I’ve had to wrestle with this feeling a lot lately, dealing with everything from job uncertainty to some unexpected household expenses that have me worried about covering my bills over the next couple of months, including paying for the holidays. I won’t lie — I’ve spent quite a few sleepless nights trying to figure out how to make ends meet. It’s scary.
My mom is probably my biggest inspiration for rallying my creativity in the face of uncertainty. She raised my sisters and me almost entirely on her own, taking us on camping trips rather than costly vacations, making cute dresses and Halloween costumes for us herself. She worked during the day and taught classes at night to ensure we all got to do things like Girl Scouts and ballet lessons. In return, we were expected to take turns making dinner, with each of us cooking one night a week. My sisters and I would pick out recipes we wanted to try using my mom’s cookbooks and a few she bought us that were written for kids, and then we’d each go find our ingredients during weekly shopping trips, scattering all over the grocery store as if we were doing a scavenger hunt.
When I made it through a bad divorce a few years ago, cooking once again became a survival strategy and a welcome creative outlet. I relished in making recipes using ingredients I had loved for years that my ex-husband hated. I experimented with different healthy eating options as I entered singlehood again and wanted to look and feel my best. In the face of staggering debt from lawyer fees and starting over on my own, I also became adept at making low-cost dinners and lunches that allowed me to make delicious food but spend very little.
I find spinach to be one of the most reliable types of salad greens. Not only is it a nutritional powerhouse, but it’s pretty robust and holds up longer than, say, arugula. I like to use mine in everything from salads to pastas to smoothies. It’s also so good on its own, sautéed with a diced garlic clove, a tiny pat of butter, and a sprinkle of salt, and served alongside whatever main course you’re making. I also enjoy adding it to mashed cauliflower for a nice green color and some added nutritional goodness.