Thursday, May 8, 2014

Feeding the Family, Part I

In the weeks leading up to marriage, I wondered how much of a shock it would be to spend my evenings cooking and cleaning in the kitchen. My evening activities have usually been anything but hum-drum. Beginning at Casa de Amor's opening in December 2004 I mainly spent my evenings with our babies. Then from early 2010 till Jake, I was in the most dangerous areas of town with my street friends who steal, stab, sell and do drugs.

I trusted that God would give me the grace to make such a drastic change to married home life, and He did! I love preparing good food for my growing family. My first judge was Jake, and he is very gracious. And now, less than 18 months into marriage, I make larger quantities of food than I ever have in my entire life. Even if I come from a family of six people as well, turns out it's true: girls don't need to eat nearly as much or often as boys!

So there's lots of kitchen time, and my daily "tool" is now my handy recipe folder instead of my street people files. It's also telling that every month in my pictures there's now a separate folder titled "food" instead of "street", ha.

I'm still getting used to how much time it takes to simply plan a menu, make my shopping lists, and haul in food from the market (fruits, veggies, nuts, dry) and grocery store (meat and canned items). Now we've decided the quality of beef at the grocery store isn't that great and I've added a new store to my weekly rotation. I calculate it takes at least 6 hours for these tasks per week, apart from actually preparing the food.

Jake encourages me by saying "And we've only just gotten started, my dear!"

 Some of the week's fresh produce

 Our freezer is usually packed! What's kept there helps me with a few shortcuts in a country where almost everything has to be made from scratch.

Friday is my menu planning day, which also includes taking inventory of my kitchen and making two separate shopping lists. Sometimes that spills over into Saturday morning, since Friday evenings I'm alone with the kids while Jake is at youth group.

Saturday morning, we hit our local outdoor market! It's one of the best in the city and is just walking distance from our house. I usually spend between $30-50 on everything we need for the week. I've never personally taken pictures there. Instead of looking for ones made by teams or my family, here are a couple that give the idea for those who don't live here:

This is from La Cancha, Cochabamba's biggest market, although where we shop is entirely outdoors

 A beautiful heap of vegetables!

Then on Monday or Tuesday, I head to the grocery store. If it can wait until the afternoon, I'll leave Sophia napping and will only go with one son. Lately, it's worked better for our schedule (and the store is less busy) to go with all four kiddos in the morning shortly after Sophia wakes up and is still happy. The one-on-one times are great and avoids fights over who gets to push the cart, but I also enjoy going with everyone. That way we're sure to have an interesting time and there are plenty of helpers! ;-)

 Sophia has amazed me by being pretty tranquila when we put her in the shopping cart baby seat. Of course, she usually has at least one brother cooing to her, which helps!

The boys are great at taking everything out of my hands and immediately putting it in the cart. And while all four are wonderfully enthusiastic helpers, lately I've noticed that Samuel is the best at strategically placing everything to protect eggs, not smash bread or other soft items, maximize space, and so on. Some weeks we almost need two carts!

The boys work hard to dig everything out of the cart and place it on the conveyor belt (which at 2 of our 4 super markets here is actually NOT a conveyor belt).

Another huge help is for the boys to load everything into the car (nice to have plenty of room now in "Blanquita"!) and then unload at the apartment and haul everything up the three flights of stairs. I'm usually nursing Sophia and putting her down for a nap by this point, and then comes my task of unloading 5-10 bags of stuff and stowing it in cabinets, the pantry, fridge, and freezer.

Next post: some of our favorite meals!


  1. I can relate to this blog! Feeding a large family is not for cowards in Bolivia! We are going to miss our local veggie and fruit market back home. It seems like we are there at least two times a week for fresh stuff!
    Looking forward to the recipes. I always love to eat the food you fix! Keep up the good work. It looks like everyone is thriving!

  2. I can only imagine the challenges of just getting the food in Bolivia. Welcome to the world of boys. They are wonderful helpers. I think one of the reasons they help, is because they eat! With two teenage boys and another one chasing their heels, our groceries disappear faster than I ever dreamed!

  3. Thanks, Carla and Sheri! Our markets sure are great here.
    For the son who most enjoys his food and least likes it when we run out, we are thinking he needs to help more in the kitchen to build some appreciation! :)


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