Financial Reality Bites

In 1 month, my daughter will turn 1.

Look how tiny she was! It seemed like she didn't open her eyes for a week.

First of all, it’s hard to believe that she’s almost 1 already. My mind boggles. Second, this means I have to plan and execute a family party.

This makes me twitch. It really does. I understand now, why my mother was always so stressed out about our birthday parties as kids. I totally get it now Mom, and I am so, SO sorry I requested anything. EVER. You should have just ordered pizza and called it a night.

My family does the dinner thing. Which as an adult is fine. But when you plan a dinner party for kids? Good lord. The last one was dinner at a restaurant. I totally get why they did it: No cleanup, nothing to haul back and forth, NO DISHES. But the kids? I think I got through 2 courses of the Chinese banquet before I was constantly outside, running around, changing diapers, and taming meltdowns. Meanwhile, waiters are running around with vats of magma-hot soup, sizzling rice dishes, and pots of hot tea.

Needless to say, it was not a relaxing experience for me. (But what IS after you have kids?)

Since my house is entirely too small to house everyone inside for a winter birthday party, we will be traveling to San Jose for Allie’s 1st, to my grandma’s house. Also known as the house with the ridiculously soft orange carpet.

To make my life easier — like I did for the boy’s birthday, I looked into catering/take-out options. Since Allie loves pasta, I wanted to get take-out from a place I’ll call … Pasta Primadonna.

Now Pasta Primadonna is a chain restaurant with a separate catering wing. You cannot simply order party platters through your closest restaurant. Oh no. You have to call the catering section. This should have tipped me off right away.

Each party platter only serves 8 people. The party will have a maximum of 36 people. I wanted to order chicken parmigana and baked rigatoni. Simple, yes?

To my knowlege, pasta isn't made with unicorn horns and flaked 24k gold ...

Each platter of rigatoni and chicken parmigana? $65. EACH. That’s $8.125 per serving. For noodles and tomato sauce with mozzarella. I know people have to make a living, but holy bejeezus … $8+ for noodles and sauce?!

After my heart resumed beating, I tried crunching numbers.

The absolute lowest number I could work it to, which made me feel even more like Ebeneezer Scrooge, was $260 for 2 rigatoni trays and 2 chicken pargmigana trays (and to have them cut each 5 oz breast in half to make it go further.) On top of that, I’d need to make a salad, another veggie, and some bread.

I can’t do it.  I can’t spend THAT much money on pasta and sauce. On a meal that will be gone in an instant, never to be seen again. If it were prime rib, it would be different. But we’re talking about pasta and sauce.

“I can buy a box of pasta for $1 at the store,” I thought to myself.

Do you know what this means? It means I’m making her birthday dinner.

Damn it.

I have, however, worked out a plan to make it slightly less painful and stressful:

  1. I will be making lasagna rolls. This means 1 noodle = 1 serving. It also means that 1 box of noodles = 12 servings — well, 10 if you don’t use the broken ones. It also means that if you put a lasagna roll on a sheet of wax paper and pop it in your freezer on a sheet tray lined with wax paper, you can make it ahead.
  2. My grandmother has 2 ovens. Bless her heart. This means everything goes in at the same time and no worrying about getting x in by a certain time so it cooks.
  3. Disposable. Foil. Trays.
  4. Bagged lettuce + pre-cut veggies = salad.
  5. Meatballs + marinara = extra meat.
  6. Did I mention DISPOSABLE FOIL TRAYS?!
  7. Store-bought French and garlic bread.
  8. I’ll also make Parmesan roasted broccoli. Because it is tasty and fast.
  9. Cupcakes instead of cake, since my family prefers ice cream. (I bought a full sheet cake for Sean’s party last year and they didn’t even eat 25% of it and declined leftovers.)  AND I’ll order it from a San Jose bakery so I don’t have to transport it.
  10. Paper plates, plastic utensils and cups, and paper napkins.

I’ll let you know how it turns out!

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One comment on “Financial Reality Bites

  1. Dawn says:

    Ask your mom and a couple of aunts if they can help out. That’s how we manage it w/ my massive family. That and did you check CostCo? They probably have oodles of pasta stuff that’s already assembled. Just heat and go!

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