making my lists...