In trying to curb eating out so much, we occasionally write down a menu to plan out the week’s meals. Much like donating one’s children to the orphanage, this seems like a good way to save money.

I just hope we can afford it.

We’re into day five of the menu. It’s tacos. 

Tacos are relatively cheap to make, unless you’re out of hamburger, tortillas, cheese and patience. However, if you’re going to the store for those things, you may as well get olives, avocados, sour cream, fresh cilantro, limes, Mexican rice and those bottles of Coke with the Spanish writing on them to help make taco night special. 

Also, you need chips to go with the tacos. Corn chips and salsa are the French fries and ketchup of taco night.

Approximately $70 later, we’re now ready to make tacos.

Now all you have to do is fry the meat, grate the cheese, slice tomatoes, dice onions, put the different fixings in different bowls, warm the tortillas and realize you’ve forgotten to buy taco seasoning. 

So again it’s a sprint to the store, which is good because as it turns out you also needed milk, eggs, a novelty foam cowboy hat, bananas and dog food.

Because for some reason we have to buy special food for the dog, even though he’d rather have tacos with the rest of us. He’ll eat the dog food, but he’s not particularly happy about it.

Finally, after knocking out the second exponentially expanding grocery list, you come home to finish making tacos. It’s 8:35 p.m., and the children are wondering if there will be dinner at all by the time everything is ready.

Of course someone doesn’t want tacos, someone else is whining because we don’t have the crunchy tortillas, there is controversy about the available choices of taco sauce and someone is crying. 

One of the teenagers has gone completely AWOL at this point. There’s some argument about guacamole. It doesn’t matter because the guac’ is long gone before you get to it. 

Whatever, just eat. 

By the time everyone has eaten or not, you really don’t care at this point, it’s time to clean up the kitchen. It’s now 9:15 p.m., and you were going to go to bed at 9 p.m.

With five people in the house, somehow taco night produced 28 dirty dinner plates and resulted in every fork in a three-block radius being used. 

Bowls half-full of taco makings cover the counter along with bits of cheese, chip crumbs and some unidentified substance that doesn’t look like it belongs at taco night.

In fact, the only clean surface in the house is a bowl someone set down for the dog to sample from. In spite of its sparkling appearance, the dog’s filthy germs now require the bowl to be washed with bleach, or possibly thrown away. 

Fortunately, the dishwasher is empty. This means that it has just enough room for approximately one third of the dirty dishes. The rest have to stay in the sink until tomorrow, like so many of life’s dreams. 

After packing up the leftovers, wiping down the counters and sweeping anything the dog missed off the floor, it’s 10:30 p.m. The missing teenager comes walking through the door.

“What’s for dinner? Tacos. Great.”

Every thing is dragged out again, and the entire kitchen cleaning process starts over.

Finally, exhausted, you go to bed after midnight with the knowledge that you spent $120 on groceries and several hours of your life you’ll never get back cleaning. But at least you saved money by not eating out.

Then a thought occurs to you. If you’d bought tacos from a drive-through, it would have cost $14, made no mess and everyone could have had the type of taco sauce they wanted.

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