I hope I didn't appear like a class snob in my last post. Both my husband and I were raised by well-educated, well-to-do moms who stayed at home when we were small. However, both families were plunged into situational poverty and single parenthood through divorce. My husband and I emerged with middle class values, poverty level survival skills, and upper crust desires. Does that make sense?
When I was a child, my mom had a huge organic garden with asparagus in the center and rows of marigolds around the edges. She had manure hauled from the cattle auction barn several times a year to enrich her compost. My grandparents gave us boxes of steaks from the grass-fed cattle butchered from one of their farms. My mom claims she was frugal in many ways, but I remember that we wanted for nothing.
Fast forward to middle school, when my parents' divorce sent us packing to a series of rentals and finally to a small house on my grandparent's land. There we ate a daily diet of Banquet TV dinners, chocolate milk, and "market food." (For those of you unfamiliar with this cuisine, try eating a steak biscuit from a gas station on the ride to school followed by limp pizza and potato wedges on the way home.) My mom knew better nutrition. She probably could have tried harder to provide healthy food for three kids. But after working a full day on her feet and parenting by herself, she was just too tired to care.
When I married, I learned to cook almost entirely on my own. One of my aunts gave me several husband-pleasing casserole recipes, but boiling an egg? I had to consult the Joy of Cooking. So even when I "slip" nutritionally and make a lazy dinner of baked chicken tenders and steamed vegetables, I still feel accomplished, given my shaky start. Perhaps the most important resource of a healthy cook is motivation.