Once and a while, Darling Husband and I have to drop whatever foodie pretension might have accumulated on us and hunker down in the trenches, embracing our inner college students and reveling in the wrongness of it all. Our mothers would sigh and cluck their tongues, and the grown up parts of us do, too. But the inner college student puts up with a lot of fru fru crap, and doesn't say a whole lot. Every once and a while, we've got to give that inner college student a little freedom, so we hand the grown ups a Starbucks and point them to a comfortable recliner, where they take a quick nap in the afternoon sun. (This can be college student behavior, too, but in this instance, the grown ups are going to claim it as their own.) With the grown ups safely tucked away, the college students pull on their wind pants and t-shirts and get to work.
What does it mean to embrace our inner college student? I'm sure it means different things to different people, but for us, it's reverting back to the kind of scavenger-style food prep at which 20 year-olds are adept. Cold pizza for breakfast. Microwaved left over mac & cheese. Rice and peas. Toast with spaghetti sauce and processed cheese. Canned corn next to canned tuna. Rice with A-1 sauce (my sister's vice). Hot pockets. Think microwaves and toaster ovens. And pint sized fridges.
When Darling Husband and I got together, we happily realized we could meal plan on a basic level with one simple rule: two side dishes make a meal.
Cut up cucumbers with dippy sauce? Not a meal. Cut up cucumbers with dippy sauce and mashed potatoes? Sure!
If all of this sounds vulgar and wrong, think for a moment to your leftovers. Might you have half a rotisserie chicken, some steamed asparagus and fixin's for a fresh salad? Then you are my mother, and you sigh and cluck your tongue at my leftovers. Might you instead have some mac & cheese with a little too much nutmeg, a small serving of lasagna left over from what your mother in law sent with you and a container of leftover curry that's mostly sauce? Now you're closer to me. Might you also have a 9 month old and a pile of clean laundry to fold and a floor to vacuum and all the will for housekeeping on this particular day as a concussed cockroach? Ah, now this is familiar. You might even have a few frozen pepperoni balls.
Does the inner college student always eat a balanced meal? Of course not. Even if that college student left the lasagna for another day. But he or she clears out some much needed fridge space without creating extra dishes to clean, if possible (college students rarely use plates) and goes to bed full. In the morning, she'll be a grown up again.