"Guerilla Tactics" is really a pep talk and a morale-booster disguised as a book of recipes. Lillian Owl does talk you through the basics of mealtime survival, economizing time and money, and keeping the kids happy, but she also adds a dash of humor and perspective to the flavor.
Excerpt from Chapter One
When Disaster Strikes Ė Helps for the Newly Single Parent
Divorce sucks. The breakup or loss of any relationship does. There arenít any adjectives bad enough to describe it. It bites. It reeks. Even if it is the best thing you can do for yourself and your family, indeed sometimes the ONLY thing you CAN do, it generally takes so much away and most of the time, itís so difficult to get past it. I know. Iíve been there. We divorced or separated parents donít have time to grieve for the loss of the marriage, the family home, whatever stability we were trying to achieve, because we have kids to care for, and they are grieving too. I wish I could deal with this subject in more depth, because I know what itís like, but this is just a cookbook. Here Iím trying to help you regain control of your life in one particular corner: the kitchen. Whatever we as parents are going through, we still have to feed the kids and ourselves the best way we can.
Letís start by talking about the transition. Somebody usually has to move when a parenting relationship ends. Either you are moving out of the family home with the kids, or your partner is moving out. Or both. In the case of widowhood, the moving is even more excruciating, because the loss of your partner usually involves the loss of your lifestyle, along with your relationship. In any event, there is a division of property, even if you have inherited it all. You are facing the tough decisions of what to keep, what to store away, and what to get rid of. Itís not pretty, itís not fun, and there is plenty of room for error, loss, and deep regrets. I would like to offer you some guidelines for what to hang onto if you possibly can. I would like to suggest that in the case of divorce, the parent who spends most of the time with the children be given the first choice of stuff in the kitchen. Hereís my two centsí worth.
If you are going to give up a house with a real kitchen in favor of an apartment or other space with a very small, vague shadow of a real kitchen, donít have a yard sale just yet. There are a few appliances I urge you to hang onto, even if you have never used them before. Hang onto your microwave, your crockpot, your blender, your food processor, or other easy to clean labor-saving devices. Save at least one or two roasting pans with lids. You might want to sell off your expensive soup tureen or the antique silver instead. Keep the tea set, though, because you may want to have real tea parties with the kids on special occasions. Try to hang onto anything that spells ďFun,Ē like a popcorn popper or ice cream maker. If you have those cute little molds with fun shapes for frying eggs, or those things that imprint toast with little messages, those can be fun too. Cookie cutters are good for more than cookies, as you are probably already aware. The kids have to know that life is going to go on, and their lives havenít fallen into a deep pit. Once in a while, if you canít afford to go someplace fun, you can pull a fun food thing out of a closet and show the kids that there really is no place like home.
See if you can hang onto or acquire a gravy separator. It provides an easy way to reduce the fat of your meals while still retaining the taste. See the Appendix for instructions on how to use this simple tool.
If youíve already gotten rid of everything in order to make a fresh start, you can sometimes find good deals at thrift stores and yard sales. Make sure you test everything before you buy it. Sometimes friends will be happy to give you or lend you stuff that theyíre not using or have duplicates of. If they know you are starting from scratch, they will often clean out their closets and give you stuff without your asking for it. Thatís a huge blessing (unless youíre stuck with a bunch of crap you canít use).
And save as much of your Tupperware or other plastic storage ware as you can, especially if you have or will have a microwave. Youíre definitely going to want to store stuff, to economize, to make things ahead, to make extra so that you will have stuff for a later time, and to have things on hand to eat when you have to be away. Glad and Ziploc storage plastics are reusable as well as disposable; the plain ones are relatively cheap, and I have been able to hang onto and reuse some for as long as a year.
If you can, shop for the week or the month. Youíre probably busier now (and maybe more broke) than you have ever been in your life. So why spend extra days out of your week on your feet, fighting to get through the supermarket aisles, waiting at checkout lanes, being bored and feeling sorry for yourself? Do it as infrequently as possible, and reduce at least some of your stress. Of course, if you donít have a car and have to take public transportation or get a ride with someone, you donít have an entire automobile trunk at your disposal, so you might not be able to do that. In that case, try to purchase light things like pastas and rice, and avoid lugging sacks of potatoes, heavy bottles and cans as far as possible. But donít eliminate potatoes from your familyís diet, unless there is a medical reason to do so. Itís inexpensive food that is extremely versatile. Make sure you find a way to transport those heavier items with the least stress possible.
Popcorn covers a multitude of sins, and satisfies a lot of cravings. Unless there is a medical reason not to eat it, I suggest popping it at least a couple of times per week. It makes a TV movie a lot more fun.
Otherwise, if you have transportation, buy in bulk. Some stores offer tremendous deals like a ten- pound bag of chicken leg quarters for less than $5.00. If you have a large roasting pan, you can cook most or all of the ten pounds ahead of time, and then reheat the meat a little at a time, or cut up the leftover meat into other dishes (like salads and pastas). If you cook it originally with minimal spices, say garlic powder and a little pepper, you can then reheat it in a variety of ways with Mexican, Italian, or Oriental seasonings, just to name a few. You can even put a slab of chicken into a sandwich with lettuce and mayonnaise Ė itís delicious. Iím now allergic to mayonnaise, so I use a little bottled salad dressing instead.
A big beef roast or pork shoulder can supply more than one meal also. They can be a little pricey, but sometimes the stores have good sales on these meats. Again, season it lightly for the first cooking, and then you do cool things later on like pour some salsa over it, or Italian tomato sauce, or Spanish Mojo Criollo sauce, or teriyaki sauce, or cheese, or cut it up into macaroni or a salad...you get the picture. You can use it in an almost infinite variety of ways, but you can only use it if you have it on hand.
Frozen treats...you know, that sugar water they pack into plastic tubes that you stick in your freezer... are great comfort food for most kids. I like them, too. They are usually quite inexpensive and satisfy a kidís craving for snacks without causing too much nutritional damage. You can also freeze your own frozen pops with fruit juices. There are lots of things you can do to economize without making your lives entirely bleak. It just takes a little creativity, a little strategy. You can do it!
Donít worry about what you donít have Ė use what you do. If someone doesnít like the taste of my resourcefulness, I shrug it off. I hope you will, too. Consider it a challenge, and then pat yourself on the back. It will save you a pretty penny on ulcer medicine.