It was always my contention that it’s just as easy to cook for two or three as it is to cook for one or two.
That’s what I would tell the boys whenever they asked about a friend or two joining our family for dinner. And when my oldest, Trey, was in high school that was often the case.
What I’ve found out this summer is that feeding one more mouth at your table regularly might not take much more effort, but it sure as heck costs a lot more.
While Trey was in college, for most of the year I was only having to prepare meals for two, Jordan and myself. And every now and again when Trey would come home I’d cook for three. But that was infrequent enough that it was no big deal. Now that college is done, he’s really home, an every-day-and-night person at the breakfast, lunch and dinner table.
It’s not that he eats so much more than his younger brother; he eats less. Nor is it that I don’t enjoy having another person around telling me what a great cook I am. I love that. But I used to go into the grocery and buy the two-pack steaks and four-pack chicken breasts. I’d get a whole meal out of one slab of ribs or one coil of smoked kielbasa. Now, not so much.
Even if I just need one more serving it means buying another whole package. It’s as if those clever food packers planned it just that way: Two in the family and one package is good, but one more person and you have to double the purchase.
We’re eating a lot more ground beef — it’s cheaper and it stretches.
When I looked in the freezer the other day, the stuff I thought I’d stocked up on was gone. The cupboard has been looking like Old Mother Hubbard’s — pretty bare. Buy cookies, apples, chips today, all gone tomorrow. Milk, cereal, fuhgeddaboutit. I can’t buy enough.
Not only that, dishes pile up faster and so does the trash. I realize I’m also using more trash bags, paper towels, laundry detergent, electricity, water and, yes, toilet paper. At least I never have to wash dishes; the two boys have their own system.
Don’t laugh. There is nothing funny about suddenly seeing your household expenses double when a child comes home from college. I had gotten so used to having a little extra for a night out or when Mama wanted a new pair of shoes.
I should have expected this and planned better for it.
But I had no idea what a difference it would make. I always wondered why a parent would charge rent to a child who comes back home to live. I’ve even criticized friends, saying, “All they need is a little help and time to get on their feet.”
I still believe that. And I’m not planning on charging Trey one red cent, no matter how much he eats. But now I get it. Kids are expensive, even grown kids.
To reach Mará Rose Williams, call 816-234-4419 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.